Lothian towns put on spot as contenders for Plook 'award'

IT IS the one award they would definitely rather not win, but three Lothian towns are in the early running for an award to find Britain's most dismal place to live.

Dalkeith in Midlothian and Livingston and Polbeth in West Lothian are among those nominated for the 2010 Plook on the Plinth Award, which seeks to shine a light on the country's ugliest locales.

Organisers have extended the search to include the whole of the UK after previous years focused solely on Scotland, with winners including Glenrothes and Cumbernauld.

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While the official shortlist will not be compiled until the spring, both Dalkeith and Livingston are among the early front-runners after being nominated by local residents.

Livingston is described as suffering from a "preponderance of grey harling and roundabouts", while Dalkeith is labelled a "bomb site" by one local.

John Glenday, who sits on the judging panel, said early nominations had seen "staples" such as Glenrothes returning, but added that a past winner was unlikely to score a second triumph.

He said: "We have a judging team which will begin whittling down the nominations in the coming months. We've seen a lot of the old staples returning but we're looking to cast the net a bit wider this year."

Peter Johnston, leader of West Lothian Council, said he was "frankly astonished" that Livingston was on the list.

He said: "Residents in Livingston are proud of the town they live in, and rightly so. Livingston has been transformed in recent years. It's young, vibrant and a great place to live, work and do business."

He pointed to the town's 130 million award-winning shopping centre, as well as arts venue the Howden Park Centre.

Dalkeith is home to many historic buildings but has been criticised for its town centre, which was remodelled in the 1960s.

Midlothian Council declined to comment on the nomination.

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Polbeth is said to have suffered due to jobs and retail leaving to go to Livingston.

The UK winner is expected to be announced in June.