Bathing station owner hits back at critics

Ron MacDonald and his family on the shore in front of the derelict bathing station he has owned isince 1994.
Ron MacDonald and his family on the shore in front of the derelict bathing station he has owned isince 1994.

The owner of the long-derelict bathing station at the West Bay in Rothesay has hit back at criticism of his proposal to build houses on the site.

Ron MacDonald was responding to comments made by the island’s two SNP councillors, who questioned both the desirability of having houses on the site and the likelihood of the project ever coming to fruition.

Robert Macintyre and Isobel Strong, who are both standing for the SNP in the Argyll and Bute Council election on May 3, said they were not in favour of having houses on the Ardbeg Road site, immediately north of the Isle of Bute Sailing Club premises, due to the visual impact of any development on views across Rothesay Bay.

Cllr Strong suggested the proposal - which has yet to be the subject of a formal planning application - was a way of attracting public subsidy as well as building homes, and said she did not believe there should be any residential development along that shore.

Cllr Macintyre, meanwhile, said Mr MacDonald’s previous intentions for the site had come to nothing and that he felt the development “would stick out like a sore thumb”.

But Mr MacDonald said the councillors’ views were out of step with general public opinion on the subject.

“Mrs Strong’s comments do not reflect the opinion of the general population of Rothesay,” he told The Buteman.

“She says she wants the bathing station tided up - then why doesn’t she and her fellow coucillors raise the money, buy it, and spend what is required to create their best concept for the site?

“The site was bought in good faith to build a hotel to hopefully assist in the regeneration of tourism on the island. Planning has been approved in the past for residential and hotel use - it was OK with these councillors when it was going to be a hotel, so why opposition to it now?

“These two councillors need to start trying to do something positive towards the future economic regeneration of Rothesay, rather than trying to oppose others who are spending considerable time and money trying to do what they should be doing.

“That site was left high and dry by AIE, after encouraging us to buy and develop the site for a hotel. The idea was not ours - we took them on trust and they dumped us.

“We have considerable amounts of money invested in the site over the years and would like to get that back,

“The remarks from Robert Macintyre about free lunches and sore thumbs are typically negative. What sore thumb is best? A dilapidated bathing station or some nice new housing on the site which is unique because of its accessabity to the water and would hopefully attract buyers to the island?

“This rare and lovely site will only come to life with a combined effort by all, and not by negative opposition, as is the case in general with regard to Rothesay and Bute moving forward.”