Greens Demand Inquiry into Edinburgh Common Good Assets

Edinburgh Green Party has slammed the city council for playing fast and loose with the city’s ancient common good assets.

The Greens have written to council leader, Ewan Aitken, following criticism of Edinburgh City Council in a major report and as a parliamentary committee hears evidence of mis-use of common good funds today (14 November).

Common good funds are property, often gifted hundreds of years ago, which are held by local authorities on behalf of citizens.  Examples in Edinburgh include parts of Calton Hill, Waverley Bridge and Princes Street.  There are usually specific restrictions on how these assets can be used and disposed of.   

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Transport Committee is taking evidence on 14 November from members of the public and land reform experts which allege that local authorities have been at best, slipshod and, at worst, acting unlawfully, in their treatment of common good land.  Edinburgh is singled out as being particularly weak in its record-keeping.  Examples include:

  • Failing to mention the Meadows in its inventory.
  • Attaching a value to Waverley Market of £1 when £20 million is regarded as more accurate.

The Greens want to see the City Council get its act together before ancient assets are lost forever.

Gavin Corbett of Edinburgh Greens said:

‘The city centre of Edinburgh is undergoing change on a scale not seen since the new town was built.  Yet, at the same time, the city council has been exposed as playing fast and loose with the common good assets it has inherited.  The council seems to have only scanty knowledge of what its assets are and their value.  How can citizens be sure that we are not losing our own family silver in the development rush?

“As a result of voting reform next May, Greens are set to be elected to the City Council for the first time.  The last thing we want to inherit is a major crisis in the way the city has handled its common assets. 
That is why I am seeking assurances of improvements from the city council today.”

NOTES TO EDITOR

1. The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Transport Committee
will take evidence on common good assets on 14 November 2006.  See
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/lg/papers-06/lgp06-28.pdf

2. In “Common Good land in Scotland: a review and critique”, November
2005, the City of Edinburgh Council is cited one of the worst examples
of record-keeping.  See 
http://www.caledonia.org.uk/commonweal/docs/commongood_v3.pdf

ENDS