Mar 28 2012 by Dianne Jackson, Stirling Observer Wednesday
Dear Editor – I refer to your front page article and editorial in last week’s Observer about Kings Park, Stirling.
It is regrettable that you have chosen to sensationalise this important issue by your use of intemperate language. It is also regrettable that you did not carry the council’s full statement on the matter. As a result readers will have been misinformed as to the true position.
Far from blowing any of the Stirling Common Good fund, as your words have it, the council, with the support of all 22 councillors and all parties, took a well considered decision to invest some of the Common Good Fund in acquisition of Kings Park so it could be held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of Stirling in all time coming.
You clearly do not know the origins of the Common Good Fund.
The cash reserves the council currently holds have been built up over centuries from the sale of lands originally held for the common good by the former royal burgh.
To invest some of this cash in acquiring Kings Park for the common good is actually closer to the proper purpose of the Common Good Fund than having cash sitting in the bank, earning very little at today’s rates of interest.
The council’s plans for the creation of public parkland, heritage trails and attractive open space at Kings Park, Back Walk and Gowanhill, extending significantly what already exists, will greatly enhance the west approach to and general public amenity of the city and the setting of the castle. They will also significantly enhance Stirling’s visitor offer – vitally important if we are to maximise the economic benefit of all that will be happening in 2014.
The council’s plans have the support of Historic Scotland, which has stewardship of our national heritage, including Stirling Castle.
The council has negotiated acquisition of this land from the Crown Estate at a very favourable price, reflecting the public uses planned for the land and that it will forever be protected from other commercial development. This deal can be completed in a matter of months, ending a long saga that began in 2006.
In the five years or so this issue has been pursued by the council, those who have argued that this land already belongs to the public and should be transferred for nothing by the Crown Estate have failed to achieve such a transfer.
Even now, all that has been gained is a recommendation from a Commons committee. It remains to be seen whether the secretary of state will act on the recommendation or, if he does, whether the Crown Estate (an independent body) will comply with any request he might make. Legislation may even be required, given that the statute currently governing the operations of the Crown Estate obliges it to obtain best price on disposal of land.
That said, of course the council, acting properly in the interests of Stirling and its stewardship of the Common Good Fund, must now pause its acquisition of Kings Park and consider whether this new development affects its previous decision. If the land can indeed be secured without spending any of the Common Good fund, so much the better.
Let us hope that it will not be another five years before this latest question is finally resolved.
BOB JACKChief executiveStirling Council