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November 19, 2019

Flawed process

The 2015 Community Empowerment Act gives communities the right to appeal to Scottish Ministers if their request for a Council asset to be transferred is refused.  But there’s little point in having a community right to appeal if the procedure itself is flawed. For council assets, the appeal is treated in the same way as a planning appeal – with a planner appointed by Scottish Ministers to adjudicate. But while a planner may be qualified to adjudicate on planning matters, community development is an entirely different field. The Garioch Partnership describe their recent experience of the appeal process as ‘bruising’.

Garioch Partnership - John Chapman (Chairperson) & Dawn Brown (Development Worker)

An open letter to the community from the Garioch Partnership

Following correspondence received on 16th October, 2019 from Aileen Campbell, Cabinet
Secretary for Communities and Local Government, we are deeply disappointed to notify you
that the asset transfer appeal has been dismissed.
Within the letter from Ms Campbell quotes “I appreciate this will be very disappointing news
but I hope you are able to source an alternative solution for a third sector hub in the Inverurie
area, and I understand from the report that Aberdeenshire Council has indicated their
willingness to help you identify a suitable property.”
The reasons for the dismissal are around best value use of the site, and the reporter states
“there is a stronger case for the council’s proposal to use the site for car parking to support
its office space strategy than to support the community asset transfer.”
The Garioch Partnership would like to assure the community that we did all we could to
ensure the building would be retained for community use, and thank you all for un-wavering
support to this local project. However Aberdeenshire Council have yet to do anything to offer
another suitable property – despite an initial discussion of identifying other possibilities on
12th February 2019, and subsequent requests for further information on this from The
Partnership, which was highlighted in the appeal submission to Scottish Government. We
had hoped that a hearing would have been allowed as several years and information that
were part of the initial submission would have been brought to light and taken into
consideration for review.
We are disappointed and saddened that the Victorian built Market Place Primary School
building will be demolished and lost for the community, but remain committed to supporting
people in our community, community groups and local social enterprise, and doing all we can
to support the growth of the third and community sector in Garioch within the diminishing
budget constraints that TGP are working within.
John Chapman (Chairperson) & Dawn Brown (Development Worker) on behalf of the Board
of The Garioch Partnership