WE WANT AN­SWERS

Ericht Trust tackle PKC over sale of school for £1

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Clare Damodaran

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

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