COLIN Smyth has criticised the failure to take earlier action over the condition of Ayr’s Station Hotel.

The South Scotland MSP’s criticism comes after South Ayrshire Council were forced to impose an exclusion zone around former hotel after it was deemed unsafe leading to rail chaos.

Mr Smyth, who is Scottish Labour’s Transport spokesperson, chaired a public meeting in Ayr in April where it was agreed to establish an Action Group to try and save the hotel.

The well attended meeting was organised by local resident Esther Clark who has been campaigning for action to refurbish the hotel and bring it back into use as a community asset and who has pressed for proper inspections of the condition of the property.

Mr Smyth said: “The Station Hotel has been left neglected for years and had it not been for the lo cal campaign set up to try to save the hotel pressing for action and proper inspections, these safety concerns would never have been discovered.

“Earlier action could and should have avoided the current rail chaos. Given what the inspections have revealed I shudder to think what may have happened had the campaign group not put been so persistent.

“Given that rail trade unions and local campaigners have raised health and safety concerns over the state of the building for years, serious questions have to be asked over why so little action has been taken to secure the building.

“I’m sure rail bosses will want to use the current problems as an excuse to press for the historic building to be flattened to make way for a new station.

“But what we need is the building to be urgently made safe by the council to end the current travel chaos and get trains moving again.

“A proper plan then needs to be put in place to secure ownership from an absentee owner and develop a longterm plan for the future. It is disappointing that it has taken this incident to focus people’s minds on a sorry state of neglect.”