Argyll and Bute Councillors show support for Castle Toward price reduction.

At the Argyll and Bute area committee meeting held on Tuesday the 5th of August at Eaglesham house in Rothesay, Councillor Bruce Marshall tabled a motion calling on his fellow local authority colleagues to support the Cowal Community group’s request for a reduction in the price sought for the Castle Toward estate. At fully attended meeting Councillor Marshall, seconded by Councillor MacIntyre, reminded his colleagues of the councils poor record of disposal of council owned properties in the past, “the history of Argyll and Bute council’s disposal of assets has not been up to standards in the past” he said “as far as Castle Toward is concerned we have been trying to sell it for a while”. On the subject of the community purchase he continued “with this one there is great benefit for the community” His comments were echoed by Councillor Robert McIntyre commenting “I am in agreement with everything my colleague has said”

Councillor Marshall went on to inform fellow members of the work done by the local community group in partnership with HIE to secure a client that will bring a large amount of jobs to Castle Toward and also the huge show of public support by South Cowal residents in the recent public ballot about Castle Towards future. Councillor Marshall then went on to talk about the high cost to the local authority of the estate currently, “we are spending one hundred and seventy eight thousands pounds a year on it at the moment” he also went on to comment on the general deterioration of the estate after seeing it for himself on a recent visit. Councillor MacIntyre picked up on this point adding his own comment that the estate was once a great place to visit which was always full of people, unlike its present form.

There was a discussion about the regeneration of Castle Toward and the enterprise that the local community group had shown in its buyout plans. Councillor Michael Breslin, also present at the area committee meeting, commented on a recent report he had read that showed the success rates of community led enterprises, compared to local authority enterprise, with their higher success rates.

The area committee meeting, attended by council leader Dick Walsh, agreed the motion raised by Councillor Marshall recommending to the policy and resources committee that they support the principle of offering the local community group a reduction on price. Although the motion was passed unopposed it was noted that there was no support offered by a few key members of the area committee. The policy and resources committee are due to meet to discuss Castle Toward on August 21st. Local community group chairman Alan Stewart commented he was, “extremely pleased with the support shown by the area committee and the community group were very grateful for the motion put forward by councillor Marshall” he continued “for us to succeed with this great opportunity for Cowal there has to be a political will to make it happen”.

The district valuer recently placed a value of £1.75 million pounds on the estate, the community group are seeking a reduction in that price.

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