Concern over common good assets (Angus Council)

On the market—Braik’s Close in Brechin.

By Chris Hardy

THE RECORDING and stewardship of Brechin Common Good fund by Angus Council has been called into question again.

The council wants to sell or lease ground at Braik’s Close but has been told by community councillor and common good watchdog Mike Mitchell that it is not theirs to sell as it is a common good asset.

He believes the issue highlights unresolved discrepancies in the common good list and has called for anything involving the properties to be shelved until the council’s promised investigation of common good funds in Angus has been completed.

“I had a meeting with the head of legal services at Angus Council almost two years ago regarding some of my concerns over Braik’s close and other properties relating to Brechin common good and the response was somewhat dilatory,” said Mr Mitchell.

“It took five months to get a reply which said that, having examined the titles carefully, Braik’s close did not appear to fall within Brechin Common Good.

“In addition the head of property services advised that records held by his division showed that they were held on the roads account.

“The council said it did not intend to take any further action on this subject.”

However Mr Mitchell’s own research has shown Braik’s Close was on the common good accounts of fixed assets at least from 1997—which is as far back as his records go—to 2000 with a capital valuation of £4000.

“From 2000 to 2003 it was still on the list with a valuation of £0.

“Then it disappears.”

Further correspondence from Angus Council intimated that due to various other priorities some of the 14 issues raised by Mr Mitchell were still outstanding.

The council had agreed that a full review of common good assets in each burgh would be carried out over the next few years.

Mr Mitchell has written to Angus Council’s chief executive stating that until that review has been completed Braik’s Close should be withdrawn from the market.

A member of the Brechin community said yesterday that it was concerning, given the many reports in the press and when the council was aware of concerns, that nothing had been done.

“What has been uncovered at Braik’s Close may be tantamount to criminal neglect,” he said.

“If negligence on the side of the common good trustees, ie Angus Council, can be proven I would guess there would be a very strong case for transferring custodianship.

“It would appear that planning permission for 15 flats on the former site of Flicks nightclub depends on the purchase of the close for parking spaces.

“Therefore the sale valuation of £20,000 is far too low. Approval should be given only after detailed discussion with Brechin Community Council, after the valuation is done in much the same manner as for a ransom strip and once continued pedestrian access is ensured.”

Mr Mitchell said be believed Angus Council should be working hand in glove with the community instead of stone-walling anyone who raised queries.

“I know it is a complex issue but it would help if the council would work with and listen to people who are expressing concerns,” he said.

“The council has said it will have a review but that it will take years.

“Meanwhile Brechin could be losing out on tens of thousands of pounds in rental charges for properties that have disappeared from the common good.”

In recent years Angus Council reinstated the municipal building in Bank Street to the list of assets and a rental income of £24,500 was attributed to the common good fund, although there was no back payment for the missing years.

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