Potential for Bute in new Scottish community bill?

The former Rothesay Academy building - empty and undeveloped since 2007 and widely recognised as one of the town's major problem buildings.
The former Rothesay Academy building - empty and undeveloped since 2007 and widely recognised as one of the town's major problem buildings.

Members of the public are being asked for their views on a proposed new law aimed at extending the community right to buy to Scotland’s urban areas.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill would enable communities to identify and ask for any public sector land or buildings that they feel they could make better use of than the current owner.

The Bill also proposes new powers to help councils deal with defective and dangerous buildings, to provide local relief schemes on local business rates, to give communities a greater say in the delivery of local public services, and to give community councils a greater say on the management and use of ‘common good’ assets.

The twin problems of defective and dangerous buildings and poorly-utilised public sector property have long been recognised as a major barrier to the physical and economic wellbeing of Bute and to the island’s future prosperity.

And while much hope has been pinned to the Rothesay CHORD project, which includes the Townscape Heritage Initiative and the regeneration of the Pavilion, other major problem areas such as the Royal Hotel and the former Rothesay Academy remain unresolved.

Michael Russell, the SNP’s MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: “The people who know best what needs to be done to improve life in a local community are the people who live and work there.

“This bill is an opportunity to give people in Scotland’s communities the tools they need to shape the future of their local areas.

“The launch of this bill is a significant step towards greater local self-determination, and I would encourage as many people as possible to make their views known in the consultation on what is being proposed.

“Just as the SNP believe that it is the people of Scotland who are best placed to make decision affecting Scotland, it is also true that the people best place to make decisions about local communities are the people who live and work in them.

“This is a major opportunity to build upon Scotland’s world leading community right to buy legislation and empower communities across Scotland.”

A consultation on the Bill’s contents opened on Wednesday and can be viewed at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/5740/0