A historic fishing boat that has been deteriorating in Ayr harbour is set to be demolished, with a survey showing more members of the public back the move than oppose it.

Last October, South Ayrshire Council’s cabinet approved a plan to remove and scrap the MVF Watchful and the supporting structure, subject to a public consultation.

The cabinet will hear the outcome of the consultation this Tuesday, March 12, with a report revealing that the number of those backing the move double that of those who oppose it.

With many of the objectors citing the loss of the boat as a memorial to fishermen, it has also been suggested this could be addressed in the broader maritime heritage work taking place.

In a report to the cabinet, Tom Burns service lead – asset management and community asset transfer, states: “Removal of MVF Watchful will enable implementation of the proposed Ayr Esplanade Improvement Strategy to include improved infrastructure for water sports, refurbishment of existing artworks, a new maritime heritage installation, improved way finding and interpretation.”

The cost of repairing the vessel was estimated at £80,000 in 2019, with the current cost likely to be significantly higher due to the high levels of inflation and issues with supplies and materials.

Even that sum, however, is an educated guess, with Mr Burns' report stating the true cost would only be able to be determined on the start of work.

Mr Burns continued: “A small number of community bodies have expressed an interest in MVF Watchful as a heritage or restoration project over the years.

“However, none of these have come to fruition as a community asset transfer or any other purchase, lease, or management agreement.”

No funds have been set aside for maintaining the vessel and the council has made it clear that it has no use for the Watchful.

A total of 91 representations were made as part of the public consultation. Of these, 44 were in favour of demolition, 24 were against while a further 24 were neither for or against the proposal.

The cabinet will be asked that "having regard to the outcome of the consultation, agrees to proceed with the proposals that the MVF Watchful and supporting structure is declared surplus to council requirements, removed and scrapped".

The removal of the vessel will mean that Ayr Common Good Fund will no longer be liable for the cost of maintenance and repairs.

The demolition has been costed at around £5,500, which would be met from the council’s promenade and shorefront improvement budget.

Mr Burns acknowledges that the move will not be universally welcomed.

He states: “There is a risk that removal and scrapping will be viewed negatively by some members of the community who are opposed to the proposal.

“Results from the Common Good Consultation indicate, however, the majority of respondents support the proposal to remove the boat to enable improvements to the area.

“Many of the representations that are against the proposal focus on the loss of The Watchful as a memorial to fisherman. This could be mitigated by proposals for a new maritime heritage installation contained in the Ayr Esplanade Strategy.”

Mr Burns concludes: “The Ayr Common Good Fund could remain liable for maintenance of a property which without significant investment is likely to deteriorate further, become increasingly unsafe and detract from the surrounding area.”