CAMPAIGNERS fighting for the future of a popular visitor attraction in Cardross say they expect a decision on its future to be made in November.

The Friends of Geilston met Simon Skinner, chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), on September 24 to discuss options for the future of Geilston Garden and the adjoining Geilston House.

The long-term prospects for the property, which is owned by the NTS, have been shrouded in uncertainty since 2017 when the Trust announced plans to close the attraction because of low, and falling, visitor numbers.

The NTS has since rowed back from those plans in the light of campaigning efforts by the Friends group, which was set up within months of the Trust’s 2017 announcement.

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A decision on the attraction’s future is now expected to be made by NTS trustees at a board meeting in November.

Reacting to Tuesday’s talks, Chris Moore, the Friends’ secretary, told the Advertiser: “We found the meeting positive in that we feel that the garden is likely to remain open for at least another season.

“The November NTS board meeting will be presented with the range of options to try to find a sustainable long term future for the property.

“Again, Simon expressed his admiration for the input of the Friends through the consultation process.

“He said that the new chair and board provided a genuine opportunity to review the decision made two years ago, but critical was finding ways to reduce the current operational deficit.

“The house remains key to this. Exploring the potential of a community trust remains part of the agenda, but it was appreciated that this would require careful consideration and further consultation between the Friends and Trust.

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“It was hoped that Geilston could feature in a future edition of the NTS magazine and further promotional efforts on the back of the recent initiatives could be explored.

“Some small scale projects to enhance the attraction of the property for visitors may also be considered.

“We came away with some optimism that the NTS did want to find a sustainable future for the garden but recognising that challenges still remain.

“However continued working in partnership with the Trust can help find a positive outcome.”

The group lobbied NTS members at the Trust’s annual meeting at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on Saturday in the hope of attracting more support to their cause.

Mr Moore also tabled a written question to Mr Skinner at Saturday’s meeting.

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Speaking prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Skinner said: “The Friends of Geilston have been helpful and co-operative in setting the terms of reference of the options appraisal for the future of the garden.

“They have received copies of the resulting report with a view to making further comment and I look forward to discussing this with them.

“The purpose of the review was to identify whether there is a sustainable investment proposition for the site that could see the house restored to good order and the garden remaining open to the public.

“The meeting will help inform our Board of Trustees’ consideration of the issues at a meeting later this year.

“Over the summer we have undertaken extensive social media, web and advertising promotion of the garden, including reaching out to all 675,000 members of the ItIsOn ticketing platform.

“We shall see what effect this has had and the outcomes will be fed into our deliberations.”

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