Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sandown debt - no motion for deferral - 390K written off but Council will still get a share of Sandown

The total debt up for debate was £734,410.78 but the Nairn Common Good still takes a £344,000 hit.  Here is the motion that won the day.

"Option 5. The Council writes off all or part of the debt that relates to the fee of £390,000 paid to acquire vacant possession of the land, and transfers a pro rata share of the land equivalent to the value of the remaining debt."

The following proviso was added from the Director of Finance's report para 3.7: 
(a) any gain in land value is returned to the Nairn Common Good Fund
(b) Highland Council does not gain financially from any future sale of the land"

Note Liz told the Gurn this morning 28th June: " I said Nairn members all support recomendation 5 to write of all of the £390K debt and include conditions 3.7. Michelle read this back exactly for the vote. So it was the whole £390K that was written off.
The council has the right to £344K back whenever any lands are sold. % of the land to the value of £344K. "

That was how it went, proposed by Liz and seconded by Michael. It was up against option three which was for all of the debt to be turned into a pro rate share of land. the results were 29 for 3, 34 for 5 with 4 abstentions. 

Is that it then, Sandown finally put to bed or will the festering complicated sore of those three fields on the western edge of town still continue to haunt local politics and the Nairn Common Good for years to come?

Update: Rè na h-uine seo, aig an taigh 's s'ann an deagh shunnd a tha Cailean, thuirt e air a' dhuilleag Facebook a-nochd (Meanwhile Colin home and in good form tonight, he posted on his facebook page:

"Just home and had some pasta after an epic session at Council HQ. Nairn's 4 Councillors - "Team Nairn" fought together and won. We still have a debt to settle, but today we won a principled victory and exceeded our initial expectations - with a further £390,000 cleared. The "horrible history" - the Sandown Saga - can I think be laid to rest. Others may wish to continue to rake over some of the ashes. I think that would be wasteful, negative energy that would be better focused upon looking forward at Nairn's future potential. I'm grateful that the SNP leadership ensured that this was dealt with as a "non-political" issue. We needed that flexibility to ask party colleagues to vote with us or to abstain. I'm sure that we are all grateful to every Highland Councillor who saw the need for a fair and just settlement today for Nairnites. Slainte Mhor!"

So was today the "Big Bang" that will banish the Sandown toxicity in local politics forever or is to be eternally enmeshed in the DNA of community affairs?


Anonymous said...

Just face it all politicians weather it is in Government or local council are all...

Betrayed said...

Can we also vote Yes for Nairn independence in Sept 2014?

Anonymous said...

Yeh, independence from the SNP

Anonymous said...

Interesting that not one single Unionist Councillor voted FOR Nairn today.

Bunch of ... said...

Lets all celebrate our newly won debt tonight, I'll maybe wander up to Sandown and look at what was once ours

Just as we trusted the banks we also entrusted our Common Good lands to our political masters. Both have shown that they are morally bankrupt and unable to do their jobs and we're paying for it

Graisg said...

steady on Bunch of

they will only take control of about 340K worth of Sandown. Whatever that works out at at today's prices.

-340K said...

Interesting that SOME councillors see this new debt as some sort of win for Nairn

Graisg said...

It isn't new it I believe that part of it is for, among other things, marketing for the sale of the Sandown Lands. I would like to quote Liz (as seen on Highland Council webcast today)

"It is a complex and historic debt set out against Nairn Common Good and although it may have been done with the best intentions at the time it is indefensible now to continue on this course."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Interesting that not one single Unionist Councillor voted FOR Nairn today.

8:50 PM

I didn't know we had a 'Unionist' party in Highland region?

Mary and Annette said...

Let them eat pasta

Common Man said...

Not a great result. But not a defeat either. Probably the least-bad outcome that could have been expected.

There was little chance that the Council officials, for whom this was already an embarrassment, would ever have considered accepting and writing-off the whole of the £734k.

Deferral was also a big ask. To push things through, officials had used Audit Scotland to put the frighteners on the Councillors. And deferral would have led to more extensive public debate and more of the Council's dirty linen being exposed in public.

So the compromise deal proposed by Nairn's councillors - to share the hit - was always a rearguard attempt to salvage the situation. It was good that a majority of the Councillors were prepared to support an option which conceded something to Nairn: there could easily have been a majority to dump the whole cost on to Nairn's Common Good.

It was also a moral victory. Getting the Council to accept responsibility for the payoff to the farmer was, in effect, an admission that the Council (officials) of the time were culpable.

But this - sadly - isn't the end of the story. We still don't know exactly how much of Sandown the Council will grab. Who will calculate the pro rata share (will it be done by a neutral independent expert)?

By claiming some of Sandown, the Council has also dug itself into a deeper hole. Not only is there a conflict of interest between their fiduciary role as Trustee, their management task of administering Common Good assets, and their planning role in local development. They will now have a vested interest as a shareholder/stakeholder in some of the land.

This perpetuates a messy situation and creates the risk of more dubious dealing in the future. It may be the end of a chapter; but the story will go on, and there will be further problems to come.

Has to be Heinz said...

After a hard day at work I often tuck into a plate of pasta, usually alphabetti spaghetti to see what words I can get together when I'm eating

After Christmas I'm eating numberetti spaghetti daily for weeks trying to get the numbers on my plate to add up (they never do)

I wish they's bring out footballteami spaghetti, especially after my team lose as I could the replay the important moves

So yes, I can understand Colin going for pasta tonight

Smoke and Mirrors said...

Throughout the webcast only Colin Macauly made a passing reference to the total of the alleged debt of £734,410.78. This figure is mentioned once in the Director of Finance’s report. The sum of £390,000 was mentioned several times as was the phrase “a pro rata share of the land equivalent to the value of the remaining debt”. Let’s not be coy here, this pro rata share is £344,410.78. Highland Council now have a pro rata share of Nairn’s Common Good Fund to the value of £344,410.78.
Why, at the end of the NRCG Sandown debate, did I feel slightly sullied? That at the back of my mind I felt that something not quite right had happened but that I still wasn’t quite aware of what that something was?
The Director of Finance said at the beginning that the Council has a transaction which is unlawful in its accounts which needs to be resolved and failure to resolve the issue could lead to the Council’s accounts been qualified. Well, maybe they should be?

Anonymous said...

Can I buy it all for £1????