AGM – Chairman’s Report
Chairman’s AGM report – 25 November 2021
At the end of my AGM report last October 2020, I posed the question – Will we get a decision on our Community Asset Transfer by 17 January 2021?
The answer to that question is no. Extremely disappointing.
It was the end of June before we eventually were told that our Community Asset Transfer (CAT) request had been refused by NHS Tayside.
From October 2020 to the middle of January 2021 we were hopeful that a decision would be made following an extremely long and challenging process, but it wasn’t to be.
We were then informed by the Board that they would have to reassess some of the information we had previously submitted to Bill Nicoll, Strategic Director, NHS Tayside, which we understood to have been acceptable for the Board to make their decision.
Bill Nicoll retired at the end of March and a new director, and new to NHS Tayside, John Paterson, Executive Director of Facilities, was appointed to take over our CAT application. He had to familiarise himself with our whole submission.
Finally at the end of June we were informed that our CAT request had been refused for the following four reasons: –
- The Board identified risks and issues relating to the deliverability, viability and sustainability of the BHG Business Plan proposals. These included the significant shortfall in identified investment required in the site and buildings to bring them up to standard, and the risk of sustainability of funding sources to meet these and ongoing running costs.
- The Board determined that the additional community benefits proposed by BHG did not generate sufficient benefit to offset the discount requested.
- The offer price of £150,000 was significantly below the Board’s market value of £400,000 and would have resulted in a net loss on disposal. The loss of capital receipt would also impact on NHS Tayside’s ability to invest proceeds in patient care.
- The position of the Board in light of the above concerns could not be reliably legally protected in the event of the failure of the proposal.
Unanimously, we agreed to appeal the decision to the Scottish Government which involved a significant amount of work countering the reasons by the Board for the refusal.
Our appeal to the Scottish Government was submitted at the end of July, and then administration issues with the Scottish Government and questions around dates for submission of additional information put the whole process back by a further month.
(The refusal to our request and subsequent delays meant that we had to withdraw our Stage 2 Scottish Land Fund (SLF) application for a grant to purchase the Infirmary site. Should we receive a positive response to our request it will be March 2022 before we can re-submit our SLF application again.)
We received notification on 21 September that a Reporter, Mr. Paul Cackette CBE LLB(Hons) DipLP NP, was appointed to consider our appeal and to report back to Scottish Ministers. Following his consideration of his findings Scottish Ministers would then issue their decision on our appeal.
On 29 September we received a letter from the Reporter requesting further information from both BHG and the Health Board by the end of October to help him consider the case. He certainly wasn’t hanging about! Following significant work once again we submitted the information requested by the end of October.
As well as requesting further information the Reporter asked to visit the Infirmary site and the Jenner Centre which duly took place on Tuesday 16 November. He met with Hamish Greig and me and two representatives from NHS Tayside. From 11am until just after 12noon we walked round the whole site as he was keen to see the extent of the site, hear about our plans for the buildings and the outside area and our understanding of the costs of the work involved.
He had clearly read all the documentation we had sent him, gave us reassurance that the detailed documentation was appreciated and acknowledged that the work would be carried out in a phased-approach.
The Reporter asked questions of Hamish and me, particularly around the use of the site and the finance involved for the essential works required and ongoing renovations and refurbishments. We addressed his questions very positively. He acknowledged a number of times that this would be a phased project which we had clearly indicated in our CAT request documentation.
Hamish shared with him the history of the site, its importance to the community over the years and the need for a centre to deliver local health and wellbeing services.
(There has been significant deterioration in the Main Building and the Annexe which will involve additional costs to repair, although the area where we envisage the Jenner Centre to be located is still in reasonable condition.)
Following the Infirmary site we walked over to the Jenner Centre where Moira gave him a tour of the Jenner Centre and he was clearly impressed by what we offer at the Centre. (Moira’s report follows.)
Before leaving the Reporter thanked us for his visit and told us that his report is to be with the Scottish Ministers by the middle of December, but we will not be allowed to see it. The Ministers will inform us of the decision but we don’t know when that will be. Whilst he listened carefully to our impassioned pleas for the Hub he gave no indication as to his final decision.
A few final comments.
We engaged the consultancy services of Caroline Farquhar in November last year to develop our links with he community and to apply for funding to support the links. She has has been working with a number of groups and organisations who support community engagement and has been speaking with businesses in the town who would like to be involved in developing good community relations. One project has been to purchase laptops to help folk with limited I.T. skills to become more proficient in the use of new technology, e.g., e-consult. We look forward to working closely with Caroline in the coming months to develop and expand on our relations with the whole community.
I would like to say a huge thank you to the Steering Group for all their time and effort given over the last 12 months coping with a lot of frustration, disappointment, and some good news. It has been an excellent team effort.
And a special thank you to Stanley as we were able to meet in his garden on a number of socially distant occasions when once again, we got through a lot of business with fun and laughter.
I finish this year’s report with a question – will we get a decision on our Community Asset Transfer by 17 January 2022?
Brechin Healthcare Group.