Ayr Common Good assets to form part of review into council owned estates

South Ayrshire Council is set to include dozens of common good properties in an en masse review of council owned estates.

Last December, the council agreed to sell the Darlington Church to an arts group for £1 without seeking court approval, as had previously been advised.

It claimed that the property was an ‘investment asset’ which did not face the same sale restrictions as monuments and public assets.

Now, the future of more than 60 ‘investment assets’ looks to be less secure as councilors prepare to include them as part of a broader review of the council’s estates.

Councilors on SAC Leadership Panel will consider proposals last Tuesday, having heard a report which paints a picture of a dwindling cash held in common good reserves, mostly in Ayr.

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Current policy means that repairs and maintenance of common good property is covered by these reserves.

The amount of capital and revenue reserves has been on the decline in recent years, with £400k work on Rozelle House, expected to take a large chunk of the remaining £939k capital balance of Ayr Common Good Fund.

The report to the Leadership Panel states that Ayr Common Good Fund has assets totaling £13,472m. The remaining funds in Prestwick, Troon, Maybole and Girvan bring this up to just over £14m.

In his report, Tom Burns, service lead for asset management, states: “The strategic objectives for the Common Good Fund are to:

  • deploy Common Good Fund assets and resources for the benefit and
    enrichment of the people of the area
  • maximize income from Common Good Fund assets and resources to
    ensure the Financial sustainability of the Funds
  • where appropriate, use Common Good Fund assets and resources to
    finance strategic investment in specific Council priorities that have been
  • use surplus Common Good Fund revenue resources to support Council
    priorities, on the basis of criteria to be developed.
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“The management and maintenance of Common Good Fund land and buildings assets is subject to the level of funding which is available within each Common Good Fund.

“This poses issues for future maintenance costs of Common Good in relation to the amount of money available in each of the Common Good Funds.

“The council is however, open to innovation in its development of management arrangements of Common Good Fund assets and resources.

“Any disposal may generate a capital receipt, but may have an adverse impact on the revenue position through loss of rental income.

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“Common Good Fund land and property assets are generally recommended retained if the rental exceeds that which could be achieved by investing the capital at the bank, or if the property is being held to support an adopted strategy.”

During a consultation with local members, there were calls to seek match funding for properties, particularly monuments and listed buildings.

The first part of the review is due later this month. The Leadership Panel will be asked to agree to include common good properties in the recommendations.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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