South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson for Transport Colin Smyth has criticised the failure to take earlier action over the condition of the Station Hotel in Ayr, after South Ayrshire council were forced to impose an exclusion zone around former hotel after it was deemed unsafe leading to rail chaos.

The local MSP Chaired a public meeting in Ayr in April where members of the public present agreed to establish an Action Group to try to save the Glasgow and South Western Railway-built station hotel. The well attended meeting was organised by local resident Esther Clark who has been campaigning for action to refurbish the hotel and bring it back into use as a community asset and who has pressed for proper inspections of the condition of the property.

Colin Smyth said, “The Station Hotel has been left neglected for years and had it not been for the local campaign set up to try to save the hotel pressing for action and proper inspections, these safety concerns would never have been discovered. Earlier action could and should have avoided the current rail chaos. Given what the inspections have revealed I shudder to think what may have happened had the campaign group not put been so persistent.

Given that rail trade unions and local campaigners have raised health and safety concerns over the state of the building for years, serious questions have to be asked over why so little action has been taken to secure the building. 

I’m sure rail bosses will want to use the current problems as an excuse to press for the historic building to be flattened to make way for a new station. But what we need is the building to be urgently made safe by the council to end the current travel chaos and get trains moving again. 

A proper plan then needs to be put in place to secure ownership from an absentee owner and develop a long term plan for the future. It is disappointing that it has taken this incident to focus people’s minds on a sorry state of neglect.”

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