As someone born and brought up in Glasgow whose folks were from Edinburgh and Maastricht (the latter explains the funny name) — it’s maybe a bit of a cheek to sound off about Falkirk ... but here goes.
Towns across Scotland are struggling to come to terms with the fact that retail has changed out of all recognition, and I could rhapsodise about the good old days of, say, Maryhill Road, with the best of them.
Some, frankly, face a near impossible challenge - I’m thinking of North Lanarkshire towns whose once lively centres are now ridden with grim strips of bookies, pound stores and pawn shops.
Some are trying, against heavy odds, to fight back.
In Dumbarton they’ve moved the council offices into the main drag (does this sound familiar?), and a lot of cash and energy has been spent trying to open up new opportunities - not least through tourism, because Dumbarton has its historic Rock, its nearby National Park, and hosts a welter of Highland Games and national-level piping events.
But Falkirk, frankly, has very much more.
The High Street will never be “the Royal Mile” (thank heavens), but as the 21st century equivalent of an old-style mercat cross it already has character, architecture, and some quality shops, pubs and restaurants.
We’re living in grim times, and with Brexit things may be about to get still more challenging, but as a slice of real “Middle Scotland” - easily reached from east or west - it’s got solid assets to work with.
It’s early days, but the ball (and a plan) is at Falkirk Council’s feet - and there’s room for optimism.
It’s sad about M&S, etc, but as Scarlett O’Hara remarked: “Tomorrow is another day”.