Fizz goes out of buyout bid for lemonade factory

A PROPOSED community buyout of a lemonade factory has gone flat.

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Campaigners in Loch- winnoch, in Renfrewshire, had hoped to put a little fizz back in their village by taking over its now empty Struthurs / Krystal Klear plant.

However, they needed to win at least half the votes on a local turnout of 50% in a special election held on Friday and Saturday of last week.

They won 90% of the vote - but just fewer than one in three people took part in the ballot.

Campaigners are still hopeful that Scottish Ministers will back the scheme - despite the poor turnout on what they called a "cold, dark and wet weekend".

Lesley Scott of the Lochwinnoch Community Buyout Group said: "Competing against weather and the delights of Christmas shopping was a challenge for the campaigners, however, 31% of the 2668 people in the Lochwinnoch area turned out to vote.

"Ninety percent of these 818 voters were in favour of the proposition that the community buy the land.

"The community buyout group are pleased to announce that this amounts to 28% of the electorate, which exceeds the minimum sought by Ministers.

"These results, along with an outline business plan, will be sent to the Scottish ministers this week for them to consider giving their consent to the buyout.

"While the turnout was not a good as the campaigners had hoped, they are hoping for an early Christmas present in the form of a positive response from Ministers."

Campaigners aim to sell spring water from the old factory, which has its own well and make use of the wider site for affordable social housing.

When Struthers, which also produced Koala Kola shut down, Lochwinnoch lost its only sizeable manufacturing employer. Some locals were afraid the village would become a commuter and retirement haven.

This is the second "pop" Lochwinnoch has had at a community buyout. Initial plans fell through when Struthers shut down in 2006 after nearly 100 years in the village. The latest bid was launched on short notice after the site owners signalled they would be prepared to accept an offer.

Essentially the current proposal, using legislation already used to buy whole estates in the Highlands, would see the community borrow £1million to take over the site and develop it.

The organising committee has thanked supporters: "We are impressed with the hard work and tenacity of the many campaigners who have been working tirelessly for over two months, since the sale was announced, and will continue to do so to acquire the funding required to purchase the site."

l Results in full: number of eligible voters: 2668; number of eligible persons who voted: 818; number of votes cast in favour: 739; Number of votes cast against: 79.

david.leask@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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