Partnership – the Way Forward

We recently announced our Annual General Meeting to be held on the 29th Oct, 7.30pm in the Community & Arts Centre. There are some key issues on the agenda and we encourage as many of our 1000+ members as possible to attend. Around a year ago we were delighted that Highland Council declared their intention to work in partnership with us in the development of the Old Social Work Building. A valuation was sought and a price for its purchase agreed. However, our plans to work with an anchor tenant fell through at the last minute. We were therefore unable to submit our offer to buy within the alloted timetable. An extension to that timetable was refused and as a result we have struggled to fully understand what Highland Council meant by partnership working.

In all our discussion around town centre development with Highland Council and other town centre stakeholders, especially during the specially convened Charrette, there was general agreement on the way forward. Through the NICE survey many local residents also fed their ideas into the debate. The big issue to be faced – as it always has- ┬áis how to convert these ideas into practical outcomes. We have yet to find a mechanism for working in partnership and it is increasingly clear that doing so is complex. We now recognise that whatever Highland Council agree, it is important that our local elected representatives also support partnership working.

We believe that the only way to make progress on the OSWB and town centre development in general is to sit round the table with our four local councillors and draw up an agreed agenda. This we have now agreed to do before the AGM. As a Community Development Trust we can bring certain things to the table that the local authority cannot so it makes perfect sense to work together. We look forward to our meeting and hope we’ll be able to define a use for the OSWB that will see it used for the benefit of the community.

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