There has been a question posted on Facebook about why Aberdeenshire Council are asking if the people of Turriff want the building back and why are they asking for a business plan. I can’t respond on Facebook so the simplest thing is to bring it out in to the open to try and answer some of the questions.
- I am a member of the Municipal Building Steering Committee
- I’m not a historian this is based on what I have found out in the last 1o months and it could very well be incorrect in places.
- These are my personal opinions & thoughts
The Facebook questions
The late Mr Hutcheon gave the Municipal building to the people of Turriff for the benefit of the people of Turriff.
So can someone answer my questions,
1. Why is Aberdeenshire council asking if the people want it back and require a business proposal for their own building ?
2. Why has Aberdenshire council not being paying the people of Turriff rent for the building for all the years they had the use of it without asking the people of Turriff in the first place if they could use it. ……………………………………………………………………………………
TURRIFF COMMUNITY COUNCIL SHOULD BE ASKING ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL FOR BACK RENT, WHICH IN TURN COULD BE USED TO ENSURE THE BUILDING IS THERE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
LIKE IF YOU THINK THIS IS RIGHT
The building was given to the people of Turriff by Mr Hutcheon in 1910 this plaque inside the front door attests to that fact
Somewhere in the annals of Aberdeenshire Council archives there should be documents to support this. Although saying that according to this Freedom Of Information request I put in to Aberdeenshire Council, they don’t actually know if Turriff Municipal Building is held in the Common Good or not.
Now we need a bit of a history lesson about Common Good or Common Weal
Common good assets are the heritable (land and buildings) and moveable (paintings, furniture, chains of office etc.) property that belonged to the Burghs of Scotland. Under local government reform in 1975 Burghs and Town Councils were abolished and replaced by District and Regional Councils. In 1996 further reform introduced unitary authorities. Common good assets were subsumed within these local government reforms and placed under the stewardship of these new bodies.
Common good land is land held for the common good of all the residents of that particular burgh and has its origins in the original grants of land to the Royal Burghs of Scotland. This land, held by feudal charter, was intended to provide an income for the burgh and to provide material products for the inhabitants.
If you want to read more then there is a particularly good report by Andy Wightman and James Perman Common Good Land In Scotland.
What happened in Turriff
So when the Local Government Reform Act kicked in in 1975 the Turriff Town Council will have been abolished and local government looked like Grampian Council. Now at this point Turriff Municipal Building will have been looked after by Grampian Council under Common Good, probably because they had a use for the building.
In 1996 things changed again and Grampain Council was no more, Local Govenment was Aberdeenshire Council, all the assets from Grampian Council (and formerly Turriff Town Council) will have been transferred to Aberdeenshire Council under the Common Good scheme and the building continued to be used by the council.
So now we can go some way to answering the questions
Why is Aberdeenshire council asking if the people want it back and require a business proposal for their own building ?
I’ll break this down in to two parts.
Why is Aberdeenshire council asking if the people want it back
Why not, is it not polite to ask? The building may well belong to the people of Turriff but what if the people of Turriff don’t want it back? Or you could also ask who are the ‘people of Turriff’? When the council moved out of the Municipal Building and shut the door, who do they give the keys to? Me, I’ve visited Turriff for 14 years and lived here for a year (almost) so I’m a person of Turriff, should I have the keys? Does it get given to Turriff & District Community Council? By Aberdeenshire Council asking if we wanted the building back forces the people of Turriff to think about the building, it forces Turriff & District Community Council to ask the question of the people of Turriff, do we want this building and if we do, what are we going to do with it?
Which leads me on nicely to the second part of the question, and require a business proposal for their own building.
Aberdeenshire Council have a duty to themselves & the people of Turriff to make sure that whoever takes the building over, in whatever form has the best chance of successfully keeping the building open to the public. You don’t want to set anyone up to fail.
Why has Aberdenshire council not being paying the people of Turriff rent for the building for all the years they had the use of it without asking the people of Turriff in the first place if they could use it.
You could answer this with a question, why have the people of Turriff not been charged (directly) for repairs & renovations to the Municipal Building for all the years it has been used by the council? Sadly, as nice as it would be to be able to claim back rent from the building if it were possible I’m sure that this would be offset against the repairs & renovations costs. I’m not well versed in the 1975 local government reform act, so I can’t comment on whether the people of Turriff needed to be asked if the building could be used by the new council or not. I would imagine that as part of the reform act lots of motions were signed by the Turriff Town Council in the lead up to them abolishing themselves that covers the use of the building.
Asking the council for back rent is going to go nowhere, the energies of the people of Turriff would be better utilised in getting involved in the Municipal Building Steering Committee or whatever entity is created to manage the building in the future. The fact that the Municipal Building has a chance of being given back to the people of Turriff is a pretty good deal in the great scheme of things. In fact I would go so far as to say that you are very lucky to be getting it back when you look at things that are going on in other parts of the country.
There will be an open public meeting on the next steps for the Municipal Building on 23 January, at Turriff Academy starting at 1900, so people really should go there, not to get angry about back rent or who told Aberdeenshire Council they could use the building, but to put that interest and anger in to something constructive, which is the future of the Municipal Building.
If I’ve got any of this wrong, please feel free to comment and I’ll update this where needed. Also feel free to start a discussion in the comments about the whole Municipal Building being used by the community, I’d rather the discussion takes place on here rather than Facebook so that anyone can take part in the conversation.