Scottish Government intervene

The Scottish government has stepped into the ongoing saga surrounding the community buyout of the Castle Toward estate.

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This has been copied from Mike Russell MSP's social media feed;

Michael Russell welcomes Alex Neil's intervention in Castle Toward saga

Government asks Council to extend deadline and negotiate with SCCDC

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the decision of Alex Neil, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners Rights to intervene in the Castle Toward buyout and publicly urge Argyll & Bute Council to extend the deadline for the community purchase and negotiate seriously to secure an outcome acceptable to both sides.

Mr Russell said : "I met with Alex Neil this morning to discuss the Castle Toward buyout after having a detailed conversation last week about the same issue with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Mr Neil who has Cabinet responsibility for a Local Government issues offered to write to Argyll & Bute Council today to ask them to extend the right to buy deadline which expires this Saturday ( and which the Council refused to extend in the motion of Council Leader Dick Walsh just last week) and negotiate seriously with SCCDC to try and reach an agreement even at this very late stage.

In addition Mr Neil is contacting HIE to ask if there is any more that they can do to help and has asked me to work with Local Government Minister Marco Biagi to devise amendments to the community Empowerment Bill which would specifically assist communities which found themselves in the situation of SCCDC - that is faced with an local authority that did not want to transfer assets where such a transfer was clearly in the interests of the community.

Mr Neil has also undertaken to discuss my evidenced concerns about the actions of Argyll & Bute Council with Audit Scotland and to meet a delegation from the South Cowal Community , which will also meet the Chair of the Rural Affairs Committee dealing with Land Reform and Community Purchase, Rob Gibson MSP. I will arrange that delegation for as soon after the February recess as is possible.

The Castle Toward situation is assuming national significance as it appears to illustrate some negative aspects of the policy of some local authorities regarding asset transfer to communities. I hope that Argyll & Bute will realise that they are now in the spotlight and resolve to do the area credit by taking a constructive and positive negotiating stance,

This issue can be resolved positively if the Council so decide. The ball is very much in their court."

END

The community group will now await a response from the local authority which has just two days until the community buyout legislation runs out.


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