Once upon a time there was a building, a rather splendid and imposing building which was named The Custom House. It was a building paid for by the local taxpayers and it served the various sea borne custom which came in and out of the fairly large docks close to it. Over a long number of years the building served the purpose it had been designed for, but as it is with many things, times changed, the docks were much less busy and The Custom House was closed.
The building lay empty for some time and after a few possible uses were discussed and then rejected a temporary use was agreed. A public organisation was given leave to use the building for storage whist a larger new facility was being for them. It wasn’t in ideal building for storage and neither were the items being stored but at least it was in use.
Once the public organisation using it for storage they were them granted ownership of the building. Now that’s a bit odd. They were given ownership of a building which didn’t really suit the purpose they were using it for.
When the time was right for them to begin to seriously plan to move out they put the building up for sale. Now isn’t that a bit strange? It was a publicly funded building, which had been given to them free, and now they were selling it?
The local community council were shocked and a group was formed to take over The Custom House so it could be turned into a local museum. But they only had a month to find over £600,000 so they could buy it back for the local taxpayers.
The local City Councillors wanted to help and be the saviours as is their want. They found a way to save The Custom House. They decided that they could use the Common Good Fund to buy The Custom House back from the other public body. Everyone was happy with that. (Not the taxpayers though).
Now at this point you will be looking for the “living happily ever after” ending. Alas no. Within a few weeks the City Council had changed their plans for the building. Yes it would be a museum but a museum which had a foot print the size of a single tennis court.
The City Council were now going to sell most of the building to developers. Isn’t that clever? Money coming from the Common Good fund, which could only be used for supporting the local community council, was used for buying a building, which had belonged to the public in the first place.
And here is the wee sting. The developers would pay a much higher price for the building, less the small museum space. And where would the money that the developers paid end up? Well, the City Council of course. Isn’t that a surprise?
What a slick wee scheme is it not?