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Regional councils advised to improve handling of common good assets via greater community involvement


By Garry McCartney

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Common good land between Pilmuir Road West and Thornhill known as ‘the dog fields’.
Common good land between Pilmuir Road West and Thornhill known as ‘the dog fields’.

THE Scottish Land Commission (SLC) has recommended that regional councils improve transparency of, and community involvement in, common good decision-making.

The latest SLC protocol sets out how local authorities should manage common good land and buildings in line with statutory duties, and sets out recommendations including: Providing information on whether common good assets are being used, leased or are vacant, and whether ownership can be transferred; providing dedicated points of contact for common good matters; engaging communities in decision-making around common good assets; considering whether alternative uses – or disposal – will deliver public good; making information about how common good funds are used available.

Common good was originally designated to provide burghs with land to construct civic buildings and hold markets, as well as areas for recreation, the grazing of livestock, collection of fuel wood and other activities.

Land commissioner, Sally Reynolds, confirmed the income generated from assets is held in common good Funds which can be distributed to local causes or used to fund local events.

She said: “While local authorities have a duty in managing Common Good assets to take into account the interests of the local community, the way this is interpreted and conducted varies widely. The new protocol sets out clear expectations and behaviours.”

Common good ground between Clovenside Cemetery, Forres golf course and Cluny Hill.
Common good ground between Clovenside Cemetery, Forres golf course and Cluny Hill.

Forres Common Good assets include: Mosset Park and adjacent land; Forres Bowling Club; Nelson’s Tower; Bogton Road car park; the nursery at Bogton Road; Bogton play area; Christies Elite Nurseries; 38a Clovenside Road; the field at Pilmuir Road West; Kings Meadow field; fields at Clovenside; the Mercat Cross; Forres Golf Club; Forres Golf Course; Forres Town Hall; land at the mouth of the river Findhorn; Roysvale Park and pavilion.

The new protocols aim to encourage practical implementation of Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.

The commission welcomes information about successful collaboration between local authorities and communities to inform case studies to inform other councils, landowners and community organisations about good practice.

The protocols will be kept under review by the land commissioners and the Good Practice Advisory Group to inform future recommendations to the Scottish Government.

Part of the common good fields between Mosset Park and Bogton Road.
Part of the common good fields between Mosset Park and Bogton Road.


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