Cumbernauld shopping centre should get Carbuncle Award annually, says councillor

Comments made on a phone in show on BBC Radio Scotland by a Cumbernauld councillor have seen him accused of going too far.

Councillor Alan O’Brien phoned in Morning Call on BBC Scotland and spoke at length on why he believes that the shopping area should receive the Carbuncle Award every year.

Last week the town avoided the award after Aberdeen was handed the accolade.

However Scottish Nationalist-turned independent told host Louise White that ‘‘politicians hate this award because they hate bad publicity.’’

In a statement later released to this newspaper and on Facebook he said: ‘‘By decrying these awards, people are actually assisting the council by diverting media attention away from the people responsible for its shocking condition.

‘‘The more media attention applied, the more likely they are to be embarrassed into doing something,’’

However, it is not just politicians who have angered the firebrand councillor - who also believes that statue Arria is a smokescreen for lack of progress in the town centre.

And he has also had a go at members of Cumbernauld Environmental Society who have embarked on a number of ambitious landscaping projects around the town.

Although stating that ‘‘their heart was in the right place,’’ the councillor has accused their volunteers ‘‘doing the council’s spin doctor work for them’’ in a piece which is published in full on Page 6 of this week’s paper

However, the group’s Adam Smith said: “We always have and always will continue to represent the best interests of Cumbernauld and positively promote the town.

“The award only serves to further damage the reputation of the areas that receive them.

“Cumbernauld last received the award in 2005 and people continue to talk about it to this day even though the town has been awarded Civic Pride and Beautiful Scotland awards since then.

“While he is talking Cumbernauld down, we’ll work on improving our town.’’

The remarks have also ruffled feathers at North Lanarkshire Council amidst claims that the councillor was out of line and even hoodwinked the BBC to gain access to the airwaves.

Kildrum councillor Stephen Grant who is convener of the North Area Partnership said: “These comments are outrageous, especially as he does not bother attending North Area meetings where community groups meet with councillors to discuss local issues.

“I was quite shocked that he misled the broadcasters and didn’t identify himself as a local councillor before going on to run down his own home town on national radio.

“He’s banging on a worn out drum as our three town centres are privately owned and while North Lanarkshire Council works closely with the owners, it is they who are in control of investment and development.’’