‘We need action on Discovery Centre’

Billy Shields, vice chair of Bute Conservation Trust.
Billy Shields, vice chair of Bute Conservation Trust.

Members of Bute Conservation Trust have hit out at Visit Scotland, owners of the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre, following the tourist information’s response to our story last week on maintenance works on the famous building.

And they want an assurance action will follow to improve the landmark.

The call comes in a letter to Malcolm Roughhead, chief executive of Visit Scotland, after the organisation’s spokesman told The Buteman they were in discussions with Historic Scotland on how to proceed.

The correspondence pointed out that, in October, 2014 the trust had been told it was all in hand - and a timetable set out.

They wrote: “We had been assured that a project team had been appointed and remedial works were in hand with revenue funds made available.

“We were advised further advised that the works to the cinema would be carried out in November 2014 followed by works to the roof in the same calendar year. In 2015 the ironwork would be stripped back then coated to protect it and other external and internal works would be carried out at the same time.

“The cinema works were carried out but there has since been no sign of any further works some 21 months later.’’

The trust said reports of discussions sounded like ‘‘delaying tactics.”

They added: “It does not give us any comfort that important works will actually be carried out in the near future.”

The trust views the centre as key to the town’s bid to attract tourists to the island - and is loved by locals.

“The Discovery Centre is at the heart of our town and is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens, much appreciated by locals and visitors alike and is usually the first structure seen by tourists as they arrive on the island.

“The state of the centre is letting down the town and the efforts of the community to grow our tourist numbers.

“We ask that you ensure that the promised works are undertaken as a matter of urgency and look forward to hearing from you with regard to a confirmed timetable.”

A spokesman for VisitScotland told The Buteman that improvement works would follow as soon as possible.

He said: “Work on the cinema was completed as planned. However, due to personnel and strategic changes further restoration work to the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre was delayed.

“A coordinated approach has been taken to the restoration of the building and we have been in contact with local community groups, as well as our public sector partners at Argyll and Bute Council and Historic Environment Scotland, to ensure that any work planned is sympathetic and in line with regulations and procedures on a Grade A Listed property.

“We understand the importance of the centre ... and we have made it a priority that improvement works be taken forward as soon as possible to enhance the building for the future.”

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