One of Moray’s most legendary landmarks could be sold for just £1 to entice local people into running it.
Time is running out to ensure the future of the clock tower in Dufftown, which has fallen into disrepair and could be “boarded up” by next summer.
Yesterday, Moray Council’s policy and resources committee was presented with a report outlining the uncertain future of the 19th century monument.
John Cowe, who also chairs the authority’s economic development committee, suggested a novel idea to stimulate interest in the site.
Mr Cowe suggested the council offer the landmark up for just £1 to prospective bidders who are able to prove they can operate it for years to come.
He said: “Taking over the clock tower could be a great project for the community of Dufftown.
“I wonder if there could be an opportunity for local groups there to purchase it for a pound, that could be an easier option which spares everyone involved an unnecessary amount of work.”
The council’s corporate director, Mark Palmer, said the process would be “complicated” but advised Mr Cowe it could be an option.
Time has stood still at the clock tower for months, as its power was cut off on health and safety grounds after water began leaking through the walls.
The report said repairs to make the B-listed tower weather-proof would cost in the region of £50,000.
And councillors have encouraged local groups to rally in order to secure the future of the landmark.
Unless a new owner is found within a year, and takes on the B-listed timepiece from the council, it will either be mothballed or put up for sale on the open market.
Council leader George Alexander said: “We will give people 12 months to get things in order, but we are making it clear that if nothing happens after 12 months then the tower is likely to be boarded up.
“It would be a tragedy to lose this building.”
The Speyside Youth Ltd group has previously expressed an interest in assuming control of the tower, and has published a leaflet detailing its aims.
The organisation’s “preferred option” is purchasing it from the council but members are willing to consider taking it over through a community asset transfer.