Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sandown debt options to be decided Thursday - Laurie's view

Earlier this morning Laurie's view was pretty dreich as he attended to his duties with his Rotary colleagues down on the Links at the finish point of this year's Nairnshire Challenge. Things are brightening up a little however at the time of posting this article so let's hope it stays that way for the competitors. Good luck everyone!

Laurie took a moment  to approach the Gurn with his views on the five options proposed to settle the Common Good debt incurred over the attempted sale of Sandown to a developer by Highland Council. The Highland Council's 80 members in their role as trustees of the Nairn Common Good fund will pick one of them on Thursday in Inverness. We e-mailed all four of the town's Highland Councillors yesterday to ask them their views on the five options and so far Laurie is the only one to respond although Chair of West CC Rosemary Young gave the Gurn her views yesterday. Anyway here are the five options again for those that haven't seen them yet. 

• The Council writes-off all of the outstanding debt

• The Common Good Land is advertised for sale immediately

• The Council transfers from the Common Good account a percentage of the land equivalent to the value of the outstanding debt

• The Common Good Fund uses income generated to write-down the balance of the debt over a period of time or when the land is sold

• 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 percentage of the land equivalent to the value of the remaining debt.

One of our regular sources (this time a reliable one) was suggesting that they be translated into plain English - could someone out there with a moment or two please oblige?  

Anyway Laurie told the Gurn that he supported option five and that his colleagues were of a similar mind too. He said that at current land value prices he believed that this would mean that Highland Council would receive a share of less than 10% of the Sandown Lands. Option five was not on the table beforehand according to Laurie and he sees it as the best deal for Nairn but he is worried what might happen in the "bear pit" of Glenurquhart Road on Thursday. Laurie also revealed to the Gurn that it had been suggested by one of his colleagues that the allotment land be given to the Council by the Common Good in exchange for the debt but he was strongly against the suggestion and it failed. To Laurie this would have meant that perhaps at some point in the future some agency or other might have attempted to move the allotments so that development could take place. To him it is better that the allotments stay with the Common Good. As to public perceptions of things on Thursday, he sees option five as a "technical financial exercise" and he lays the trail of blame back to the developer upping the number of houses they wished to build on Sandown from around 300 to the 550 mark."

The Gurn hopes to return to this matter later this evening, thanks to Laurie for commenting - Liz, Colin Michael, any chance of a line or two on this matter? Just below this post there are now two other articles on this matter and also an item on a Common Good affair in Forres. 


who's land is it anyway said...

How about we give the Nairn community centre to Highland Council to cancel the debt and they let Nairnites use it rather than own it?

Are we going to be charged for any other new buildings, schools and libraries for example?

Common Man said...

The suggestion that Nairn should "....give the Nairn Community Centre to the Highland Council to cancel the debt...." is a very good point.

It has long semed odd that while the Council owns, pays for, or has built or provided most if not all the other Community Centres around the Highlands, including those in Inverness, for some reason the Highland Council thought that Nairnites (as the owners and beneficiaries of the Nairn Common Good) should bankroll the building of the Nairn Community Centre from within the town's own resources (by selling off Sandown Common Good land). Why was Nairn treated so differently?

It's a fair bet that the various centres and community facilities in and around Inverness and elsewhere in the region were not built or run with funds from the very substantial Inverness CG, or other similar local CG or community funds. Why was Nairn expected to pick up the tab for the one in this town?

So the previous commentator makes a valid point. Rather than sacrificing a chunk of Sandown, let our Councillors argue for Highland Council to take, not the whole of the Nairn Community Centre, but a pro-rata share of it (however that is worked out!).

Who knows - as well as acquiring an asset, the Council might then also take on a share of the operating costs...