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Jim's fight to protect RAI is admirable.

Byline: A Conservative voice BY WEST SCOTLAND MSP RUSSELL FINDLAY

The old Royal Alexandra Infirmary holds a special place in the heart of many Paisley Buddies and seeing it go up in flames this week was heartbreaking.

Designed by Paisley's own Thomas Graham Abercrombie, it is a real architectural gem.

But time has not been kind to this neglected red sandstone building, with serious concerns long before the blaze.

Having lain empty since 2008, it has been on Renfrewshire Council's 'critical list' for nearly 12 years.

Fire is indiscriminate and we must be thankful that no one was hurt, but to see any important cultural heritage going up in flames is a sorry sight.

Scotland's weather plays a part in the road to rack and ruin - however the real problem with these dilapidated buildings is when they become a magnet for vandalism and other unsavoury criminal behaviour.

I've lost count of the number of fine old buildings in Paisley and elsewhere that have been neglected and left to rot - before fire completes their destruction.

When buildings lie empty for prolonged periods, they become vulnerable to fire, whether accidental or deliberate.

While out campaigning in Paisley, I was struck by the fantastic conversion of Alexandra Gate, adjacent to Peter Coats-funded nurses' home.

Turning this into flats breathed new life into the area - and they are much more attractive than typically boxy architecture of so much modern housebuilding.

There has been much community frustration that the remaining part of the former infirmary has been left to rot by its London owner.

Fed up with inaction from the council, and keen to see the building secured, re-sold and redeveloped into housing, like Alexandra Gate, local campaigner, and now Scottish Conservative and Unionist council candidate, Jim McIlroy picked up the mantle.

Along with other concerned community members Jim has worked tirelessly to force Renfrewshire Council and the proprietor into action, insisting the absent owner was sent vital paperwork, which would have been the first step in reclaiming the property.

This fire is tragic setback for those who have tried their best to save the building, but the council must see this as a warning shot to get the old hospital's affairs in order, after leaving it neglected for over three decades.

For those live and work in Paisley, it is crucial that the town's listed buildings are treated with the respect they deserve.

The old Royal Alexandra Infirmary may be run down, but it very much cherished, and more should have been done to breathe new life into it.

People like Jim are what Paisley and this council needs, and I know, if elected to Renfrewshire Council, Jim will continue his fight to keep Paisley's identify.

And take a no-nonsense stand on protecting the local heritage.

CAPTION(S):

Battling hard Jim McIlroy surveys the damage

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Author:A Conservative voice BY WEST SCOTLAND MSP RUSSELL FINDLAY
Publication:Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)
Date:Mar 19, 2022
Words:470
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