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Transition Town Forres assure community council Common Good land at Bogton will be appropriately looked after following Community Asset Transfer

By Garry McCartney

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The Environmental Education and Healthy Living Centre hosts a large number of events including classes and talks.
The Environmental Education and Healthy Living Centre hosts a large number of events including classes and talks.

A LOCAL charity hoping to assume ownership of Common Good land has confirmed that the site will not fall into the hands of an outside organisation should it run into difficulties.

During a meeting of Forres Community Council, the possibility of the publicly owned site at Bogton currently occupied by Transition Town Forres (TTF) - having gone through a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) process - being given to another group if TTF ever folded was raised.

Forres Heritage Trust chairman, George Alexander, said: “I am concerned about who the assets at Bogton Road would be transferred to if TTF fails. It would have to be a charity with similar aims.”

TTF has run social and environmental projects from the Common Good site since 2009. The group is in the process of agreeing a CAT with Moray Council, having been priced out of paying its rent which has risen from £3600 per year to to £13,200. A successful CAT would mean TTF would effectively be owners of the site, allowing the charity to further develop facilities such as the Environmental Education and Healthy Living Centre and Community Garden. The CAT process was extended earlier this year to allow time for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to carry out a Social Value Impact Study. The report concludes that the total value of what is currently on offer at Transition Town Forres is £109,253.

TTF spokeswoman Suzanne Birch explained that the study quantifies the benefits the charity brings to the community and local authority in terms of health, educational value, sustainability and more. She explained that, should the CAT be successful, and in the unlikely circumstances that TTF folded, the land and buildings would be more likely to be taken on by the Transition Town movement, not another group.

She said: “It would be more likely that the assets for a time being would be transferred to the Transition Network charity. The memorandum and articles of association on our website state: ‘If on the winding up of the company any property remains after satisfaction of all the company’s debts and liabilities, such property shall be given or transferred to some other charitable company, institution or organisation having objects similar to or encompassing those of the company and which shall prohibit the distribution of its or their income and property among its or their members to an extent at least as great as the company being wound up. The expression ‘charitable purpose’ shall mean a charitable purpose under section 7 of the Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

“The relevant property shall be applied to some other charitable object or objects as shall be determined by ordinary resolution of the members of the company at or before the time of dissolution or, failing such determination, by the board of trustees.’”

Moray Council is asking for comment in light of HIE’s report ahead of a decision on the CAT. Members of the public can comment at a meeting at TTF on June 11 between 11am and 1pm.

Comments can also be left at https://online.moray.gov.uk/form/auto/cat_request_ext or via the email address CAT@moray.gov.uk.

The HIE study is available at https://tinyurl.com/yeysuph8.

There are also paper copies available at the Transition Town Centre.

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