A TINY village in the south of Scotland could soon be a step closure to saving their beloved harbour, which is crumbling before their eyes, after the local council agreed to help a community trust pay for advice to rescue it from a legal wrangle.

Kirkmaiden Community Harbour Trust (KCHT) is unable to buy the port at Drummore, at the southern end of the Rhins of Galloway in Wigtownshire, because it is subject to a restriction in relation to an outstanding damages claim against the previous owners.

Now Dumfries and Galloway Council has granted £1,000 to KCHT– named after one of the Drummore village’s two satellite clachans, called Kirkmaiden and Damnaglaur – allowing them to seek independent legal advice on how best to move forward with realising their ownership dream.

The trust is backed by Independent Group councillor for Wigtown West, Roberta Tuckfield, and Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless, who say Drummore desperately needs help to save their harbour. Arkless praised the hard work of the trust chair Marilyn Castle, who has been fighting for two years with local residents to buy the port and turn it into a tourist attraction to boost the local economy.

Arkless said: “Drummore needs help. It has a harbour that has fallen into disrepair and the trust, in particular Marilyn Castle, has done an enormous amount of work over the last couple of years to try and turn the redevelopment of the harbour into a reality. It has problems, not least there has been a personal injury claim on the area and there are some legal obstacles between the idea and making it a reality.

“I am delighted to say that the council have agreed to cover the costs of the expert legal advice that the trust would need to get things moving. I look forward to the council confirming its commitment to the project which they have outlined over the past few years.

“The Kirkmaiden Harbour Trust has got the right to buy it as a community buyout but they can’t buy it because it is incumbent by this £15,000 inhibition, so the legal advice will assess the competency of that inhibition and what they have got to do to get rid of it.”

In 2004, the MOD sold the harbour for £1,000 to the Drummore Harbour Trust but it fell into disrepair and two years ago a child was injured while playing on the port. The parents sued and won £15,000, including legal fees, but during the investigation, the trust dissolved. As a result, the property – including the seabed – was transferred to the Crown. A council report said the financial award against the old trust was still outstanding and as a result a title restriction had been put on the harbour.

Desperate locals then set up a new charitable trust KCHT to bring the harbour into community ownership and were granted the right to buy it, however, they are unable to do so because of the legal restriction hanging over it.

Tuckfield said: “The trust cannot own the harbour until we get this legal situation sorted out. It is just tragic. Someone has got to make a decision here. At the moment it is not worth anything to anybody except the community, and at the moment it’s not owned by anybody, so how can you put an inhibition on it?It is a nonsense.

“If the harbour was restored to what it used to be you could have five or six berths there for boats, it would be better for the fishing boats as well. At the moment it is a disaster. It is just like having a sewer in the middle of the village.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council confirmed £1,000 had been set aside to help the trust get legal advice and a spokeswoman said: “We are keen to work with our local communities and assist when we can.”

Castle welcomed the council’s financial help and added: “We are passionate about our cause and will continue the fight to bring Drummore harbour back to a navigable state and a pleasant environment for the community. Should we fail in this endeavour, it will be because no particular body deems this forgotten corner of Scotland worthy of intervention.”