Campaigners seeking to restore a Moray landmark to its former glories have accused Moray Council’s leader of regarding the building in their trust as a ‘liability’.
Members of the Friends of Grant Lodge group met with the leader of Moray Council, Councillor Allan Wright, to discuss options for the future of the historic building in Cooper Park that was first donated to the people of Elgin in 1903.
The building, which was once the town’s library and later a home for historic official archives, was badly damaged by fire in 2003 and has lain derelict since. Funding to restore the building is likely to be available from such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, however, around £1.5million would still need to be raised – and Moray Council say that is not an option at this time.
Agreement appeared to have been reached where the local authority would seek to restore the building for use as a registry office and a central tourist attraction as part of their overall plans for the region. Those options no longer appear to be on the table.
Following the meeting this week Councillor Wright said: “I was happy to meet with Friends of Grant Lodge and they remain single-minded about its future – but the council maintains its position that we do not have the money to spend on its restoration.”
Secretary of the campaign group, Sarah Nicholson, accused the council leader of seeing the building as nothing more than a ‘liability’. She commented: “The meeting was a disappointment and there was a suggestion that Grant Lodge be used as a Whisky Heritage Centre.
“I’m not sure that would attract Heritage Lottery funding – it would also take the building out of community use and that has always been our primary concern. Grant Lodge was given to the town as a community asset, we would really like to see the archives back at the building so that everyone could get the benefit of them.
“For that there has to be a will from the council and the community in general to find a common use that everyone wants.”