Council chiefs could take another crack at buying Irvine’s Rivergate Mall, it was revealed this week.

North Ayrshire’s Provost has said the council’s bid to buy the Rivergate could be revived, after the controversial plan was rejected by only one vote last year.

North Ayrshire’s Chief Executive refused to confirm or deny the move, after Irvine West Councillor Ian Clarkson said the plan could go back before councillors in the coming months if the price happened to be reduced.

The Herald has since learned the council have indeed been offered the mall, owned by US Investment group Kennedy Wilson, at a dramatically reduced price – after NAC were previously going to borrow around £55 million.

Cllr Ian Clarkson said: “We believe the profits that the mall was going to make that we could put 65 per cent of the profits back into the mall and 35 per cent of the profits into town centres in other parts of North Ayrshire.

“It was voted down by one vote, which is unfortunate. Most of the people who voted against it, their town centres are in a hell of a mess. If you go into Stevenston, Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Dalry, they are not very nice looking. Irvine is starting to look pretty good but we think it can do better.

“Will that change? It can only change if the circumstances change. The only thing that needs to change for it to be on the agenda again is for the price to change, that means it could come back on the agenda.

“We certainly wouldn’t want it to be voted down by one vote again so it needs other councillors to come to us and say we now think it’s a good idea, as a way of getting our town centre done up, as a way of improving Irvine town centre than it is just now.

“If the group leaders were to tell us ‘some people have changed their mind and we believe it’s a goer this time’, we would have to look at it.

“Who knows it could even go further than that, the Riverway with M&S and Tesco, who’s to say we couldn’t take that over to make a profit out of that? What’s to stop a council from doing that if it’s profits come back into communities?”

Asked if NAC was intending to make a second attempt at purchasing the centre, Cllr Clarkson said: “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Without confirming or denying the move, NAC Chief Executive Elma Murray said: “Any decision voted for by elected members cannot be looked at or revisited until after a six month period has elapsed

“Reopening discussions on the purchase of the Rivergate would require a majority of elected members to be interested in re-considering any proposal.

“If this was the case, matters such as costs and other material considerations would be raised at that point. The issue has certainly opened up a great deal of debate not only locally in Irvine but across North Ayrshire.”

At a meeting of Irvine’s community councillors on Wednesday, April 4, members voted to ask NAC about holding a public consultation into purchasing the mall, after the secrecy surrounding the bid last time.

Community councillor Jackie Frew said people should be made aware that its profits currently go to the owners in the USA.

Elma Murray added: “We are aware that the Irvine Community Council discussed the purchase of the Rivergate Centre at a recent meeting.

“What seems clear is that Irvine Community Council would like the opportunity to more fully discuss the purchase of the centre with local residents via a public consultation.

“This is an interesting proposition and we would review any results from a public consultation.”