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By Hannah O’Hanlon
Campbeltown’s town centre has never looked better than it has in recent months thanks to the hard work of two new town centre maintenance officers.
Bradley McMillan and Cameron Wilkes have been employed by community interest company Keeping It Local (KIL) to carry out maintenance tasks that complement the work already done by Argyll and Bute Council staff.
Bradley and Cameron are currently in the process of transforming more than 50 benches which have become weathered or fallen into disrepair over the years, sanding down the wood before repainting and treating them.
They have also scrubbed down and repainted railings as well as weeding and tidying up pavements and verges.
Bradley, 23, was initially given the role in July after KIL and Campbeltown Community Council came up with a plan to brighten up the town centre.
‘We realised there was a lot of work needing done,’ said community council member Catherine Dobbie.
‘I’ve counted more than 55 benches around the town but it’s not just about the benches, it’s about keeping the place looking smart in various ways.’
Cameron, also 23, first joined the team as a volunteer but is now employed.
Both men were taken on through the Kickstart Scheme, a UK Government programme set up in response to unemployment created by the Covid-19 pandemic, to provide those aged 16 to 24 with a chance to gain employment and develop new skills.
The scheme can support employers to cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage, depending on the age of the participant, for 25 hours a week for six months.
‘They’re doing a great job,’ said Jason McCallum, KIL’s business development manager. ‘A lot of the people walking past while the boys are working stop and compliment them and they deserve that.’
Catherine added: ‘I had envisioned someone coming with some sandpaper and scraping and painting the benches where they are but they are dismantled, taken away and painted professionally before being reinstalled; they’re like new benches.’
Jason has given Bradley and Cameron responsibility to decide what tasks to undertake, with just a little input from KIL and the community council.
There is already a growing list of jobs which includes painting a boat used as part of a floral display opposite the Dellwood Hotel and treating whisky barrel planters which surround Campbeltown Cross.
‘I can’t praise them enough,’ Jason said. ‘The difference it makes is unbelievable and they deserve all the credit. I’m just there to facilitate it.’
The team has been liaising with Argyll and Bute Council throughout to avoid doing any work the local authority routinely carries out.
‘We don’t want to replace these services, we just want to complement them,’ Bradley said.
‘The town’s at a point where things are needing to be picked up and restored and somebody has to do that since the council got rid of many of its painters and maintenance staff.
‘I’ve always wanted a maintenance job but I never got the last few I applied for so it’s good to gain experience in this role.’
Among all the praise and uplifting comments has been one disheartening incident.
Just a couple of weeks after it had been restored, a bench at Quarry Green was vandalised, with a large section of paint stripped off.
‘It’s disheartening for the lads,’ Jason said. ‘It’s frustrating when they’re trying to make a difference, making sure the benches last that bit longer; they’re often worn on top so Bradley and Cameron are switching them over, sanding them down and then repainting them.
‘It’s a lot of work so they were gutted to see the vandalism.’
The town centre maintenance team is urging anyone who witnesses any misbehaviour like this to report it to police by calling 101.
To fund materials including a wheelbarrow, gardening equipment and a lot of paint and oil, all of which was purchased locally, the community council applied to Campbeltown Common Good Fund and received £1,000.
With that money now spent, the community council has pledged to continue funding more paint and materials.
If any local businesses would like to support the work, they can get in touch with Jason by emailing email@example.com or calling 07939 149706.
DM Fabrication has already installed four of the benches as a community gesture, with welder Tayler Paterson and apprentice welder Rory Paterson carrying out the work.
The town centre maintenance project is just one way in which KIL, created to support businesses, events and service providers, has expanded in the last year.
Due to an increase in the number of people taking up cycling during lockdown and a lack of repair facilities in the area, KIL employed Robert Irvine through the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered through Cycling UK.
Robert has Velotech training which means he is fully qualified to repair bikes and advise customers.
KIL also stocks a range of bike parts and accessories, has charging stations for e-bikes and offers information on cycling and walking routes.
Spotting another gap in the market, KIL employed Jamie Field, also through the Kickstart Scheme, to set up Kintyre Printing Services after the closure of Krisp Print.
In addition, KIL remains a place where tourists can find information on local businesses, events and services, something it has provided since VisitScotland closed Campbeltown’s tourist information office in 2018.
Alongside its expansion, KIL has supported the community through the pandemic.
In March 2020, the company joined other groups and charities in forming Kintyre Community Resilience Group.
From its Main Street premises, KIL provided a safe space for the distribution and collection of ‘Covid packs’ including face masks made by volunteers at Kintyre Scrubs, hand sanitiser and soap.
The company also provided a small number of donations to individuals who were struggling financially during lockdown.
Staff also supported Campbeltown Hospital by taking blood samples and Covid tests to hospitals in Glasgow as and when required.
With many people having to work from home, KIL created a private space with a computer and webcam where individuals could access online communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams when they had no internet access, a lifeline that allowed many to continue studying and working.
Pic for front:
From left: Tayler Paterson of DM Fabrication, Bradley McMillan, Jason McCallum, Cameron Wilkes and Rory Paterson of DM Fabrication. 50_c39towncentreteam01
Pics for page 4:
Locals Ian Henry and Eddie Wareham having a seat on one of the recently restored town centre benches. 50_c39towncentreteam02
From left: Jamie Field, Kintyre Printing Services; Jason McCallum, Keeping It Local business development manager; Robert Irvine, Kintyre Cycling Services; Bradley McMillan, town centre maintenance officer; and Tracey Chambers, Keeping It Local director. NO_c39keepingitlocal01
Other pics to choose from for 4:
Before and after: Campbeltown Picture House’s benches outside the Burnet building are among those which have been treated. NO_c39maintenance01
Before and after: These railings have received a makeover for the first time in years. NO_c39maintenance02
Before and after: A drainage channel between the Victoria Hall and The Royal Hotel was rodded and swept by the team. NO_c39maintenance03