South Ayrshire Council has been accused of setting an agenda for Common Good ‘land grab’ as the local authority moves forward with plans for the 3G pitch in Girvan.
Victory Park, which is classed as Common Good land, was a gift to the town’s people from the Dalrymple-Hamilton family.
In March last year, it was revealed that a 3G pitch would be built in Victory Park and hopefully completed by Summer 2019.
The investment was unveiled as part of South Ayrshire Council’s 2018/19 budget. However, at the time there was no mention of using Common Good Land.
It has been claimed by the Protect Victory Park For All group that much of the community were unaware of a consultation which took place at Girvan Academy in November 2018 on the proposed pitch.
The group also says that options provided at the consultation were manipulated so that Victory Park was seen to be the most viable option.
A spokesman for the Protect Victory Park For All group said: “Immediately following the 2018 consultation, by chance, some members of the community were seen measuring an area of Victory Park.
“They were asked what they were doing and explained that a pitch would be sited on Victory Park.
“It quickly became clear that most people in Girvan did not know about the proposed pitch.
“At no time did South Ayrshire Council state that Common Good Land would be used for this proposal, prior to the Common Good Consultation (CGC).”
A leaflet was distributed informing residents that the Common Good Land was going to be fenced off and a charge made for its use.
However, South Ayrshire Council paid for a Facebook advertisement, claiming that the leaflet did not state the facts.
A local SAC official posted on Facebook: “I can 100 per cent confirm this is not a SAC leaflet, it did not come from our office”.
The results of the consultation showed that 56.93 per cent of residents are against the siting of the pitch on Common Good Land of Victory park, while, 41.58 per cent supported it.
South Ayrshire Council is currently progressing with the proposal to the Sheriff to get permission to make the pitch happen.
A report presented to the Leadership panel at their meeting held on October 29, stated: “It would appear that South Ayrshire Council is the first local authority having to determine whether to proceed with a petition to the sheriff court contrary to the outcome of the CGC”.
The Protect Victory Park For All group spokesmancontinued: “This therefore is a test case for any subsequent CGC’s.
“We believe that South Ayrshire Council is in the process of trying to offload and profit from the Common Good Land gifted to the people.
“There are now threats to Common Good Land in Ayr, specifically the Old Racecourse and Low Green.
“Should South Ayrshire Council’s decision to ignore the outcome of the CGC be successful, this will set the precedent for the loss of other Common Good Land throughout Scotland, rendering the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 meant to provide communities with a voice, as a piece of meaningless legislation.”
Commenting on the situation, a South Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “An all-weather pitch was proposed to ensure that the people of Girvan and surrounding areas have access to similar sporting facilities as found in the other main towns.
“A number of different locations were assessed but the area of Victory Park currently underused due to poor drainage is the only site within proximity of the school where an all-weather pitch can be located.
“A petition is currently being prepared for the sheriff and it would be inappropriate for the council to comment any further at this stage,” they added.