Charities secure date at Court of Session to fight eviction by council
David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online
Capacity Building Project wins a hearing in Scotland’s highest civil court
A group of charities has secured a hearing in Scotland’s highest court to fight a decision by City of Edinburgh Council to evict them from their offices.
The council wrote in December 2008 to Capacity Building Project, a support organisation for community groups that runs the Craigmillar Settlement community centre, to tell them that all the organisations occupying the centre would be evicted. The council plans to move its social services department into the building.
But after a lengthy legal dispute, CBP has now secured a four-day hearing starting on 30 November at the Court of Session, the supreme civil court of Scotland.
The organisation will receive free legal support to fight it from The Faculty of Advocates, the representative body for Scottish trial lawyers.
Paul Nolan, a member of the CBP board, said the charity would argue that the council failed to consult properly on the decision.
"The council carried out no consultation with local people, who value the 10 or so local charities based in the centre," he said.
"The council also breached race relations policies because it didn’t consult a number of minority groups, including Kurds and Turks, who use the centre as a meeting place and mosque.
"In addition, there are several requirements for councils that intend to shut down listed places of worship, and none of those was followed either."
He said the council also intended to ignore the conditions imposed when it acquired the centre 72 years ago, which guaranteed it would be used to further "social, educational or recreational" purposes.
Nolan said the hearing would cost the council as much as £50,000 in addition to the legal costs already incurred during the two-year dispute.
"It’s a ridiculous waste of money to spend all that cash to evict charities," he said. "That money could be better spent by a cash-strapped council which is trying to raise money to regenerate Craigmillar."
A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland said that her organisation was looking at whether Edinburgh Council had properly followed mandatory public sector equalities legislation.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Council said it would not comment on the case at this time.