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Government to consult Forres Community Council on Common Good

By Garry McCartney

FORRES Community Council are to be consulted by Government officials when drafting a new Bill concerned with the Common Good.

Forres Community Council believe that proceeds from the sale of Clovenside Cottage should go to the Common Good Fund.
Forres Community Council believe that proceeds from the sale of Clovenside Cottage should go to the Common Good Fund.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead raised concerns in Parliament about Common Good that had been expressed by Forres Community Councillors.

Scottish Government Minister for Local Government, Derek Mackay, has now asked officials involved in the drafting of the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill to get in touch directly with Forres Community Council to feed their views into the development process for it.

"We welcome the news," said Forres Community Council secretary Colin Lipscomb. "We’ve maintained for a long time that the legislation on Common Good is so airy fairy you could drive a bus through it.

"Moray Council are not directly involving the Forres community in the administration of the Common Good that is ours. As representatives of the common people of Forres the community council are constantly presented with a fait accompli by Moray Council and we have no input whatsover. Hopefully that will change now."

Mr Lochhead has welcomed a positive view from Derek Mackay, on the importance of Common Good and the affinity that communities in Scotland have with their Common Good assets.

"Common Good issues are complex and relate to a wide variety of community assets. What is clear, however, is that communities have strong links to their Common Good assets and that link and affinity is clearly recognised by the Scottish Government.

"The Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill is a possible opportunity to help address some Common Good issues and I am pleased that the Minister has asked officials involved in the development of this important bill to contact Forres Community Council, who have been particularly vocal on this issue.

He added: "Community concerns around Redco Milne’s proposed development at Bogton Road in Forres have undoubtedly created a focal point for Common Good concerns. It is important that these issues feed into the development of national legislation."

Vice chair of Forres Community Council Bob Hellyer said they brought up the issue with Mr Lochhead 18 months ago at a private meeting in Forres.

"We briefed him then with our concerns about what was going on in Moray," he said. "The annual accounts do not make sense and we have questions about property that has been sold, that we believe belongs to the Common Good fund."

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