Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bill Young’s Common Good Concerns

At the West CC meeting in the Academy on Tuesday Night Bill Young raised concerns about Common Good Funds. He said:

He questioned once again the annual sum of £9,000 that the Common Good Fund pays to the Fisheries Board. He said that it was unclear why the Common Good Fund is paying that instead of the Council. He also asked if the Common Good was any closer to a management strategy. 

Cllr Liz MacDonald replied that it was because of the lease that the angling association have that we have to pay nine thousand pounds. 

Bill came back: “The lease is with the Council not with the Common Good Fund.” Bill also said he was waiting for an answer on correspondence on this point. 

He then said: “The second thing is, with Sandown waiting in the wings, the property market is picking up again so at some stage we will want to attract and realise the asset. Are we any closer to a management strategy which has been on the agenda for some considerable time?”

Liz MacDonald then said: “This month we had a meeting with the wetlands group as well to promote to them the idea of what we are going to do in that field and I probably think we would want to take forward a strategy if it had community support.”

Bill then said: “I don’t want to get involved too much in the wetlands but it doesn’t seem to me the best use of a Common Good asset.”

Liz continued: “We had a section of that land set aside for housing within the charrette process that was undertaken and that is a part that we have to take forward...”

Bill said: “I would like to see that in the context of what else is planned for Sandown not just little bits at a time because that is part of the reason we seem to have got to this mess. We carve little bits with no overall strategy as to how it is supposed to all fit together.”

Liz went on to say that they were hoping to take forward proposals but they had been advised quite strongly by officers not to take anything forward without community support.


Anonymous said...

Bill's logic is badly and sadly flawed. All leases are with the "legal entity", the Nairn District Council and now its successor, The Highland Council.
Same with Parkdean.
Bill's logic - if it prevailed- would see all the rental income from Parkdean, from the Sandancer, from Sandown grazings - some £60K or more every year - go to Glenurquhart HQ.
I'm sure that is not what he meant.
Thank goodness the Common Good finances are now being stewarded better than at any time in the past.

Anonymous said...

On the assumption you have read the lease how do you explain the following in Clause 9 of the lease"in the event that the Angling association should be wound up voluntarily or otherwise then the right to administer the subjects of let shall pass to the Trustees of the Common Good Fund for the former Burgh of Nairn to the full effect presently enjoyed by the landlords."?
Whilst I agree that the councilors/Trustees are in an invidious conflict of interest situation, if this is a lease being entered into by the Trustees of The CGF why would they then only be entitled to administer the subjects of let and who are the landlords? clearly not the CGF trustees as this provision would be meaningless.
It is reported correctly that I am in correspondence with the Council to seek clarification but if you know better it may assist the Council respond.
Thev second point is Common good funds have survived centuries and that is largely due to them having Statutory protection. In this case Sections 74 and 75 of the Local Government Scotland Act 1973. That requires the consent of the Secretary of State to enter into disposals or leases for consideration less than the best that can reasonably be obtained. That is to protect the CGF from predators and the incompetent.
A lease at £50 per year fixed for 99 years with an open ended drainpipe into the CGF (currently at £9000 pa and rising rapidly, in 2010 it was £3750pa 2011 £6750 and 2012 and 2013 £9000) in 1995 it was £1575 so there was an immediate net cost of £1025 pa. I would argue that cannot be the best that can reasonably be obtained. It is apparent that the Trustees did not apply for or obtain that permission.If the lease was with the Council I do not believe they would be constrained which may explain why the law was not applied.
Third point is that it is also apparent from reports that the Council are currently trying to determine the extent of the Common Good estate, which may imply thy do not know. It is possible that the District Council may have believed that they were the landlords not the CGF. There is so much cloak and dagger secrecy regarding the CGF that it is just possible they are. Clarifying that is also the subject of correspondence.
Are any of these features present in the Parkdean or Sandown leases? If not why make a spurious analogy?
I am Bill Young