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November 1, 2007

Soft drinks site buyout goes flat

A lemonade factory in Renfrewshire has been withdrawn from sale less than a month after villagers were given the right to go for a community buyout.

BBC News

Soft drinks site buyout goes flat
BBC News


The firm which owns the Struthers site in Lochwinnoch – where Krystal Klear soft drinks were made for almost 100 years – has opted not to sell.

Residents hoped to raise £1m and refurbish the site.

The government, which had approved the scheme, expressed its disappointment at the decision.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The community Right to Buy legislation requires a willing seller who retains the right to withdraw from the process at any stage prior to the conclusion of the missives.

Original building

“The community buyout group has registered an interest in the site and this interest remains active for five years.”

He added: “No reason need be given for the withdrawal from sale of any land or property.”

The Lochwinnoch Community Buyout Group planned to restore the original building to provide a museum, leisure facilities and wildlife habitat.

Secretary Dave Mellor said: “We’re disappointed because we are prepared to offer the official market valuation.

“The company has a responsibility to Lochwinnoch.

“It would’ve been a very good development, it still might be.

“We’re going to keep our right to buy, stack up our resources and stick it out – we hope the company will discuss it with us.”

The company which owns the land and property – once operated by Struthers – is called the trustees of Alfano Brothers Retirement Benefits Scheme.

Solicitors for the firm declined to comment.

Mike Danson, professor of Scotland and regional economics at the University of Paisley, said the decision to remove the site from sale was unprecedented under the legislation.

He said the site was owned by an absentee landlord – a situation that had occurred in Scotland for centuries.

“Why they’ve chose to withdraw is not clear,” he said.

“It is a negative move, here is a community coming together, being enterprising – all the things the government says it wants to happen.

“We should be concerned.”

Professor Danson say there might need to be a change in the law to bring Scotland into line with crofting communities, where the landlord cannot withdraw from a sale under right to buy legislation.