Town centre Regeneration Business and Retail Seminar 2nd May 2019


Didn't make it along on Thursday night? Here's our chair, David's, speech from the event!

My name is David Cameron.

I’m Minister at new Laigh Kirk in the heart of Kilmarnock Town Centre. I have a passion for the town and its people. I was involved with Katie Kelly (Vibrant Communities at the time) as we facilitated the Kilmarnock Town Centre Action Plan in 2016 which culminated in a movement for change called Celebrate Kilmarnock.

There was recognition that the landscape of Kilmarnock was changing and not for the better.

It is true to say we live in anxious times. A few brush strokes paint the background.

The structures that shape society show stress and fractures from top to bottom.

Institutions long taken for granted are subject to renegotiation.

The meanings behind basic social frameworks of mutual obligation governing society are hotly contested.

Hallowed assumptions about the most basic loyalties and allegiances in relation to one another are subject to the most radical new questions. Innovative technologies of the digital age are leading to an explosion of previously unimagined information sources through social media, which are unsettling long established spheres of authority and undermining long respected official sources of reliable knowledge.

The sense of community in which we live has become alien to the world of this era.

The Issues in Kilmarnock remain challenging for us all. There’s no need for me to rehearse them you all talk about them freely, the negative narrative dominates conversations about Kilmarnock town centre. It is a time of unprecedented anxiety. And those of us concerned about people and places driving an agenda for change have an opportunity to assert, as never before, the importance of getting it right. However, there is a tendency still to assume that some authority, or other institution will somehow eventually fix the problems of these times for us. How often do we say – someone should do something. And wait…………

– for someone to do something and nothing changes

It’s easy for us to say we want Better Place to Live;

It’s easy for us to say we want Opportunities for All;

It’s easy for us to say we want to live and Feel Safe in our town

It’s easy for us to say we’ve lost our sense of community and social structures

It’s much more difficult to actually commit to driving the same improvement agenda together.




There is a recognition of dissatisfaction with how things are; this dissatisfaction is our cause, it is the fuel, drive and motivation to create a community led regeneration vision that we all can buy into, however tough it gets along the way.

I want you to indulge me in a little bit of Imagineering.

Imagine a Better Place to Live;

Improving elements like our town environment, getting around creative use of open spaces and involving people and strengthening our community,

Imagine providing Opportunities for All; improvements to economic growth, education, skills and tourism, shopping and leisure

Imagine Better Health for All;

improvements general health and coping with issues regarding the ageing population and tackling the issues of addictions together

Imagine living and Feeling Safe;

Dealing with crime and fear of crime, issues of respect and looking for improvements in safety.

Imagine social gathering outwith usual closing hours, increasing local footfall and a more varied social scene into the evening.

Imagine uplifting tired places to attract businesses and customers and emphasise local character, historic features and buildings.

Imagine Kilmarnock flourishing as a legacy not for your children but for your great great grandchildren

Imagine your creative ideas and entrepreneurial skills making this happen

Your collective imagining for our town will point the way for those wishing to implement change and highlight the key themes that need to be addressed both now and in the future.

For this to happen, our shared agenda and vision and pooling of resources of private, public and voluntary sectors will discover an increasingly attractive and mutually beneficial way forward.

Looking around this room I see familiar faces, good people with a good understanding of life here, local business leaders and entrepreneurs, who are in the best position to identify the elements that together will make a positive difference.

You have greater day-to-day awareness of what is valued locally, of local issues and possible solutions, and you also have the momentum to initiate change.

What is the vision that springs from our strengths and opportunities.

Simply having the conversation this evening is a catalyst for the change you want to see in our town – but it needs your involvement too.




Where does celebrate Kilmarnock come in?

Our ‘Why’ (Why we do what we do)
To create a movement for change - positively influencing people's perception of
Kilmarnock and working towards a culture we can all be proud of.

Our ‘How’ (How do we make it happen)
By involving people of our town to deliver visible, clear & concise results.

Our ‘What’ (What is it we’re doing to make it happen)
Building the platforms to make the positive community & culture changes possible.

Places are about people and although the way people live their lives has changed dramatically in a generation they still, by and large, depend on our Town for meeting friends, for shopping, entertainment, leisure, history, public services and transport.

A thriving Kilmarnock has a fundamental impact on our wellbeing and successful places are where people feel engaged and where they play a role in owning, designing and shaping its future. What is significant is that residents, retailers, private and public services, church and community voluntary organisations, normally so independent of each other in terms of place and contribution to our town, recognise we have something in common that has ignited a passion and desire to make it better.

These are the relationships Celebrate Kilmarnock builds on. People from all sections of town life come together to discuss the future of the town centre, consider its strengths and weaknesses, developing a collective vision for its improvement and jointly identify priorities for action.

At the same time challenging long established ways of doing this. And this can sometimes feel uncomfortable.

We build on existing relationships developing, growing and ultimately reaching our vision of a community where town centre regeneration can both be supported and achievable.




Celebrate Kilmarnock is committed to holding open events such as these every three months under six key Priorities for Action:

  • A great place to shop and be in business
  • A great place to live and learn
  • An accessible town centre with good movement and communication
  • An animate and creative place
  • A green town with a rich heritage to enjoy
  • A safe, clean and attractive place

A willingness to work differently is already evident.

Willingness to share knowledge, make connections and engage in collective action, also demonstrated by you being here and hopefully a willingness by local businesses to get involved with so much creativity and entrepreneurship in this room providing an opportunity for local leaders to drive change, to improve the human infrastructure, and the social connections and support networks.

It was great to have Kilmarnock recognised as Scotland’s Most Improved Town, two years ago with the SURF award, but not a surprise when you look at all the work over the last few years and what’s happening now.

Celebrate Kilmarnock recognises

  • It’s Kilmarnock folk who are the successes and who spot the potential
  • People have ideas and a desire to see the decline of Kilmarnock town centre reversed,
  • the depth of dissatisfaction with the way some things are, but the huge response to developing the priorities among groups already set up is significant
  • the importance of having people and particularly business people to champion the cause with energy and enthusiasm to come forward;
  • the need to build trust and work relationally that creates an environment of possibility rather than expect people to buy into a strategy at a distance.
  • the need to harness the energy of the entrepreneurs and creative people among us, not only to be part of this process,

but to also ask what networks of support have sustained them – maybe they hold some clues to the re-formatting of town life where we can experiment locally.

If we are to bring change closer to the people of Kilmarnock who will benfit most then Co-operation is imperative




Kilmarnock coat of arms has at its Motto


Confido and Virtute Et Industria


I trust" and "By virtue and by industry"

So let’s trust one another and by our virtue and industry – our qualities and hard work,

To facilitate co-ordinated action of all interested business groups to increase Kilmarnock’s resilience to future change and sustain it as a viable and successful town.

Celebrate Kilmarnock is a movement for change where the voice of the people is heard, not seeking to replace or take over the work of many participating organisations – we’re not set up as just another community organisation of many

Celebrate Kilmarnock as a movement, is an alternate delivery vehicle in support of a bolder process of community-led regeneration to redefine the role and image of the town centre and see all about Kilmarnock as flourishing.

Three young boys were arguing over whose daddy was the greatest. One said, "My dad’s the greatest because he is the Manager of the town bank." The second boy said, "That’s pretty good, but my dad owns two grocery stores in town!" The third boy said, "That's nothing, my dad’s the minister, and he owns hell.

I don’t own hell, I don’t own Kilmarnock, none of us do.

But let’s act as if we do own the place and take ownership of community led regeneration.

I conclude with an invitation, our ask of you.

Whatever you imagined about our town tonight come and make it a reality through Celebrate Kilmarnock we need your expertise.

Thank You

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