June 2022 Newsletter
The last newsletter was sent out in January following our successful meeting at St. Andrew’s Church Hall and since then we have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get NHS Tayside (NHST) to engage with us.
Following the meeting at St. Andrew’s Church we had discussions with Mairi Gougeon our MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands who had written to Tom Arthur, MSP and Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth asking if he could encourage NHST to engage with us.
In his reply Mr Arthur said he would encourage representatives from NHS Tayside to re-engage with us to explore an alternative solution, such as a transfer outwith the legislation. Also, he said that he would like to discuss the matter further with Mairi, and he would be keen to meet representatives from BHG to learn more about their work in the local community.
NHST did not engage with us.
Since January we have been in regular contact with Malcolm Cowie, Policy Manager, Community Empowerment Team, Scottish Government who himself has been in contact with NHST again to ask them to re-engage with us. Again, to no avail.
On Thursday 7 April we met with Tom Arthur MSP, Mairi and Malcolm Cowie at St. Andrew’s Church Hall where we were able to share with Mr. Arthur our proposals for the Infirmary site and the ongoing work at the Jenner Centre. Also, we visited the Infirmary to show him the potential of the site and the benefits for the community.
Although Mr. Arthur was and is supportive of our proposals, he cannot make NHST engage with us. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 states that the final say on transfer of buildings is the public body, in this case NHST.
As you know our appeal to the Scottish Government was declined due to the concerns by the Reporter to the sustainability of the project, although he was broadly supportive of our proposals, both for community benefit and the price we were offering.
Our financial circumstances changed when a benefactor pledged £250,000 to BHG towards the renovation costs of the Infirmary. In the middle of April following discussions with the Scottish Land Fund we made an offer, subject to survey, of £250,000 (as opposed to the original £150,000) to purchase the site from NHST, outwith the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 legislation.
NHST said no.
On 6 May we sent a letter to the NHST Board members setting out clearly the change in the circumstances of BHG. We were concerned that they would not have had access to our communication and meeting with Tom Arthur and Mairi Gougeon, the changes in our financial situation and our increased offer to purchase the Infirmary site. The Board’s decision in June 2021 on our Community Asset Transfer request had preceded this information which we now hoped would enable them to better understand our purposes and to consider reviewing their original decision.
To date we have had no reply.
There is a NHS Tayside Board meeting on 30 June. If our request to purchase the Infirmary is not on the agenda, we must decide whether to pursue our request or reluctantly, accept their decision. If we withdraw, we will consider going to the press and media to make it known that we have the support of our community, support at the top level of the Scottish Government, support from the Scottish Land Fund and support from Community Ownership Support Services.
Still NHST continues to say no.
In the meantime, on a more positive note, the Jenner Centre continues to provide support to the community, not least with the successful and very welcome Jenner Footcare and Hearing Aid Services.
We have also distributed the first issue of “DD9 Connections”, a booklet informing folk in the DD9 area of local groups, events, and contacts. We are supported in this by local businesses taking advertising space. You can pick up a copy from various locations in Brechin and Edzell, the Library Van and at The Jenner Centre. We are keen to hear your views and suggestions for what will be a 6 weekly publication. (We already have a suggestion for additional useful phone numbers such as the Audiology Department at Kings Cross)