Feb 17th, 2015
People’s Castle? Not this time
By Jen Stout
Bad news in Argyll last week as the councillors didn’t back down – Castle Toward won’t be sold to the community. 38 Degrees member Katey set up a petition urging the council to accept the community’s offer of £850,000. But despite Katey’s petition attracting over 10,000 signatures, and a huge level of local support, the council wouldn’t back down.
So what does this mean? Last week’s meeting was the last chance for Arygll & Bute Council to back the community. They’ve not taken this chance – and the time limit for the community buyout is up. Castle Toward will be placed on the market – but who will pay the vastly inflated price of £1.75m?
Katey and the community are frustrated and disappointed with the decision made today. The behaviour of Argyll & Bute Council has been condemned by locals, commentators and politicians.
But as one campaigner put it, “things in South Cowal will never be the same again”. The buyout group and all their supporters have shown just how committed and capable they are. There is already discussion of what legislative changes are needed to ensure a local authority can never hold a community to ransom like this again.
All across Scotland, the story of the Castle Toward campaign has been followed with interest – it’s a symbol of the battles taking place all over Scotland for local control and meaningful development. Scotland is alive with these debates – people-powered change is firmly on the agenda, and communities are up for the fight.