Thursday, September 25, 2014

Councillor seeks public debate on greater involvement for local people in determining the role of Nairn Common Good Fund

Here's what Michael Green had to say at the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey are committeee meeting in Kinguissie today. 

"Firstly, I would like to thank Liz Cowie and Lynne Maclennan for the excellent work that they are doing in updating the Nairn Common Good Asset Register and providing members with regular management and monitoring reports. This is onerous and time consuming and their efforts are very much appreciated by me and my ward colleagues. In addition, recognition must be given to the Highland Council for improved governance and operational management of the Common Good Fund. Welcome, but long overdue.

Serious issues were raised at the Area Committee in Juneregarding the operational management of the Parkdean lease. As outlined in the report the rental should have been increased in line with RPI every seven years. Unfortunately, rent reviews were not implemented in 1999 or 2006, resulting in a very large shortfall in income to the Nairn Common Good Fund over a period of fourteen years.

That I have not expressed my opinions to date has been by agreement with officers, an accommodation, allowing the Highland Council to carry out a comprehensive review of a complicated and legally sensitive issue.

A final report with proposals and recommendations will be put forward in October to the full Highland Council and to all eighty Councillors who are the Trustees of the Nairn Common Good. 

In my experience, the Highland Council is a fair and honourable institution and I would not expect the Nairn Common Good Fund to be disadvantaged by any proposal put to the eighty trustees in October. 

That there has been a serious failure in management and oversight of the Fund is undeniable and that to restore public confidence in the governance of the Nairn Common Good Fund could take years.

To me, the most effective way to restore confidence in the Common Good and to bring much needed transparency is to give the people of Nairn a much greater voice regarding the control of THEIR Common Good. 

The Nairn Common Good Fund has valuable assets, assets that will in the years ahead generate substantial and increasing surpluses. That the people of Nairn should have a louder voice in shaping any future role of THEIR Common Good Fund in local affairs, is only but right.

I now feel this is an appropriate time to start a discussion with local people as to how they see that role developing and how we can try to bring the Nairn Common Good Fund under greater local control and scrutiny."


Anonymous said...

So is there any prospect of an independent review and validation of the Council's report, once issued? Can they be trusted not to influence the outcome for their own purposes?

Common man said...

Michael Green is right to call for debate and reform.

Liz MacDonald - as reported in a separate Gurn - is well out of order in criticising his statements and in discouraging public discussion. It is precisely because of the lack of transparency, discussion and public scrutiny that the management of Nairn's Common Good has got into such a mess.

As Anonymous@9.09 am (above) observes, a report by Council officials into their own past actions is hardly likely to be independent or objective. There could scarcely be a clearer illustration of the scale and seriousness of the management problem than Liz MacDonald's listing of all the officials engaged in the process: "“Officers involved in helping to sort out common good are Ward Manager, Director of Finance, Director of Audit and Scrutiny, corporate manager, chief executive and legal staff...".