Michael Green led a small delegation of Nairn Community Councillors and a rep from Keeping Nairnshire Colourful on a visit to Alness yesterday. After exploring the range of shops and businesses available on the High Street and surrounding area and inspecting the many environmental improvements made over the years the group met up with Alness councillor and retailer Carolyn Wilson. They heard first hand of the remarkable changes that have occurred in Ross-shire's biggest town over the past twenty years.
|The visitors chat with Carolyn Wilson (right)|
It started with a small dedicated bunch of individuals who decided to do something about the vandalised, graffiti ridden landscape that, in those days, contained 12 empty shops - today there are no empty shops on Alness High Street! Many hours of hard work were to follow over the years as the volunteers just got on with the job, having to find cash and resources themselves. Britain in Bloom success was one of many positive outcomes for the community. Now Alness is a destination for shopping and even attracts Invernessians up the A9.
According to Carolyn creating a clean, attractive and safe environment for shoppers is the key and once they enjoy the experience they will come back with friends and family. It was a miserable wet Monday afternoon when the visitors arrived but the High Street looked busy compared to what you might expect in Nairn - the fact finding mission was told that it was actually a quiet day by local standards.
|Alness High Street|
The Alness improvements were not achieved overnight, people acted when they could and with whatever was to hand but momentum eventually was achieved and the situation was totally turned around by some remarkable people. The visitors headed back down the A9 with quite a lot to think about.