KIRKWALL has been named as having Scotland’s most beautiful high street in a public poll.

The Orkney town beat off stiff competition from Lerwick on Shetland, which secured 18% of the vote, and Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, which came in a close third on 15% of votes cast.

Kirkwall was voted for by just over a fifth (21%) of the nearly 5000 people who took part in the online vote on the Scotland’s Towns Partnership website.

The other shortlisted towns included Ayr, Innerleithen, Linlithgow, Lanark and Rothesay.

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Kirkwall’s win was welcomed by Duncan McLean, chair of Kirkwall Business Improvement District, who made the submission on behalf of the town.

He said: “We at Kirkwall BID are delighted that our town has won this very special award. “It recognises both the beauty of the town’s historic centre and the efforts of local individuals, public bodies and voluntary organisations to make the town a wonderful place to live, work and socialise.

“Most importantly, it was the support of our community that won this award, and to know that the people of Kirkwall love and are proud of their town is the best reward of all.”

The national competition for Scotland’s Most Beautiful High Street is run by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the national body for towns in Scotland, and Keep Scotland Beautiful, the environmental charity which campaigns to keep Scotland green, clean and sustainable.

Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said it was about recognising the work and effort of local people “to make their high streets the best they can be”.

“It’s not just an award for a high street, it’s an award for the people who occupy it,” he said.

“I’ve seen first hand just some of the innovation and forward thinking used in Kirkwall and it is a real demonstration of what can be achieved with creativity and determination.

“I want to warmly congratulate Kirkwall and all of the worthy towns who were shortlisted. It’s no secret that our high streets have been under pressure for the past few years, but this competition gives us hope for the future. When people come together and take ownership of their places, great things can happen and big challenges can be overcome.”

Katie Murray, communities and place manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Kirkwall for being selected as Scotland’s most beautiful high street. This is a fantastic example of how, by working in partnership, significant improvements can be brought forward to improve the town centre experience for residents and visitors alike.”