A brisk opening session at last nights December Branch Meeting with the new format for branch business helping a lot in saving time so that more time is spent on guests, discussion and debate. We were informed of the great amount of funds raised by last weeks race night and those who attended were thanked for the support. We also had a number of guests from other branches and we raised a fair amount from the meeting raffle once again, with donated prizes.
After the formalities we had our guest speaker Lesley Riddoch, well known as a Broadcaster, Journalist, and campaigner on Land Reform and the Nordic Horizons group. Members might be interested in Lesley’s weekly podcast which covers many of these topics and more which you can get to via her website or on any Podcast app.
Lesley’s views on land reform were expressed in a forth right manner and pulled no punches and it made for a thoughtful and interesting debate after. Lesley took lots of questions from the floor and I think everyone who was there left with something to think about.
Lesley covered points such as:
- fewer than 500 people own over 50% of Scotland’s land.
- The success of community buy outs of land, Eigg, Park in Lewis, West Whitlawburn etc.
- The size of councils ( the average council is 900sq Km and serves around 170,000 people)- compared with a European average of around 20sqkm and 14,000 people.
- Legislation to protect tenant farmers- suicides and evictions of tenant farmers caught by the faulty law issue dating back to the early 20’s.
- The need to use taxation to make holding large swathes of unproductive land that could be used by locals uneconomic.
- The ineffectiveness of the Community Council systems and structures and the need to have real local democracy and powers.
- The ongoing situation of threat of legal action for defamation currently being aimed at Green MSP Andy Wightman.
- The Legal situation in Scotland regarding defamation and sharing comments.
A very interesting night indeed.
Clearly it made quite an impression on our Branch Secretary who offered a vote of thanks from the branch to Lesley for her words.
Lesley followed up the discussion signing copies of her books Blossom and Wee White Blossom and discussed issues with some of the attendees.
Cllr Jim Thomson won the inaugural and special Christmas draw from the 100 Club!
Next meeting is on January 11th.