The people of Lanark have been officially told that their common good fund doesn’t actually belong to them at all.
For decades, Lanarkians had believed that the fund was legally their property but administered on their behalf by the local authority, currently South Lanarkshire Council.
However, the council has now made it clear that it is not only steward for the £1.8m of assets in properties belonging to the fund but also its legal owner, with full control over how the income from it is spent.
The use of the fund by the authority has been regularly criticised by the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council over the years, and that led to a face-to-face meeting between the two bodies to clear the air over the issue.
Community council members were circulated with a briefing paper stating: “Common good property is not owned by the community but by the local authority.”
Authority representatives at the meeting, including its finance director, Jackie Taylor, stressed that the council generally only spent common good fund money on maintaining the various properties around the town that the fund owns.
These include the town steeple, tolbooth, Lanark Loch and surrounding moor, including the Moorpark football pitch and stadium and the site of the Scottish Equi Centre, the former Lanark Racecourse and the historic Tote building on it.
Springbank Farm, where the new Lanark Cemetery is sited, also belongs to the fund, along with Castlehill Bowling Green, plus individual properties in Delves Road and High Street. The council reported that removing the green scum defacing Lanark Steeple cost £19,355 in the past financial year and repairing potholes in the Lanark Loch car park saw just a fiver short of £12,000 being taken from the fund.
Other items of expenditure included £2,101 on tolbooth maintenance, almost £1000 on replacing speed bumps on the road to the racecourse and a £412 grant towards the cost of the community council’s 40th anniversary party later this year.
On the income side of the ledger, the fund made £14,000 from the leasing of Springbank Farm and £11,500 in rental of the racecourse to the various clubs and organsations using its sports and lesiure facilities.
The biggest single earner was a windfall payment of £36,000 from Kier to put a waterpipe through the racecourse to its nearby housing development.