WE WANT ANSWERS
Ericht Trust tackle PKC over sale of school for £1
The Ericht Trust has asked for additional information from Per th and Kinross Council following the revelation that the local authority sold the former Hill Primary School to a developer for just £1.
Residents reacted angrily to the news – which came to light just a few weeks ago following a Freedom of Information enquiry by a member of the public – that the Blairgowrie site was sold for such a little sum.
The council’s decision to reject a bid from the Ericht Trust to buy the former school – which has lain empty since 2009 – for the community was met with anger and disappointment by locals when it was announced in 2015.
Following consultation with the community, the Ericht Trust had spent over £60,000 and 7000 hours developing plans for a multimillion pound re-development of the school and its grounds into a heritage and cultural centre for the town, complete with a state-ofthe-art cinema, a cafe, and spaces
suitable for a variety of uses. The proposals had considerable support from the community and high-profile local politicians including John Swinney MSP, the deputy first minister.
However, the council turned down the Ericht’s Trust offer of £35,000 for the site, apparently on the grounds that they received advice suggesting that “the bid from the Ericht Trust would have incurred significant additional costs to the council”.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said: “The council’s property sub-committee made the decision that Corryard was the preferred bidder for the site following expert advice from the real estate firm contracted for the former Hill Primary site.
“The advice provided to the council was that despite the nominal purchase price, this offer in its entirety represented best value, which the council is required to achieve.
“The bid from the Ericht Trust would have incurred significant additional costs to the council, and this impacted on the overall value of their bid.”
The response from the council has angered those involved with the Trust.
Dr Jessie Shaw, a trustee on the Ericht Trust Board, wrote to leader of the council, Councillor Ian Campbell, about the sale, and received a response which the Trust says contains a number of inaccuracies.
Dr Shaw said: “I have written to Councillor Campbell again in response to the statement he sent me about the sale of the Hill Primary School for £1, providing several pieces of evidence to refute the inaccuracies given out in that statement.
“I asked Councillor Campbell to correct the record held by the council, which has the potential to damage the reputation of the Ericht Trust.
“Further information held by PKC about the decision-making process which led the property subcommittee to reach their decision about the sale of the school has been requested but will not be available till early January.
“If these issues can be settled we could look forward to a better and more constructive relationship with our local authority.”
The matter was also raised at the most recent meeting of Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Council held earlier this month.
Speaking at the meeting, chair of the community council, Ian Richards, said: “Something is very much amiss.
“The Trust did a very professional job and hired the best consultants.
“We can’t turn back the clock but this decision was a huge kick in the teeth for Blairgowrie.”
Fellow community councillor Brian Smith added that a number of further Freedom of Information enquiries had subsequently been submitted to Perth and Kinross Council in an effort to establish what information the council was given by the advisers that recommended which offer for the site was accepted.
He said: “The committee that awarded the site to Corr yard did so on the basis of the information provided to them.
“The questions are being asked with a view to ensuring that this sort of thing does not happen again.”
Sold Former Hill Primary
Deal The site was sold for £1