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Castle Toward – ‘a wound to the body of Argyll and Bute Council’

A report into the handling of the community buy-out of Castle Toward estate (Report slams Council’s Castle Toward decision, last week’s Standard) came in for criticism at a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Performance Review and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, August 27.

 

 

The report, compiled by committee chair Ian Ross, was described as being ‘a personal view’. Cllr Corry told the chair: “This report reflects your personal view. We made the decision at full council. We have to look forward and see if there are any things we need to recommend to council regarding what is done in the future.”

 

He added that a ‘properly researched decision’ had been made on February 12 this year, although the chair’s report described this result as an ‘unedifying adversarial and confrontational denouement to the process which left all diminished’.

 

Cllr Taylor felt that the terms of the report were subjective, adding: “The language used is unusual in a council report. It’s not a scrutiny report.”

He recommended that members should have a further meeting to produce a document that the committee could agree on.

 

Cllr Corry agreed, saying: “What we’re discussing today [a further meeting] hopefully will draw this to a close.”

 

Ian Ross responded: “The over-riding consideration was one of cash and I expressed concern that a lot of pain and effort could have been avoided at the start of the process if that had been admitted. A blunt statement, which would have been unpopular, would have saved a lot of grief.”

 

He did, however, agree that a new document should be drawn up, describing the current situation as ‘a wound to the body of Argyll and Bute Council’.

 

Cllr Bruce Marshall, although not a member of the committee, was allowed to pose a question. He remarked on the ‘huge representational damage done to Argyll and Bute Council and Councillors in South Cowal’ and told the committee the community was ‘devastated and disgusted’ and that the council had to address that situation. He described the aftermath of the failed buy-out as an ‘open sore’.

 

He asked members: “Have you asked questions and established in your own mind that what was said was correct and correctly interpreted?”

 

Speaking after the meeting Alan Stewart, chair of the company behind the buy-out, told the Standard: “This 'scrutiny' will now go behind closed doors. I’m very disappointed.”

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