Politicians this week continued to demand answers over the closure of Crieff’s Royal Bank of Scotland.
The James Square branch – which is temporarily housed in a cabin following a ceiling collapse – is to close permanently in June after bank officials said they cannot safely re-open the office due to the state of the nearby derelict Drummond Arms Hotel.
Now, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith has written to Bernadette Malone, chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council, regarding the disrepair of the historic hotel and the potential danger it presents.
She said: “Residents across Crieff are rightly angry the property has been allowed to get into such a state of disrepair and there is growing concern that the current condition of some of the surrounding masonry on the building facing James Square is becoming a safety hazard.
“The fact that, despite its desire to remain committed to Crieff, RBS has been forced to close its branch is yet another blow to the centre of the town at a time when so much good work is being done to try to bring new life to Crieff.
“The future of the Drummond Arms Hotel and former RBS branch site is important not only with regards to health and safety but also to local businesses and the economic future of the town.”
Ms Smith also wants to know whether PKC officials may place a compulsory purchase order on the building in the future.
The Drummond Arms Hotel was previously owned by Glasgow councillor Sohan Singh and last week local MSP Roseanna Cunningham criticised him for failing to maintain the building.
Cllr Singh hit back saying he had been unable to find funding to redevelop the hotel because of the recession and said he sold it to a company called Strathfare nearly a year ago.
Internet searches show the sole director of Strathfare Limited is Ranjeet Singh with an address given on Glasgow’s Hope Street which is the same as Sohan Singh’s Artto Hotel.
However, hotel staff said they had no knowledge of Ranjeet Singh when contacted by the Herald. Another address listed for Strathfare is via a firm of solicitors at Waterloo Place, Glasgow.
A solicitor there said he would pass on a written request from the Herald asking Mr Singh to comment on his future plans for the mothballed hotel, however, the Herald received no response prior to going to press yesterday (Wednesday).
Ms Cunningham said: “Labour councillor Sohan Singh washes his hands of responsibility by claiming to have sold the Drummond Arms in March 2012, but PKC served a Serious Disrepair Notice on him in January of last year and it seems he did nothing about it.
“I have raised questions with the council about the powers that are available to ensure compliance with such notices.”
Ms Cunningham also called on RBS confirm precise arrangements for Crieff bank customers and staff.
She added: “Folk in Crieff simply cannot understand why RBS could not relocate in the town – it is not as though we are short of empty commercial properties – so they need to explain why that is not possible.”
The bank is due to close on June 19 and an RBS spokeswoman said staff will help customers make alternative arrangements for their banking while a schedule is being drawn up for a mobile banking service which will visit Crieff regularly.