Environment,  Scotland,  SNP

Land Access, Windmills and Council Tax Shortfalls in Scotland

Unrelated to Israel or Muslims or anything in between, stuff continues to happen in Scotland

Although hardly a new Highland Clearances (or lucrative tax-breaks – being absorbed by domestic users through increasing fuel bills – being given to a handful of hugely wealthy landowners to host windmills, meeting with the extreme disapproval of Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson), blogger with a long-standing interest in Scottish land law, Andy Wightman will today be protesting against the decision by Edinburgh City Council to allow pay-only commercial events on Inverleith Park.

The Foodie Festival has moved into the location previous occupied by the discontinued Taste of Edinburgh.

Wightman’s objection is based around his reading of Section 11 of the Land Reform Act (2003) which prohibits the fencing-off of access to designated public land (such as city parks) without applications under this legislation.

None have been applied for by either the current or previous events. The reasons, I assume, include: the entire area of Inverleith Park is not being fenced-off, only a section; and that the event lasts for considerably fewer 90 days, as discussed in Section 6 of the same Act.

(Wightman previously was invited to Comment is Free in which he managed to fall foul of the moderators on his own piece.)

At this time of year, multiple common areas within Edinburgh and Leith have been fenced-off for pay-only events and it would be interesting to see how far Wightman would take his protest.

That said, apposite questions of how much rent ECC is receiving have been raised. Reported as £3,000 for the last leasee, this would seem extremely low for a hugely profitable event unencumbered by long-term maintenance of prime ground. Although now dismissed and/or suspended ECC staff have escaped crminal charges over questionable imposition of statuary orders regarding repairs to private properties, ECC continues to face a shortfall from the looming considerable fees and compensation claims over this stramash.

Another explanation – and one more likely to attract sympathy – for the need to raise funds in the centrally-encouraged six year long freeze on council tax. Although not enshrined in law, the SNP Government has made to local authorities that other funds would be with-held were they to increase council tax.

As such, either front-line services have to be whittled down or the shortfall be secured from elsewhere (or both). Unison Scotland has taken-up the cudgel arguing that residents in the highest council tax band are saving just shy of £500 a year whilst those in the lowest band save just £150.

(In the previous adjoined thread, in response to criticism, the SNP appeared to have gone for both vituperation and lies. In the radio broadcast linked to here, they went for only of them.)

Furthermore, the latter group disproportionately relies on the front-line services liable to be affected whilst the former group, if they do face increased charges on services, tend to be limited charges such as gaining access to all corners of Inverleith Park at all times.