3. Key findings
3.1. While the criteria were not part of the consultation proposals, they did attract a number of responses: Eight respondents provided comments on the draft criteria in the consultation. Four respondents expressed agreement with the specific proposals outlined in the consultation paper. Other respondents suggested additional criteria that might be embedded in the interim body's corporate approach.
3.2. The majority of respondents were supportive of the single entity approach outlined in the consultation paper. A number of respondents highlighted support for stability and continuity of service delivery in Scotland, and the importance of on-going relationships with the rest of UK Crown Estate and UK wide bodies.
3.3. Views were expressed that governance has to be clear and transparent and others indicated that they would welcome further clarification on the working arrangements of the interim body. Others respondents noted that, in their view, the interim arrangements should explicitly state an intention to continue investments in support of business sectors. Respondents suggested that it would be beneficial if a register of the risks associated with the assets, and financial and asset management information could be made available.
3.4. Four respondents, including two local authorities, stated that the proposals for the interim body must not constrain the potential for a pilot scheme in the three island authorities. Another respondent requested a pilot for community landowners in the Outer Hebrides.
3.5. Several respondents requested local community input at an early stage on decisions directly affecting them. A related view was that seeking community input should be extended to include wider communities of interest, not only local geographical communities.
3.6. Some respondents expressed a view that it was important for the interim body to operate commercially in a way that is balanced with social and environmental aspects, including community benefit arrangements. One respondent suggested amending the principle on maintaining a commercial approach to 'Scope to maintain a commercial approach when necessary with no introduction of a detriment to any future managers of certain Crown assets such as tenant farmers'.
3.7. There were other suggestions about additional considerations for the interim arrangements. These included:
- Review of planning exemptions and provisions for Crown Estate development.
- Addition of other criteria, including wider local economic development; community empowerment, community benefit, and further devolution of responsibilities to communities.
Proposals for the interim arrangements
3.8. All but one outlined support for the single entity approach. Some respondents expressed agreement with the proposal that the interim body will be a body corporate and a separate body from Scottish Ministers. One respondent expressed concern about the creation of a new arms-length body which they felt would not be sufficiently accountable.
3.9. Some respondents requested a timetable commitment for the interim and permanent arrangements, and an evaluation of the interim body prior to the establishment of long-term arrangements.
3.10. A significant number of respondents suggested adding to the eligibility criteria for Board members e.g. to include experience of local government or local communities, the Crown Estate, management of marine, rural or commercial assets, community empowerment, law, finance, economic issues or planning and development or land use expertise.
3.11. There were other suggestions about additional considerations for the specific proposals. These included:
- Specific directions as to the management purposes.
- Membership of the Board should be an odd number to avoid deadlock.
- Councillors and employees of any local authority and office holders of the Scottish Administration added to the list for disqualification, and add a disqualification period of 12 months before appointment.
- Suggestion that the person employed as the Chief Executive should not be a member, although that person may sit on the board.
- There should be a specific rural sub-committee.
- Meetings of the interim body's Board should be recorded and a written record of meetings be published in an accessible form.
- Interim body should engage with relevant local authorities in shaping the corporate plan before it is submitted to Scottish Ministers.
- Ministerial direction should include explicit provision for the interim body to take into account social and community benefit.
- Crown exemption waived to statute unless there is overriding opposing statutory requirement.
- Refer any asset transfer from the Crown to another government or community body to the District Valuer for valuation based on the compensation model set out in any associated legislation.
- Work with other Government bodies to achieve published local and national objectives, for example, as set out in the Local Development Plan, Single Outcome Agreements.
- Waive the Crown exemption to the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 in regards to 'assumed' adopted roads listed in Register of Public Roads which are not adoptable without Crown Estate's agreement.
3.12. Several respondents sought clarity on how the Board of the interim body would provide opportunities for community representation.
3.13. Some respondents requested greater clarity on the nature and scope of the proposed direction-making power for Scottish Ministers or suggested that it takes into account economic, social and community benefits.
3.14. Respondents offered suggestions for elements that could be considered, including:
- Detail on how the interim body will decide whether individual assets will be able to retain profits they have generated, above and beyond that required to repair and maintain assets.
- Request specific commitment to retaining the Coastal Communities Fund.
- Interim body should be located in North / Inverness.
- Interim body should be involved in second round of Community Empowerment legislation.