Chairman’s AGM Report


AGM report – 7 December 2022


At our AGM in November last year we were awaiting the decision by the Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government to consider our Appeal to the decision of NHS Tayside not to allow us to take over the former Brechin Infirmary site.

In January this year we received the decision and it was a, “no”, in that we failed to satisfy the necessary requirements in establishing the viability, sustainability and funding of our proposals and providing adequate clarity in the detail both of identification and of funding for essential currently needed works or future works likely to be needed.

Extremely disappointed and indeed angry were our feelings at the decision, but there was no more we could do.

During the next few months, we were in regular contact with Scottish Government officials including Mairi Gougeon our own MSP and Tom Arthur, MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth to try to get NHS Tayside to engage with us looking at an alternative solution, such as a transfer outwith the legislation. Whilst the Scottish Government officials were supportive of our proposals for the site, they could not make NHS Tayside engage with us.

Also, our financial circumstances changed when a benefactor pledged £250,000 towards the renovation costs of the Infirmary and 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 NHS Tayside, outwith the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 legislation. NHS Tayside said no.

In 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. Again, nothing came of this.

We reluctantly accepted the decision that we would not be taking over the site and would need to look at alternative options for our plans.

In August we were approached by Brechin City Football Club and Brechin Community Football Trust to ask if we would be interested in a partnership to develop Glebe Park into a centre for the wider community focusing on health and wellbeing, our aim for the Infirmary site.

Exciting plans and opportunities are being discussed and we have had regular meetings with the football club and the trust to consider how best to move forward together.

Brechin Healthcare Group are in the planning stages of a Meeting Centre which will be based at Glebe Park to help meet the needs of people, their families and carers affected by long-term health issues. And, at the present time we are in the Supporters’ Centre two days each week in the run-up to Christmas giving out food vouchers funded by Angus Council to help those affected by the difficulties with increase in food costs.

We are still disappointed that our plans for the Infirmary site did not happen, but in the coming months we are looking forward to working in close partnership with the football club and the trust to benefit our community.

In addition to the funding for food vouchers we received funding from Community Outreach to offer a taxi service to those attending health related appointments. This enabled us to help a wide range of people access appointments locally at the Health Centre, opticians and dentists, at Stracathro, Ninewells, Perth Royal Infirmary and Covid 19 vaccination clinics. Without this help many people would have been struggling to reach their appointments by means of public transport.

The project raised the issue of public transport in the DD9 area and the report on the project will highlight this.

Also, we received funding from the NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund and The National Lottery to provide five benches in different locations in the DD9 area. The benches have arrived, the plaques, ‘Make Time for a Seat and a Chat’, are being made and hopefully the benches will be in place in the next few weeks at Caledonian Road/Cookston Road, Drumachlie Loan/Montrose Street, Edzell Muir, Edzell Wood and Glenesk.

In May the first issue of DD9 Connections was produced. The funding, also from NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund and The National Lottery, was to create a local booklet to share information and updates for people living in the DD9 postcode area, especially for those without digital access. Issue 5 has just been produced and each issue includes a spotlight feature on a local business and a local group and provides details of a wide range of organisations and groups offering help and support. Each issue helps raise awareness amongst the wider community of the good things happening and available within our community.

At our AGM we want to say a very big thank you and express our deep appreciation for the support we have received from so many people in our community over the past years as we sought to take over the Infirmary site. Many of you have expressed to us your sadness and anger at the decision by NHS Tayside to refuse our asset transfer bid.

During the past year Gary Robertson stepped down as a trustee due to other commitments. We greatly appreciate all that Gary contributed to the Group; fortunately, he is very willing to continue his support in whatever way he can.

Irene Gillies who has been involved with the Healthcare Group since November 2015 has decided to retire as a trustee from the Group. Many of you know Irene and all that she has given to and done for Brechin. We have been very fortunate to have had Irene as an integral member of the Group.

It was with much sadness that in March, Lindsay Cameron, passed away suddenly. Lindsay having retired from being the local vet, joined the Group with his wife Alison. Both of them brought so much to the group with their depth of knowledge and experience. Lindsay is still greatly missed.

At the AGM the present trustees for the past year will step down – Moira Robertson, Nilima Puthu, Alison Cameron, Joyce Galt, Hamish Greig, Dick Robertson, Grahame Lockhart and Stanley Callaghan.

We would be very happy for more folk to offer to stand for election as trustees in the year ahead as we look forward to our exciting partnership with the football club and the community football trust.

The present trustees are happy to put their names forward for re-election and if anyone would like to put their name forward as well there is room for more.