A one-time owner of Crieff’s mothballed Drummond Arms Hotel has responded to stinging criticism from MSP Roseanna Cunningham following the news the town’s RBS branch is to close.
Ms Cunningham said earlier this week that she was angered by the news that the James Square outlet is to close permanently from the middle of June.
She added: “My anger, however, is not directed so much at the RBS as at the owner – or immediate past owner – of the Drummond Arms Hotel whose abject failure to maintain, let alone redevelop as promised, this historic Crieff building has to a great extent forced the hand of RBS.”
In response Sohan Singh, who is a Labour councillor in Glasgow, explained: “I have not owned the hotel since March 2012. Throughout my ownership, I sought support to redevelop the hotel, even speaking with RBS, but without success.
“I regret that, given the recession, funding proved impossible. I sold the hotel to others who assured me of their desire to bring the building back into use.
“There has been no sleight of hand on my part. I had no correspondence from Roseanna Cunningham about the hotel when I owned it, so I am confused about why she has only now chosen to speak out and her accusations about me have no foundation.
“If Ms Cunningham had spoken to me when I was the owner then she would have understood what happened and the problems that I, along with others, faced in these economic conditions.”
He continued: “I regret that my business plans did not work out. I am sorry that Crieff is losing out as a result. I can only hope that RBS can find a solution.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said the local authority would continue to work with the bank in a bid to find a way forward.
Explaining the background, she said: “We have engaged with the owners of the Drummond Arms Hotel to seek a resolution and have twice served a Defective Building Notice on them.
“The Drummond Arms Hotel has been assessed as defective and in need of significant repair but is not in a dangerous condition.
“The council would only take action if the building were to pose an immediate danger to public health and safety.”
Council leader Ian Miller added that the council has worked with the bank in the hope of ensuring their ongoing presence in Crieff – including a recent extension to their lease.
He added: “The council cannot reasonably commit to provide the significant level of funding required to make repairs to this privately-owned hotel.”
Ochil and South Perthshire MP Gordon Banks said yesterday (Wednesday): “I have previously called on Perth and Kinross Council to take a more proactive role in returning to use the numerous vacant commercial buildings that are blighting many communities in my constituency and believe that, in the present economic climate – without this action – things will continue to deteriorate throughout the towns and villages of Perthshire and Kinross-shire.
“I understand that after the branch closes on June 19, mobile banking services will be available in the town twice-a-week and that although there could be one redundancy from this closure, RBS is hopeful that this will be averted.”