War of words intensifies over future of High Street ‘eyesore’

Victoria Hall which is the subject of a 'war of words' between its owner and a local trust
Victoria Hall which is the subject of a 'war of words' between its owner and a local trust

Montreal Properties and the Victoria Halls Trust are at loggerheads over the future of the building which blights Linlithgow High Street.

The Trust has accused Montreal Properties of failing to give due consideration to its ambitious plans for a £6 million entertainment complex.

John Cortellessa of Montreal Properties reiterated his claim, published last week, that their proposals are ‘pie in the sky’.

Local businessmen form the directorship of the Victoria Halls Trust, Chris Cook, Davit Tait and Ronald Smith, assisted by volunteers.

The group is attempting to ‘crowd fund’ to negotiate a purchase, according to the group’s website.

It has also indicated via Twitter and Facebook it is not averse to applying for a compulsory purchase order.

John Cortellessa, spokesman for Montreal Properties, owners of the Victoria Hall, said: “I am astounded the Trust and the individuals behind it are taking the Journal and Gazette to task over this. The report was entirely factual.”

“I have been told so many stories by David Tait and Chris Cook including that they have Arabs waiting in the wings to fund it to lottery funding, or that Chris Cook’s city connections are wading in. I have no idea what is fact and what is fiction any longer - in fact I’m not sure they do!”

A spokesman for the Trust said: “The Journal and Gazette jumped to conclusions solely on the basis of comments from a landowner whose track record with the semi-derelict building is none too obvious.

‘‘The Trust awaits the owner’s response to a detailed report from the Government’s district valuer which arrives at an impartial value for the property.

“Rather than engage with the Trust on this matter, as he had undertaken to do, the owner has chosen to contact your paper, so continuing to provide the Journal and Gazette with a negative stance on the Trust’s attempts to 
arrive at a way forward.

“The Trust is trying its best to pursue the development of a new entertainment complex which would fulfil the Linlithgow community’s express wish to provide a theatre/cinema and remove the present eyesore from the High Street.

John Cortellessa responded by saying: “There will be no ‘considered response’ as there is nothing further to say.

‘‘Montreal Properties will not be entering into any negotiations or discussions regarding our property in Linlithgow.

“We are considering other options which we see as being commercially economical and financially viable as opposed to the Trust’s ‘pie in the sky’ plans.”