FOLLOWING on from the Caroline’s Well Woods debacle, Ellon Community Council chairwoman Moira Muir has called for changes to the way the McDonald legacy is handled.
Speaking at last Monday’s community council, she called for McDonald Park and woodlands - which have traditionally been in the hands of Aberdeenshire’s councillors - to be put in the hands of local members, community councillors, and local groups using the park and woodlands.
There has been huge controversy in recent weeks after it was revealed that councillors had to act as trustees for the woods, while at the same time considering proposals to develop Castle Meadows. It also emerged that in order to construct a critical road into the development, trustees would have to give the go-ahead for a road through the woods. This proposal was later rejected due to the nature of the trusteeship, which effectively rules out any road through the woods.
Speaking at this week’s community council, Chairwoman Muir said that local members should never have had to act in two different capacities when considering the possibility of a road through the woods.
“As far as I understand, the land was gifted to the town and people of Ellon,” she told the Times. “To my mind, the community council and the groups involved in looking after the park are the modern day equivalent to the old town council.
“Control of the park should come back to the town, with community councillors, local members, Civic Pride and the Friends of McDonald Park represented on the trust. At the moment, control of the park and woodlands is in the hands of members from the whole of Aberdeenshire, most of whom won’t have the interest residents of Ellon have.”
Cllr Isobel Davidson told Ellon Community Council on Monday that while the suggestion was feasible, any such move would need to be funded, and that changing the status of the trust would need to go to the Court of Session.
“Local members act as trustees frequently,” she said. “Changing the status of the trusteeship would need to go through the legal process.”