SNP fail iw bil to vake Cross sale ‘rreew pa­per’ itev pub­lic

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Graeme stra­chan

The SNP group on An­gus Coun­cil nar­rowly failed yes­ter­day in a bid to make de­tails of a prop­erty trans­ac­tion pub­lic.

The sale of his­tor­i­cal coun­cil build­ings that were at the cen­tre of a For­far “su­per­pub” de­ba­cle four years ago were even­tu­ally dis­cussed in pri­vate fol­low­ing a tense vote at the pol­icy and re­sources com­mit­tee.

The Cross in the heart of For­far is one of a num­ber of sur­plus coun­cil build­ings the lo­cal au­thor­ity has been strug­gling to sell with­out suc­cess for a num­ber of years.

The so-called green pa­perex­empt items are un­der­stood to have de­tailed the pro­posed sale of coun­cil of­fices at the Cross to Vol­un­tary Ac­tion An­gus (VAA) in a pri­vate deal.

Mon­trose SNP coun­cil­lor Bill Duff said the sale was of pub­lic in­ter­est and added that de­tails of the buyer had al­ready been leaked and ap­peared in Satur­day’s Courier.

Coun­cil leader Bob Myles said it would be “ab­so­lutely wrong” to hold the dis­cus­sion in pub­lic and could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on any po­ten­tial sale.

Coun­cil of­fi­cers said they would be put “in a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion” if dis­cus­sions took place in pub­lic.

Carnoustie In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Brian Boyd ap­pealed for trans­parency and backed the SNP stance – stat­ing that go­ing down the route of hold­ing dis­cus­sions pri­vately “didn’t do any good four years ago”.

In 2014 pub gi­ant JD Wether­spoon had the build­ings in its sights for a sec­ond An­gus out­let.

The firm backed out of a six­fig­ure deal af­ter a storm of con­tro­versy over a planned closed doors deal be­tween the au­thor­ity and the hos­pi­tal­ity gi­ant.

Mr Duff’s amend­ment for the pri­vate dis­cus­sion to be made pub­lic was sec­onded by Ar­broath SNP col­league Alex King.

How­ever, the mo­tion by Mr Myles to go ahead in pri­vate as planned went through by one vote.

Coun­cil­lors also agreed to a £95,000 ser­vice level agree­ment with VAA to sup­port its work in the third sec­tor.

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