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Knockinlaw Project

Volume 98: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1986

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he plans to visit Kilmarnock to review the Knockinlaw project.

My right hon. and learned Friend cannot fit in a visit at present, but he will bear the invitation in mind for the future.

I am sure that the Secretary of State would not expect me to say that he is much loved in the district of Kilmarnock, but he is respected as an intelligent and sincere man. [Interruption.] I am not responsible for the thoughts of my constituents on these matters. Could he make it a matter of urgency to come to Kilmarnock to see the Knockinlaw project? We are grateful for the money that the Scottish Office has provided, but we could do with more, especially to refurbish the shop frontage, which covers three commercial enterprises and two which belong to the district council. It seems that no grants are available. Will he consider whether grants can be made available so that we can brighten up the shop fronts and enhance the area so that the quality of life of shopkeepers and customers may be improved?

My right hon. and learned Friend visited the Knockinlaw project in 1981 and I visited it in October 1983. We were both impressed by the successful way in which it had marshalled a wide variety of resources. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that we have given considerable resources to Kilmarnock and Loudon during the past two years. Its housing revenue account has increased by 53 per cent.—and that is no mean figure. I appreciate that there can be difficulties because of varied ownership, but the commercial shopowners might consider a joint approach to the Scottish Development Agency to explore the possibility of assistance towards the cost of improving the general appearance of their premises.