PEOPLE POWER MADE the continuing existence of the Fochabers Institute a reality.
That was the view expressed by local Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross who took time out from his honeymoon to praise local campaigners who fought so hard to save the historic building.
While the administration group at Moray Council agreed this week the Institute should pass into community ownership this week, it took the joint efforts of the SNP and Labour groups to defeat a move to block an essential £150,000 contribution towards maintenance costs of the building.
Councillor Ross could not attend the meeting on Wednesday, but the long-time supporter of the Community Asset Transfer bid took time out to heap praise on the people of Fochabers who will now seek to ensure that the neglected building serves Fochabers for many years to come.
Councillor Ross said: “I’m delighted for everyone involved in this project. It has taken a considerable amount of hard work, dedication and commitment to get a CAT that could be approved unanimously by the councillors.
“All the credit for this decision being possible lies with the supporters of the hall who have done so much to ensure a viable business case could be submitted. It’s also right to acknowledge the support the hall has received from its users who were determined to keep it open.
“I was disappointed I could not be there in person to support the group as I was on honeymoon but I did email the Convener to ask that he note my support for the plans and the £150,000 grant.
“When the CAT and grant were last discussed at the Policy and Resources committee a few weeks ago I spoke strongly in favour of the aims and objectives of the Fochabers Village Association Ltd. For myself and many others, the village would not be the same without the Public Institute.
“While several councillors did not support the award of the grant I always felt it was the very least the council could do given that many years of neglect by the local authority have led to repairs not being done and a huge bill faced by any group looking to take over the building.
“The fact that it is so well used by a diverse range of groups and others hiring the venue shows how much it is needed in the village and I think in years to come the council will see their grant was a very sound investment for ensuring the future use of this iconic venue.”