Merry Christmas from Legal Knowledge Scotland.
Thank you for all your support during our third year and best wishes for 2014.
Merry Christmas from Legal Knowledge Scotland.
Thank you for all your support during our third year and best wishes for 2014.
Outer House Case in which the administrators of Oceancrown Ltd and other associated companies (including Loanwell Ltd and Questway Ltd) sought reductions of the sales of various properties by the companies as gratuitous alienations.
The companies in administration were part of a group under the control of a Mr Pelosi. The group was involved in the development and letting of commercial and residential properties. Mr Pelosi had effective control of all of the companies which were operated as one enterprise and operated on the basis of one bank account in the name of Questway Ltd.
Mr Pelosi negotiated the sale of 278 Glasgow Road, Rutherglen to Clyde Gateway Development Limited. On 10 November 2010 Oceancrown disponed 278 Glasgow Road to Strathcroft (then 99% owned by Mr Pelosi) for £762k. On the same day Strathcroft disponed the same property to Clyde Gateway for £2.1m (plus VAT of £367.5k).
The bank’s solicitors were advised that sale of 278 Glasgow Road was part of a series of transactions also involving 110, 210 and 260 Glasgow Road, and 64 Roslea Drive (owned by Oceancrown, Loanwell and Questway and over of which the bank held standard securities), the total sale price for which was £2.414m. When the bank’s solicitor (who was unaware of the sale of 278 Glasgow Road to Clyde Gateway) received the sale proceeds, it delivered discharges of the securities. Dispositions were executed (On 24 November 2010) transferring 110, 210 and 260 Glasgow Road to Stonegale Limited (of which Mr Pelosi’s son was the sole shareholder and director) and 64 Roslea Drive to Mr Pelosi’s son. The son then sold 64 Roslea Drive to a third party for £125k. Although no money was paid, the dispositions for the four properties recorded a consideration of £1.652m in total. Stonegale did not dispute that all the funds paid to the bank to discharge the securities came from the purchase of 278 Glasgow Road by Clyde Gateway.
Argument for the administrators
The administrators argued that a large proportion of the money received from Clyde Gateway (in respect of 278 Glasgow Road) was attributed to the other dispositions in order to make it appear that the transfers to Stonegale and Mr Pelosi’s son were made for consideration. In the view of the administrator, the back-to-back sale and transfers had been structured so as to keep £1.7075m out of reach of the bank and to transfer the properties to Stonegale and Mr Pelosi’s son for no consideration. The court was therefore asked to reduce the transfers of 110, 210 and 260 Glasgow Road, and 64 Roslea Drive.
Argument for Stongale
Stonegale argued that the issue for the court was whether the alienations of 110, 210 and 260 Glasgow Road and 64 Roslea Drive, Glasgow were made “for adequate consideration”. Oceancrown, Loanwell and Questway had each received consideration which was paid to their secured lender. The parties agreed that the sums attributed to 110, 210 and 260 Glasgow Road, and 64 Roslea Drive exceeded their market value. The source of the funds was irrelevant. The bank had decided to discharge the security over 278 Glasgow Road on the basis of a valuation it had received and had made a bad bargain. The other transactions were separate. Consideration had been paid to Oceancrown, Loanwell and Questway as they had reduced their indebtedness to the bank.
Lord Malcolm found otherwise. “Consideration” is “something which is given, or surrendered, in return for something else” No one paid anything for 110, 210, 260 Glasgow Road and 64 Roslea Drive. Oceancrown, Loanwell and Questway did not receive anything in return for the dispositions. They gifted the properties to the disponees. The fact that the bank was misled into using part of the sale price of 278 Glasgow Road to discharge all the standard securities did not supply the missing consideration. If the bank had known that 278 Glasgow Road had been sold for £2.4m, the same overall reduction in bank indebtedness would have occurred, but only the standard security over 278 Glasgow Road would have been discharged. The tranfsfers under challenge were gratuitous alienations. As such, reductions of the dispositions of 110, 210, 260 Glasgow Road were granted and Mr Pelosi’s son was be ordered to repay (to the administrators) the £125k paid to him by the third party for the purchase of 64 Roslea Drive.
The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.
 In terms of s242 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
 The administrators investigations indicated that the VAT element on the sale of 278 Glasgow Road had not been paid to HMRC.
 MacFadyen’s Trustee v MacFadyen 1994 SC 416 at 421
Good afternoon everyone.
Welcome to the 2013 AGM of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce.
Firstly, by way of introduction to those who do not know me, my name is James Aitken and I am the Convener of the Chamber. I will make further introductions as we go along.
Before I begin do we have any apologies?
The order of events is fairly straightforward. I will firstly seek approval of the minute of last year’s AGM.
I will then outline some of what has been happening in the Chamber over the past year. You will no doubt be relieved to hear I only intend to speak for 20 minutes or so.
I will then ask Craig Little, the Chamber’s Treasurer, to give a review of our finances. I understand that Craig has brought a number of copies of our accounts for anyone who would like a copy. Craig will then answer any questions you have.
Then I will ask the other directors and in particular our new Convener and vice- Convener if they would also like to say a few words.
I will then invite questions from the floor.
We should be finished the formal part of the AGM by around 1pm. I hope that many of you will be able to stay for the buffet lunch.
Firstly to the minute of last year’s AGM. Does everyone have a copy with them or has seen a copy of the minute? Are there any questions? Do we have a proposer and a seconder? Thank you.
The location for my final speech on behalf of the Chamber is an apt one. I grew up in Langlee which overlooks the College and University campus. My rugby club is just a few yards from here.
I also know from personal experience how important the College is to the Borders and the wider business community. I left school before my 16th birthday to start an electrical apprenticeship. I attended the old Borders College on the Melrose Road to study for my City and Guilds. When it finally became clear how poor an electrician I was, and that I wanted to go to university, a number of people at the College helped me when I was teaching myself the Highers I needed to get into University.
With this in mind, this is also a good opportunity to introduce Susan Rennie, Employer Engagement coordinator at Borders College.
So to the Chamber and the past year.
“As the leading business membership organisation in the Scottish Borders the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce is committed to representing the interests of the business community in the Scottish Borders.” I am sure that many of you will have seen this phrase used in our press releases and in other Chamber publications and speeches. This statement is what the Chamber should be judged against.
If one phrase sums up the position of the Chamber this year, as opposed to last year, it is “improving but still lots more to do”. Our financial position is much healthier, our membership continues to grow and what the Chamber is saying and doing is regularly covered in the press.
This has a great deal to do with the work done by Bruce Simpson, Andrew Collier and Alan King. Bruce took over our communications role from Harry McGrath just over a year ago, Andrew has dealt with the press on our behalf and Alan King deals with membership. These are paid positions and done on a month to month freelance basis.
The work done on these fronts has directly contributed to our growing membership which has meant an improved financial position.
Each role is crucial and complimentary. It may seem obvious but we actually need to meet with our members and listen to what they are saying. That is something we have simply not done enough of in the past and still need to improve further on. That is one of the main reasons we created Alan’s role.
Alan, Bruce and Gordon Innes are also working very hard on updating our “member benefits” package just now.
Then there is the amount of positive and regular publicity generated for the Chamber by Andrew and Bruce. Barely a week has gone by during the last year without the Chamber being mentioned in our local press. A number of members have given this as their main reason for joining or re-joining when they have met with Alan. I and a number of other directors have also given a number of TV interviews. This has given the Chamber a much higher profile than in past years.
I would also like to thank Andrew and Bruce for all the work they did concerning the Ofcom consultation. It clearly had an impact. One reason for its impact was that it was part of a wider campaign. I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Parker, leader of Scottish Borders Council and the Dumfries and Galloway Chamber for their help with this campaign.
It is likely we will soon see improved local news coverage and the showing of a number of programmes from STV. It is not good for our businesses that the rest of Scotland do not see or hear enough about the great things that happen here in the Borders. It is also ridiculous that the South of Scotland does not receive programmes such as STV Rugby, Scotland Tonight and the Young Scot Awards. We could not even watch one of our local MPs debate with the deputy First Minster recently. The response that you can view Scotland Tonight and other programmes online or on the “STV Player” is simply patronising.
One thing that has become obvious to me over the last two years is that dealing with the press and generating publicity for the Chamber is a job for a professional. That of course has a cost implication and must be kept under review. There are though huge benefits to the Chamber both in terms of increasing our membership and how we lobby our elected representatives and various other agencies and quangos.
Social media is also something that the Chamber is embracing. Thanks in particular to Bruce. Our new improved website is also just about to be launched.
Now to events. This is something that the board keeps under review. We are keen to do more joint events with other local business organisations and that is something the board is working on just now. Our recent joint lunch with the FSB went very well. We are also looking at possible joint initiatives with other business organisations such as the Exporters Club. The benefits of this approach are obvious.
The Chamber has also held a number of very successful events this year. A huge improvement on the previous year. Bruce is already promoting our winter events programme. One thing we have taken on board is that our members would also appreciate more of a chance to meet other members in a more relaxed setting. “Informal networking on the last Friday of the month” now forms part of the events programme. Again, as with our media coverage, our events play an important role in our ability to lobby our elected representatives.
Now to our finances. Craig will outline this in more detail in a few minutes but we are in a much stronger position than we were a couple of years ago. The Chamber also does not receive any public money. A situation I personally hope continues. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Craig for all the work he has done over the past two years regarding our finances. As already mentioned, the work done by Bruce, Andrew and Alan does have a cost implication and must be kept under review but for the moment appears to be working well.
Now to the lobbying of our elected representatives which I have mentioned a couple of times already. This is one of the primary tasks of the Chamber and has been one of the Chamber’s priorities over the last two years. We are very lucky in the Borders that three of our elected representatives hold ministerial positions. The Chamber has spent a great deal of time putting forward our views on an extremely wide range of topics to our local councillors, MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That has included the importance of the partial return of our railway, business rates, the Ofcom consultation, the need for an abattoir in the Borders, the upgrading of the A1 and the urgency of improving other main roads, arguing for windfarm development where appropriate, various tourism issues, the strange workings of the so called ‘meat levy’, asking politicians to hold “business surgeries”, various banking issues and the importance of urgently improving our broadband and mobile phone services.
Our politicians want to engage with us. Let’s not disappoint them.
It was also great to see the Scottish cabinet visit us recently. It was also great to see the huge amount of positive coverage it gained for the Borders throughout Scotland notwithstanding the lateness of the invitations.
I am also delighted that our relationship with Scottish Borders Council has improved markedly and in particular I would like to thank Councillor Stuart Bell for our participation on the Council’s Economic Development Group and to Samantha Smith for all her help, support and advice in relation to the Scottish Borders Business Forum. More on that initiative in a minute. The Chamber was also involved in the discussions surrounding Scottish Borders Council’s “Scottish Borders Loan Fund”. This is the kind of initiative the Chamber welcomes.
The Chamber not only has to engage with our politicians but a number of agencies and quangos. I have often been asked what I think about bodies such as Visit Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. My view is fairly straightforward. I do not automatically believe that the Borders needs its own organisation for every sector, agency or quango or that the way we did things in the past was automatically better. That said, organisations such as these – and this Chamber as well – must act transparently and make a huge effort to meet and talk to their respective stakeholders. It does no-one, least of all business in the Borders, any favours to see yet another war of words between different groups and factions when it is likely that regular and transparent communication from all sides would solve many of the perceived issues.
As for our relationship with Scottish Chambers I must admit to being in two minds about this. That though is a matter for my successor and the board. I would though like to thank Ged Cowans, our vice-Convener, who is also standing down for all the work he has done representing our Chamber at numerous Scottish Chamber events.
On a personal note I am delighted that my idea of bringing the various business organisations together to discuss and debate the bigger issues affecting our businesses here in the Borders has been successful. The new body is to be called the Scottish Borders Business Forum and its first event deals with a number of local transport issues and is being held on the 14th of September. That is a Saturday morning and is at Scottish Borders Council HQ starting at 9am. It should last about two hours. The meeting will have speakers from Transport Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, Network Rail and the Road Haulage Association.
I was also pleased that the Chamber agreed to donate the sum of £2,000 to this project. The only business organisation so far to make such a contribution. That will be used to make available online a list of all the business organisations in the Borders along with their contact details and also what events they have planned. This is not rocket science and is long overdue.
As for Directors, a number of new Directors have recently been appointed: Raymond Kerr, Nick Green and Paul Heyhoe. Four directors resigned during the year: Alan Dickson, Maggie Stanfield, Andrew Collier and Chad Dawtry. Thanks to all of them for all they have done for the Chamber.
The membership of the board is obviously an ongoing process and the Chamber is always looking to hear from local business people who would like to get involved. One thing I have not had as much success on as I would have hoped is the make-up of the board. It is still male dominated. That simply has to change and it is something that the board is looking at again.
The Chamber is also creating an association of former Directors of the Chamber. The advantages to the Chamber of making use of the knowledge and experience of our former Directors are obvious.
A few final thoughts. There are a huge number of great things going on here in the Borders.
Eyemouth Harbour can now receive cruise ships, our first crematorium is now in operation, the Borders Book Festival, the Border Union Show, the new 3G sports arena, plans are now in place for a purpose-built mountain bike chairlift at Innerleithen, our common ridings and festivals, our “Sevens” tournaments, our first palliative care unit and a site has been found for the Bill McLaren museum. Let’s also not forget the newly refurbished Abbotsford House. I am sure everyone here today could add many others to this list.
One reason I mentioned these things again concerns a letter I had published in the Southern Reporter a few months ago which received a great deal of comment. I must admit I was getting sick and tired of the negativity surrounding the Borders that seem to dominate the letters pages of our local papers. I simply wanted to point out some of the great things happening here in the Borders.
I also mentioned the negativity towards the return of the railway, which has been disgraceful, and I hope at last is at an end. It gave a great deal of ammunition to those in other parts of Scotland who wanted the money spent on their patch. We were accused of being divided and insular. With this in mind, I would again ask those local politicians who even now seem reluctant to support the project to put the Borders first and get behind the campaign to take the railway to Melrose, Hawick and hopefully Carlisle. This is a fantastic opportunity for the business community in the Borders and something the Chamber fully supports.
One of the reasons we lost our railway is that we were divided. Let’s never let that happen again. Hopefully the Scottish Borders Business Forum will give us the single business voice that we have not had up till now.
It is though not just about the railway. The quality of our communication infrastructure is absolutely vital if business in the Borders is to remain competitive let alone expand. The main roads that cross the Borders are simply not good enough. This is a matter mainly for the Scottish Government and BEAR Scotland but also for Scottish Borders Council. Regarding BEAR Scotland. The amount of time it took them to resolve the landslip problem on the A68 between Earlston and Lauder was simply not good enough. When we contacted them about this it was difficult to even persuade them to put signs up saying what the problem was. When we contacted Scottish Borders Council to try and put pressure on BEAR Scotland about this their response was pretty much, “nothing to do with us”. If our politicians and organisations such as BEAR Scotland do not understand the importance of roads such as the A68 to business here in the Borders this will make it much more difficult to retain or even entice more businesses to the Borders. It is that simple.
So what do we want? Of course we want to see the A1 dualled all the way to the Border. We know that the other main roads into and out of the Borders are not going to be dualled. That is why we are arguing for two or three more passing lanes on the A7 and A68 as a matter of urgency. The Chamber will also be arguing very strongly for much improved broadband and mobile phone services for the Borders.
A few final words.
I am pleased to report that the Chamber remains in very good hands. That brings me nicely to Jack Clark and Bruce Simpson. Jack Clark is my successor as Convener and Bruce Simpson succeeds Ged Cowans as vice-Convener. Both Jack and Bruce have done a power of work for the Chamber over the last few years. We will hear from both of them in a few minutes.
I would like to thank my fellow directors, both past and present, for all their support over the last two years. Our board of directors are unpaid unless they also take on one of our paid roles and rarely even claim expenses. A great deal of the work they do goes unreported.
Lastly, and by no means least, I would like to thank our members for their continued support of the Chamber.
I will finish where I began. “As the leading business membership organisation in the Scottish Borders the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce is committed to representing the interests of the business community in the Scottish Borders.”
It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to represent the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce for the last two years. Thank you.
The prices of all of our property styles have been reduced by 50% for the month of August. You can see our range of styles here.
The taxpayer’s success in the case of Joseph Nicholas Hanson has been confirmed by the Upper Tax Tribunal. It echoed the lower tribunal’s view that ‒ contrary to HMRC guidance ‒ the ownership of a farmhouse does not affect its entitlement to agricultural property relief from inheritance tax. The only relevant question is who occupies the house.
My earlier blog on this can be found here.
The decision from the Upper Tax Tribunal can be found here.
Inner House case considering a claim for damages under the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960. Mr Dawson worked as a self employed courier and was delivering a package to Ms Page’s cottage. Building works were taking place at the cottage and the surroundings resembled a building site. After making two unsuccessful visits to the cottage to deliver the package, Mr Dawson left the package under an oil storage tank in the back garden. As he was leaving the cottage he slipped on a wet plank over a trench in the garden and injured his hand.
Mr Dawson’s claim for damages failed in the Outer House. After noting wet planks are slippery and a notice is not required to point that out, Lord Glennie found that there was no requirement on Ms Page to exclude people from the site or give warning of the risks. The Inner House observed that the fundamental aim of the 1960 Act had been to the restore a broad test of reasonableness in relation to such claims and rejected Mr Dawson’s appeal which was based the argument that Lord Glennie should not have reached the conclusion that a state of affairs which is obvious is not a danger.
The full decision is available from Scottish Courts here.
My speech at this morning’s Borders Business Forum event.
Before I start, can I just say how great it was to see Scotland win last Saturday. Not just win, but play so well and with as usual a massive contribution from the Borders. We will remember Stuart Hogg’s try for a long, long time.
Now to why we are here today and why I think we need a forum for businesses in the Borders.
Let’s look back for a minute.
In his book, the “Waverley Route”, David Spaven discusses some of the reasons why we lost our railway. One of these was the fractured response from various groups and organisations in the Borders, including business organisations.
Ironically the mixed messages from the Borders also did not help the campaign for the return of our railway. It gave a great deal of ammunition to those opposed to the re-opening of part of the Waverley line.
Then there was the campaign, in which I was involved, to save the Border Reivers professional rugby team. Again the lack of a unified response meant there was little chance of us persuading the SRU to change its mind.
Now ask ourselves: are we really putting enough pressure on the Scottish Government on improving the A7, the A68 and the dualling of the A1 to the English Border?
Then there is the bigger picture.
It is no exaggeration to say that these are momentous times in Scotland. There will be a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Scotland could again be independent by March 2016. There is also the possibility of a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
It is very easy for politicians to ignore us if we are not clear in what we are asking or arguing for.
These, in my opinion, are just some of the reasons why we need a Borders Business Forum.
The idea of a Borders Business Forum is not that we will agree on everything. Of course we won’t.
There are though certain issues that we could come together and debate and hopefully find a common voice.
These issues might include the campaign to extend the Waverley line to Carlisle, superfast broadband of which we have just heard about, the quality of our TV and media coverage and the dualling of the A1 to the English Border. There are of course many others.
When I took over as Convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce I made trying to organise some kind of forum for business organisations in the Borders one of my priorities.
This did not start well. I was told by many that this could not be done including by officials here at Scottish Borders Council. Well here we are.
I was told that it would be easier if the various business organisations simply merged. Easier for whom? I was also told that there were around 50 such organisations as if this was the worst thing in the world.
My response was simple. Why is this necessarily a bad thing? Surely we should be celebrating the fact that so many business people in the Borders freely give up some of their spare time to help other businesses. I was then simply ignored until after the local elections last year.
So what has changed? One of the main changes is that we have a new administration at Scottish Borders Council.
I would like to place on record my thanks to Councillor Stuart Bell and his officials for not only hosting today’s event but for making a real effort to engage seriously with the business community here in the Borders.
The role of Scottish Borders Council has been crucial in getting so many of us here today. For one thing, the Council seemed to be the only body that had regular contact with the various Borders business organisations.
When I have thought of a Borders Business forum I have not imagined a body that imposes its thoughts and ideas on all the business organisations in the Borders. It is not a governing body. Business organisations, and indeed any business, can play as much of a role as they wish and that they are comfortable with.
The Borders covers a large and diverse area. That is why we need local business organisations. We also need special interest business organisations. We also need business organisations that are part of larger bodies. We already have these.
What we don’t have is a forum where our business organisations can come together as we are doing today and debate issues such as broadband.
It is for the business organisations to decide if they wish to have such a forum and if they do what it then does.
A Borders business forum might also bring other practical benefits.
We generally do different things. Although we work well together I am sure we can do better. I would like to see the contact details for all our business organisations made easily accessible. The same with all our events. I would like to see more joint events. These are just some of the things that a Borders Business Forum might help to bring about.
There are also so many great things going on here in the Borders just now that we need to let more people know about.
The new visitor centre at Abbotsford House, Eyemouth Harbour can now receive cruise ships, our first crematorium is now in operation, a second is planned, the Borders Book Festival, the Border Union Show, the new 3G sports arena, plans are now in place for a purpose-built mountain bike chairlift at Innerleithen, our common ridings, our “Sevens” tournaments, our first palliative care unit, a site has been found for the Bill McLaren museum and of course the start of construction of our railway. I am sure everyone here today could add to this list.
One last point. Why am I involved with the Chamber? To be honest, it was more luck than choice. I could have just as easily joined the FSB or another business organisation here in the Borders or in Edinburgh. I like a lot of people am as often away from the Borders as here.
The important thing for me is that the business organisation I belong to is willing to help and speak up for businesses in the Borders. If that is the Chamber, great. If it is another organisation then that is great too. My priority is the Borders.
Think of how much stronger we would be if we shared more of our knowledge and resources.
Think how strong our voice could be if we speak as one on the major business issues affecting the Borders.
Convener Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce
16 February 2013
Inner House case considering an appeal by Bagmoor against a decision of the Scottish Ministers to adopt the recommendation of their reporter and reject Bagmoor’s planning application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Stacain near Inveraray in Argyll.
The site lies within Glen Etive and Glen Fyne Special Protection Area which was created to protect golden eagles and the reporter’s recommendation to reject the application was based primarily on the effect the wind farm would have on the eagles.
In essence Bagmoor’s appeal was based on their complaint that the reporter had not given adequate reasons for his decision. This was rejected by the Inner House which found that on each substantive or determining issue the reporter had given intelligible reasons for his decision and refused Bagmoor’s appeal.
Central to the decision was the procedure to be followed under Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No 2716), which implement the Habitats (92/43/EEC) and Birds (2009/147/EC) Directives. Regulation 48 requires that an appropriate assessment is carried out as regards plans which are likely to have a significant effect on a European site (in this case, the Glen Etive and Glen Fyne SPA). This involves a two stage procedure, the first stage being a preliminary examination to determine whether an appropriate assessment requires to be carried out. The second stage is a detailed assessment of the plans. If plans can be clearly carried out without an effect on the site, there is no need for the more detailed assessment. The court had the following to say on the matter:
“There is no prescribed formula as to how the two stage exercise contemplated by regulation 48 and the Court of Justice is to be carried out. There are several ways in which it might be done in the context of domestic planning legislation and, no doubt, the precise form will depend upon a range of facts and circumstances, including the nature of the permission sought and the conservation objectives to be protected. However, with an application such as the present, at least by the time the respondents elect to call it in and order a public inquiry, it ought to be made clear, at least in the normal case, that any preliminary examination stage has been passed and that what is to be carried out at the inquiry is an “appropriate assessment” in terms of regulation 48(1)(a). Public inquiries are not held in order to undertake preliminary examinations.
It may just be possible, in a rare case, for the respondents to order an inquiry yet leave it to the reporter to decide whether an appropriate assessment is required. If that were done, the first “screening” stage ought to take the form of a preliminary examination undertaken (or the form of which could be agreed) at a pre-inquiry meeting and before any assessment is embarked upon. What should not occur, as happened here, is that the reporter carry out a detailed assessment and then decide that such an assessment was required before re-assessing the same evidence to reach a substantive decision. Put another way, there was no point in the applicants adducing a body of detailed evidence and then inviting the reporter to determine whether there was any need to adduce it.”
The reporter’s decision
In coming to his conclusion the Reporter had taken account of evidence of displacement of eagles from another wind farm at Beinn Ghlas. Bagmoor argued that this evidence was too qualified or limited in character to justify a finding either that eagle’s occupation of Beinn Ghlas had been affected by the wind farm, or that a wind farm at Stacain would cause a similar abandonment. However the court noted that, in terms of the legislation, the reporter required to recommend approval of the application only if he could be “certain”, that the plan would not adversely affect the SPA’s integrity. In these circumstances, it had been sufficient for the reporter to find that the evidence left open the possibility that a wind farm at Stacain would lead to abandonment of part of the site by the eagles. The reporter had not therefore required to resolve every aspect of the evidence or every subsidiary issue relating to the site at Beinn Ghlas.
Bagmoor also objected to the reporter’s consideration of evidence from Scottish Natural Heritage that eagles had 99% chance of avoiding a collision with the turbines and the contribution that “behavioural displacement” (i.e. the eagles moving away from the wind farm site to avoid collisions) made to that figure. However, it was common ground the eagles would tend to shy away from use of the wind farm and that constructing the wind farm would represent a loss of foraging ground. The court found that the reporter’s reference to the 99% avoidance rate in this context was simply confirmation of what had already been clear and had been ascertained during his screening exercise. The displacement of the eagles had been “effectively confirmed” by that rate.
The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.
All of our property and conveyancing case summaries are contained in the LKS Property and Conveyancing Casebook here.
Merry Christmas from Legal Knowledge Scotland.
Thank you for all your support during our second year and best wishes for 2013.
Good morning everyone.
Firstly I would like to thank everyone for attending the Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce. I am James Aitken and I am the Convener of the Chamber. I will make further introductions as we go along.
The order of events this morning is fairly straightforward. I will talk about what has been happening in the Chamber over the past year and also a few other thoughts. You will no doubt be relieved to hear I only intend to speak for 10 minutes or so. I will then see if anyone has any questions.
I will then ask Craig Little, the Chamber’s Treasurer, to give a review of our financial situation. I understand that Craig has brought a number of copies of our accounts for anyone who would like a copy.
Then I will ask the other Directors if they would like to give a quick update on their respective business sectors.
I will then invite any final questions from the floor.
We should be finished the formal part of the AGM by around 9:15. Please stay on if you can.
So to the Chamber and the past year.
The past year has seen the appointment of almost a completely new Board of Directors including myself as Convener.
One of the first things the new Board did was to undertake a complete review of how the Chamber operates. I will come back to this in a minute or so.
In addition, and more importantly in my opinion, the Board asked themselves the following question: is there still a need for a Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce? After lengthy discussions over a number of months, a majority of the Board said yes. There was though a number of caveats. These included that we must be financially viable, we must not be reliant on external funding, we must not be just another talking shop or “boys” club. The Board also agreed to ask itself the same question at the end of this year. I am pleased to report that progress is being made on these caveats.
Now to the day to day running of the Chamber.
Our finances are now in a much improved state. However, to get to this position the Board, like many other businesses, has had to take some hard decisions in the past year to reduce our overheads. That included the Board having to make a valued employee redundant. In fact our sole employee. This has meant an increased workload for the Directors.
The Board also agreed to freeze our membership rates for this and the following year and to offer a discount for members rejoining within a month of the start of our new financial year. As the Chamber no longer receives any external funding, and will not in fact seek further external funding, the Chamber is now almost entirely dependent on membership income. Craig will cover our finances in more detail in a few minutes and will answer any questions you may have.
The Board has also had to deal with a number of problematic historical issues. I am again glad to report that progress has been made on all of these historical issues and in particular the Border Works issue.
The Board discussions have also resulted in a series of changes and improvements to the way we operate. This is of course a work in progress and a great deal still needs to be done.
Tne major change concerned communications and the appointment of a consultant, Harry McGrath, to deal with this vitally important task on our behalf. Harry deals with both internal, our members, and external, the press to give an example, communications.
This has included a new website which is regularly updated, regular emails to our members, a much improved twitter presence and more press releases. The feedback we have received to date on these changes has been very positive.
Other matters which we are still working on include membership, appointment of new Directors and events.
On membership we are to begin a membership drive in August.
As for Directors, a number of new Directors have already been appointed. This is obviously an ongoing process. I also intend to create an association of former Directors of the Chamber. The advantages to the Chamber of keeping in touch with former Directors are obvious.
On events Jim Mather, former Scottish Government Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Minister, and Alyn Smyth a Scottish Member of the European Parliament who has a particular interest in agricultural matters, have agreed to speak at events to be held in October and November respectively. A third winter event involving Craig Little will be announced shortly.
We are also considering holding a networking event every 2 months or so. This is something we are going to ask our members for their views on in the next week or so.
The review that the Board has undertaken would not be of much use if we had only looked at internal Chamber matters.
A great deal of time has been spent considering our relationship with various bodies such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, neighbouring Chambers and other local business organisations, Scottish Borders Council and our local politicians.
Can I take this opportunity to thank Ged Cowans for his work with the Scottish Chambers on behalf of the Board.
Shortly after becoming Convener, Ged and I held a number of meetings with our neighbouring Chambers in the Lothians. These Chambers were considering a merger and asked us if we also wanted to become part of a larger Chamber.
One of the reasons why the Board unanimously rejected a merger was the amount of time taking up discussing the “City regions” policy. I made the position of our Chamber clear. Of course we want to work closely with our neighbouring Chambers, however, although we agree that Edinburgh is important to the Borders our links with Dumfries and Galloway and Northumberland are just as important to us.
The Board’s position on this is straightforward. The Borders needs a business organisation or even organisations whose priority is to represent the interests of the Borders business community.
Now to Scottish Borders Council and in particular its economic development department.
To be clear I have not been impressed and I have made this clear to those I have dealt with. The Chamber does not see its role to simply provide a token representative from the business community to the latest talking shop being mooted or document to sign in front of the press.
That said, it is only a few weeks since the local elections were held. It was clear from reading the various manifestos that each party and many of those standing as independents, see the economy as a priority. That as far as we are concerned means a fresh start.
I have already had a very constructive telephone conversation with Stuart Bell, the councillor now in charge of economic development. I am meeting Stuart again in the next week or so and he has agreed to come and speak at our August Board meeting.
I have also made it clear to Stuart that the Chamber will continue to campaign for a forum for all business organisations in the Borders. You may be surprised to know that there are almost 50 such organisations in the Borders. Instead of wasting time and effort trying to get these bodies to merge let’s try a different approach. Let’s acknowledge and celebrate the fact that so many people are willing to try and help business flourish in the Borders. I will continue to press on this.
Every politician I have met or spoken to is in favour of the idea of this forum.
That brings me nicely on to our meetings with our local politicians.
So far we have met or spoken to Michael Moore, Chic Brodie, John Lamont, Christine Grahame and a number of councillors including David Parker. Other meetings are planned. One interesting idea that arose from these meetings was the idea of MSPs holding surgeries specifically for businesses. Another was arranging a meeting of all the South of Scotland Chambers.
A couple of final points.
Let’s not forget that there are many great things going on in the Borders just now. Eyemouth Harbour can now receive cruise ships, our first crematorium is now in operation, a second is almost complete, the Borders Book Festival, the Border Union Show, the new 3G Arena in Gala, mountain biking at Glentress, our common ridings. I could go on and on.
Then there is the return of our railway that should never have been taken away in the first place. This is a fantastic opportunity for the business community in the Borders. Let’s ensure that we fully realise its potential. That includes making sure that Twedbank is not the final stop on this line.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Directors, both past and present, for their continued support and all their hard work over the past year. Our Directors do not even claim expenses. In particular I would like to thank Fiona Drane, my predecessor as Convener, and Sally Scott-Aiton our former employee, for all the time and effort they put in to the Chamber. I would also like to thank Gordon and Kate for accommodating us today.
Lastly, and by no means least, I would like to thank our members for their continued support.