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Concern over the management by
the Board of Comrie Development Trust regarding the Community Right
Cultybraggan Army Camp
Former Community Councillor
Interim Member Comrie Development Trust
Filed 17 Aug 08
You will not have heard from me before, but I feel that there are
some things that you must consider prior to Monday’s AGM (20th
I am a former Community Councillor and became an interim board member
of the Trust. I have not attended any board meetings for some
time, nor have I attended any open meetings.
I am writing this e-mail to you all today because, having received
a copy of the Comrie Bulletin that is to be distributed to the community
this weekend, I am staggered at the “information it contains”.
In it the Trust says that they asked consultants
to project a “worst case scenario”. They
claim that in the scenario, a potential “6-8 housing plots
(the Planning Authority are willing to see up to 10 houses on the
site) could be sold. Assuming a conservative value of £75
- £100,000 for the cottage (located at the entrance to Cultybraggan
Farm) or per serviced house plot, would enable the Trust to cover
all its costs, including loans, create a surplus in the region of
£150,000 and still own 88 acres of the 90 acres.”
When the community voted in the May ballot, it voted to allow the
Trust to pursue all the ideas and come up with something that would
work. They haven’t done so – the community’s
priorities included financial viability and no housing. The
proposals laid out in this bulletin show that the Trust do not intend
to pay the slightest attention to the community’s feelings
about what happens at Cultybraggan.
The idea of the community purchase of Cultybraggan is to give the
community a say in what happens there. I put it to you that
the wider community’s views have been and will continue to
be flagrantly disregarded at every turn. This is the same
as the worst kind of property developer that we’ve been led
to believe we’re trying to avoid.
I strongly support the idea of a community purchasing land that
it can use, that can provide benefits for us all – but I think
that the Trust Board must be called to account for the lack of community
consultation to date, its disregard for the feedback it has been
given and its attempts to stifle a wide debate about this community’s
We didn’t want housing, we didn’t want the management
of the land to rely on handouts from other organizations or government
– we wanted something that we could all use, that could potentially
provide work, amongst other things.
I urge you all to look back at earlier bulletins,
think about what you heard at previous meetings and ask yourselves
if the community is where you thought it would be in this process.
I recall being at Cultybraggan to give an interview
to BBC Radio to encourage the community to come forward with ideas.
Cathy Tilbrook and Alex Neil, the MOD’s surveyor, both agreed
that the community purchase of Cultybraggan couldn’t happen
without some of the land being sold for housing. I’ve
never subscribed to that idea. When you consider the issues
prior to Monday’s vote, ask yourselves if you really know
what’s going on at the Trust. If they knew back then
that this had to happen, why didn’t they communicate it sooner
than three days before the final vote?
I feel strongly that this community is being manoeuvred into voting
for something it doesn’t want. What is worse –
buying something we can’t use and can’t afford and which
we’ll be saddled with for an indeterminate amount of time,
or perhaps letting it go for sale on the open market and living
with the consequences of that? Or do we actually want to buy
it, sit on it whilst it appreciates in value and then sell it to
the community’s financial benefit? If it’s the
latter, the community purchase legislation is quite clear that this
is not legal. However, if I am wrong, and we can, then what’s
wrong with just saying so if that’s what’s best?
I think that we are very far away from where we thought we would
be – where we were led to believe we should be – and
we should refuse to return those interim board members who have
stood again for election to the board at Monday’s AGM.
Perhaps a fresh start, with a whole new board, is best for all.
Incidentally, there are attempts to make this type of communication incompatible
with being a member of the Trust - an attack on our democratic
principles and a flagrant attempt to control the level/type of debate
within Comrie - the Trust and its board are servants of this community,
not the other way round.
I appreciate that my views won’t meet with approval everywhere,
but this community must start calling these self appointed individuals
to account. Monday's AGM is our opportunity whether or not to return
a Board of Directors for the first time. All they've ever been is
self appointed, myself included.
Former Comrie Community Councillor
Member of the Interim Board, Comrie Development Trust