Thursday, October 20, 2011

Town Centre sell-off could be decided on confidential “Pink Papers”

There was lengthy discussion with the Westies last night in the Community Centre on the subject of the town centre sell-off. Representatives from both River and Suburban CC’s were also present as grave misgivings about Highland Council’s town centre policy were expressed.
Alistair Noble expressed to the meeting his desire to see things done in a different fashion: “Before we sell things, let’s look at other ways and this Community Interest Company can be a vehicle to use the Common Good assets properly, and still retain the ownership.” Alistair thought it would be a disastrous mistake for the Highland Council’s 76 Councillors to sell off the properties.”

As you can see in a previous post NICE has also recently discussed Alistair’s Vision of a Community Entreprise Company (CIC). It is an interesting concept and it is good to see the debate, of how more elements of local democracy can be reclaimed, moving forward at Community Council level.

Seonaid Armstrong then spoke. Seonaid is the secretary of the West CC and is not perhaps one of the more high-profile vocal members but she works hard behind the scenes and when she does make an intervention it is well received and gives a deeper Nairn perspective perhaps than some of the other members. This observer does hope she is re-elected in the forthcoming contest to chose a new Council. Seonaid said:

“I just want to take you back in time to the days when the Rosebank Church was sold off and there were no conditions on that . It’s a listed building. I sang in the choir at the Rosebank Church and it just breaks my heart to see that. Originally it was going to be a Clan Centre and it keeps going on and on. They put scaffolding up and nothing is being done. There should be when the Council sells a building, that it is developed and developed in a certain length of time. If it isn’t developed in a certain length of time, there should be a clause to say that the council can buy it back for what it was sold for.

Rosemary Young then pointed out that Sheena Baker had tried to ensure this had happened in the past but hadn’t got very far through the Nairnshire Partnership

Sheena then told the meeting of back in the days of the Nairn Initiative of how she had been fobbed off and fobbed off and been told that the Council had looked into it legally and made sure that everything was going to be hunky dory, it was going to all be in hand but it wasn’t.

Liz then intervened and said that Shena and others had a very valid concern and her other point was that the sale would probably be decided at the Resources Committee under “Pink Papers” which would mean in secret. Liz said: “A lot of buildings and things in Council ownership are sold through the Resources Committee on pink papers.”

That’s the latest on the town centre Gurnites. Let’s keep paying attention to this and support the usual suspects in their endeavours to see that we get something that the community want and not something that suits just Highland Council.

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