Health and safety ‘stops Rothesay shelter revamp’

The public shelter in Guildford Square in Rothesay hasn't been properly refurbished since it was installed in 1990.
The public shelter in Guildford Square in Rothesay hasn't been properly refurbished since it was installed in 1990.

Health and safety rules are preventing a willing local volunteer breathing a long-awaited lease of life into a shelter in the centre of Rothesay, it has been claimed.

Bute Community Council member Iain Gillespie, who spent much of this summer giving up his own time and energy to painting and varnishing the public benches in Guildford Square, said his offer to devote similar levels of much-needed tender, loving care to the shelter on the north side of the square had been turned down by Argyll and Bute Council.

“Panes of glass have been missing for years,” Mr Gillespie said, “and I was told the shelter hasn’t been painted since it was put up in 1990.

“I’ve offered to do it for nothing, but I’ve been turned down by the council because of health and safety. But the council doesn’t know my skills base or experience. I worked in theatres for years and that shelter looks like Toytown by comparison.”

Local Argyll and Bute councillor Len Scoullar said he had been advised that the panes of glass in the shelter would have to be removed before it could be painted.

Mr Gillespie disagreed, insisting that he could repaint the shelter without putting any weight on, or even touching, the glass, and said he had obtained health and safety certificates through work before retiring eight years ago.

But island councillor and Argyll and Bute Provost Isobel Strong told Mr Gillespie any such certificates were unlikely to be valid now, and said: “The council was concerned not just about your health and safety but that of the public.

“They were worried that if anything happened to a member of the public they might be liable.”

Cllr Scoullar said that because the shelter served a twin purpose – that of a bus shelter and a general public space – it had proved difficult to get money for its refurbishment from the various council departments involved.

“The council says [refurbishment] could be done by a cherrypicker, at best,” he added.

“Even when the council had its own painters, they wouldn’t go near it.”

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “We are happy to work with volunteers in appropriate circumstances and we are very grateful for the offer.

“However this work would be classed as high risk as a cherry picker would be used.

“The council only works with approved contractors who have gone through the appropriate checks.”