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Author Topic: Dawlish Avoiding Line - ongoing discussion, merged topic  (Read 152127 times)
grahame
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« Reply #435 on: November 25, 2015, 07:48:32 am »

From the news today - perils of re-opening a railway and buying back infrastructure?   Posted here as a lesson for Okehampton to Tavistock

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-34913650

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A charity is taking Network Rail to a tribunal over the money offered after the compulsory purchase of a bridge to carry the new Borders railway.

The Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust has been offered 10,000 pounds for the Glenesk Viaduct in Midlothian.
It says that "woefully undervalues" the 300,000 pounds it spent on preserving and maintaining the structure.
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #436 on: November 25, 2015, 09:36:18 am »

Whilst I sympathise with the Trust and agree that ^10,000 probably does 'woefully undervalue' the structure, it should also be noted that if you as a homeowner spend (say) ^20,000 improving your house, its resale value will not necessarily increase by ^20,000.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #437 on: November 25, 2015, 09:49:44 am »

Can't find any viaducts on Rightmove to compare; nor sadly can I find how much Hardengreen viaduct cost to build - but I bet it was more than ten grand.
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stuving
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« Reply #438 on: November 25, 2015, 09:59:07 am »

In the case of a unique structure like this, the concept of "market value" is hard to apply for several reasons all at once. The fact that the viaduct's economic value - carrying a cycle path at most - was close to zero was why only a charity could afford to bring it back into a safe state.

Now that it is carrying a railway, its new economic value must be a lot higher, though you could argue for it to be above or below that for various reasons. I suspect the argument will be about who gets that increase in value. If the reopening of the railway is unforeseen, then its sponsors (acting through NR» (Network Rail - home page)) can claim to "own" that extra value. However, this trust presumably had as one if its primary aims to preserve the viaduct specifically for a reopened railway to use. In that case they can claim that they foresaw it, and their speculative investment should be rewarded.

Fun for the lawyers, anyway.
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stuving
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« Reply #439 on: November 25, 2015, 10:05:07 am »

Having just written that, it occurs to me that charitable status may make it harder to argue for a reward like that. It's not what charities are meant to be doing, and if there is no other specified beneficiary or cause to support, what would be the point?
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ellendune
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« Reply #440 on: November 25, 2015, 01:13:48 pm »

Having just written that, it occurs to me that charitable status may make it harder to argue for a reward like that. It's not what charities are meant to be doing, and if there is no other specified beneficiary or cause to support, what would be the point?

On the contrary, in selling an asset a charity is legally required to get the highest value in order to use the money to further its charitable objectives. 
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stuving
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« Reply #441 on: November 25, 2015, 02:14:18 pm »

Having just written that, it occurs to me that charitable status may make it harder to argue for a reward like that. It's not what charities are meant to be doing, and if there is no other specified beneficiary or cause to support, what would be the point?

On the contrary, in selling an asset a charity is legally required to get the highest value in order to use the money to further its charitable objectives. 

That is of course, true, but within limits. It must further the charity's aims to sell and reapply the money (or pay off debt), so selling the only asset when the charity was set up to own it wouldn't usually meet that criterion. For example, it is very difficult to sell an alms house.

This case may be different, as I said, if the purposes were defined so as to include the possibility of the viaduct being used for a reopened railway. It depends on the words.
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Western Pathfinder
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« Reply #442 on: November 25, 2015, 06:40:34 pm »

That's the thing it's not selling its a Compulsory Purchase .
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TonyK
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« Reply #443 on: November 25, 2015, 07:52:04 pm »

It must further the charity's aims to sell and reapply the money (or pay off debt), so selling the only asset when the charity was set up to own it wouldn't usually meet that criterion. For example, it is very difficult to sell an alms house.

This case may be different, as I said, if the purposes were defined so as to include the possibility of the viaduct being used for a reopened railway. It depends on the words.

The viaduct is not the sole purpose of the charity, and it will still have plenty to spend money on.

As it is arguing about the price it is being offered by a public body for a structure it owns to be used as arguably a public asset, it may be worth pondering the ^300,000 it says it spent on maintenance. Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT) spent ^3.9 million in the 7 years to 2013 on improvement works to the area's parks and open spaces, including, I assume, the viaduct. It is a charity and a company limited by guarantee, and its board of directors includes councillors from each of the local authorities whose surroundings it strives to improve.

It did not get that ^3.9 million entirely by shaking tins under the noses of pensioners in the foyer of the local Sainsbury. My research revealed a report to the Finance and Resources Committee of Edinburgh City Council(ECC) available here - see item 7.11. That shows that ^1.7m of that cash came from the City Council itself, on the basis that ELGT had access to funding of the further ^2.2m. A look at ELGT's website shows that Scottish Natural Heritage and ECC provide the core funding, presumably with the biggest donor named first. There is then a list of other funders, which includes Forestry Commission Scotland, Edinburgh Airport, the Postcode lottery, and various other trusts and businesses. The greater part of their finances are obtained directly or indirectly from the public purse.

In that context, it seems to me a little churlish for a body funded by public funds to ask an elected body to replace those public funds it expended on maintaining the bridge from public funds. The principle of compensation is to restore the person being compensated as closely as possible to the position they were in before the loss. Here, it can be argued that the actual loss to the trust was minimal. In that case, the payment could be justified at a level which reflects the proportion of the ^300,000 spent that was actually raised from private individuals. Not what it would cost to build or buy a new viaduct.
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