The small town of Neilston (pop. 6000 approx) in East Renfrewshire made the headlines recently when it was declared to be Scotland’s most desirable place to live.
This was based on a study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research which considered factors such as good schools, green spaces and communting times.
What the study didn’t reveal however was that Scotland’s top town is also home to one of the country’s most successful Community Development Trusts.
The importance of the Neilston Development Trust (NDT) to the life of the town soon becomes apparent when a visitor, taking the 20 minute train ride from Glasgow to discover what all the fuss is about, approaches local lollipop man, Robert Fox, to ask for his reaction to the “top town” news.
“Well . . . surprise!” he laughs. “I was born in Neilston and have lived here all my life. I suppose, compared to other places, it does have a lot going for it. But you need to go to the bank to find out what’s really happening in the town.”
The bank Mr Fox was referring to turns out to be, not just any old bank but “The Bank”, the headquarters of NDT which was an actual bank – the only one in town – before it closed in 2005 and was subsequently acquired by the Trust in 2006 through the Community Right to Buy scheme (a process they describe as “long and arduous.”)
The Bank is a real hub of community activity, centred around the lovely cafe which functions, not just as a place for eating home baking with a cup of tea, but a gallery for local artists, with a garden out the back where veg is grown for cafe lunches.
In the very near future, The Bank will once again be functioning as a bank, thanks to a collaboration with East Renfrewshire Credit Union which will allow local people to save without having to travel.
Further information about Neilston Development Trust on their website: www.neilstontrust.co.uk