Girvan Pavilion probe hits brick wall

A GIRVAN businessman has reached a dead end while looking for the reasons why the town's Beach Pavilion was closed.

In September 2000, the venue was shut down, allegedly for 'Health and Safety' reasons, after engineers reported finding the building to be unsafe.

Now seafront amusement arcade proprietor Lawrie Richmond, who has spent months looking into the background, reveals how he came up against a bureaucratic brick wall after challenging South Ayrshire Council for details and believes the matter should also be investigated by the Ombudsman.

In an exclusive interview this week with the Carrick Gazette he said: "I have recently asked the Freedom of Information department for information about the closure of the Girvan Beach Pavilion.

"It was closed in September 2000 for 'safety reasons' - sound familiar?

"The good citizens of Girvan asked at the time what these safety issues were and were told by Councillor Foulkes that there was an engineers' report stating that the building was unsafe and had to close.

"We asked to see the report and were told that the report was confidential. I could never understand how a safety report on a public building could be secret.

"Now that I am a little less gullible and aware of the Freedom of Information Act, I want some answers!

"I have been furnished with survey reports from 1996 and 2004 but not the damning report that closed the building with immediate effect.

"I cannot believe that such an important document could be destroyed or mislaid.

"I understand that there was about 30,000 in the budget at the time to rectify a few problems such as earth bonding in the wiring.

"Local electricians who were familiar with the building at the time said that the wiring needed a bit of tidying up but was certainly not requiring a full re-wire.

"The asbestos had all been removed some years before at great expense. The walls were sound, as was the roof.

"So what was so wrong with the building that it had to close immediately?

"Who took the decision to close it without it going to committee and did they have the authority to do so?

"I suspect the real reason was yet again to save money at our expense, after all the people of Girvan don't need a town hall/ sports hall/ theatre/ cinema/ swimming pool/ play park.

"That's just for the privileged folks north of Girvan!

"The council may say that the building was underused but that was down to the sheer incompetence of the management running it.

"Can you think of a similar building anywhere in the world with no signs or notice boards outside?

"Events were treated to an advertising budget of one poster in the community centre and one advert in the Press.

"Can you imagine how many South Ayrshire councillors would get re-elected with a budget like that?

"Private enterprise hiring the hall could fill the Pavilion to capacity with some decent advertising, the only problem visitors had was finding the building.

"I fear that with the knocking down of the shelters, kiosk and toilets, the Beach Pavilion, swimming pool, Pavilion shops - which incidentally were not advertised to my knowledge after the last occupant was forced out due to a ridiculous one month at a time lease (so I believe) - this is the exit strategy for SAC in Girvan. There are no plans that I know of to replace these facilities.

"To be fair, the council has spent a great deal of money upgrading the out-of-town Ainslie car park toilet and also The Flushes toilets. It is a pity that they don't listen to the people of Girvan who have been shouting from the rooftops for years about decent toilet facilities at the harbour where they will do the town a lot more good.

"Over a million ferry passengers pass through this town every year and a fair percentage stop in Girvan and spend money in the town as it is the most convenient place to stop south of the Highlands.

"The council has also re-opened the boating lake and putting green at considerable expense, although only for 10 hours a week. This is certainly an improvement in attitude.

"Let's hope that next year they don't fill in the lake using the same excuse that it lost money this year - if it does it will be the first since 1938!

"I said some time ago that the council should be investigated for their attitude towards Girvan.

"Let's hope that the Ombud-sman will also take this up."