Why isn’t the Tron Kirk open for business yet? - Kevin Buckle
Eight months ago Edinburgh Council made the big announcement naming the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust as the partner to secure the future of the Tron Kirk.
Personally I was disappointed as I felt a rival bid from a couple of people who had already traded from the Tron and knew the building and its problems well was a stronger option but there was some consolation for the artists who had previously traded from the building in that initially at least it would return to trading as an arts market.
The council statement was clear: “Working in partnership with the Council, SHBT will develop a feasibility study to set out a future vision for the Tron Kirk and, when fully funded, the charity will sign a 125-year lease for the building. In the short term the charity will fulfil a management role for the Tron Kirk liaising with all existing and new tenants to make sure that the building is open for business as soon as possible. “
The key here is that last phrase “as soon as possible”. This was good news for those hoping to be trading in the summer and certainly nobody expected the Tron to still be closed at Christmas.
The problem in all these situations is that those responsible for moving things forward have no financial investment themselves. Meanwhile the public purse has lost many months of rent and businesses have been denied months of income.
I asked the question as to what was happening and the answer was short and sweet: “Work is ongoing to complete the lease documentation.” I followed this up asking for details of the delay but no further comment was forthcoming, despite chasing it up.
Obviously the long-term lease may not be signed but what has happened to the management role? I was expecting them to come back blaming the pandemic, which is a catch-all excuse for inactivity these days, but as I say there was no further response and certainly the opportunity has been there to get the Tron back open again.
Edinburgh World Heritage failed with all its plans to provide a long-term future for the Tron Kirk and the same may well happen to the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, It may just be that the long-term future for the building is as an arts market. The alternative bid I mentioned made the businessmen a profit while also putting money in year after year towards the upkeep of the building at a level that was realistic for what is needed.
Time after time Edinburgh Council appears to be suspicious of business while failing to see glaring faults in anybody with a charitable status. If anything, in the post-pandemic living-with-Covid world the grants much loved by so many of these charitable organisations will be even harder to come by and those who continue to be successful will run more as a business with grants seen as a bonus rather than a necessity.
The days of lottery money being wasted in the millions are gone and while there will always be charities doing good work that have no way of raising the income they need without grants there are many others that need to look at what more they can do to be more financially independent.
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