Demolishing the Station Hotel would be hard to watch but could herald the start of a new era for Ayr and other towns in the South West. That’s the view of MSP Brian Whittle, who’s joined the growing number of local politicians and rail travellers who want to end the uncertainty about services to and from Ayr Station once and for all.
The South Scotland MSP who has been a strong advocate for the Ayrshire Growth Deal and investment in the local transport network including the A77 to boost the local economy says if a decision is made to demolish the building, South Ayrshire Council, and rail bosses are must be ambitious when it comes to renewing the current Ayr Station.
The MSP wants to see the existing station replaced with a modern, multi-purpose travel hub as a first step towards revitalising Ayr and surrounding towns. Having sat empty and unmaintained for years, MSP Brian now believes the costs involved in saving the station hotel may outweigh the benefits and is concerned that further delay in dealing with the structure could mean it falls down before any viable rescue plan can be put together. With the final outcome of structural surveys not due until November, the MSP fears the hotel may not have the time to wait for an economically viable rescue plan and funding package to emerge before Winter weather wreaks havoc on the structure.
Brian Whittle MSP said: “I’m the first to admit I don’t want to see the Station Hotel go, but given what we know about its condition, I think we’re past the point of no return. The Station Hotel will be a loss to the town but at the same time it’s been a long time since it was of any meaningful benefit to rail travellers, tourists or local residents. Without the Station Hotel, there’s a real opportunity to build something that’s a genuine asset. As well as giving rail travellers a completely different first impression of Ayr, we can do more to promote active travel with better facilities for cyclists. Cycle tourism is a growing market and it’s one Ayrshire is well placed to take advantage of. I’d also like to see a community element in a new building, with space for groups to meet and space dedicated to the history of the Station Hotel. Ayr Station is the gateway for visitors to South Ayrshire and right now it couldn’t be giving people a worse impression. Tourists and businesses both place a high value on good transport links and South Ayrshire needs to find new ways to attract both if the local economy is to grow. Whatever the decision on the hotel’s future, it’s time to be bold and build a brighter future for South Ayrshire, rather than throwing good money after bad to cling to the past.”