December and January News
Since the November meeting we have received little in terms of a response from our contacts with NetworkRail (NR), save their CEO Alex Hynes' assertion that it is up to the Task Force and partnership working to resolve the situation. He advised that he would send an update from his colleagues, which hasn't appeared yet. We also wrote to NR for Freedom of Information on the correspondence between NR and South Ayrshire Council (SAC) but they feel that this would be too expensive an exercise.
We also wrote to Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport and his secretariat indicate that their priority is safe operation of the trains and public safety and that the Task Force, chaired by Bill Reeve Director of Transport Scotland, and including NetworkRail, SAC, Dumfries and Galloway Council, ScotRail and Historic Environment Scotland, is also focused on the same priorities. It recommends that SAC, which leads regeneration plans, should lead a feasibility study to look at the building costs and the market as well as planning. It clearly states that the Council has to take responsibility for the buildings future.
The statement does not refer to the conservation concerns, the need to retain the townscape, the short term life of any new built station, the pollution of a demolition process nor the wider environmental impact.
Mr Matheson indicated that the building encapsulation could last up to five years if required but decisions should be made before then about the future of the building. He fails to say whether he thinks that the Scottish Government should consider a funding grant equivalent to what a new build would cost them. This would allow a heritage friendly future for the station which would allow it to be developed to economically viable uses. Mr Matheson plans to meet with SAC in the near future.
We don't seem to be getting very far but we continue to push. At the same time we are working with Ayr Development Trust as proposed to regenerate the Fish Cross/Laigh Tollbooth/former Affleck's area. Really this along with the Station Hotel should be at the centre of our planning future.