D-day for Fochabers Institute arrives this week

Fochabers Institute - Full Council will decide fate this week.
Fochabers Institute – Full Council will decide fate this week.

A COMMUNITY GROUP are hoping their long running plans to take over a community asset will finally get the go-ahead this week.

It had been expected that plans for a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of the Fochabers Institute would be given the all clear in May – but the local village association were left scratching their heads in disbelief as a last-gasp look at the rules revealed a problem.

The policy and resources committee looked set to accept recommendations on the transfer of the building, valued at £110,000, along with a £150,000 grant that would cover urgent repairs to the Institute.

High repair costs and falling use of the building had led to the belief that a CAT was the best future for the historic building. However, the Fochabers Village Association and several councillors were left stunned when corporate director Mark Palmer revealed a ruling that the committee did not actually have the authority to make funding decision over the value of £50,000.

Under questioning from local councillor Douglas Ross, Mr Palmer was forced to concede that officials were very much in a “learning process” when it came to dealing with the complexities of community asset transfers.

Mr Palmer added that delaying the decision would allow the association the opportunity to present a stronger case for the CAT – which will now be considered at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday.

Speaking on behalf of the association its chairman, Gordon Christie, said that he was hopeful that the proposal would find favour with councillors, insisting that there had been a lot of support for the idea.

“It is a good facility and it will be sorely missed if this does not go ahead,” Mr Christie added.