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Celebrations for Findochty volunteers as town hall asset transfer gets green light

By Sarah Rollo

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VOLUNTEERS have been praised for their work in taking ownership of their community's meeting place.

A Community Asset Transfer (CAT) request for Findochty Town Hall has been given unanimous backing by councillors.

As the property is held as a common good title, approval will now be sought from the court.

It was one of three CAT requests given the green light by the authority's economic growth, housing and environmental sustainability committee this week – with a skate park in Lossiemouth and Aberlour's Alice Littler Park also gaining approval.

Findochty Rown Hall Committee chairman Graham Cryer hailed the move as a huge step forward in the ultimate goal of achieving community ownership for the facility.

He said: "We're really excited with news and very pleased indeed.

"All of our local councillors have been very supportive and our trustees have worked very hard since we took over the running of the hall in 2018.

"The application still has to go through the Sheriff Court for final approval but we're hopeful there won't be anything of concern there. At the moment we don't know when this is likely to happen.

"After the Covid situation settles down and we return to something like normal we're hoping to carry on with things like the pop-up cafe which were running so well before the pandemic. We had been building up quite a momentum.

"During the last while our volunteers have been working away, within the regulations, at renovations in the hall and overall I'd say the future is looking very bright for Findochty Town Hall."

Mr Cryer went on to pay tribute to all those in the community who had supported the committee's efforts over the last two years or so, including Moray Council community support officer Dawn Brodie.

Buckie councillors were united in their praise for the Findochty Town Hall group, which received a KeyStone Award in December 2019, recognising it had met required standards of governance and management.

Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP) said trustees and the wider community had all worked extremely hard to achieve their goal and were making a "valuable difference" to the community.

She said: "The hall now has a great feeling when you go into it with the redecoration and improvements visible right from the very start."

The range of activities on offer had been increased, she added, bringing a new lease of life to the village.

Cllr Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) said it was another success story in the CAT scheme.

He said: "Rather than it being about cost savings it became a story of how Moray Council can truly work with some of these communities to pass on local assets to the community where, to be fair, they can be better run."

Cllr Eagle added: "The group that have come together here have been incredible. Every step of the way they have include local councillors, the local community, they have put leaflets through doors to get their messages out, they have done so much to get to this point. I know at times it has not been easy - there has been a lot of paper work to get through - and I am so impressed by them all."

The praise was echoed by Independent Buckie councillor Gordon Cowie, who said: "They are a very hard working committee and what they have done to that hall has just been amazing."

Councillors added their thanks to local authority officers for their work in enabling the CAT request to proceed.

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