Andy Wightman: Land Action Scotland campaign
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Oct 9 23:38:55 BST 2012
About Land Action Scotland
Land Action is a network of individuals who plan
to launch a series of campaigns to challenge
landed power in Scotland and the concentrated
pattern of private landownership. We aim to
democratise land and allow the people of Scotland
to reclaim a stake in their own country.
Our campaigns will be characterised by empowering
individuals to take a personal action that is
positive, fun, creative, meaningful and which can lever real change.
Please contact us with any ideas and initiatives
you would like us to consider. Please bear in
mind we have very limited funds and very limited
human resources. We hope this will change.
Email: mail at landaction.org.uk
David Stewart MSP backs Mount Stuart Trust campaign
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart has
backed the Land Action Scotland launched to open
up membership of the companies that own the
Island of Bute and the Applecross peninsula.
Alongside other supporters from across the
country, he has filed an application to join both
the Mount Stuart Trust, the company that owns and
manages 89% of Bute, and the Applecross Trust
that owns 60,600 acres in Wester Ross.
Both organisations are charitable companies
currently wholly controlled by a tiny number of
people, all of whom are absentee. Land Action
Scotland, established by author and land rights
campaigner Andy Wightman, is encouraging
residents of Bute and Applecross to apply to join
the organisations to give local people a clear
say in how their community is run for the first time.
More than a hundred applications for membership
rights have been made since the campaign began on
Thursday 27 September, including one from local
MSP Michael Russell. If those applications are
successful, new members will work with local
residents to ensure that if and when they wish,
both communities will have control over the respective estates.
David Stewart is moving a debate in the Scottish
Parliament today (Thursday 4 October)
congratulating the Isle of Gigha on ten years of
pioneering community ownership. (1) He said:
Over the 10 years that the people of Gigha have
been in charge, the population in the community
has risen from 96 to 160. Their experience serves
to illustrate the potential that community ownership can deliver.
I have made an application today to join these
two organisations as a member and hope that it
will be considered carefully in due course. A
wider membership could revitalise the communities
in those two places and bring fresh energy and enthusiasm for the future.
I know that the Scottish Governments Land
Reform Review Group will be taking a close look
at how land reform has developed over the past
ten years, and I urge it to think radically about
how the people of Scotland can become more
directly involved in the ownership of land in their communities.
It is understood that the Land Reform Review
Group will be launching their first consultation
and announcing the names of the ten advisors
appointed to help them in their work.
Andy Wightman, co-ordinator of the new Land Action Scotland campaign, said:
Im delighted that David Stewart has backed the
Land Action Scotland campaign to put local people
in control of their communities. The importance
of local accountability is a principle which does
not belong just to one party or another: its one
of the democratic foundations of devolution itself.
Pressure is now rapidly mounting on both
Applecross and the Mount Stuart Trust. Many
excellent people are applying to join these
companies every day, and the existing owners
should regard this as an opportunity to do the
right thing, to bring in some strong new members,
and to work out how exactly the transition to
local control can best be managed. We are ready
to work with them to deliver that change.
Speaking last week, Michael Russell MSP said:
I have had a very productive discussion with the
[Mount Stuart] Trust in recent days and I think
their work is very important to the island. It
seems to me, however, that there would be great
benefit to be had from a wider membership that
included those who live on the island or who work closely with the island.
I would support local people seeking and gaining
membership and my own application is simply
designed to draw attention to the issue. I hope
the Trust will think seriously about the matter
and I will be writing to them to make that point.
(1) David Stewart is moving a Members Business
debate at 1230 Thursday 4 October 2012 on the following Motion
*S4M-04081 David Stewart: Isle of Gigha, 10 Years
of Pioneering Land ReformThat the Parliament
congratulates the community of the Isle of Gigha
on the tenth anniversary of what is considered
its pioneering community buy-out; acknowledges
the efforts of the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust
to redevelop the community by introducing
development projects in the area; understands
that, over the 10 years, the population in the
community has risen from 96 to 160; welcomes the
inspirational example that it considers those on
Gigha have set for other communities; believes
that there is much work still to be done
throughout Scotland regarding land reform and
that valuable lessons can be learned from Gigha,
and calls on the Scottish Government to support
future community land reform across the country
by committing to legislate on the recommendations
of its Land Reform Review Group before the end of the parliamentary session.
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