Tighter coronavirus controls have scuppered plans for face-to-face consultation over the future of Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre.
The controversial building is currently the subject of an Angus Council online consultation over plans for its future.
It follows a landmark Court of Session ruling earlier this year in favour of two town businessmen.
Mark Guild and Donald Stewart fought the planned £400,000 demolition of the centre at Forfar Loch.
Senior judges ruled the 45-year-old property is a common good asset and said the public should have been consulted before councillors decided to bulldoze it.
Council decided against Supreme Court challenge
The council backed down from taking the fight to the UK’s Supreme Court because of the potential risk to the public purse.
Earlier this month, the local authority started the process to determine the final fate of the centre.
It has been closed since it was replaced by the Forfar community campus almost four years ago.
The first phase online consultation includes options of lease, sale, community asset transfer and demolition.
Heightened coronavirus restrictions force change of plan
The consultation runs until the end of January, but council officials have been forced to shelve plans for drop-in sessions at Forfar’s Reid Hall to let locals have their say.
It follows the move to Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing day.
“It was planned to hold focus group meetings, public drop-in sessions and paper copies of the survey have been available via Access drop-in services at Forfar and other burgh libraries,” said a council spokesperson.
“Due to the tightening of restrictions these options are no longer possible.
The council has said it hopes to provide help for those unable to access the online consultation following the festive break.
All Angus communities are being asked for their views on the centre, in line with the requirements of the community empowerment rules which were pivotal in the determining outcome of the legal fight.
Council leader David Fairweather has repeatedly given the message that it will be up to the public to come forward with a feasible future plan since the building is surplus to requirements.
Lochside also continues to run up a four-figure weekly bill in rates, maintenance, security and other additional costs.
The spokesperson added: “A summary of the responses will be reported to the council, with the target date of March 18.”
Councillors hope to be able to make a decision on the centre’s fate around June.