Efforts to secure a new use for the vacant Perth City Hall have been branded futile by MP Pete Wishart.
The Perth and North Perthshire MP invoked the ire of campaigners battling to save the listed Edwardian building by describing the current remarketing exercise as a “massive waste of time and money”.
Mr Wishart predicted that no viable plan will emerge to retain the city hall, holding back the inevitable demolition and redevelopment of the site as a civic square.
His intervention in the debate has enraged Vivian Linacre of the Perth City Market Trust, who described the comments as “outrageous”.
He is confident that the trust’s plan for a food market hall hold the key to the future of not only the Perth City Hall, but the entire well-being of the city.
In its “mission statement” the trust sets out its conviction in their plans, stating: “The overriding purpose of any future use for the city halls must be the revitalisation of the city centre.
“The remarketing of this great building presents us with the ideal opportunity to reverse the long-term decline of Perth’s commercial heart.”
Mr Wishart remains unconvinced by the proposition for the market hall, saying: “What a massive waste of time and money the remarketing of the city hall has been.
“All that has been achieved is that the development of our city centre has been held back unnecessarily.
“It was very unfortunate that Historic Scotland refused consent for Perth and Kinross Council’s city square plans….
“Historic Scotland said that not enough was done to market the city hall, in a doomed and forlorn hope that someone would come forward with a fully-funded plan for some alternative use. Thanks goodness we only have another few months of this to go before we can go back to Historic Scotland.
“This time we must get a positive response. We cannot have the development of our city centre held back any longer.
“A city square will allow us to attract visitors, grow our cafe quarter, put on outdoor events and properly organise civic and community events. Every city needs civic space and we must ensure that we will soon have ours.”
Mr Linacre has gone on record as saying that, in his view, the demolition route would be a disaster for Perth.
The concept of Scotland’s first modern food market hall is one that the trust believes will capture the imagination of the public across Scotland and prove to be the “magnet” to reverse the fortunes of Perth city centre.
“A state-of-the-art market hall is the readiest and most effective form such a magnet could take,” stated the trust.
The trust points out that the draw of food is well documented, with research by VisitScotland revealing that sampling Perthshire’s produce was the most popular activity for visitors.
“The market hall itself will become a major visitor and tourist attraction, unique to Perth,” it stated.
A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said of the marketing process: “The interested parties have until October to submit their detailed bids along with supporting information.
“There will be a period of assessment, then a report will be prepared for the council early next year. We are committed to achieving the best outcome for Perth city centre.”