No Support For Park Transfer

By Jane Cruickshank / August 23, 2022
View across park to Forest View Centre

COUNCILLORS unanimously refused a Community Asset Transfer, CAT, of Forest View Park today – leaving the Mackie FP’s with a clear threat to their future as the lease on their one remaining pitch at Redcloak expires in 2026.

Speaking for the Rugby Club at today’s meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, Alan Venters said the move to Forest Park was not a vanity project.

”This is something to keep us in existence,” he said.

Area manager Bruce Stewart said the proposals had provoked a significant amount of public interest, which was unusual for CATs. He said the land would not be lost to the community, as the Rugby Club would still offer access to other groups and the nearby Mill O’Forest School.

And, he said, under the Community Empowerment Act there was a general presumption in favour of of CATs.

This point was hammered home by the senior solicitor present who said the local authority must agree the application unless there were reasonable grounds for refusal.

Protected land

Cllr Wendy Agnew turned to the Community Empowerment (Scotland)Act 2015 to find exactly those grounds.

She said: ” I do not feel the application meets the requirements of the Act.”

Mrs Agnew quoted the legislation, detailing the committee’s requirement to consider whether agreeing to the request would be likely to promote or improve matters including public health, social wellbeing and environmental wellbeing – all of which she said would be affected by the loss of the park.

Saying Forest Park had protected status and was needed due to the scale of neighbouring residential development, she added: ”I consider it an astonishing concept that it could be removed.”

She moved to refuse the application.

Lack of public support

Cllr Sarah Dickinson seconded Mrs Agnew’s motion. She said: ”There is much that could be said that is positive about the request. That is why it is finely balanced.

”But I feel we also have to consider community support. I do not expect everyone to agree to the transfer, but I would expect broad general support. But this is not the case here.”

She added: ”All councillors have received many emails from residents expressing the overwhelming value they place on the green space. It is a green lung.”

And, with grim faces making clear their regrets for the Rugby Club, the councillors were unanimous in refusing their application.

There is one straw of hope for the rugby players. As the decision was contrary to officers’ recommendation, the CAT application will be reviewed by the Communities Committee.