Work has begun this week on making a long-empty Rothesay hotel safe from the threat of collapse.
Scaffolding was erected around the Royal Hotel, on the corner of Albert Place and Bishop Street, prior to the start of work by local firm George Hanson Building Contractors.
Mr Hanson explained: “We won a contract just before Christmas to secure the building, but one of the conditions was to make safe the ground floor, because a previous regime had left the ground floor alone while [bookmaker] William Hill was a tenant.
“When they vacated the ground floor premises because of water ingress it gave us the opportunity to shore up the building from the ground floor all the way up to the roof, as well as gutting out the old bar on the ground floor and getting rid of a lot of debris.
“Structural ties will be going in from front to back to secure the building from the basement all the way up to the roof, while a new temporary roof will also be going in, in conjunction with architects and a structural engineer.
“Once this job is done, that should be the building safe and secure.
“The work should be going on for the next few weeks. It was a condition that the work be finished in time for the Easter holidays.”
Mr Hanson had been in negotiations over the purchase of the building with its former owner, George Hart, until Mr Hart’s death in December 2011, but no agreement was reached.
Mr Hanson said this week that the issue of ownership was now in the hands of lawyers acting for Mr Hart’s family and for Argyll and Bute Council, which agreed a rescue package for the building, subject to its sale, shortly before Mr Hart’s death.
Local Argyll and Bute councillor Robert Macintyre said: “The building can be saved, but this work is essential right now. I have been informed that the building is ‘on the move’ in quite a serious way.”