Community Asset Transfer of Old People’s Cabin Howard Park to The Kilmarnock Heritage Railway Trust (KHRT)

Joint statement from Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council and Councillor Lillian Jones, Chair of Governance and Scrutiny Committee.

"The Kilmarnock Heritage Railway Trust (KHRT) have established a positive and reliable reputation within the town, having successfully run their current operations at the train station without any cause for concern.

"Therefore, as Cabinet and Governance & Scrutiny Committees we are satisfied that the proposal to transfer the facility and the establishment of a café and provision of counselling services will bring significant benefits for the local community. This facility will help more people who are currently on a lengthy NHS waiting list, giving them the chance to access support services sooner rather than later.

"To provide added assurance to the community, conditions will be included within the lease to ensure that the future use of premises remain in accordance with what has been agreed and in particular, that the proposed counselling provision would be for those with low to moderate mental health and wellbeing issues.

"We confirm the consultation and Council’s decision making processes have been concluded and we can now confirm that we will lease the Old People’s Cabin in Howard Park, Kilmarnock to KHRT for 25 years, subject to a positive outcome of the Common Good process (currently at Court), in line with the requirements of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, and confirmation that the funds required for the renovation have been secured.

"As Councillors we will always seek to create opportunities within all of our communities and promote success when this adds value for our citizens. Therefore we want to reassure the community that we believe the establishment of this facility will serve our people well and regenerate and enhance the area within the park.  Although we are in a financial climate with scarce resources, the Council can assist in delivering this in partnership through the Community Asset Transfer process.

"Whilst there was no failure in procedure, we recognise that this process has not gone as smoothly as we would all have hoped and acknowledge that many residents felt that their concerns had not been heard, particularly in relation to information published on a third-party website not affiliated to East Ayrshire Council.

"We were disappointed that attempts by the applicant and our Vibrant Communities colleagues to convey that this information was incorrect and to reassure residents of their concerns did not resonate with the community and this regrettably led to misunderstanding between parties in relation to the proposals for use of the facilities. 

"However, we will learn from this experience and we are taking steps refresh our relationship with the Howard Park community to set the record straight regarding the Community Asset Transfer for the Old People’s Cabin.  

"Moving forward, we have asked our Vibrant Communities Team to provide regular, clear and accurate information to ensure that local residents are kept fully updated on the transfer process as it progresses.

"We hope this provides reassurance to all of the community and that we can all come together as one to respect and look out for each other just as it always has been."