If you are trying to impress a visitor to Lanark by taking them on a tour of the High Street, ask them not to look up!
That’s the advice from a woman who has mounted a personal crusade to persuade the outside world that the royal burgh is still a viable tourist destination and even a good place to settle their families in.
A member of both Lanark Community Council and Lanark Development Trust, Eleanor McLean is a true champion of the town, having just had a new tourist information leaflet, called In the Footsteps of Wallace, published.
In her own time, she conducts guided tours of the town for visitors and newcomers, and it was during one of those last month that she realised what the High Street’s main drawback was.
She told the most recent council meeting that she had taken a party including a family which has just moved to Lanark from Shetland on a walk down High Street.
“I decided to take the chance to hear how others see us and asked for their honest opinion of the street,” she said.
“One woman told me that she thought it needed a bit of tender loving care but pointed out that the worst bits were the flats and vacant buildings above the shops.
“That led me to take another look myself and, sure enough, I was really taken aback at the shabby state of some of these buildings, many with flaking paint.”
Even asking visitors to look down instead wouldn’t help, she added, stating: “The state of the pavements are shocking too, in places, with muck and dried-in chewing gum.”
The pavements at the top of High Street, near the main close through to the North Vennel, were identified as a blackspot.
Council members speculated that the problem was caused by the number of people who regularly congregate there.
Eleanor suggested that the community council hire its own power-washer to clean the street but this was discounted on safety grounds, it being judged an operation that would have to be carried out by professionals with suitable insurance cover against any accidental damage done.
The community council decided instead to approach South Lanarkshire Council to ask if it could power-wash the street.
The majority of Lanark’s shops are in buildings not owned by the shopkeepers but rented to them, mainly by city-based property agencies.
The High Street’s last major facelift was carried out for £2.3m by the council 11 years ago.