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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pairc - the saga continues

With Thursday seeing the next round of the legal actions in Stornoway Sheriff Court it seems fairly clear what the pattern is going to be.

The legal actions are going to be long and drawn out.

The Government have already acknowledged that the legislation is flawed, which I think means that they are on a hiding to nothing in Court; but that they will drag this out until they can decide how to rewrite the legislation.

The landlord has apparently offered the crofters an amicable buy-out, if the existing Committee remove themselves.

This last element is the most intriguing, as it shows the animosity between the existing Committee and the landlord, and represents a very smart move by Mr Lomas.  Will the existing Committee withdraw and challenge Mr Lomas to stand by his word?  Well, with silence from South Lochs, it looks like that offer has been rebutted; and that no-one seems prepared to try and knock heads together and get legal paperwork in place.

The animosity can be explained by the claims of self-interest against the Directors of Pairc Trust, in that it is claimed by Barry Lomas that the suggested siting of some turbines will give disproportionate benefit to those crofters, some of whom may be the Directors of Pairc Trust.  Let me make it very plain, M'Lud, that I do not know whether these claims have any substance, but that the Directors strongly rebut this argument.  I am aware of some matters they need to refute, rather than just rebut, but I am not aware of any substantive attempt to demolish these arguments.

And, yes, I know I have said all this before, but for the reasons that follow, these arguments need to be demolished if the Pairc buyout is to have the widest possible support; and credibility lies at the heart of that.

I was reading back through the Pairc buy-out Business Plan just recently.  It's been apparently removed from the Pairc Trust website, but if you find the old cached pages on Google, the now-deleted links still took you to the pdf; which you could download for posterity.  This probably won't be possible after tomorrow.

Page 49 of the plan - as approved by CnES and the Scottish Government - has a most interesting comment on the type of holidays that Pairc Trust will be offering to the public:
A short break (3 days) with meals would cost in the region of £200 per person per night. Extra
charges would be levied depending on which activities the holidaymakers would be enjoying.
This is averaged to 20% on top of the accommodation costs.
So a couple coming for a 3 day break would spend £1,440 - which one assumes includes ferry costs, but not petrol - instead of perhaps £500 in a 5* hotel in Edinburgh (Scotsman, advance purchase rate) of £900 for a week in Crete (Thomas Cook, Aghios Nikolaos in October).

Now why is this important?

Simply because the business plan assumes that for a one-off outlay of £9,000 (what no recurring marketing costs?), Pairc Trust will be able to sell 150 bed nights the following year, generating income of £6,000.  I did mention the 20% commission the Pairc Trust will take (at page 49), didn't I. 
The Pairc Trust as promoter would take a fee (e.g. 20%) from the holiday price to cover
promotional and organisational costs and the costs of the activities while the partners in the
enterprise would benefit from increased reliable trade and collective marketing of their local
Now, current tariffs for B&B or self catering in South Lochs are £25 per night or £250 per week for an entire cottage; or about £50 pppn in the only hotel in the area.  All of which raises all sorts of questions about the supply of suitable accommodation, given that to upgrade is going to cost £60,000+ for the majority of current providers.  My rough and ready guess is that it will cost perhaps £1.2m to provide enough suitable accommodation in the area or as little £250,000 if there is only one new-build provider.  Where is all this going to come from on the hope of getting bookings through an untested provider selling beds in an unbuilt facility?

Realistically, you can see a new provider or two trying to fill that market; but when they can sell the beds direct or via VisitScotland, why go through the Pairc Trust.

That is just one example I have seen of an element of the business plan that has been allowed to go through, and which is being touted by local and Central Government as a model of sustainability at which large sums of money should be thrown.

If the Pairc buy-out is to succeed it must succeed on a realistic basis, and not on fantasy figures, or Barry Lomas will tear this all to pieces in Court and discredit the entire process.

Unless, of course, that gives the Government their out from the entire process and time to rewrite the laws; which the cynic in me thinks might just be the case.

Whatever happens, Pairc is going to face a long slow decline as the legal process takes it's slow and winding course; something I don't think anyone wants to see.


Ben Doon said...

There was another splendid example of "fantasy figures" in Storas Uibhist's "LOCHBOISDALE HARBOUR EVALUATION OF EXISTING PROVISION AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES" Oct 2008 on the subject of potential from yachts.

Starting by noting that the average yacht is crewed by 2.3 people and each person spends on average £34.85 per day, that means each yacht produces a spend of 2.3 x 34.85 = £80.155 per day. (Note, I'm not denying the validity of these figures.)

There are 6 yacht moorings at Lochboisdale meaning that yachting currently generates 6 x 365 x 80.155 = £175,540 for the local economy.

Now if this were a scene from Blackadder, someone would have said by now "I think I'm on the point of spotting the flaw in this plan ..."

Dr Evadne said...

Your honour;
The letters sent to the vice chair of the Pairc Trust from the Scottish Gov on 21 March 2011(copied to all who made representations) also highlighted various flaws in the business plan. These include 'out of date figures', 'out of date community appraisal', 'no staff allocated to the holiday packages', incorrectly calculated national insurance figures and questions raised about the Trust's organisational and management skills. The Scottish Government saw fit to pass the plan as viable and sustainable. Hmmm?
I am sure that I have read somewhere that the business plan was going to be re-written which may account for it being removed from the PT site.

The delays that have been brought about by Mr Lomas's refusal to give up his property may or may not have an impact on the community. Who exactly has stopped Fred, Jim, Mary, or Sharon etc from opening a B&B or renting one of the many empty buildings in the area? Or setting up a campsite? Why no individual enterprise? One thing we will all miss out on is the concept of the Pairc Trust presiding over the business of hospitality and tourism. Perhaps they should have a go at running a p!ss up in a brewery first and see how they cope with that.
Thank you m'lud.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Angus! Please continue and appraise the rest of the fiction associated with the activities of these people.

Anonymous said...

It says on the website that it is being revised in light of recent developments.

Anonymous said...


You raise several accurate points which can be elaborated upon even further.

Today 21 July sees the Stornoway Court send the Human Rights issue to the Court of Session. Thereby ensuring the Scottish Government can happily and now some what relieved, maintain its fence sitting posture - commonly known as the SNP default posture, for at least 2 more years.

The land owner - he is landlord only in so much as he persecutes the crofters for the vast sum of £15 per year croft rent, has offered to talk to others in the community and he is fully aware of individuals and or townships that would like to talk. The problem is that any such overt action taken would be met with the full fury of the ruling dictat of Pairc Trust.

Some outside Pairc might scoff at that remark but I would refer you to the chain of control, vested family interest and nepotistic employment previously recorded on this subject on this blog site.

Be quite sure the Trust have created sufficient means of control and intimidation of the overall community and its Hebridean element in particular.

Their use of the term Community Leaders, Community spokesmen is a farcical use of terminology. No body stands against them and the same directors are re-elected in their turn each and every year by default. They speak for them selves.

The Business Plan. As you note pages and pages of plans for housing, holiday sites, commercial investment etc etc. What is overlooked and as more and more in the media are picking it up, is that....

quite simply the Pairc Trust is attempting to buy a moor.

Just where on the barren common grazings will all this investment take place? New housing? businesses? commercial investment?

It is a straight forward scam to extract public money (should I say more public money) whilst attempting, and not very well, the true purpose of the buy out of a moor - involvement/profit from the renewable leases and the proposed wind farm and of course the vested interest of most of the directors of the Trust.

Others in the Community could deal with Barry Lomas but first the Trust must recognise this by realising the Part 3 method is not going to work and even if it does, not for years. Accept that their covert activities and vested interest has been exposed once to often and stand down enmasse allowing a buy out negotiation on fair and common terms to be re-commenced by others in the community.

Pairc Trust you have had nearly 10 years in your various forms, guises and identities to bring about a settlement and have got no where. Your future would be best summed up as:

Oh go away or similar words.

Neil King said...

Even if you take the business plan at face value, the point is you don't need to acquire thousands of hectares to implement it - you only need about four or five hectares. For many of the proposals (e.g. holiday packages, ranger guided walks etc.), you don't need to own any land at all.

If the Pairc Trust (or whoever) had approached Lomas to buy a portfolio of small sites for affordable houses, community turbines and campervan sites etc., I wonder if we would be where we are today?

Anonymous said...

Oh Dr Evadne - I do love your contributions! Not so sure about the hair but at least you don't have thick 'maquillage'. (I think.)


Anonymous said...

So are there no readers of this blog who support the Pairc Trust because if there are I wish you'd comment as I'd love to know the other side of the story.

Or is it that there just isn't another side to the story?

Anonymous said...

Been born and brought up in Pairc I'd say you only have to look at one of the members in the the Pairc trust's family business background to think they are looking out for themselves and have a history of doing so.

Pairc really stops at Garyvard but the people with the biggest vest interest live beyond there.

I'll say no more.