I believe Michael Russell MSP is appearing on …

Comment posted Castle Toward campaigner challenges Russell to defend Scottish Government decision by kintyre1.

I believe Michael Russell MSP is appearing on the QT programme .

kintyre1 also commented

  • Thankfully we are free to express our dissatisfaction with our SNP masters whether others like it or not .
    Mr Russell himself never misses an opportunity to attack “Westminster” politicans blaming them for just about everything .
    My complaint regarding our MSP is that it is reasonable to expect a constituency MSP , one who sought election under the label ‘Local Champion’ and who now sits in the Scottish cabinet , to ensure his constituency gets a fair crack of the whip . On this score to date Mr Russell has failed miserably .
  • If Mr Russell were to do something which “favours Argyll” I would be the first to give him credit .
  • The electorate of Argyll & Bute may have thought having an MSP from the ruling party would bring benefits to the constituency , alas the opposite appears to be the case with Michael Russell too keen to follow the party line and protect his £97,000 salary at the expense of local interests .

Recent comments by kintyre1

  • Professor James Hunter on land reform in Scotland
    Letting mini Mugabes run amok in Scotland will only leave the country and the people worse off .
    If they are concerned about inequality and people in poverty , why doesn’t the administration in Edinburgh get to grips with the disgusting situation where retiring civil servant and SNP lackey Peter Housden is to receive a huge lump sum of £250000 on retirement and an index linked pension starting at £85000 per year ?
  • New destructive action taken by controversial Helensburgh developers at protected Cumberland Avenue site
    I’m shocked to see workers using dangerous chemicals without proper safety equipment such as body suits , masks and gloves .
  • QM2 moored off Oban
    Oban gets all the goodies from the council , to the detriment of every other town in Argyll & Bute .
  • Gigha ferry now suspended on technical issues
    The administration in Edinburgh already has the power to increase income tax rates by 3p in the pound . If they feel so strongly that extra spending is required they should use these powers .
  • Gigha ferry now suspended on technical issues
    We hear so much from some about ‘wicked Margaret Thatcher’ , but isn’t it interesting that so many of Calmac’s ferries were built by her government and haven’t been renewed since despite record public spending and devolved power ?

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71 Responses to I believe Michael Russell MSP is appearing on …

  1. The electorate of Argyll & Bute may have thought having an MSP from the ruling party would bring benefits to the constituency , alas the opposite appears to be the case with Michael Russell too keen to follow the party line and protect his £97,000 salary at the expense of local interests .

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  2. Jeepers – maybe you should actually address your question about ” believe that every community right-to-buy be approved regardless of merit?” to Newsie. After all it was newsie who wrote the article not Kintyre 1.

    Anyway Creepers – Do you think the Castle Toward right-to-buy should succeed?

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  3. I for one am keen to see commmunities own as many assets as possible in Scotland. Several things strike me here:

    1: The right to buy legislation imposes timetables and conditions on a community’s rights. If these are not met then the compulsory right to buy is open to legal challenge by the land owner which they will win on the basis that the move is not legally competent because of the failure to adhere to the legislation.

    2: The Scottish Government is as much bound by the law of Scotland as anyone else. No matter the desire to do the right thing, they cannot if it is not legal (unless they change the law of course). Kintyre1′s attacks on Mr Russell anytime a Government decision does not favour something in Argyll conveniently ignores the realities of ministerial power and influence. He does not give credit to Mr Russell for things that the Government does do that favour Argyll and yet that is the logical obverse of blaming Mr Russell for the things that don’t go our way. Both positions are at best naive.

    3: The land and property belongs to ABC. It does not require the community right to buy legislation to be used for the Council to sell this asset to the community. Indeed the right to buy legislation is really only there for the situations where the landowner doesn’t want to sell to the community. It would strike me more effective to lobby the Council to have them sell the property to the community than to moan about the Scottish Government as the power here lies with the former rather than the latter.

    And what is your take on that “Simon”?

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  4. My point, Kintyre1, is that Mr Russell is not responsble for all Government decisions that favour or disfavour Argyll.

    I cannot say what influence he has on the actual decisions but I know something of the safeguards that prevent MSPs favouring their own constituencies when they are ministers. I would have no problem with you attacking the Government for its decisions but to suggest that Mr Russell is responsible for all government decisions that affect Argyll is disingenuous and obviously politically motivated.

    As to recent Government decisions that have favoured Argyll the ones that spring immediately to mind are the moratorium on rural school closures; the funding for new housing in Dunbeg and the financial bail out of ABC by the Government when they were shafted by their comrades in COSLA. I’m sure one of the regular defenders of the SNP can offer others as well. On the debit side It does appear if the Dunoon ferries decision involved a breach of promise which is regrettable.

    I have no problem with you attacking Mr Russell in his role as our MSP where you can point to him failing to push for our local interests; I have no problem with you attacking Mr Russell in his role as the minister in charge of education and I have no problem with you attacking the Scottish Government. But you should not attempt top conflate all three at the same time.

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    • Dr McKenzie: I fear you’re talking to a brick wall; it saddens me to see otherwise intelligent people – of whatever political persuasion – so blindly attached to one political party that they give the impression they’d vote for a parrot if it was wearing the right political colours.

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  5. “doc” my take is essentialy that since this situation has been going on since local government reform in 1995 then the community has had plenty of time to get its’ act together. Also, I’m not really sure that as Newsie claims “and which then and since is an outdoor education centre, run for Argyll and Bute Council by Actual Reality”. My understading is that there is another body (Castle Toward Trust??) with a Glasgow Councillor as Chair that has the ‘lease’ from the Council to operate this facility – but not, I understand, to operate it on behalf of the Council.

    In turn Actual Reality is a private company sub-contracted by the Trust.

    With that convoluted background, plus a lack of a business plan and getting the application in late – I’m not surprised that the RTB was refused – I’m only surprised that it took them so long to say so.

    Stout defence of Mike Russell “doc” – interestingt that his handling of the the whole Dunoon Ferry fiasco is written off as “regrettable”.

    To ‘Chris’ the original poster – looks like your call to arms – well for a Holyrood demo – has fallen on deaf ears. Not surprised as these boyos on here won’t wwant to embarrass Mike Russell – he’s their buddy. ;)

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  6. You have dodged the question “Simon”: do you think the Council should look to sell the property to the community? And if so (or indeed if not) what do you think are the barriers to this?

    To your second point, I think it is genuinely regrettable when politicians and their parties are unable or unwilling to deliver on what has been promised. In the case of the Dunoon ferries I don’t think I need write anything stronger than regrettable: no-one has died and Mr Russell is only the latest in a line of politicians and governments who has not delivered on their promises in relation to these ferries. It is not up there with the Iraq war or the current global financial disaster.

    I wasn’t really aware that I was defending Mr Russell, just pointing out the Kintyre1′s attack on him was irrational and a bit boring.

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  7. Thankfully we are free to express our dissatisfaction with our SNP masters whether others like it or not .
    Mr Russell himself never misses an opportunity to attack “Westminster” politicans blaming them for just about everything .
    My complaint regarding our MSP is that it is reasonable to expect a constituency MSP , one who sought election under the label ‘Local Champion’ and who now sits in the Scottish cabinet , to ensure his constituency gets a fair crack of the whip . On this score to date Mr Russell has failed miserably .

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  8. “doc” can the community come up with the money??

    If the property is placed on the open market – the community can bid!

    Any word on the ‘Castle Toward Trust’ Newsie??

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  9. Kintyre1: where is the evidence for any of this? You make accusations (and the same sort come out of Westminster about how the Scottish Government is just about grievance)but, and perhaps I have pink specs on, I just don’t see any of this. I give you some pretty substantial evidence off the top of my head of how the Government has helped Argyll recently but you just ignore it and instead say that Mr Russell is failing the constituency. Just how is he doing this? And concrete examples please not just innuendo.

    Terminology such as “our SNP masters” is the genuine language of grievance. When have you heard Mr Salmond talking about our Tory masters?

    I have no problems with you expressing your dissatisfaction: I just want to know, specifically what your dissatisfaction is about. Yah, boo, sucks is not political dialogue and hardly likely to persuade anyone to your cause.

    As our American friends say: “where’s the beef?”.

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  10. “Simon”: I think the question should perhaps be will the Council give them the time to raise the money? That’s what the RTB legislation gives communities but there is nothing to stop the Council giving the community the space to raise the money and sell it to the community at the valuation.

    I’m not trying to trip anyone up here: I’m genuinely interested in whether or not you think, everything else being more or less equal, that the Council should favour selling assets to the local community over other parties.

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  11. “doc”

    “that the Council should favour selling assets to the local community over other parties.” – yes in principle. In practice a time limit would be required I think otherwise there is the danger that the Council could be kept hanging on for years and years whilst a community try to get their act together.

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  12. Well, there you go. Who says “Simon” and I never agree on anything!

    As far as I can see there is nothing to stop ABC acting as if the RTB was in place, using the same timescale and valuation that would have been put in place by the RTB. I suggest the community approach the Council with this as a proposal.

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  13. Does anyone know if a direct appraoch such as being suggested here, would pose any problems with funding?
    Having read the ‘the community buy-out’ piece on the Isle of Lewis it would appear that the community gained alot of funding on the strength of having in place the RTB.

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    • A quick specific answer to your question: I suspect funders would indeed favour having a RTB in position as opposed to supporting a community bidding on the open market as the risk is of course much higher in the latter situation. If however the council made it clear that the community are the preferred bidder and have put in place the same conditions on the community bid as would have applied under RTB then I don’t think funders would have any difficulty with this.

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  14. Baron -from the guidance to the Act. “The Act makes no specific reference to funding for community purchases of land. It is for your CB to decide where you obtain funding to support your purchase of the land”

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  15. Do folk think that Argyll & Bute Council would sell to a community bid?
    Having read previous reports from the last 15 years, I cannot find any instances of effort on the councils part to assist the community in this way despite over this time there being rather a lot of public disquiet over what is happening, you would think that a reasonable effort of this nature should have been made, especially in light of the Local Government Act 1973 allowing information to bewithheld. Alas I cannot!
    I do sense that this maybe indeed be quite a night what with Simon and the good Doctor ‘actually agreeing’, I would like to ask, am I right in assuming (Politics aside) that the general consensus is that the Community should be given the chance to purchase the land?

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  16. I’ve just not seen what it is that the community wants? What is anyone meant to be defending? Is it just Actual Reality maintaining status quo or are other options on the table? What are the merits of all options? Which option should Mr Russell be supporting? Could there possibly be a discussion rather than a slanging match?

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  17. Two ballots of the area produced more than a 30% vote in favour of retaining Castle Toward as an educational & outdoor centre!
    At election how much support did any of the community show our elected leaders?
    Mr. Russell should recognise what the community are telling him.
    I think unless you have been to Castle Toward, it is maybe not apparent what we are trying to save!
    Even if you have never been, It’s worth considering that Actual Realitiy is a notforprofit organisation who work’s with ‘underpriveleged kids’. This isn’t about giving out social money without return, this is quite simply about helping kids realise their potential.
    Did you know that the UK as a whole lies in 18th posistion out of 22 European Countries for ‘Child Poverty’?
    “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.” Mahony 1998.
    This ain’t about politics, or business it’s morals!

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  18. Baron “It’s worth considering that Actual Realitiy is a notforprofit organisation ” – that’s not my understanding – I understood that Actual Reality is a private company. And, that the Castle Toward Trust(?) chaired by a Glasgow Councillor* – sub-contracts Actual Reality to deliver an ourdoor education programme.

    You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise about Actual Reality given For Argyll’s account of events above. “It [Actual reality] effectively required the community not to press its interest while Actual Reality pursued its own negotiations with the council”.

    Why would ANY community step aside to let a private company pursue it’s own interests??

    Answer – it shouldn’t because it wasn’t actually Actual Reality that was negotiating with the Council it was a Trust.

    C’mon Newsie – for once – get it right! Try being accurate in your version BEFORE you start getting tore into the Council!

    * A Councillor Christopher Mason????

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    • For Simon and Baron of Argyll: This is a complex issue in which facts and relationships became disguised and revised around the time of the public meeting in Innellan.

      We agree with Simon that the impression given then was that Actual Reality was a private company – and one doing well. It was being widely said then that it had made £1 million in the past year and we recall Argyll and Bute’s then MSP, Jim Mather, being impressed with Actual Reality’s entrepreneurship and management in this respect.

      Actual Reality’s website had, for as long as we had known it, carried a stable declaration that its principal was the Friends of Castle Toward, who contracted it to deliver the outdoor education service at the property.

      We had checked that statement on the Actual Reality website before we left to attend the public meeting at Innellan on the Council’s intent to sell the Castle Toward property.

      At that meeting, we publicly queried the fact that the negotiating body appeared to be Actual Reality when, in fact the legal situation appeared to be that the principal was the Friends of Castle Toward, who were not being mentioned and to whom, as we pointed out – Actual Reality’s own website made clear, they were merely contractors.

      This was clearly an unwelcome intervention and was brushed aside – with some discomfort – by Christopher Mason (who we think is the Glasgow Councillor to whom Simon is referring and who we satirised in our account of the Innellan meeting as James Bond’s smooth adversary, Ernst Stavro Blofeld).

      By the time we got home from Innellan after the meeting, the relevant page of Actual Reality’s website had been changed and the statement of the primacy of the Friends of Castle Toward no longer appeared.

      We have no idea what all of this was about but it was a strange affair. Our own interest was, as usual, simply with probity of process.

      As for Simon’s very reasonable query as to why on earth a community would give way to Actual Reality simply because they wanted it to stand back in the first negotiations with the Council, giving AR a clear field – as we said in our recent article, we feel that this was not a matter of reason but one of the potent personal authority of Christopher Mason, who went generally unchallenged, except by us.

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  19. It is a company limited by guarantee so by definition not a “private” company. Here is the info:

    PA23 7UH
    Company No. SC211025

    Status: Active
    Date of Incorporation: 14/09/2000

    Country of Origin: United Kingdom
    Company Type: PRI/LTD BY GUAR/NSC (Private, limited by guarantee, no share capital)
    Nature of Business (SIC):
    8010 – Primary education
    8021 – General secondary education
    Accounting Reference Date: 28/02
    Last Accounts Made Up To: 28/02/2010 (TOTAL EXEMPTION FULL)
    Next Accounts Due: 30/11/2011

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  20. sorry: should perhaps have said that it is not a private company in the sense that it does not distribute profits to its shareholders (which is what people normally think of when they think of a private company).

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  21. “doc” happy to see you corrected yourself because a company limited by guarantee is one of the most popular forms of private companies.

    If it does not distribute profit to shareholders – where does that profit go? Direct to the owners?

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  22. Hmm..my post seems to have disappeared. Anyway, from the information on Companies House, hopefully I can clarify things a bit.

    Firstly, Actual is presumably owned by the Toward Trust – so it is not a sub contractor. Companies Limited by Guarantee are not in fact that common and are usually associated with clubs or charities. They have no shareholders and so do not distribute their profits. Instead these are either kept within the business or transferred to the parent body to further the charitable cause of the parent body.

    So, I think the Toward Trust is the sole owner of Actual and any profits made by Actual will either be retained as cash within Actual or transferred to the Toward Trust. This is a perfectly normal setup – for instance SAMS is both a charity and a company limited by guarantee but has a trading arm (SAMS Scientific Services Ltd). This is usually done to avoid threatening the charitable status of the parent body and also so that there is no financial liability on the members of the Trust (or club or charity). There is nothing suspicious about this setup

    I don’t know anything more about The Toward Trust or Actual other than what I have read here and gleaned from Companies House so I will not comment on how this relationship affects a community buy out bid.

    I presume the Council wants to sell just to raise some capital?

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  23. OK – becoming more interesting! Here is the same info for Actual:


    This suggests that Actual has a balance sheet insolvency in that its assets are less than its liabilities. Without knowing what the liabilities are in is not possible to say if this means that the company has a cash insolvency or not

    Here is the list of officers for Actual: Previous Officers

    Dr Christopher Michael Mason
    Mr Lennie Mcgeoch Moffat
    Mr William Mcmillan Hassall
    Mr Peter Wilson
    Mr Gordon Alexander Gibb
    Ms Alison Frances Downie
    Mr Donald Gordon Fraser Ross
    Mr Alan James Laverock

    and here is the list for Toward:

    Previous Officers

    Dr Christopher Michael Mason
    Mr Lennie Mcgeoch Moffat
    Mr William Mcmillan Hassall
    Mr Andrew Ogilvie Robertson OBE
    Ms Sarah Dorothy MacIntyre
    Mr James Keith Morgan MacBean
    Mr Euan Joseph MacDonald
    Mr Gordon Alexander Gibb
    Mr David Landels Kent
    Mr Alan James Laverock

    So I think this shows the relationship between the two.

    More in a minute!

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  24. For the financial anoraks amongst us here are the financial results for Actual: (five years – easiest to see if you copy out of here and into Word or something else).

    Full Company Accounts

    Data▲ 2006  2007  2008  2009  2010 
    Audit Fees £30 £0 £0 £0 £0
    Capital Employed £173,010 £-104,777 £-43,559 £-17,083 £-134,524
    Cash at Bank £66,578 £33,886 £35,957 £2,799 £35,278
    Cost Of Sales £719,959 £889,710 £625,079 £688,759 £682,136
    Depreciation £18,216 £12,462 £12,410 £15,815 £8,931
    Directors Emoluments £52,075 £56,442 £0 £0 £0
    Gross Profit £209,223 £325,140 £454,731 £445,560 £363,285
    Interest Payments £23,410 £36,908 £8,690 £8,192 £8,112
    Misc Current Liabilities £276,790 £262,912 £164,679 £147,839 £264,728
    Net Assets £-277,760 £-183,527 £-98,309 £-47,833 £-141,274
    Net Worth £-277,760 £-183,527 £-98,309 £-47,833 £-141,274
    Operating Profits £9,461 £142,756 £103,486 £65,476 £-93,441
    Other Current Assets £0 £1,996 £0 £3,772 £3,770
    P And L Account Reserve £-277,760 £-183,527 £-98,309 £-47,833 £-141,274
    Profit After Tax £-13,949 £94,234 £85,218 £50,476 £-93,441
    Profit Before Tax £-13,949 £106,714 £103,486 £65,476 £-93,441
    Retained Profit £-13,949 £94,234 £85,218 £50,476 £-93,441
    Shareholder Funds £-277,760 £-183,527 £-98,309 £-47,833 £-141,274
    Tangible Assets £9,916 £16,554 £29,744 £18,622 £9,691
    Taxation £0 £-12,480 £-18,268 £-15,000 £0
    Total Assets £125,851 £207,479 £179,175 £183,188 £174,371
    Total Current Assets £115,935 £190,925 £149,431 £164,566 £164,680
    Total Current Liabilities £298,861 £312,256 £222,734 £200,271 £308,895
    Total Fixed Assets £9,916 £16,554 £29,744 £18,622 £9,691
    Total Liabilities £403,611 £391,006 £277,484 £231,021 £315,645
    Total Long Term Liabilities £104,750 £78,750 £54,750 £30,750 £6,750
    Trade Creditors £22,071 £49,344 £58,055 £52,432 £44,167
    Trade Debtors £49,357 £155,043 £113,474 £157,995 £125,632
    Turnover £929,182 £1,214,850 £1,079,810 £1,134,319 £1,045,421
    Wages And Salaries £0 £0 £0 £567,900 £57,800
    Working Capital £0 £-121,331 £-73,303 £-35,705 £-144,215

    Good turnover but overall position isn’t great and it does look insolvent as the current assets are less than current liabilities for 2010. The salaries and Director’s emoluments lines are interesting and I wonder if the salary figure for 2009 is a mistake as it appears to be 10x what it is the next year!.

    Not sure what all of this means but I would say that as a community business there is clearly potential here (though I would have a look at how much of that income is coming from LAs and how much that business is likely to be affected by council cuts). I would need to have a lot more detail behind the figures to say whether it looked a good prospect or not but that is what the community should be looking to build into their business plan. As a company, Actual doesn’t appear to be worth anything (turnover vanity, profits sanity) so the community should only have to buy the physical assets (which belong to the Council) but it needs to ask itself carefully as to why they think they could run the business better than Toward Trust could?

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  25. and a final quick comment: the Trust itself is in rude financial health so I would have no concerns there and it is probable that they are guaranteeing the debts of Actual to allow Actual to maintain operations. (one caveat: all the financials are at least one year out of date so what the current situation is I have no idea)

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  26. “doc” I take it the “the list for Toward” is the list for the Toward Trust? (if that’s the correct name). If it’s not can you clarify please? (not an attempt to trip you up ;) )

    Anybody know just how well this list reflects the local South Cowal community? I recognise a Glasgow and a Rothesay name.

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  27. Having read the background, I have to say that this sounds quite murky and perhaps the Council are not the innocents I first believed them to be in this. I would be interested in “Simon”‘s take on this. And indeed I suggest “Newsroom” takes a look as well. Still not clear from this site the exact relationship between the Trust and Actual – it may be that the Trust was set up to buy the castle rather than there being an actual “ownership” arrangement between Actual and the Trust.

    Goes some way to explaining the peculiar finances of Actual.

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  28. “doc” Having had a look at the website (seems last entry was in 2010) it pains me to say so, but AGAIN, we are in agreement (well partial agreement at least…)
    There is a lack of clarity about the various bodies mentioned and I can’t be the one who remains unclear about the relationship between Actual reality and the Castle Toward Trust.

    I don’t know (but thought it was) if Actual Reality is a private company – or as you suggest a community business. (the key question here is ‘what does Actual Reality do with it’s profits?)

    What is the relationship between the Trust, Actual Reality and the South Cowal Community?

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  29. How about Chris Fergusson mentioned at the top of the article. Could he clarify matters for us all? Or as “doc” suggested could Newsie?

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  30. No I can’t Simon!
    In answering your question I wonder how much people will ever tell me now!
    Which is not what I want, yet I feel I must be honest I have recently been engaging a lot of diffrent intrest groups , which proves to me that party politics aside we do care what happens to our children!
    I am like you and the Doc in this matter a researcher who is yet to stumble upon the answer!
    I hope and pray that like Jeepers Creepers that we can put aside our diffrences in order to do the best by the service users, namely the children!
    Big respect

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  31. Bit bizarre to find “Simon” and myself in common cause and I think I’ll have to go for my tea very soon but a quick observation: profits at Actual were nothing like £300K per annum – this relates only to gross profit. Best actual profits were around £100K (which is still OK) but these are needed to cover the liabilities. For “Simon”‘s question as to where the profits are going, based on these figures I don’t think there are any “bankable” profits. I’m presuming that the operating costs are in fact mostly salaries and the salary line is the previous Director’s compensation line (which makes sense).

    I am also drawn to MP Mr Alan Reid’s comment about what control there is on Actual if they take ownership of the asset. Clyde and Forth Ports spring to mind as an analogy here. I think the community should view this as a very good question indeed (which might surprise Mr Reid as well!).

    There seems to be three scenarios developing here:

    1: Council sells state to best (private) bidder
    2: Council sells estate to Actual who then sell (presumably at a profit) bits of the estate they don’t need
    3: Council sells estate to community (who then can sell off bits if they feel it is appropriate, employ Actual etc).

    If I was in the community I would be reluctant to commit effort to securing 2 as it doesn’t seem that much better than 1. 3 is clearly the best option for the community IF they can find the leadership and finance to pull it off.

    Funnily enough I think we are in a situation here where “Simon”, “Newsroom” and the “Doc” are all in agreement. (Must be a first!).

    I am quite concerned by the apparent efforts to distance Actual from the Trust. Lack of clarity usually means someone has something to hide (and all the secret Council discussions on this issue doesn’t fill me with confidence either). Perhaps time for some intelligent FoI requests.

    But now: pizza! (home made of course!)

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    • Hi Doc!
      What a very well read guy you are, indeed I feel humbled in offering opinon to you however, down to beeswax!
      FOI requsts made by the Face book group where generally met with the Local Government Act 1973 which prevents the council from disclosing information which may interfere with the sale. This in turn makes information very hard to come by.
      P.s Hope you enjoyed your Pizza (home made).
      P.P.S if the wages reciepts are to be belived then you would reckon in any resonable sense any drawings would have been included here!

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      • Dear Chris,
        The pizza was good thanks.

        FoI’s: I think the solution is not to take the initial no as an answer. Sometimes changing the question helps but always appeal if they say they cannot give you the information. A blanket ban on the information is unreasonable – and this is especially the case if the Council is making information available to one interested party but not another. ARSN didn’t win every appeal but we won most.

        To understand the accounts we could really do with seeing the management accounts rather than the summary accounts but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could find out without having to pay for it. It is a question of knowing where to look.

        The accounts for the Castle Toward Trust are interesting as well. Where is the money in their accounts actually coming from? And what exactly is the relationship between the two organisations? (this seems very salient). I guess asking the Trust’s chairman would be the obvious place to start with this.

        I am also sceptical that ABC actually have ownership of the estate. It is not clear that they do not but equally hardly clear that they do. They seem to be blustering that they do in the hope that the other potential owners just back down (bit like GB and Rockall). Can ABC show that the title deeds for the estate actually passed from Glasgow to ABC at any point? Management seems to have been transferred but ownership is a different question. It will not have been the first time someone has sold an asset they actually do not own. (which also begs the question if ABC could in fact sell it to the community!). That needs independent adjudication.

        I am surprised that Actual believe they could raise the money to purchase the estate as a company limited by guarantee. On the current financials they do not have the cash flow to service a large debt (anyone know the likely purchase price?) so the only way they could persuade anyone else to fund the purchase is if they were intending to hive off pieces of the estate (perhaps persuading a developer to put up the initial purchase price). As a CLbG they cannot offer equity in the company so the only security they could offer would be bits of the estate itself. It is interesting that Actual were very bullish that they could afford to buy the estate in earlier negotiations.

        I cannot see how Actual owning the estate is in any way a superior condition than the community owning the estate.

        Another concern I have is that Dr Mason seemed to rule out a long term lease as a suitable solution despite this being the Trust/Actual’s previous position. I can only presume that this means that it is the physical asset that is important and not the right to freely operate. Again, I cannot see any reason for this unless there is an intention to lever the capital value of the asset.

        Lots of questions!

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        • one of these questons could be answered by Lynda, who I belive will tell you that indeed A&B do have the title deeds, again I must thank Lynda for all of her hard work, its been a long hard slog for her over many years, that I appreciate!

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          • Well that answers that question and so I withdraw my comments about their entitlement to sell. I would also say that ABC have a pretty robust stance on their rights regarding sale of any property that is under their control. Their position is that with the abolition of the feudal system (in regard to property) any conditions made prior to this date were also abolished. So, even if a school building had been donated to the Council for the purposes of education and only for that purpose, the Council believe that this stricture no longer applies.

            So I suspect that arguments along the lines that Castle Toward can only be used as an educational centre will find short shrift.

            Plenty of other things to focus our attention on though!

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    • For Dr Douglas Mackenzie and Simon: We do seem to be seeing the same picture – tightened up by DDM’s work on the accounts – and sharing the same concerns.

      Agree that DDM’s second option does not look the right one for the community – and we have thought this from the start.

      And of course it was the Castle Toward Trust and not the Friends that was the principal.

      I have now found the full account we published – from exhaustive first hand notes – on the main (January 2010) public meeting at Innellan; and the introductory piece published as a holding operation while the main one was being written. These are worth a read – links below in order of publication.
      http://forargyll.com/2010/02/castle-toward-meeting-stand-up-or-hold-up-2/ (Republished on front page on 12th October because it had moved into the archive.)

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  32. I hope whatever happens to Castle Toward, that it is a better outcome than when Glasgow City Council sold Achnamara Outdoor Centre. After being a well run resource, giving employment and economic benefit to our fragile rural community and allowing many people to experience outdoor pursuits in a very beautiful area, it has lain empty for years with no prospect of any development or use for the forseeable future. The building is now a boarded up eyesore and cause of dismay to those who visit, remembering the great times they had in Achnamara on school visits from the city.

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  33. Jane the real difficulty with Achnamara and Castel Toward etc is that the majority of them were not designed to be used as outdoor centres. Rather they were converted rambling country houses that had been ‘adapted’. When big Council subsidised them (Argyll and Bute to the best of my knowledge never had an outdoor cenre) they worked a) because fo the subsidy and b) because kids will put up with less than salubrious conditiions.
    When the subsidy is removed it is extremely difficult for these centres to continue to function economically. Should a private buyer take over they will find they need to spend magbucks to ‘reconvert’ the building.
    I’ve been in Achnamara a few times – lovely centre in a lovely setting. Achnamara and other places like it are the result of cuts in public expenditure; regarded sadly as expendable.

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  34. Integrity – You are correct but I think that the Garelochhead centre belonged to Dunbartonshire. Toward, Ardentinny and Achnamara centres were Glasgow/Renfrew and Arrochar was Dunbartonshire as well. Fife also had a centre at Lochgoilhead and may still have a centre at Benmore(?).

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  35. The answer is obvious, given that these places are clearly such valuable potential assets for the benefit of young people and rural employment – get that scion of the Edinburgh establishment ‘Fred the shred’ to finance them out of his big fat pension, and the goodness of his heart.

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  36. We are currently considering questions for BBC’s Question Time 20th Oct 2011 in Glasgow and view this as a potential to ask a question on Castle Toward, I seek your help with this one, does anyone have any suggestions?


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