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Caithness Horizons could be open by summer

By Gordon Calder

CAITHNESS Horizons museum and gallery, which closed unexpectedly last month, could re-open for the coming tourist season.

That emerged yesterday aftertalks between the various groups involved were said to be “going well”.

Highland Council – one of the main funders of the facility along with Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd – discussed the issue at its meeting in Inverness on Thursday.

Thurso and northwest Caithness Highland councillor, Struan Mackie, stressed the need for the facility to re-open.

“The council has committed to make every endeavour to get Horizons back open as it owns the building and will be working with community groups to see what options are available.

“Discussions between the different groups are going well and there is a real chance Horizons will re-open in time for the tourist season. There is a general consensus that the old model was not working and will have to be a new way of delivering the cultural and educational elements,” he said.

Highland Council and Dounreay are looking at ways of securing additional money to allow the facility to re-open. “There is the political and public will to do that. I am confident Horizons will re-open,” he stated.

Caithness Horizons, which closed last month, could open again in time for the coming tourist season.
Caithness Horizons, which closed last month, could open again in time for the coming tourist season.

Mr Mackie said the facility was well used by visitors on cruise ships at Scrabster and on the North Coast 500.

“It was a dynamic place for locals and visitors. If Horizons does not re-open for the start of the season the reputational damage would be awful,” he said.

He pointed out that funding from the Highland Council and Dounreay has been budgeted for 2019/20 but other potential sources of finance are being investigated.

But he added: “It is paramount that more information about its success or otherwise is communicated to the public.”

Highland Council and Dounreay provide £75,000 each for Horizons although that figure was cut from £90,000.

The facility closed on February 21 after encountering “significantly increasing running costs and reducing income making it unsustainable long term.”

The decision resulted in the loss of seven jobs.

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