Hopes that the community in Largo may be able to save the damage-stricken village pier have crumbled.
Crusoe Hotel and pier owner Stewart Dykes – under pressure from Fife Council to make immediate improvements – has changed his mind over the structure being transferred to public ownership.
Residents had formed a group, Save Largo Pier, which had started exploring sources of fund-raising and ways of raissing support and awareness for the long-term campaign.
Members had made contact with other groups – as well as having talks with Mr Dykes, who in principle supported the idea of the community taking over the running of the weather-ravaged pier.
“I thought it was a good idea and if it was managed properly, it would be in everyone’s interests,” he said.
However, some “vitriolic and abusive” comments on the group’s Facebook page – and the possible effect of any pier-related conflict on the Crusoe’s long-term viability – prompted him to say no.
“Although there are many good people in the community who want to to do the right thing and to help, unfortuenately, there’s an element, as in any community, which is negative and hostile,” he said.
Mr Dykes added he would commit to repairs as and when he could – amid continuing bad weather and tough trading conditions for the licensed industry.
Mr Dykes said initial repairs would be “a holding job”, while long-term work was more complicated:“I do not have a bottomless pit of cash.”
Meanwhile, he was told last week by Fife Council to make repairs to the pier – or the authority may appoint its own contractor and send him the bill. Mr Dykes described the stance as “draconian” and said he’d be seeking legal advice.
Alison Hutchison, of Save Largo Pier, said there was “massive disappointment” over Mr Dykes’ change of heart – but stressed they had to respect his decision, as he was the pier owner. The group knew it was huge project, she said, but felt they could have made it work. She added: “He was decent with us and up front about it.” The group was very grateful to collect £371.75 by selling ‘Save Largo Pier’ car stickers and would give it to the RNLI and Homelands Trust-Fife.