ATTRACTING tourists to Tillicoultry and preserving its heritage sites are two issues that have cropped up in the Hillfoots village.

Boasting some of the biggest attractions in the Wee County, the potential for commercial growth in the town is well-documented.

And candidates for the upcoming council elections have been discussing ways to build a stronger future for Tilly, while preserving its iconic features, such as the Clock Tower.

Indeed, the landmark has been the subject of a campaign from the Tic-Toc group for some time, and the issue still features heavily with residents.

Labour candidate Dave Clark, who is a former leader of the local authority, aims to unlock the tourist potential in Tillicoultry, which includes preserving the Clock Tower.

He said: “Tillicoultry has, I feel, one of the major tourist attractions in Sterling Mills and we need to set up additional infrastructure for tourism to blossom.

“And it would be foolish for me to argue a case for improving tourism and not do anything about the Clock Tower.

“Of course I would be keen to keep it – it’s part of our heritage and would remiss of the council not to do preserve it.”

Damian Sherwood-Johnson, standing in the election for the Liberal Democrats, argued for bringing the tower into public hands.

He said: “The clock tower dominates the Tilly skyline – the town loses something without it.

“And unless it’s looked after properly, it will become a risk. The area has already lost things, and it would be horrendous to see the Clock Tower go.

“For me, community ownership would be the way forward.”

SNP candidate Helen Lewis added: “I know it’s an ongoing issue and would be something I would look into as a councillor.

“I’m not going to promise to save the Clock Tower but I will try to do as much as I can.”

She added: “Tourism is something we need to encourage through the council area. With a lack of hotels and B&Bs we have to focus on day tourism, and how to get visitors to Sterling Mills to come up into the town and spend money.”

Bobby McGill, Labour candidate, said he would support all efforts in principal to save the tower, and would be happy to meet with campaigners to discuss funding avenues.

In terms of attracting tourist numbers more generally, he suggested more be done to make use of the Ochils – proposals which would likely come to fruition as a result of City Deal negotiations.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to make any wild promises, but I am very keen to see the City Deal work out right for the area in the long run.

The SNP’s Archie Drummond added: “There doesn’t seem to be the same impetus in the community to save the Clock Tower as there had been for the glen, for instance.

“I am still keen to support this, as I have been from the start, because it is a very significant landmark in Tillicoultry and worth preserving.”

He continued: “We don’t have the Kelpies and we don’t have the Wallace Monument, but there are lots of attractions here. Developing the ski centre for wider use would be a way to go; imagine being able to drop the kids off there and grab a cup of coffee while you waited.”

Colleague Donald Balsillie said: “The Ochils are one of our main assets and improving access is something we should be looking to improve, along with the ski slope.

“The Hillfoots are the main tourist route between Stirling and St Andrews and we need to capitalise on that as much as we can.”