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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 17:26 GMT
MSPs back Burns cottage campaign
Robert Burns
Robert Burns was born in the village of Alloway near Ayr
Efforts to secure the future of Robert Burns' birthplace have gained cross-party support at Holyrood.

It comes as 50,000 has been awarded to the Burns National Heritage Park in Alloway, Ayrshire.

Campaigners have been calling for a cash injection for the bard's birthplace to carry out much-needed repairs and safeguard its future.

The funding will be provided by the Scottish Executive and will provide a short-term fix for the park's problems.

Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson said in the run-up to the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth in 2009, she wanted the park to be a "well-managed attraction offering an excellent experience for tourists".

As a visitor attraction it should be one of Scotland's jewels
Patricia Ferguson
Culture Minister

She met with representatives from the National Trust for Scotland on Thursday and will meet South Ayrshire Council on Monday as part of efforts to find a long-term solution for the park.

Ms Ferguson said: "Burns is an international icon. His influence cannot be overstated and his impressive body of work is recognised and lauded throughout the world.

"The heritage park is integral and important to economic and social life in Ayrshire, and as a visitor attraction it should be one of Scotland's jewels."

Pressure to intervene grew on Thursday when MSPs debated the park at Holyrood.

The Scottish National Party's Adam Ingram, who led a members' debate, feels the bard needs national protection and wants to see the management of an expanded Burns Centre handed to the National Trust.

The idea was backed by the Conservatives' John Scott and Labour's Cathy Peattie.

There is growing optimism that the executive will step in, but a spokesman would say only that talks were continuing.

In 2003-04, 65,000 was given to the park to repay creditors and meet a projected deficit.

It was also awarded 50,000 for 2004-05.

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