East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust

The latest news and information from East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust.

By ellct, Apr 2 2017 04:21PM

Following a call for directors with deadline on 27th March, the following have been proposed and, there being seven vacancies, will be nominated for appointment at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on Tuesday 25th April in Fort William :

• Andrew Baxter, Kinlochleven

• Alex Farquhar, Fort William

• John Hutchison, Badabrie

• Patricia Jordan, Fort William

• Flora McKee, Inverlochy

• Campbell Slimon, Laggan

• Ben Thompson, Erracht

By ellct, Mar 11 2017 10:35AM

As noted in our post on 6th March we are now seeking nominations for directors.

In accordance with the Articles of Association, at the first General Meeting all directors are obliged to stand down and so there will be seven vacancies arising on the board. Ordinary Members of the Trust are therefore invited to be nominated as directors on the board. At the second and each subsequent AGM, one-third of the elected Directors (or the nearest number upwards) shall retire from office.

Those Ordinary Members being nominated must be proposed and seconded by other Ordinary Members. Nominations for directors should be sent to Claire Harper at Voluntary Action Lochaber, An Drochaid, Claggan Road, Fort William, PH33 6PH by midnight on Monday 27 March. Nominations must be signed by all parties and can be sent by post but may also be scanned and submitted by email to office@valochaber.org If more than seven candidates are nominated, then an election will take place.

Nominations shall include a statement of up to 150 words outlining the candidate’s experience and skills they could bring to the board. Nomination forms can be found in the Downloads section of the website which is at the bottom right hand side of this News page.

If a potential candidate is unaware of the identity of parties who may propose or second then they should contact the Chair on the number below or inspect the list of members at the registered office. (For data protection reasons, the Trust is not permitted to publish the names of members.)

The term of office is set by the requirement for one third of the directors to stand down at each AGM and so will be in the order of two to four years. A director cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

The role of a director involves attending regular board meetings throughout the year and a representational role at meetings with partners, stakeholders and other parties. Directors are responsible for the statutory requirements of the company. The role is unremunerated but travel to external meetings and subsistence costs will be met.

If you would like to discuss the role of a board member in greater detail, please contact the current Chair, John Hutchison on 07768 537698.

By ellct, Mar 2 2017 12:27PM

We held another series of public meetings in February, being eighteen in total since we started, including the earlier round to test community ideas. The purpose of the recent meetings, which over 100 attended, was to explain the steps that had been worked through during 2016 and to share the plan for the coming months.

While we were naturally disappointed to be unsuccessful in our attempt to buy the Estate we were very pleased indeed with an outcome that gives security for the Smelter. We always saw the interests of the Trust as being less important than retaining jobs and never wanted to do anything that would destabilise opportunities for the Smelter.

We have had considerable success through 2016 with the membership now at 1145, being 990 ordinary members, 146 associates and 9 junior members. We would very much like to see an increase in junior members (12-15 year olds) since our aims are far more about them than older generations. Please consider becoming a member if you haven’t already done so; it’s free and can be done on line here - alternatively, please contact us through the box on this website here.

At the handover from Rio Tinto Aluminium to GFG Liberty on 19th December the First Minister said, ”GFG’s ambitious and far-sighted approach will really benefit the local community and I am particularly pleased that GFG have agreed to engage with the community over a community land transaction. The fact that the East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust now has over 1,000 members shows how the prospect of ownership can galvanize communities.”

Although the Scottish Government has a target of One Million Acres in community ownership by 2020 (600,000 acres so far) our political support is across the spectrum. Our directors are drawn from across that spectrum too but none is a member of a political party. Our aims are for community development and are not political.

So, given that we have some encouragement from GFG Liberty and have their assurance that they are a family owned, community-facing business we now press on with our aims. Being able to meet round a table rather than virtually across an ocean is a considerable advantage. Over the next few months we will continue to grow community backing and membership and work closely with the GFG Alliance, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Land Fund. The Scottish Government continues to emphasise the benefits of community ownership and its Million Acre target.

In order to introduce democracy into the Trust, which simply wasn’t possible initially because of the non-disclosure agreement and negotiations, we are now aiming for an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) in April when all of the initial directors will resign but are permitted to stand again. We’ll shortly circulate the members to give details of the process for nominating directors and the EGM. We need 10% of the membership to be quorate at the EGM, which number includes proxies. The AGM will be around October to better fit with the financial year end and, in future, directors will stand down by rotation at annual general meetings in the usual way.

As we persevere with our aims for the land we wish GFG Liberty well with the Smelter and their expansion plans.

By ellct, Jan 30 2017 12:11PM

We will be holding another round of community meetings with the purpose of bringing members up to date with the actions taken during 2016 and outlining how we see the next steps in taking forward our aim of community ownership of the former Rio Tinto Estate. We are keen to hear members’ views.

Meetings will be as follows:

Monday 6th February in Spean Bridge Community Centre from 7 – 8.30pm

Tuesday 7th February in the Leven Centre, Kinlochleven from 7 – 8.30pm

Wednesday 8th February in Kilmallie Community Centre, Corpach from 7 – 8.30pm

Thursday 9th February in Laggan Village Hall from 7 – 8pm

By ellct, Dec 21 2016 07:32AM

This has been a tough year with many ups and downs, sometimes difficult to see a clear way forward.

Our journey started with comment to the Lochaber News in January. Since then we have been taking initial soundings from a potential board, incorporating the company, building the membership, engaging with Rio Tinto Aluminium and working with other potential partners. We have worked through the several stages of RTA’s process and now find ourselves in a good position to negotiate with GFG Alliance, the new owner. We therefore move from being a minor party of several in a bidding process to being able to negotiate face to face with a party whom we can meet in the same room, which is a much improved position from having to second-guess a process being run from the other side of the Atlantic. The GFG Alliance has given us every encouragement and we look forward to meetings early in the New Year.

The prime aim of the Trust was to see the continuation of the operation of the Smelter but for much of the process this remained uncertain. We are of course overjoyed at the outcome and will play whatever part we can to underpin the venture.

We attended the handover from Rio Tinto Alcan to SIMEC and Liberty House Group on 19th December and heard the First Minister again publically endorse our plans as being complementary to the Scottish Government’s aim of One Million Acres in community ownership by 2020. She also welcomed the undertaking from GFG Alliance to work with us in taking forward these plans.

Throughout we have had solid advice and support from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and their Community Assets Team and we much appreciate that.

At this appropriate time and as we move forward to the next important stage, we thank each of our members, the media and others who have encouraged us throughout 2016. Ceud taing agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr Dhuibh Uile!

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