What a great morning it has been, with the laundry out of the way, making it after nine o’clock, before I made the road. The wind was fresh but the air much warmer than it has been over the past week. It was one of those mornings when everything looks so bright and vibrant, crystal clear, sharp and rich in colour. I use to love walking the shore on such a morning, up and out before the maddening crowd.

From behind the flat cardboard silhouette,

In silence, she comes forth,

A slither of morning glory,

Travelling on an eastward course,

She sets windows on fire,

In homes around the bay,

Chasing the darkness from the land,

And ghosts and nightmares away,

But what cares I of poetic celestial light,

As I scamper along the shore,

Barking yelping happily at my might,

Seeing off flocks of seabirds,

Sending them skyward into flight,

And trot back in the glory

To my master’s side.

I travelled over to Guardbridge, then the climb up to Strathkinness summated Knock Hill and dropped down into the Eden valley. Both little car parks were full, the fishing must be good on this stretch of the river today. The road for Pitscottie was closed to traffic, there was a landslide on that road a few months back, and maybe they have decided to do something with it?  So I about-faced and crossed the Eden and climbed up to Daisy. I could have gone into Cupar and home that way but turned right and back into Guardbridge and home.

The thing about shorts runs like this you can put in that little extra, click up a gear or two and ‘make it hard for yourself as the maid said to the gardener when she sat on his knee.

The wee bike is performing well now, bedded in, rides smoother, and freewheels much better downhill, before there was always a bit of a drag.

Not much to write home about these days and maybe I should be putting myself out more, but………….

I watched a programme on television yesterday evening, Who Owns Scotland; it really was not much cop, nothing new, although I did like what the inhabitants of the little village of Huntley were up to. The town, like many small towns in Scotland, was dining, shops, offices and banks all closing, giving the place a down at heel appearance. The likelihood of anyone buying any of this closed property was slim at best.

A local farm came up for sale, and some of the residents gathered themselves into a local community group and decided to buy the farm for the village, public ownership, happening a lot in Scotland mostly in the western highlands and islands.

Once acquired they used part of the land for a wind farm, it can be very windy up there, if you have ever cycled the area you will already know this. This will ensure an income for the next 20-25 years. The farm buildings were renovated and turned into office space and workshops, then the cleaver part. They used this income generated to buy closed shops and empty buildings in Huntley, these buildings will be renovated or converted into townhouses, bringing people back into the community.

Brilliant I say. And this is exactly how Scotland was before the Local Councils became Regional Councils, and no longer employing people but have become management groups handing out contracts, and a long way from, local knowledge and what is really required on the ground in villages and towns at the fringes of these huge regions within they control.

A long time ago I read a book by a Scandinavian writer called “Small is Beautiful” that was all about getting back to government in the hands of local people (who best knew the local problems) rather than large power stations that were only efficient, running at around 95% so could not easily be closed down when demand was low, (at night) so we burned street lights all night and light up historic building all night, just to use the electricity that could not be stored. Where as a small local generating station would have been much more efficient. Sometimes there is no “Economy of Scale” and that is when small becomes beautiful. Now that we have small wind generators, that truth has been realised. My question would be, why is the council waiting for villager such as in Huntley to do what they are paid to do, by the very people that doing their job for them in Huntley?

Another problem arose in the programme, empty property. It is extremely difficult to find out who owns what in Scotland, mostly because of land banking. Large hotels that were once profitable but no longer are sold off to a developer for a nominal fee, these could be in any part of the world, or hidden under layers of different corporations in tax free shell companies that out Tory friends love. That developer simply sits on the property until the price rises, or they are given permission to develop the site, in the mean time it becomes an eye sore in the town.

Why does the government not take a leaf out of the recovery vehicle businesses play book? If you have an accident in your vehicle the police will contact the nearest recovery service. They will take it to their compound and charge the insurance company a fee for each and every day the vehicle is in their charge. The insurance companies not wishing to accumulate a large parking fee simply offer it to the recovery company for buttons and square up with the cars owner. The vehicle recovery company pass the wreck onto a breakers yard.

Now I’m sure somewhere in there, there is a bit that says – if you do not claim the vehicle or pay the recovery fee, within a set time, then we reserve the right to sell it to a breaker.

How hard would it be for the Scottish government to come up with a bill that transferred the land back to the government, if you do not develop the land that the empty property stands on, and simply used it as land banks, (paying a pittance to the council in tax for a dangerous eye sorer) Reserve the right to take the land back into public ownership, would in one swift move relegate the practice of ‘land banks’ into the history books.

Personally I would pass a law that said – All the land in Scotland belongs to the people and if you want to rent it to put a building on, fine you can have it for the lifetime of the lease and the land must be returned to the Government at the end of that term. Provisions could be in place to extend a lease of the land to an heir after it is returned.  (I always suspected you to be a communist at heart, Walter.)

As Boris would put it, Scotland need to “Take Back Control” 

Stay safe.         

2 thoughts on “

  1. I quite enjoyed the programme, and yes especially the bit about Huntly, we’ve been involved in some of the projects there. Here we are looking to buy some ex FLS woods as a community. Lovely poyim in your post Walter!

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  2. Good to hear, I know that we as communities should pull together and “Help our selves” but since regionalisation, (demise of local authorities) “Arm’s length” government much of the local knowledge, needs and wants of locals has been lost. and I still believe that rather than simply being managers, councils should revert back to councils, actually doing, well what the good people of Huntly are doing, improving our communities. not simply handing out contracts and asking the central government to increase their budget year on year. They have the power to borrow and the purse after all, and often control over land, why don’t councils put up wind farms on land they control, even buy into off-shore “Lets really take back control” You see so many communities working together in nordic countries, I remember when all the stooshie about wind turbines being noisy neighbours, a community in Denmark that had put up their own wind turbine were asked “Do people not complain about the noise from this community turbine?” the answer was, only those that do not have a community turbine complain. Keep up the good work.

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