6 Consultation when planning to dispose or change the use of Common Good property
6.1 Section 104 requires local authorities to consult with the local community when they are planning to dispose of Common Good property, or change its use. Each local authority must publish details of the proposed disposal or change of use.
6.2 The draft guidance sets out the information that should be included about the property so it can be readily identified and located and should use the same information as included in the Common Good register. Also, it recommends how the details should be published including on the local authority website, widely publicised and a notice placed at the site of the building or land or nearby. Question 9 of the consultation asked for any further suggestions around how or where else to publish proposed disposal or changes to use information.
Question 9: If applicable, where or how else, should details of a proposed disposal or change of use be published as a minimum requirement?
Why is this (are these) needed in addition? - Please give reasons for your answer.
6.3 There were 42 responses to this question. Several respondents, largely local authorities, were content with the current recommendations. The remaining respondents made suggestions for additional ways of publishing that were similar to those made in response to questions one and four. The main suggestions were:
- Local press
- Community Council and via their channels of communication
- Social media
- Public meetings and drop in sessions that are well advertised
- Leave it to local authority or community as best placed to decide most appropriate range of methods over and above what is stated in the Act.
6.4 A range of other suggestions were made: direct contact to community groups that the Council knows or suspects may have an interest; direct mailing to residents if it is a major asset or high impact change; send to local area committees/partnerships; place a notice in any commonly used space e.g. all public buildings, Council Offices for public use, sports centres, schools, churches, village shop, post office; direct mailing to all council tax payers; adverts in a local supermarket or garage; use of ScotLis (Registers of Scotland online information system – still in development).
6.5 A couple of respondents highlighted the potential to digitally create alerts for those items of Common Good that are of interest to them, seen as being in keeping with the process for planning applications and Asset Transfer Requests.
6.6 Several respondents commented on the nature of the guidance as written with respect to this issue. One local authority respondent felt that the phrase “ensure is publicised widely” is too open ended and that either the guidance should state specific minimum expectations or make it clear that it is for the local authority to decide what is appropriate in their local area.
6.7 Museums Galleries Scotland ( MGS) called for greater transparency in the guidance to ensure communities are meaningfully involved - with the suggestion that communities are engaged proactively, directly, specifically and at the appropriate local level. Also, there should be a presumption that assets are Common Good unless proved otherwise.
6.8 One respondent suggested that this requirement to consult about the disposal of an asset should only apply to land or property that is inalienable.
6.9 There was a call for the guidance to extend the provisions of section 104 to include situations where an Asset Transfer Request is made for a Common Good property for which the Local Authority has not initiated proposal to dispose of or change use. Also, further clarification is required with respect to what happens around inalienable Common Good and further guidance on what stage the proposal should be advertised.
6.10 Although the question did not ask for comment on the information contained in the proposal, a respondent took the opportunity to request that the information should include cost-benefit analysis of the proposals for change.