Saturday 15 May 2010

Psst! Wanna buy an airbase?

During the Second World War, a popular cartoon image was that of a spiv surreptitiously attracting attention ("Psst!") and uttering the question "Wanna buy a battleship?". Seven decades later in Kintyre, the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) are legitimately asking residents of the PA28 6 area around Campbeltown "Do you want the opportunity to buy Machrihanish Airbase?"

Right-to-buy legislation means that community organisations can register an interest in acquiring redundant land in public ownership for the benefit of the local community, rather than see it sold to big corporations who may be absent landlords. There are plenty of examples where the right to buy has been exercised, leading to multi-faceted economic activities led by, and for the benefit of, local residents and businesses. The purchase of Machrihanish Airbase will be the biggest ever, and is truly a one-off opportunity for Kintyre residents to provide for future generations.

In order to get the opportunity, residents must say "YES" in a ballot currently taking place. 50% or more of the electors in the PA28 6 postcode area must take part, and 50% or more of those that take part must say "Yes". If either 50% target is not attained, the opportunity will be lost as the right to buy is extinguished.

Ballot papers have already started arriving with the post, but not all electors will receive one automatically. This is because MACC may only use the edited version of the Electoral register which does not contain details of people who have opted out of inclusion. Amongst the reasons for opting out are privacy, anonymity and dislike of "junk" mail. The full register has around 6,000 electors, and the edited version around 4,800. However, the 50% target is based on the full register.

To get a ballot paper either as a replacement or because one was not received in the first place, residents should email or telephone 07793-040531. The question on the ballot paper is "Do you want the people of Kintyre to have the opportunity to purchase Machrihanish Airbase?". Receiving the 50% quota is absolutely crucial for the project's success.