“FRUSTRATION AT LACK OF PROGRESS FROM AUDIT SCOTLAND”
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, today (Tuesday 24th March) joined representatives from the Save Castle Toward Community Supporters Group (SCTCSG) to meet with Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, and outline their concerns about the conduct of the Castle Toward sale by Argyll and Bute Council.
During the meeting, the group highlighted the “unfinished business” of the South Cowal Community Development Company (SCCDC)’s bid to buy Castle Toward from Argyll and Bute Council, and Audit Scotland’s slow progress in tackling the “anti-democratic” actions of Argyll and Bute Council in blocking the bid. Furthermore, Mr Neil was presented with a petition of 10,000 signatures in support of the community purchase of Castle Toward.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Russell commented:
“I was delighted to welcome representatives of SCTCSG to meet with the Cabinet Secretary today. I am pleased that he has recognised the need for democratic renewal in communities, which will be greatly enhanced when the Community Empowerment Bill becomes law.
Susan Chandler, a local resident in South Cowal and member of the group, said:
“We have unfinished business in South Cowal. The actions of Dick Walsh, and other senior councillors and officials in the Argyll and Bute administration, in blocking the community’s bid through procedural trickery have brought the Council’s reputation into serious disrepute. Moreover, there is serious frustration at the slow progress of Audit Scotland’s own investigation into Argyll and Bute Council, which we highlighted to the Cabinet Secretary this afternoon.”
Mr Russell added:
“I will continue to support SCCDC in their bid to purchase Castle Toward and will be continuing to put pressure on Audit Scotland to take action. Argyll and Bute Council has displayed a flagrant disregard of the wishes of the people of South Cowal, and it is time that they started listening to the community and back the community buyout of Castle Toward.”
Mr Neil concluded:
“The Scottish Government strongly supports community ownership of land, and, with the Community Empowerment Bill, we are sending out a clear message that we support communities to purchase assets for their collective benefit.”