Po­lit­i­cal praise for Cas­tle Loch Com­mu­nity Trust

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - DISTRICT NEWS -

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.

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