Jul 13 2012 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
IT reads like a sketch straight from Only Fools and Horses.
And these boys could be South Ayrshire’s answer to Del Boy and Rodney.
But politicians Chic Brodie and Ian Cochrane insist they’re simply sourcing cut-price value.
The pair want council chiefs to buy a bargain steeple – and plonk it on top of Prestwick’s historic Freeman’s Hall.
And they insist their plan – which could save £200,000 – will be lovely jubbly.
The Hall has been without its steeple for more than a year and a public consultation has voted to restore the original version.
But council bosses claim that will cost £345,000 and come directly from the town’s Common Good Fund.
Now the SNP wheeler dealers believe they’ve found the answer – more than 20 miles away in New Cumnock.
MSP Mr Brodie explained: “The steeple at the Arthur Memorial Church is sitting unused because the site has been earmarked for housing.
“I was alerted to the chance it could be purchased and transported to Prestwick, before being erected on top of Freeman’s Hall.
“The total cost of buying, moving and re-building it has been estimated at between £140,000 and £150,000.
“This represents a £200,000 saving for the people of Prestwick and has to be looked at as a great option.”
Housebuilder Auberne Homes has pledged to carry out the work on the ambitious project.
But the stumbling block could be reaction in Prestwick, where 81 per cent of a public consultation voted for the return of the original steeple.
But Councillor Cochrane, who represents the town, insisted: “I think the people would just be delighted to see a steeple back on top of Freeman’s Hall.”
Jim Ronney, chair of Prestwick North Community Council, said: “The clear view of the Prestwick people was that they wanted the steeple back the way it was.
“However, we cannot close any doors to new options and this proposal may be worthy of going before the public.”
Meanwhile, Dawn Group chairman Alan Macdonald is leading another group who say they can complete the work for far less than the council’s costly estimate.
And he is looking for backers to help fund the project, to which he has already put £10,000 of his own money.
He said : “The Freemason’s Hall is very close to my own heart as my late father worked there for many years in his role with the then Ayr District Council.
“The steeple is part of the heritage of the people of Prestwick and as such it should be restored to its former glory and I am sure that with help of Prestwick North Community Council and other interested parties we can achieve this.
“The people of Prestwick have stated what they want to happen and I feel I am the right man to help them achieve this.
“I started Dawn in Prestwick almost 40 years ago and added to my father’s connections with the Freemason’s Hall I feel a great affinity to the town.”