The closure of the Kintore Arms (albeit maybe temporarily) has flagged up an important issue in the town. Instead of being a reasonably self-sufficient village, Kintore is increasing being forced to become an outward-looking town.
For many of the services that other communities of 5,000 (going on 7,000) people take for granted, we now have to look to other towns to serve our needs.
People who remember Kintore as a village talk about how it had a bakery, two butchers, two filling stations, two banks, three pubs, two hotels and a general store. That was in the days when the town had only about a third of its current population.
These days that impressive list has dwindled to one butcher’s shop and a convenience grocery store. Full stop.
The result of this is that we have to rely on other communities to provide our weekly shopping, to fill our cars, to socialise over a drink or a meal, or to put up our guests.
A town that constantly relies on other communities to provide its services is on the slippery slope to becoming, not a community, but a dormitory town. In other words, the only reason for people to be in town is to sleep! For work and even the most basic services you have to travel elsewhere.
Like many people in Kintore, I really enjoy visiting J&G Dossett the butcher in The Square.
Apart from the fact that the meat he sells is so much better than any shrink-packed, water-injected offering from a supermarket, the busy shop is an important centre for people to gather and “hae a newsy” about the community. It also has a reputation that draws people from elsewhere into Kintore.
In that one shop you get a snapshot of the importance of local businesses (yes, even a local supermarket) to building and maintaining the community spirit. We are fortunate in Kintore that we still have organisations that foster this community spirit – I’m thinking of the two cafés, the pharmacy, the school, the library and the medical centre.
We are also fortunate to have some incredibly hard-working people giving their time to build and maintain a community spirit with initiatives like the Kintore Summer Festival, the Christmas Lights, The Bothie, the floral displays and much more.
But, how much better would Kintore be if we had a council that – instead of obstructing developments and thwarting our ambitions with developments like Gateway Kintore – encouraged enterprise, ambition and the establishment of facilities in Kintore?
Instead of obstructing developments that would underpin the sustainability of our community, they should be encouraging developments that make our town more sustainable.
We should also be focussing on ways to enhance the services that we offer in the centre of Kintore. I’ve already talked about how a butcher’s shop and cafés draw people into Kintore from the area round about. The renovation of the Town House is a great opportunity. With a bit of imagination we can create other attractive shops and businesses that can create enterprise and employment for our people.
If we do finally get our supermarket, hotel and filling station on the outskirts, we should ensure that our town centre is such a strong attraction that those who travel from around the local area to the supermarket will:
- want to travel into the centre to get quality local produce at speciality shops
- enjoy a coffee and a piece at one of our cafés
- shop in attractive town centre shops
- and visit our renovated Town House.
If that determination that Kintore was to be more than a dormitory town had been around a year ago, perhaps we could have saved the Torryburn Hotel from probable demolition to make way for more houses.
In the right hands, the Torryburn could surely have become a small boutique hotel and gastro-pub that would add to the attractions of Kintore?
That’s a much brighter picture than the current one, where facilities are closing down and the ambitions of the community are dismissed by the council.