Feb 6th, 2015
Castle Toward: The People vs. the Council?
By Jen Stout
In Argyll & Bute a battle is raging between residents and the local council.
Castle Toward, an 18th century property on the beautiful Cowal peninsula, is sitting empty, becoming derelict. Formerly a children’s outdoor recreation centre, it was shut by its owners, Argyll & Bute Council, several years ago. They acquired the property for £1 in 1996 – but now they’re refuse to accept anything less than £1.75m for it!
Local residents put together an impressive bid for a community buyout of the Castle, with tourist and educational uses, which would bring much-needed investments and jobs to the area. While the Scottish Government has been able to grant them £750,000 (the commercial value of the property), Argyll & Bute Council won’t budge – they want an extra million pounds from the community.
A petition started by 38 Degrees members is about to reach 10,000 signatures. On Tuesday they presented it to Council leader Dick Walsh. At a packed-out meeting, local campaigner Karen read out the demand – that the council stop blocking this community buyout.
Residents angrily questioned the actions of the council, and some councillors even spoke up against the leader Dick Walsh. But Walsh didn’t seem to care. Afterwards, one campaigner said: “They’re screwing us over. They want us to give up.”
The deadline is less than two weeks away. Together, we can push Argyll & Bute Council to allow local people to take matters into their own capable hands, and transform Castle Toward into a community asset. Please sign the petition here.