WEALTHY benefactors who would traditionally donate to the Glasgow School of Art should be encouraged to help out businesses hit by the devastating blaze that destroyed it, traders have claimed.

In an open letter to GSA bosses, traders stuck inside the cordon around the world-renowned Mackintosh building have demanded answers from the institution, which they have accused of “hiding behind bureaucracy”.

Among questions posed, owners – many of whom have been forced to close without notice, pay off staff or relocate – appealed to GSA chiefs

to encourage its wealthy donors to help pay for the surrounding community too.

The letter, addressed to Tom Inns, director of GSA, read: “As you recognise the disruption and hardship this has caused the local economy and residents alike, will you consider asking your generous community who donate to the Mack building to also donate to rebuild also the local economy which has been shattered.”

The appeal comes on the same day more than £57,000 was granted to GSA by the body that oversees Scotland’s museums and galleries.

The money will be put towards creating digital reconstructions of items from the prized Mackintosh collection.

Around £18.5 million was raised towards the £32m restoration of the the Mack after the 2014 blaze that destroyed the famed Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed library. But businesses now fear they will be overlooked if another fund is set up to restore the building once again.

In the letter, the businesses questioned whether getting residents and businesses back into their properties is being treated as a priority.

Speaking on behalf of the Sauchiehall Street Inner Cordon Businesses (SSICB), Paul Evangelista, owner of Sauchiehall Street Barbers and Absolut Hair and Beauty, said there has been a lack of consideration for those whose livelihoods have been jeopardised.

He said: “We feel it is important to point out that the currently fragile local economy is normally colourful, vibrant and full of character.

“We are an integral part of the culture and spirit of the area. We feel that this is of immense value to the GSofA and must be preserved and protected.”

Meanwhile, Mr Inns has vowed that the Mack will be rebuilt.

Mr Inns said: “We’re going to rebuild the Mackintosh building. There’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.”

A spokeswoman for the Glasgow School of Art, said: “We are also working hard to make sure that the Mackintosh Building is made stable in as safe and swift a way as possible.

“We have agreed a plan of works with Glasgow City Council Building Standards and the managed dismantling began on site today.”