A campaign group seeking a secure future for a historic Elgin landmark has issued an open letter to all Moray Councillors seeking their support ahead of a crunch meeting on Tuesday.
The recommendation is being placed before Moray Council’s economic development committee will seek agreement to scrap a project intended to find a means of bringing Grant Lodge into a useable condition.
Not since a serious fire in 2003 has the 270-year-old former Library been in use with members of the campaign group Friends of Grant Lodge fighting calls for a promised £2.6million redevelopment project to be scrapped.
In 2011, Councillors agreed that they would provide up to £1.3million in match funding for a restoration project – however, several are now pointing to the current financial plight at the local authority and insisting that the project should be scrapped – with a suggestion that even basic maintenance should be halted.
In their open letter to all Councillors ahead of Tuesday’s crunch meeting, Friends of Grant Lodge say that to abandon the building would leave Moray Council in breach of the conditions of the original Deed of Gift granting the building to the people of Elgin in 1903 and amended in 1994.
The letter adds: “It would seem common sense to meet the regulations by fulfilling the conditions of the Amended Deed of Gift, and the proposals outlined in the Partnership Scheme, and refurbish Grant Lodge to provide the archive service.
“£62.380 has already been spent on this proposal – this money would be an abortive cost were it to be abandoned.
“It is our understanding from members of Council Staff and The Partnership that funds would be forthcoming from external sources for assistance in providing suitable archive services that comply with the regulations. This may be the only opportunity Moray Council has in obtaining this assistance.
“The report by Rene Millburn has not been presented to fully inform the councillors of how funding can be obtained.”
Should Councillors agree the recommendation put to them on Tuesday, Friends of Grant Lodge say that they at least should then seek to change the terms of the original deed, taking account of the views of local people and planning for the future of Grant Lodge possibly through a change of guardianship.
Their letter said: “To alter the Deed of Gift the Council will have to establish that it is the will of the inhabitants of Elgin, to whom it was gifted, that they are in accord with the disposal of the building.
“Our group has been in touch with the Cooper descendants and they will not form an obstacle, nor will they provide any further financial assistance.
“The proceeds from any sale of Grant Lodge will not be available for the Council to spend on other Council outgoings, as the building is held in Trust.”