Community groups in Scotland involved in land management and building asset transfers are today (29th June) being invited to ask legal questions to Scottish law students to help them bring these resources into communal ownership.
Local groups can ask any questions to SULU (Scottish Universities Land Unit) on complex legal issues such as burdens and servitude rights and property law issues including access rights and encroachment. The questions should be emailed to SULU [at] dtas [dot] org [dot] uk (SULU [at] dtas [dot] org [dot] uk) and they will then be directed to students at one of the four participating Scottish universities. Types of questions community groups have previous asked can ask can be found here (scroll down to the bottom).
Elspeth Mathieson, COSS’ legal adviser, said: “SULU is a fantastic resource available to community groups who are in the early stages of transferring land or build assets such as buying out an old school building or community centre. Students can provide research and background information into a problem relating to land/asset management transfers which can provide additional support to their appointed lawyers / legal team. It should not, however, be seen as an alternative to appointing their own solicitors.”
SULU is run by DTAS’ Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) in partnership with the University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen, University of Glasgow and Strathclyde University. The initiative was set up to encourage Scottish law law students to take an active interest in land reform, community empowerment, and community rights in respect of land.
It is available to community groups (and not individuals) who are involved in the early stages of transferring land/building assets for the benefit of their local community. It is not an alternative for using its own solicitors.
COSS E-bulletin - October 2021
Asset Transfer Approvals
COSS are really pleased to see that multiple clients have had their asset transfers approved recently. Here’s a taster of the groups and their projects:
Fraserburgh Sea Cadets
Fraserburgh Sea Cadets have been searching for years for a new base of operations. Their original plan to purchase a disused care home unfortunately did not succeed. However, at the end of September Aberdeenshire Council approved their request to purchase Grampian House on Commerce Street. The group plan to use the building as their HQ, but also to provide a space for Fraserburgh Community Shed and as a community hub for local people more generally. Read more here.
Pirnmill Village Association
Pirnmill Village Association on Arran have had their asset transfer request approved for ownership of Pirnmill Community Centre, which they have been leasing from North Ayrshire Council for 30 years. Ownership will provide the group with greater security going forward and the footing to establish even closer relationships with groups across the island for events and activities. Pirnmill Village Association also hope to tackle social isolation on the island with the community centre providing a multigenerational hub for that purpose and others. Read more here.
Raise Your Voice with Ardeer
Raise Your Voice with Ardeer have had their request to purchase an area of land at Stevenston shorefront approved. The group then plan to build a new community hub on this area of land, for the use of locals and visitors. The hub will also include a café and garden, as well as event space. In addition, the hub will champion local heritage and provide storage space for litter picking activities on the beach. Read more here.
Spotlight on…. Blantyre Soccer Academy
In 2019/20 Blantyre Soccer Academy was successful in obtaining ownership of the disused Rowans Hall from South Lanarkshire Council through Community Asset Transfer. They have invested over £70k in renovation works to create an office, classrooms and a community kitchen and laundry which is available to the public.
But this has led to more engagement with the local community and the Blantyre Community Garden and Covid Memorial was initiated during the pandemic of 2020/21 to allow the community to have a peaceful place to reflect on life in a beautiful tranquil setting. They have plans for a community garden with a polytunnel and raised beds for use by the local community and school children and have recently been successful in another asset transfer of land to facilitate these plans.
Blantyre Soccer Academy demonstrate that sports organisations can bring many diverse benefits to communities. Spokesperson for the organisation, Jimmy Whelan, says that Community Asset Transfer is an “arduous task but never that communities should not give up, determination is always the winner”.
COSS Workshop at DTAS Conference – Greening Your Facility
Over 60 people attended COSS’ ‘Greening Your Facility’ workshop at the DTAS’ 2021 Conference in September. Chaired by COSS Adviser Lynn Molleson, attendees heard from Gemma Murray from Local Energy Scotland, Kate Darragh from The Ridge and Simon Hackin from Bridgend Farmhouse. Gemma provided practical advice for how communities can make their buildings and facilities more energy efficient and less carbon intensive, and the funding and support available for this. Kate discussed The Ridge’s work on their community garden and the use of traditional skills to eco-proof their buildings. And Simon discussed the low environmental impact work that has gone into creating Bridgend Farmhouse’s Eco-Bothy. It was a fascinating talk and one of the highlights of the DTAS Conference.
Assets for People and Place Webinar Series
The Autumn round of our Assets for People and Place webinar series for community groups on Community Asset Transfer is drawing to a close. Groups from far and wide have joined our online training to discuss the plans and ambitions they have for their communities. Feedback from attendees has been excellent; here’s a taster of some:
‘Very well-presented - a lot of information in a very digestible way combined with interesting pieces of advice and ideas.’
‘Excellent learning experience, well presented and managed.’
‘Very timely indeed for me! Huge thanks!’
The COSS team is looking forward to our final session – Module 6 Asset Management – on the 9th November. Don’t panic if you didn’t manage to attend this round or you missed some of the modules - we’ll be running it all again in Spring. If you’d like to be put on the waiting list for the next round, please email callum [at] dtascot [dot] org [dot] uk.
CPD for Local Authorities Full
COSS are delighted that our CPD for Local Authorities programme on Community Asset Transfer is fully booked, with additional people on the waiting list. In combination with our pilot CPD programme in Spring, 90 staff from 28 Local Authorities have either attended or will attend the programme. This is an exceptional turnout and the COSS team look forward to meeting our new cohort at the end of this month.