VANDALS who continue to target one of Wick’s most prominent buildings have come under fire from a Highland councillor.
Landward Caithness councillor Willie Mackay said the constant damage being caused to the former Caithness Glass Factory is ruining the image of the town and it has become an all-too-visible eyesore on the busy summer tourist route to John O’Groats.
He spoke out after the double-glazed windows at the premises were smashed in the latest outbreak of vandalism. The building, at the foot of the industrial estate, is regularly burgled and graffiti has been sprayed on its walls.
Mr Mackay lives in Watten but often drives through the town. He said that one of the first things people notice when they enter Wick is the former glass factory.
He said that the state of the building was a possible detraction for business investment and tourism and called on the vandals to consider what impact their behaviour was having on the future of the town.
"Over the years it has progressively turned from one of the flagship businesses in the county into an eyesore and it paints a grim picture for people entering and leaving Wick," he said.
"It is a huge building and car park that catches the eye and the fact that it is next door to Tesco means that everyone sees it.
"The first thing people spot is the shattered windows which, in my opinion, is not just bad for tourism but for locals as well.
"I can’t believe the mentality of the vandals who are causing this damage and who have caused the windows to be boarded up.
"These incidents of crime are also potentially putting off future investment in the town.
"This is something that, as councillors, we should discuss as it is a prominent building in the town and an area where there may be plans for future development as well as the airport itself."
Caithness Glass was founded by Robin Sinclair, the late Lord Thurso, in 1961 and moved from its base at Harrowhill to a purpose-built glassworks and visitor centre in 1992 when around 50 staff were employed.
In 2005, production stopped when owners Edinburgh Crystal, who leased the premises at the industrial estate, went into administration. The company was sold to Devon-based Dartington Crystal a year later but the Wick factory did not fit into the new owner’s plans and the company was re-located to Crieff in Perthshire, which meant premises were shut down in Caithness and Oban.
The buildings are currently being marketed by Grant Stewart Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents in Inverness, who were unavailable to comment at the time going to press.