Moray Council has been accused of “breaking promises” after volunteers behind the Burghead harbour shelter had to fork out hundreds of pounds for backdated rent.
The shelter run by the community that serves as a memorial to all those lost at sea is seen as a “community asset” in educating people of all ages about the fishing.
The Burghead Town Council donated the land to the local community in the 1900s before it was taken over by the former Grampian Regional Council who demolished the original shelter along with the nearby toilet block.
Then in 2007, the community rallied together to raise £20,000 through fundraising events and £10,000 from the National Lottery fund to rebuild the shelter.
Last night, John Mains, who was part of the rebuilding committee, criticised the local authority for charging the Burghead and Cummingston Community Council £450 despite officials promising that the land would not be subject to any more charges.
Mr Mains said: “We were fighting with the council for planning permission in the first place to get the shelter rebuilt.
“The last meeting we had, officials said there was no further charges.
“They call it ground rent but it is a memorial for people who were lost at sea and there are plaques proving that.
“The reality is that the council never wanted the shelter to be rebuilt.
“What annoys is the shelter is a big asset to the Burghead community and people can use it anytime they like.
“Visitors use it as a tourist information centre and schools come down to learn.”
He added: “It is right next to the Shetland Bus Memorial and they aren’t paying anything.
“There isn’t another memorial in the country that people have taken money from.
Douglas Ross, MP for Moray added: “My understanding is that the volunteers were told they would not be subject to any charges for the shelter which sits on a piece of land that was originally donated to the local community by the old Burghead Town Council.
“I hope that the council can provide some clarity on this and look at removing these charges for the group.”
A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “An invoice was sent in 2019 in respect of backdated rent and has been settled.
“In March 2020 the annual rental charge of £175 was invoiced and has been paid in full, leaving no outstanding balance.”