Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sandown Lands confirmed as inalienable from Burgh Charter of 1589 - Viewfield House and Gardens belong to Nairn Common Good Fund too - implications for past actions at Sandown?

At the NWSCC meeting last Monday night in the Community Centre Joan Noble gave an update on additions to the Register of Assets to Nairn Common Good Fund. These changes come about as the result of submissions by Nairn residents:

Falconers Lane CP. The Parking Area (including the toilets) from the back wall of the Old Social Work building, to the back of the High Street properties has been CG land for 45 years. 

Foreshore. All the beach between mean high and low water marks have been CG from 1589 – from Sandown right of way to line drawn out from Kingsteps. (the Royal Burgh boundary). Status of seabed queried.

Viewfield House and Gardens. Bought for community use in 1949. By definition inalienable.

Promenade. An adopted HC road but is on CG land purchased by the Burgh 1948.

Between Harbour St and river. Site of toilets and carwash is CG land from Charter. Harbour shelter is CG.

Kingsteps car park. Now clarified as being CG. Road belongs to Brodie Estate.

Prince of Wales Walk. The pathways and low land from Nairn Bridge to Auldearn Burn on the E bank of the river.

Monuments: Toorie, Grigor Statue, Poets Well, Merkat Cross, Infantry Stone, 4 Paintings in Courthouse.

Sandown confirmed as inalienable from Burgh Charter of 1589. 

The Sandown issue is very interesting as Joan said: "Sandown has now been confirmed as Inalienable CG land. This entails onerous legal conditions on its disposal."

Joan further explained that "inalienable" means that there there is a legal process and a consultation process to go through before there can be a change of use or disposal. The Sandown Lands had been looked on as having been brought as an investment but it hadn't been brought as an investment. She said "so in effect the Council did not have the right to sell that land yet it was put on the market." 

Bill Young went on to speak and maintained that Highland Council's consequent claim to title over a chunk of that land in lieu of the costs they incurred in the sale attempt is not valid. This was brought to the attention of Tom Heggie and Peter Saggers who were present (it was before their time on the Council but they will now be obliged to follow it up after the issue was pointed out to them by NWSCC members). No doubt there will be much more to be heard on the issue of the Sandown Lands and the past behaviour of Highland Council in the weeks and months to come. 

Joan outlined that there were still one or two other wee issues to be finalised concerning Common Good assets. She went on to say: 

"Our four Nairn Councillors face challenges in this respect. On the one hand, as Councillors they are obliged to pursue and promote the policies and objectives of the Council to deliver public services. On the other, as Trustees of our Common Good (with their 80 other colleagues) they are equally obliged to safeguard the assets of the CG and to ensure best use of them for the local community. As trustees they are ultimately personally responsible for the decisions made and the consequences. Reconciling these two potentially conflicting roles is not easy."

It's the old story - the interests of Nairn and the interests of Highland Council are not always going to dovetail - perhaps there will be discussions soon on how everyone moves on from where we are now. Joan Noble suggested and Sheena Baker asked and got CC consent, to set up a working (sub)group of NWSCC members hopefully with River CC representives too, to continue the research and scrutiny on Common Good matters.

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