MORAY councillors today approved their first request for a community asset transfer.
The decision – approved unanimously by the council’s policy and resources committee – will see the Elgin Youth Development Group take over the Mackintosh Building in Francis Place, Elgin.
The building currently houses the Elgin Youth Cafe and the former Moray Music Centre next door. The cafe occupies one part of the building for a peppercorn rent, and recently the remaining part has become vacant. The entire building will now be in the ownership of the Elgin Youth Cafe charitbale trust.
The youth development group – which set up the youth cafe in 2001 – applied for the transfer of the Mackintosh Building for use as a base for its charitable activities and to develop a sustainable community hub and training facility.
The transfer follows the submission of a detailed business case to the council’s community asset transfer assessment panel.
Members of the committee were told today that the panel had been impressed by the quality of the business case which identified a number of social and economic benefits from the transfer, including increased youth employability through training programmes, reduced social exclusion and the provision of meeting space for community groups.
Committee chair, Councillor Allan Wright, said he was delighted that the transfer had been completed and hoped it would point the way for more groups looking to take over local community facilities.
“Officers rightly commended the strength of the business case and members spoke of the track record of the applicants,” he said. “I am sure the development alongside the youth cafe will be a huge success.”
Since its community asset strategy was approved in 2011 the council has received more than 40 inquiries from local groups keen to take on responsibility for council-owned facilities and around half of those are currently at various stages of being progressed.
Fiona Birse, who has chaired the youth development group for the past seven years, said she was “absolutely delighted” that councillors had shown faith in the group to continue its work and enhance the Mackintosh Building for community use.
She said: “The group has come a long way in the 15 years since it was established and today’s decision not only secures our future but hopefully also opens up new funding sources for us as owners of the premises.”
Incoming chairman John Ralph said: “We can now look forward to the future with confidence and build on the assets and the work that so many people have put in over the years.”
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