Cost of Living Crisis Fund, Grant Street Yard, and other council news
Cost of Living Crisis Fund
You may remember that I talked about this fund back in September. At that time the council created a Highland-wide grant fund to support communities to respond to the cost-of-living crisis offering grants of up to £10,000.
Among the people who applied for funding in our ward were the Rotary Club of Nairn who got £1,000 to help fund Christmas hampers for families in need around the Nairn area and the United Reform Church who got £3,260 towards opening the church hall 10am-3pm Monday to Friday to offer a warm space for people who need it, access to hot/cold drinks, and a free hot lunch to support people through the cost of living crisis.
Grant Street Yard
The council is undertaking a second consultation on Nairn Common Good land in respect of proposals to dispose, by sale and/or demolition, of Grant Street workshop and yard and I thought it would be worth explaining the background.
Section 104 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 requires the Council to consult local communities when considering disposing or changing the use of Common Good assets and a previous consultation on disposal of this yard took place last year and the majority of consultees favoured leasing it out rather than selling it.
This was discussed at our first ever Area Committee meeting and if you watch that you’ll see that we decided to lease it out (you’ll also see I was initially in favour of sale but I was persuaded by other members that we should lease it).
It was only when officers attempted to lease it out they discovered that the workshop on the site was unsafe and needed demolition and then ran into the problem that legally, because this was a Common Good asset, this couldn’t be done … without another consultation.
So we’re now in the position that we could:
demolish the workshop ourselves, at a cost to the Common Good in the region of £15,000 (and possibly more if there’s asbestos there), before leasing out the yard;
offer a long development lease with the demolition being undertaken by the tenant at their expense;
sell the yard as is, so the purchaser can then demolish the workshop.
We ward councillors are of the view that the last option is probably the most sensible but because this is a Common Good asset then before we can formally agree that we must consult with the community, again.
Things are never simple when it comes to the Common Good.
Elsewhere at Highland Council
In closing this week I’ve a couple of things to report about the council. Firstly it was agreed on Thursday to appoint Kate Lackie as the Interim Chief Executive from 1st February. Kate is currently Acting Depute Chief Executive/Executive Chief Officer Performance and Governance with the Council.
I’ve found Kate to be very helpful over the last eight months as I’ve found my way into my role as your councillor and I’m sure she’ll do a good job.
More depressingly we have failed in both our bids to the Levelling Up Fund. Moray Council, just to the east of us, was also unsuccessful. The fund is meant to compensate for the loss of funding from the EU post Brexit which has in the past helped provide funding for many projects in the Highlands including new bridges and road upgrades.
At the risk of being political I should point out that Richmond, which just happens to be Rishi Sunak’s constituency, received £19,000,000 from the fund for regeneration of Catterick town centre and judging by that article this whole round of funding seems to have very different priorities to the EU’s funding schemes.