In this interview Steve Gillies asks Cllr Elena Whitham about the recently announced Garden & Market Concept for Darvel.

Steve: Elena, thanks for your support for the Darvel Garden & Market concept. What do you like about it?

Elena: Quite a lot actually. The artwork and synopsis really brings the concept to life. More importantly it is just a good idea. It has the potential to empower the community and to kick-start the local economy.

Steve: What benefits do you see?

Elena: The Darvel town centre has been blighted for too long by the deteriorating Coop Building. I’m glad that EAC was able to purchase it and is now planning the demolition. It’s has been sad to see what was once a handsome building in such a state but if the plans to re-use some of the stonework becomes a reality that would be great. I hope that the new site will be an attractive communal space for both the residents of and visitors to Darvel.

Steve: Is it just about the building?

Elena: No, far from it. I got into local politics as I am a great believer in local democracy and empowered communities. This is a great example of that. People coming up with ideas and helping each other improve the place they live and work. I must commend the Community Council for producing the concept.

Steve: How do you see it developing?

Elena: First we have to find the funds and go through the usual hoops. That won’t be easy but if we work together – the community, the community council, EAC and Councillors – we can achieve something special. Looking further forward I hope that the community will use what should be a great facility to meet, socialise, trade and for local promotions. I see it being used by local businesses, support groups, clubs and the general community.

I’d like to see further involvement from the community as it develops and I’m sure that the DDCC through its on-line networking and the Darvel Magazine will make that happen. I’d like to see, for example, the community involved in all stages from concept to design, development to construction, and the eventual use and maintenance of the site.

Steve: Finally, will you be a regular visitor to the site?

Elena: I hope so. My family and I love visiting small town markets on holiday in France so it would be nice to have something similar in our own back yard.