Political praise for Castle Loch Community Trust
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard visited Castle Loch in Lochmaben on Friday to find out more about the Castle Loch Community Trust’s successful bid to bring the loch and neighbouring cottage under community ownership.
He was accompanied by Scottish Labour spokesperson for land reform Claudia Beamish and infrastructure, connectivity and transport spokesperson Colin Smyth, both south Scotland MSPs, and local councillor for Annandale North Ward, Adam Wilson.
Richard Leonard said: “I was delighted to come to Lochmaben to learn about this excellent project, its inception, development and future plans.
“I want to pay tribute to members of the local trust and everyone involved in bringing the Castle Loch and Lochfield Cottage under community ownership and for developing plans to enhance what is a stunning area. Land ownership and the distribution of wealth it represents is crucial to the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of all those who live in Scotland.
“It is essential that there is advice support for communities. This must be from the stage of expressing an interest in specific pieces of land and buildings, through the buyout process, and importantly beyond this, as communities continue to develop their regeneration visions and inclusive plans for the future.
“Scottish Labour is forging plans for a more just land future and this visit will help inform the development of our policies.”
Darren Flint, Castle Loch Project officer, said: “The community ownership of Castle Loch has gone from strength to strength since the buyout in 2014. Volunteers form the backbone of all the works that happen around the three-mile walk, donating over 1000 hours each year to keep the paths in good order for people and the habitats tiptop and brimming with wildlife. We always enjoy welcoming interested groups to the site to find out more about what has been achieved in just four years and help spread the word for successful community ownership in Scotland.”
Colin Smyth MSP said: “The work of the Trust is a fantastic example of local people coming together to improve our community.”
Mr Leonard also carried out a private visit, along with Colin Smyth and Adam Wilson, to Dryfesdale cemetery to lay a wreath at the Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance to commemorate the 30th anniversary since the Lockerbie bombing and took the opportunity to thank the volunteers who run the Dryfesdale Lodge Visitors Centre.