Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Nairn Common Good Fund drifting towards control from Inverness despite reborn Nairnshire Committee?

A proposal recommended by officials and going before the Highland Council on Thursday would see the establishment of an officer responsible for all of the Common Good Funds in the Highland Council area. It states:

"In recognition of both the current challenges together with the need to prepare for the implementation of the community empowerment legislation it is proposed that the Council agree to establish a temporary post. The post, which is proposed to sit within the Finance Service, will be one dedicated to the management and protection of all Common Good Fund assets with a particular emphasis on ensuring compliance and with the management of assets and risks. It is proposed that the post be funded by the Common Good Funds on a pro-rata basis. The initial term of the post would be 24 months."

Ironically the Community Empowerment Act is mentioned. That is supposed to be the direction of travel dictated by Holyrood and visualises a world where towns like Nairn have a bigger say in a lot of things that affect civic life - such as more control over the Common Good. 

It was pointed out at the West/Suburban Community Council meeting last night that there has been no consultation with Nairn Community Councils on the appointment of an officer who would be funded on a pro-rata basis by the Common Good funds. It was suggested that this would effectively mean that the Inverness and Nairn funds would pay for that as there is very little cash or assets in any of the other Common Good funds left in the Highlands. 

Members of West/Suburban were worried that this officer would be based in Inverness and thus more control, transparency and accountability would slip away from Nairn and that the charges for the officer would quickly deplete the fund's cash. They are pressing for the appointment of the officer to be differed until the community councils are consulted on the merits or otherwise of such a move. 

Serious students of these matters may wish to go to the agenda page for the Highland Council meeting on Thursday (10th March) and download item 18 to read the report in full. 

Gurn opinon: And what of the Nairnshire Committee on this? Shouldn't our councillors make the decision in the Courthouse and not the full Council in Glenurquhart Road? Could one be forgiven for thinking that the Community Empowerment Act is being used as a fig leaf here for Glenurquhart Road to continue in exactly the opposite direction? Will our four Highland Councillors stand up for Nairn on this one on Thursday?


Anonymous said...

Shocked but not surprised - where are our Councillors when we need them to stand up for Nairn. Highland Council's actions here are offensive and seem to be in complete contempt of the spirit & aims of the Community Empowerment Bill. Hiring someone using money from our common good fund without consulting the people of Nairn is an insult there are so many needy causes in Nairn just now - why do they need another layer - is it obfuscation? Yes it probably is. Surely in times of austerity & cuts the people already working for HC in Finance should be well able to manage this fund appropriately or give control back to Nairn now . How dare they? Because the people of Nairn are too quiet - too compliant. Time for change.

Anonymous said...

Nairn could benefit from such a position. It is a temporary job - focused on bringing all the asset lists uptodate. Some things are done better by sharing and collaborating.
Most of Nairn's Common Good "mistakes/errors/shenanigans/disasters" actually took place when Nairn was a distinct political entity.
The current bunch of local Councillors have actually overseen greater transparency, accuracy and acumen than the past couple of generations.
If Laurie or Liz or Michael or Stephen thought that this had anything to do with wicked InverSneckie Control - then they would shout loud about it.
"Independence for Queenspark! It's oor river!"

Anonymous said...

Some things are done better by sharing and collaboratin lol especially when they are shared and collaborated from Invernes

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression NCGF was administered and controlled by HC, is this not the case? And if our Cllrs oversee greater transparency, why are decisions made behind closed doors with the shades down?

Anonymous said...

Community councils are token democratic bodies that have no teeth but serve to make it appear as though there is local control of matters when clearly there isn't

There is a history of the Common Good being badly handled in Nairn (for whatever reason)

The appointment of someone who hopefully has some expertise might mean we avoid some if not all bad management of the CG funds.

Despite some opposition to this central post it's the likes of Inverness that appear to have handled their CG fund well and attain a healthy rental income from much of their land whereas in Nairn (thinking Sandown housing development here) it would seem we'd be happy to sell it off for a one off payment.

Maybe the concept councillors have here in Nairn is for disposal of all CG funds so there's eventually nothing left to manage?

Anonymous said...

Most decisions are made in open forum with blinds up. I guess that Inverness CG will cough up most of the cash. Proportionate ..... so places like Wick might have to find 50p.

Anonymous said...

What will the council charge for this official £50 per hour?

Anonymous said...

Surely not as much as I get charged by my hairdresser. She's much more qualified.

Sheena Baker said...

Me thinks that the reduction in Council staff is the main driver here!

I might be thought to be cynical but I suspect that if this goes through some "adverts (paid by the CG Fund) and interviews" to be transparent will occur BUT I would hazard a guess there are already one or two folks lined up for this. So instead of HC paying for a staff member then the Common Good funds are, and the math of it is simple. They say the two most asset/income rich CG Funds are Inverness followed a long way behind by Inverness so it will be pro rata funded by those two CG Funds.

Then when the 24 months is coming to it's end they will "slip" a further 24 - 36 - who knows how many months in to continue getting the post funded by the CG instead of HC.

This needs to have much greater input and control locally. Fine that the 4 Councillors are part of that control but there needs to be "others" with the necessary skills on the team monitoring and controlling what rightly belongs to Nairn.

Sorry I would vote for it to come back to Nairn and be removed from the HC clutches!

Sheena Baker said...

Sheena Baker correction - should say " followed a long way behind by NAIRN" not Inverness. Typo - in my haste to get my thoughts out there.

I just hope that Michael Green and Liz MacDonald etc realise the serious implications of this "stealthy" move and get the required postponement carried in order that the community can properly and fully consider the proposal.

Anonymous said...

As long as it's nothing to do with planning Liz might be able to say something

I thought not said...

A problem we have in Nairn and indeed elsewhere in the UK is a lack of appetite for local politics. Witness the lack of candidates that stand at our local elections, they are almost guaranteed appointment due to the lack of competition.

Far be it for me to call into question their professionalism or ability to represent the people of Nairn but many will retire from their posts before they are voted out, a job for life

We need competition, any takers?