Village wants second pop at buying lemonade plant

IT'S the big lemonade factory vox pop.

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Locals want to stage a buyout of the former lemonade factory
Locals want to stage a buyout of the former lemonade factory

People in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, had their say on a proposed community buy-out of the village's old Struthers' Krystal Klear factory.

Campaigners believe the site, which includes a spring water well, and its disused buildings could help put the fizz back in to the area by attracting new jobs and businesses.

But first they must get at least half of the area's voters to back the buyout plan on a turnout of at least 50%.

A ballot took place yesterday and today.

The Lochwinnoch Community Buyout Group unveiled its proposals at a public meeting. These include selling the spring water and letting buildings for social housing and business premises.

Alyson Barrie, a member of the group, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the village."

Essentially the group, using legislation brought in by the Scottish Parliament and already used to buy whole estates in the Highlands, would borrow £1million to take over the site and develop it.

Ms Barrie and her fellow campaigners have been on a long journey.

People in Lochwinnoch mooted a community buyout almost as soon as Struthers pulled out in 2006 with the loss of 30 jobs.

The factory had operated for around for 100 years, offering a rare chance for local people to get factory jobs.

Without it, many feared Lochwinnoch would turn in to a characterless commuter and retirement village. Initial plans included a microbrewery.

However, they fell through. The site owners have now signalled they would consider a new bid.

Scottish ministers, who must support any community buyout, backed the first effort.

If enough people vote 'yes' today and tomorrow, they will be asked to do so again.

The ballot count will be held on Monday evening.

Ministers would be expected to announce a decision by Christmas, with the site purchased before April 4, 2014.

Without a buyout concerns remain about the future of the old Struthers' buildings, which include the village's old schoolhouse.

They have been formally included in Scotland's "at-risk" register.

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

Local government

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