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Fresh hopes for derelict hotel

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By Donald Turvill
Fresh hopes for derelict hotel

MOFFAT Community Council has tabled plans to bring the Mercury Motor Inn under community ownership.

For more than 20 years the former hotel has sat unoccupied on the edge of the town falling into a state of disrepair.

The dilapidated property, which is owned by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, has been the focus of a string of campaigns attempting to have the eyesore building demolished, all of which have failed. In a bid to rekindle the local conversation around the Mercury and its future, community councillor Fiona Murray suggested taking a new approach at the group’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

She said: “This is such a huge issue for the people of Moffat and has been for so long, and it’s such an eyesore. It would be huge if we were able to start making some inroads here finally, we haven’t tried community ownership before.

“All the indications seem to be that the timing is really good now to consider community ownership. The Scottish Government are behind it and there’s a lot of funding and a lot of expertise out there just now.”

Community council chairman, Leys Geddes, drew parallels between the Mercury Inn and the Crook Inn, a historic pub in Tweedsmuir which is currently being restored after 15 years of closure. He said the Borders project “required a plan of what they’re going to do with the place before they made any progress”.

Mr Geddes called for “strategic thinking” and added: “It isn’t going to be easy because it will end up as a consultation.”

Mrs Murray said she had made contact with representatives from Community Land Scotland, the Scottish Land Fund and the Development Trust Association to get the ball rolling.

She said: “I made contact with various people just to speak to them about it and get more information about what the steps would be if we were looking to pursue community ownership to buy this site to then demolish the Mercury.

“What they’ve said is this isn’t something the community council would take on but you need a development trust to do that. If there’s no one else doing this, the community council are a good body to get it started.

“What I’d be proposing is I’d continue, or someone from the community council, to have those conversations just preliminarily to get a bit of an understanding of what the framework would be, draw up an outline project plan and maybe bring that to a future meeting in the next couple of months.”

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