December 12, 2007
The Commonweal Project
In all of Scotland’s 196 ancient burghs there are funds and land rights held for the common good – but time, neglect and sometimes chicanery have eroded these community assets. The Commonweal Project aims to identify the whereabouts of these assets and promote practical action to restore them to the communities where they belong.
Common Good is the name given to the inherited property of the former burghs of Scotland and consists of a range of assets both moveable (furniture, paintings, regalia etc.) and heritable (land and buildings).
With respect to the 196 burghs defined in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947 (and whose Town Councils were wound up in May 1975), these assets are held by Local Authorities (in other words they have legal title) on behalf of the inhabitants of the former burghs. Title transferred under the terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 because no provision was made for any community body to act as a successor to the Town Councils.
Other classes of Common Good exist. These include land forming part of burghs not included in the 1947 Act and land owned by former Parish Councils and County Councils where it was purchased or gifted for the benefit of a defined group of people (in a village or town). Such other classes, however, are far less clearly defined in either statute of case law and further research is needed to determine their fate.
The goal of the Common Good Campaign which is supported by a new website (http://www.scottishcommons.org)
• have an accurate public register of all Common Good assets (both heritable and moveable)
• have full and accurate accounts published for every Common Good Fund
• have a new Common Good Act which will define and stipulate how Common Good Funds should be managed and which will provide a statutory right for communities of former burghs to have legal title to all Common Good assets.
All common good material published as part of Caledonia’s Commonweal programme has now been moved to a new and permanent location at