Thursday, January 05, 2012

Common Good issues straight back on the agenda for 2012

West Community Council met last night (Wednesday) for their first meeting of the year. One of the items on the agenda was their submission to the forthcoming “Charette” planned by Highland Council to lay out a masterplan for Sandown. You can’t talk about Sandown without talking about Common Good issues. Gurnites it looks like Common Good matters will be biting the local Highland Councillors who are part of the Glenurquhart Rd ruling group all the way to the ballot box in May. From tonight’s observations it looks like the issue that is the festering sore of the Common Good Fund in Nairn is still alive and as potent and dangerous as it ever was!

New West Councillor Bill Young was forthright in his condemnation of the way the Common Good Fund is being run by Highland Council he said:

“I think there’s a huge conflict of interest between the Highland Council’s duties as Highland Councillors and their trusteeship of the Common Good Fund and the two are getting hopelessly intermixed and hopelessly conflicted.”

Bill wants to see no development at Sandown until the Fund is back under local control when asked by Rosemary what he would like to see happen at Sandown he said: “I would suggest absolutely nothing until we get the Common Good Fund back under local control.”

Bill's views on the Common Good were warmly welcomed by his fellow councillors and members of the public present. This observer suspects that the majority of Gurnites would support Bill’s stance too. He believes the Sandown Lands should not be sold and that there is no reason to sell them. Gurnites will know that Highland Council of course need to get some cash in to pay off the Community Centre debt. But it was Highland Council that run up these debts not the people of Nairn – why should we (through our Common Good Fund) be responsible for the debts left behind when Highland Council’s “preffered bidder” development for Sandown blew up in their faces and not a penny came in to pay off the Community Centre? Were we as a community ever asked if we wanted to sell the land (all of it) for development?

West are to seek the thoughts and support of River and Suburban Councils on getting the Common Good Fund back into community control. Dick Youngson was also at the meeting on the behalf of Suburban Community Council and River CC member Mike Henderson was also there in a personal capacity.

Maybe 2012 will be the year the Common Good Trusteeship comes back to Nairn for good?

UPDATE: links to 4 previous Gurn articles concerning the Common Good Fund and the debts incurred have now been posted in the comments below.


whats mine is yours said...

Common sense would surly suggest that Highland Council have to find a way to finance their budget without selling off Common Good land. Such land is finite and then what? It would be prudent for Highland Council to look at 'then what' now rather than when all the land is gone and use that solution.
I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing that the Sandown land remains as is, a green open space
Maybe Highland Council would like to sell Nairnites our own Common Good land and that way we could keep it as is!

Anonymous said...

Was there some kind of agreement ( between who?) that the £100,000 shortfall in the new community centre cost would be met by the sale of the sandown lands..?

What exactly was the agreement?

growtosow said...

Bill wants to see no development at Sandown until the Fund is back under local control when asked by Rosemary what he would like to see happen at Sandown he said: “I would suggest absolutely nothing until we get the Common Good Fund back under local control.”
well said on that this how it should be get it sorted out first before jumping in feet first, some lessons to be learned after the last mess, because once built on it you can not change it, do we need more housing? and if we do could it be affordable for our young folk who would like to stay in our town, we do have to keep green space for quality of life which is some thing else that needs to be thought about when looking at sandown.

Graisg said...

100K shortfall? Agreement? No idea Anon. This observer does know this however (its from a Gurn article in May 2009)
"The Sheena Baker Inquisition
Tonight Sheena didn’t mess about. She got straight down to business, asking the status of the Council’s loan to the Community centre in regard to the refusal of the Sandown planning application.
Sandy Park replied that there was no change in the status of the loan, a sum in excess of £2,000,000 pounds. At the time the Sandown Lands were the only asset that could be offset against the loan."
more here More here

growtosow said...

the ground was left to the town of nairn, so not sure how we would have to pay for it? but if that was the only way to safe guard our common good ground then i would be all for, you do not have to look far for examples of common good ground being sold from under the feet of folk, and also some councils have know idea of what they have in regards to common good ground? record keeping not up to date and such like.

give it back said...

'We' own many of the High Street banks, but I doubt that any of 'our' money that was used to shore them up will filter back into our pockets via the government

'We' the community also own Common Good lands, but elected councillors seem to feel that they have the mandate to sell these on our behalf

Something is not right here, and if the majority of Nairnites feel that the likes of Sandown should remain a green open space then that is how it should be, or are we not living in a democracy?

Anonymous said...

£200,000? By my math if Nairn has a population of 9000 that's £222.22 pounds each to clear the debt. Would HC let us buy Sandown for £222.22 each?

Graisg said...

@Anon £200,000? No £2,000,000

Actually I forgot to mention the 2million odd is only the capital element of the debt. It is acutally up to £2.8 million and they (the Highland Council) charge us interest on elements of that sum.

Serious students of these matters may wish to read the following Gurn articles including comment from Sheena Baker.

Sandown loan money - interest charges shock!

Sandown loan interest charges - a contradiction?

Sandown Lands interest charges - Sheena Baker speaks out

Anonymous said...


2,000,000 divided by 9000 would equal £222.22?

A couple of coffee mornings and a car boot sale should sort it

Anonymous said...

I would be really interested to know just how many Nairn folk would pay a penny to keep Sandown the way it is....I don't think many would.