JOBS are under threat at a village’s biggest visitor attraction as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) says three of the five NTS jobs at Geilston Garden in Cardross are under threat as the charity grapples with an estimated £28 million drop in income because of the lockdown restrictions.

In addition, 19 of the 26 posts at the Hill House in Helensburgh are at risk of redundancy.

As part of a range of emergency measures 429 members of staff – out of a total workforce of 751 people – have been told their roles could be made redundant.

The trust also says it will try to sell “non-heritage” land and property and will ask for help from the Scottish Government and other grant-giving bodies.

But the charity has warned that if the emergency measures outlined this week aren’t enough to make the trust viable again, it “can’t give any assurances” about the future of any of its properties.

The trust says that as well as losing out on an estimated £28 million in income this year, even if current restrictions are relaxed, it expects to lose £46m on investments as a result of stock market conditions.

A spokesman for the NTS said: “Both the Hill House and Geilston are on the list of properties we hope to re-open this year if the restrictions are relaxed.

“The emergency measures are intended to ensure we can remain a going concern and weather the likely economic downturn that will follow the pandemic.

“If we don’t succeed we can’t give any assurances about the future of any of the properties in our care.”

At Geilston Garden, the trust had expected to bring in £40,323 during the 12 months from March 1, with £12,529 of that in the three months to May 31.

Dumbarton’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “The threat that this poses to both our cherished Hill House and Geilston Gardens will come as a huge disappointment to local people and to the many visitors that the attractions have each year.

“I hope that the National Trust receives the help that it needs to survive this period and that jobs can be saved. Any reduction would have such a negative impact on our local area, both economically and culturally.”

Geilston’s long-term prospects have been in doubt for some time – the NTS announced in June 2017 that it was “considering the future” of the Cardross attraction because of falling income and visitor numbers, though in November the Trust said the garden would reopen in 2020 while it continued to explore ways of making the property viable in the longer term.

Reacting to this week’s news, Allison Hillis, chair of the Friends of Geilston, which was set up to fight any moves by the NTS to close the attraction, said: “The Friends have every sympathy for the NTS staff facing redundancy at this difficult time.

“We are concerned about the garden’s future but Geilston and other gardens are a precious asset which the NTS should be looking to open as soon as possible.

“It should be relatively easy to maintain social distancing, especially when outdoor spaces are safer than indoor spaces."