The current state of play, and I’m talking in early June 2010, is that our applications went out to consultation in March and the landlord and others had an opportunity to put in comments on our applications. That consultation period is now finished but we are awaiting the comments. We then have a further sixty days to comment on the comments and after that ministers are in a position to take a decision on whether it’s in the overall public interest, so we’re still a little way off a decision being made but hopefully not too far off. The position is complicated by the fact that the landlord has sought petition for judicial review. Well, he actually sought two things in the courts, one a judicial review of a number of aspects which has been granted - and the current position is that there will be a hearing for a judicial review later this year. The second thing that he sought in the courts was an injunction to stop the consultation process on our applications but the judge rejected that. So the consultation process can continue but there will be a judicial review later in the year to cover a range of things. On the one hand, it will consider the compatibility of the Land Reform Act, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2003, whether that is compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights - which is not for us to answer but for the Scottish Government and the Parliament. At the other end of the spectrum, the landlord is questioning a number of detailed aspects of the conduct of the ballot. We will certainly be vigorously defending the procedures used in the ballot. The ballot was actually carried out for us by the local council, deliberately so that it was an independent ballot and, as I said, the results were emphatic. But all of that is for the future. We believe we have followed the procedures in the legislation and we hope that ministers will take a decision as soon as possible, that it’s in the overall public interest that the community buys the land and the lease and that would then allow us to put into action the various proposals that are in our business plan to improve conditions in the area.

  • John Randall
Thursday 3rd June 2010