Criticisms over ‘No Thanks’ store in Cumbernauld town centre

Written by a Cumbernauld Media reporter.
Published at 15:27 on 11 July 2014.
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Picture: Better Together's new 'No Thanks' slogan covers the store's windows.
 




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CUMBERNAULD Town Centre is known for being controversial at the best of times, with criticisms levelled at the mall over the materials used to build the structure, the design of the centre, the shops and the interior. However, the opening of a new Lanarkshire headquarters for the anti-independence 'Better Together' campaign is the latest issue to engulf the centre.

Sources close the new 'No Thanks' store say that the pro-union campaign will likely pitch their tent until the referendum on September 18th, despite threats being levelled at staff members last Wednesday (2 July).

Last week, it is claimed a man walked into the ‘No Thanks’ store in Forth Walk, in Cumbernauld town centre – across from the now closed First Stop Shop. 

The suspect is said to have told staff he was from the Scottish National Liberation Army, threatening the two regional organisers; telling them he would blow up the unit, if they didn’t leave the premises within twenty-four hours.

The incident came after the store was decked out with ‘Better Together’ posters last Monday and Tuesday, after an exhibition for Cumbernauld Gala Day, by Cumbernauld Community Forum wrapped up in mid-June.

A Better Together spokesman said: “We only hope this person is found quickly and dealt with by the authorities. It is completely unacceptable.”

We have since learned that the suspect has been caught on CCTV and that officers from Police Scotland are continuing their investigations into the incident. 

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East’s Labour Member of Parliament described the incident as “a serious matter”. 

MP Gregg McClymont added: “This is clearly a serious matter and I am glad the police are dealing with it.

“My primary concern is for the young people who were in the office. There is no place for this kind of behaviour.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed that enquiries were ongoing.

The spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that police are continuing enquiries following a report of a man entering the Better Together campaign office in Cumbernauld Shopping Centre, North Lanarkshire, at around 10.45am on Wednesday July 2 and verbally threatening staff.

"Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is urged to contact Cumbernauld Police Office on 101."

Commenting on reports of an incident at the Better Together site at the Cumbernauld Town Centre, Constituency MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Jamie Hepburn described the threats as “very serious”, adding: “This is a democratic debate and both sides must be free to make their case in a peaceful manner.”

The SNP man said: “Clearly this is a very serious matter and I am in contact with the police regarding it.

“At this stage we do not know who this individual is but obviously I hope that he is apprehended as soon as possible.

“I believe that this campaign is a positive experience for the people of Scotland. The issues we are debating are incredibly important and we are all responsible for creating and maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect.

“This is a democratic debate and both sides must be free to make their case in a peaceful manner.”

Threats were made to staff on the same day that former Prime Minister and Labour Party stalwart Gordon Brown visited Cumbernauld’s Cornerstone Church to deliver a pro-UK speech on why Scots should reject independence.

Mr Brown’s visit was heavily criticised by those in the local ‘Yes’ campaign, who described the meeting as “secret” and akin to censorship, with potential attendees having to register their interest for tickets beforehand, with Labour Party members “given priority for security reasons”, according to Mr McClymont, Cumbernauld’s MP.

As well as Mr Brown’s visit to Cumbernauld, criticism has also been levelled at the new ‘No Thanks’ store opened in Cumbernauld town centre. 

According to sources at the centre, Better Together are set to base Lanarkshire-wide campaigning activity from the store, which remains closed off to the public, up until the referendum on September 18. However, the question over how the shop is being funded has raised eyebrows, with some opponents claiming that ‘Yes Cumbernauld’ has previously been shown the door over repeated requests to set-up day stalls in the mall. 

The rateable value of the ‘No Thanks’ unit – located at 1 Forth Walk – is some £14,700 per annum, according to the Lanarkshire Valuation Appeal Panel; nearly £283 per week, excluding VAT and service charges, which is based on the sq. ft of the unit – which stands at 1,931 sq. ft. 

In comparison, the old Scan bookshop, at 2 Spey Walk is 1,740 sq ft, having a rateable value of £17,700 per annum – although a sign in the unit’s window promotes rent and service charge costs of £610 per week, suggesting that ‘Better Together’ could be paying up to £6,770, based on the following crude calculation: 

£610 (weekly rent of old ‘Scan’ shop) divided by 1,740 sq. ft = £0.35p per sq. ft multiplied by 1,931 sq. ft (size of the ‘Better Together’ unit) = £676.95 per week x 10 weeks (70 days until the referendum divided by 7 = 10 weeks) = £6,769.5977. 

Voters in Scotland will head the ballot booths in less than ten weeks’ time to answer the Yes or No question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ 
 
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