Council’s grant for Davidson Hospital is too ‘high risk’

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Councillors in South Ayrshire have been recommended to refuse a major Girvan project by denying it vital funds.

The council’s rural panel is set to meet tomorrow night (Thursday) to discuss a grant application from Girvan based Ailsa Horizons to help with its plans for the old Davidson Hospital.

However, council papers show that the rural panel has been recommended to refuse an award of £2,405 to Ailsa Horizons on the basis that its plans to turn the hospital into an enterprise centre are “high risk”.

The council state that the demand for the enterprise centre isn’t clear and that it has an operational shortfall of £65,000 per year.

Ailsa Horizons require the money to help meet insurance and running costs for the building from next month until April 2015.

That’s because the NHS want them to take responsibility for the building from December but Horizons won’t hear about their major funding bid to the Heritage Enterprise Fund until March next year.

The council’s report into the grant application says that there is uncertainty around the project and that Business Gateway sessions for business start-ups in Girvan were discontinued after poor attendance figures.

Ailsa Horizons plan to transform the historic hospital into an enterprise centre which would provide training and other support to new and established businesses and a recent survey showed 84% of respondents support bringing the building back into beneficial community use.

Horizons is waiting to hear on funding applications to help meet insurance and running costs from the Scottish Land Fund and the Robertson Trust but were hoping the Council would also provide grant funding.

The Gazette understands that a decision from the Scottish Land Fund is set to be made on the same day as the Rural Panel meeting.

The company have secured a £158,000 loan in principle from Carrick Futures subject to an agreement should attempts to secure smaller grants prove unsuccessful.

Stuart Lindsay, CEO of Ailsa Horizons said: “I fully understand and respect the reasons behind the recommendation that the officers have made to the Rural Panel. Even so, I hope to be able to speak during the meeting on Thursday so as to update the elected members on the progress that we are making with this project.”