A New Beginning: Ardentinny Outdoor Centre is Sold

Ardentinny Outdoor Centre
Ardentinny Outdoor Centre

At a quiet Community Council meeting, with only three members of the public in attendance, Aidan Docherty, Head of Centre, announced that Actual Reality had bought the village outdoor centre from Argyll and Bute Council, with the deal apparently closing this Thursday, 7th February, 2013.

The purchase includes the slipway, the listed building ‘Old Ferry House’ at the slipway entrance, the outdoor centre itself, including the two ‘cottages’ together with the grounds which apparently extend to 6.714 acres (Title Disposition July 1968).

Aidan introduced Richard Miller, Actual Reality’s Finance Officer and invited any questions or expressions of concern regarding the negotiation and purchase of the centre either at the meeting or at any time in the future. He stressed the positive impact of this acquisition, highlighting the fact that the centre is approaching its 40th anniversary and that Actual Reality, which will soon become The Ardentinny Centre Trust, plans to continue and extend its work over many more years to come.

Another positive cited was that 30-32 jobs would be secure now that the company has the security of owning its premises and he stressed that his priority always has and always will be to recruit from the local community and that they also take positive steps to use local suppliers even when cheaper supplies may be available from elsewhere.

Councillor Marshall pointed out that the relationship between the centre and the community had contracted somewhat over the past 15 years but that this was probably due to the fact that there were very few young people currently living in the village. Richard Miller suggested that they should perhaps look at ways in which the older population could take advantage of the centre.

Old Ferry House from the slipway
Old Ferry House from the slipway

While reaction to the news was generally positive, there were some expressions of concern.The first of which was regarding public access to and use of the slipway. Aidan assured those present that they had made an undertaking to the Council that nothing would change with regards to use of the slipway, with the proviso that anyone wishing to use it should liaise with them. He stressed that it was not only their wish but their duty, as an RYA Training Centre, to promote safe use of the sea.

Old Ferry House
Old Ferry House and slipway on Loch Long.
Cottage within the grounds
Cottage within the grounds
Ardentinny Centre entrance and cottage.
Ardentinny Centre entrance and cottage.

Councillor Bruce Marshall and others felt that while it was encouraging that Actual Reality had made that commitment regarding slipway use, there was still concern about the situation should it ever be sold on. Therefore, they were asked if it were possible to draw up some legal proviso whereby the slipway and Ferry House would return to the community, should Actual Reality cease or change its operations there. Richard Miller said that he could see  no problem in having some sort of restrictive covenant whereby, should Actual Reality become insolvent, the slipway would return to Ardentinny Community Council and he agreed to take this issue to their Board.

In a similar vein, Aidan said that local use of the centre grounds would also remain unchanged. For example, members of the community would still be welcome to walk around, with the understood proviso that, should the centre or any of its staff have any doubts about anyone on the premises, they would be approached and asked for clarification. This, he explained, fell under their duty of care to the children and other users of the centre.

Richard Miller explained that Argyll and Bute Council had had concerns about the inclusion of the two cottages in the sale which Actual Reality regard as necessary staff accommodation. Therefore, as a disincentive to the Trust selling them on as private houses, it had been agreed that the proceeds of any such sale would go back to Argyll and Bute Council. This prompted questioning as to where the proceeds would go from the sale of any of the rest of the centre property and the meeting was informed that it would be sold on the open market with proceeds going to the company. However, Richard Miller did stress that the company was in it for the long term.

Aidan concluded by saying that they would be having an Open Day for the Community and also a celebration for the Centre’s 40th anniversary where they hoped to invite as many as possible previous employees to attend. He also promised to keep the Community Council and the community informed of all progress with regards to the centre.

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roy

Claire, Jennifer

Good points and I totaly agree with you the CC only found out about the sale details on the night of the CC meeting when Actual Reality explained the sale details to us, and that is when members of the public and Councillors raised the slipway issue which is now ongoing and various individuals are looking into the ownership/rights of way etc.

Claire S

Hi Roy. Thanks for your invitation to attend community council meetings. Can I ask, is your community council doing anything about the ‘slipway issues’? I see there are some interesting comments here
http://forargyll.com/2013/02/acquisition-sees-actual-reality-and-ardentinny-outdoor-education-centre-secure/
which your committee may or may not be aware of.

Jennifer

Good point Roy but April is a long way off. Think the Community Council needs to work a bit faster when important issues arise and, when they do, how does the general public know about them? I only pick these things up if they are in the local paper or on sites like this one or For Argyll. Anyway, regarding this issue, it looks like it’s too late as it seems the sale of this particular PUBLIC property took place in secret.

Roy

It’s good to see that people have a point to make regarding the sale of the Centre and the ‘Slipway issue’ attending the Community Council meeting is an ideal time to highlight these issues especially when a member of the centre attends these meetings the next one is in April why not turn up and voice your opinion!!!!!

Claire S

Wow £130,000!!!! That must be the best deal ever. What an outrage. What isgoing and why would it be sold so cheaply?

Who can answer these questions and who is accountable, for this?

Lochy

£130,000 is what Actual Reality paid the cash strapped? Argyll and Bute Council for Ardentinny outdoor centre, bungalows, slipway and ferry house. One of the houses alone would have fetched that or more on the open market. What’s going on?

John J

Good point Niall. Are we to see more of the blocking of the slipway by AR minibus/trailer which has taken place in previous years? Looks like it!

Niall

It’s time to wake up Ardentinny and build your own slipway. You have just lost a rare asset in the shape of a public access slipway to private ownership. Understandably the new owners will use it to their best advantage but will it always be to yours? Think about it! Niall.

Helen

I hope you r right G but in these hard times I hope they can make it work

G. McNaughton

Excellent! Although Actual Reality’s contact with the community has been somewhat lacking over the past few years, I welcome this new start which will hopefully bring back some of the flavour of the old days!

Lochy

You mean to say that our council, funded by us, has made a deal with actual reality without either consulting the community and/or putting the centre on the open market? What is to stop this company cutting and running in a couple of years time and selling the centre to a developer? Has the council considered this?