Harbour Cafe Macduff
A sad tale indeed
At the beginning of 2012 The Banffshire Journal reported that Macduff Harbour Café was to close down and the building was to be demolished. The BM&HA committee discussed the possibility of taking over the building, and adapting it into a small heritage centre. The owners of the building were contacted and they thought it was a good idea and offered the building to the Association free of charge. A Community Asset Transfer form was immediately submitted to the Area Manager of Aberdeenshire Council. However, on the 21st February we received an e-mail from Aberdeenshire Council stating the following:
“The CAT Policy applies to assets held on the Councils General Fund; however there are some assets which may be considered unsuitable for transfer. Unfortunately in this case the land in which you have expressed an interest is not deemed to be suitable for transfer under this policy. This ground is classified as commercial land and sits within a busy industrial section of MacDuff Harbour. The Council must balance the needs of the community and its commitment to CAT against its need to generate capital receipts in order to invest in essential capital projects. In this case we believe that this land has the potential to generate a capital receipt for the Council and be developed in a manner more in keeping with the commercial nature of the area”.
This is very disappointing for the BM&HA, the building although small would have provided us with a financially self-sustainable base to develop from. The site is also the former site of Peter Anson's house 'Harbourhead', which was demolished when the fishmarket was built in the 1960's; so historically this site was not commercial.
You can read more about Peter F Anson by clicking the photo above
The reply by the Council does raise the question of community benefit v capital projects. Doesn't the latter benefit the former? Assuming the land is sold or leased then there would indeed be a revenue receipt and it is possible this would in turn be used to benefit the community through a capital project. However the question of community benefit is open to interpretation. The council view is not necessarily in the best interests of the community and has not been tested, it is based on opinion not fact. Who is to say the community would not benefit more from a modest Heritage Centre than some other entity that has not even been identified either by design or location. A solution to this would have been to allow us to use the building for an agreed period of time thus enabling all interested parties and others to determine the benefit or otherwise to the community or Council. Of course it's now too late because the building has been demolished
Just as a footnote, it's worth mentioning this cafe served the community for years and was a meeting point for many. It was a sad day when it's doors closed for the last time. Plenty folk have fond memories of this place