A leading campaigner seeking to halt plans to turn common good land in Forres into a retail park has strongly criticised Moray Council’s choice of independent consultants.
Earlier this week the local authority revealed that they had appointed Culverwell Property Consultants to provide an independent opinion on the offer that totals £6.5million made by developers Redco Milne for the purchase of common good land at Bogton Road.
The unusual nature of that offer, which would see the land return to Moray Council ownership after 35 years, prompting the decision by the local authority earlier this year to seek a professional opinion before taking any further action.
The council has also assured residents that they would be consulted before any final decision on the sale of the land was taken.
Redco Milne, who own land adjacent to the common good site, are seeking to build a retail park that would include a new Tesco superstore.
However, the leader of an online campaign to retain the land for the community, local community councillor Stewart Noble, has hit back at the choice of consultants.
He said: “We were promised that independent consultants would be appointed by Moray Council to assess the offer.
“However, with business links between Cultherwell and Tesco’s it would be hard to find a more biased firm with vested interests in the sale of our common good land.
“This just continues to erode the Trust between tax payers and Moray Council.
“No one can seriously expect these consultants to work against the interests of their existing customers. Moray Council officials now need to come clean on how they selected this firm to carry out this important assessment on the offer of £5M (which is the same offer which was made back in 2008) for our common good land.
“Forres folk said No back then and even more folk will say No again. This has been a complete waste of everyone’s time, created resentment and mistrust and the continued cloud of uncertainty is doing nothing to help local businesses who are working hard to try and invigorate our High Street.”