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July 12, 2017

The Common Good

Serious debate about how Scotland’s Common Good should be managed, who should benefit and even the question of what the Common Good actually is, has never really happened. Perhaps because of its ancient history or because record keeping has been less than perfect over the years, there just seems to be a reluctance to sort this out. The Community Empowerment Act touches on it but only really to kick it further along the road. That said, the recent consultation may be worth responding to if for no other reason than to make sure it gets that kick.

Scottish Government

Community Empowerment and Common Good Property:

Consultation on Draft Guidance


This is a consultation on guidance for local authorities on how to fulfil the requirements of Part 8 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 in relation to Common Good property.

Common Good property is owned by local authorities and has been passed down, through local government reorganisation, from former burghs. Those burghs would have received it as a gift or purchased it. It includes land and buildings, moveable items such as furniture and art, and cash funds. There may be restrictions on how certain items of Common Good property are allowed to be used, and whether the local authority can dispose of them. In some cases this has to be decided by the courts. It is also worth noting that, due to the time which has passed, it is sometimes difficult to know whether property forms part of the Common Good.

Why we are consulting

Part 8 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 places new duties on local authorities in relation to Common Good property. This consultation concerns the statutory guidance related to these processes and asks for views on issues such as timescales, information about assets, local consultation and publicising proposals.

• Section 102 places a duty on local authorities to “establish and maintain a register of property which is held by the authority as part of the common good.”

• Section 104 places a duty on local authorities “Before taking any decision to dispose of, or change the use of, such [common good] property the local authority must publish details about the proposed disposal or, as the case may be, the use to which the authority proposes to put the property.”

• Sections 103 and 105 require local authorities “to have regard to any guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers” in relation to these duties.

Part 8 does not define or redefine Common Good or remove or alter any restrictions on the use or disposal of Common Good property.

Responding to this Consultation

We are inviting responses to this consultation by 29 September 2017.