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The truths they don't want you to read....

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Stornoway Trust, our MP and our MSP

When I posted a comment about a private meeting on Monday between the above, I was lambasted for repeating third or fourth hand stories. That was until the Stornoway Gazette was published this week, and the details were confirmed.

Having now spoken to someone who was present at the meeting, it is clear that the level of frustration felt by Trust members is immense at the incompetence of their guests and the blatant attempted opportunism of the meeting.
  • Neither Parliamentarian has had any regular contact with the Trust, mainly because they didn't want to discuss the application for the windfarm on Stornoway Trust land. This despite the Trust being the biggest landowner in the islands, with about 1/3 of the population having them as landlords.

  • Neither Parliamentarian had any real grasp of the role and remit of the Trust

  • Neither Parliamentarian had any understanding of the current financial position of the Trust

  • It was obvious that neither had tried to engage informally with any Trustee, and that those who should have been counted as friends and supporters were alienated by this

  • Neither seemed to have any real understanding of the impact of the windfarm on the finances of the Trust, and consequently the plans that the Trust had for improvements to the estate they manage
With MP and MSP having called the meeting on the back of the 'Minded to Refuse' letter, the Trustees were stunned to find that the Parliamentarians were utterly bereft of any constructive ideas for the future, instead expecting the (impoverished) Trust to have some rabbit to pull out of the hat. Virtually everyone who has ever had any dealing with the Trust knows of the situation, so none of this should have been a surprise to anyone with a finger on the pulse. Except two people, obviously.

However, what really, really got the Trustees angry was the blatant attempt to find the mysterious Plan B (which never existed) so that the MP and MSP could claim it as their own.

As my confidant said: Alasdair Morrison chaired the Arnish working group and used to claim the credit for everything good that happened there. He didn't do a lot, but at least he kept in touch. These two were pathetically desperate to claim the credit for anything, without getting involved or taking any responsibility for anything.

Apart from that, the meeting seems to have gone well.


Anonymous said...

What are the MP and MSP to do but represent the views of the electorate? The same Gazette reports a poll they conducted which resulted in 80% being in agreement with the decision to refuse and 20% against. Isn't it a breath of fresh air that they're actually listening?

As for a Plan B. Plan B for who? The Trust, Lewis, the Western Isles?

Remember - the Comhairle, Health Board and HIE Innse Gall are by far the biggest employers in the Western Isles - much greater than any windfarm.

The biggest reason for all the angst at present is that Labour infest all of our local organisations and they're putting their own agendas first.

Anonymous said...

So what you are saying is that the Trust just sat back expecting a couple of politicians to come up with 'constructive ideas for the future' because, having put all their eggs in one basket, they had no ideas of their own? Sounds like each is as bad as the other.

Anonymous said...

If anyone from the Trust is reading this may I suggest that they are more open. Currently "my landlord" is a closed shop. It would be easier to get information from the KKK!

How about being user friendly and

1. Publish your accounts - then we can see how skint you are etc
2. set up a website so you can tell us about yourselves - be open - publish your finances

we are in the 21st century

I have tried to find information about the Trust (via Trustees (failed) tried an Freedom of Information application (failed), tried companies house (failed) so it now gauls me to see the Trust whinging.

Angus said...

As the Trust is governed by OSCR, the basic details can be found here.

The public have the right to the following information under s.23 (1) (a) and (b) of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from the charity directly:

* a copy of the charity's latest statement of account
* a copy of the charity's constitution.

Please contact the charity directly to request this information.

If you cannot obtain this information, then you should complain to OSCR who take a serious view of this sort of problem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Angus

A step in the right direction. I shall follow up on teh other points.

Why could teh Trust not have done this in the first place - why always so secretive?

Clearly no notion of their outgoings but a solid £600K plus income cant be that bad is it?

Anonymous said...

Why do we expect others like our MP and MSP do 'get things done'? Is that what they're for?

What other community in the UK with a population the size of the Western Isles (e.g. Arbroath) is demanding 400 new jobs from a supe quarry or super windfarm?

What effect would that have on Arbroath's or anywhere elses schools, health service etc?

Anonymous said...

Why would our MP and MSP want to attend a 'Wrap Party' ?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Arbroath would love 400 jobs - but that isnt the point is it.

A better question would be. Would Arbroath sacrifice its jewel in its crown, its Abbey, for 400jobs. I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

My point was that Arbroath wouldn't be out there looking for 400 new jobs - so why are we?

Anonymous said...

I wish people would stop quoting the Gazette's poll as if it was an accurate reflection of anything-we don't know how many people are voting - it could be one person voting a hundred times or a hundred voting once. It is meaningless.

Anonymous said...

ok - dont quote the Gazette poll. I that case use the community council polls.

Everyone of them was just as infatic.

Face it - the people have spoken and they do not want their land raped

Anonymous said...

Tough mate if the poll doesn't suit you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 09.37 use community polls good idea? How many C.C.s do we have in the Western Isles. In 2006 there was 28 registered and only 5 in the LWP scheme area, sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

More than two thirds against in Pairc community councils poll.....

Anonymous said...

Anon 09.37 use the CC polls great idea? 2006 there was 28 registered CC's in the Western Isles. Only 5 of these are in the LWP foot print.
Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.59 Are you trying to say that the Barvas moor is our jewel. The moor has not been managed in years as the heather has not been burned and the new heather is not getting a chance to come through which is of no use to birds like moor hens and grouse. The deer on the moor are moving closer to the houses as quite often I see them out near bridge cottages and the water works. What we have is dead moorland which is no good to man nor beast the way it is. Maybe we should ask the RSPB and SNH for the millions we are going to lose to make the moor manageable and create work for people. But we know the answer not a hope in hell of them giving a penny to employ people.

Anonymous said...

Or we could maybe use the only scientific poll used? The Mori one which showed people were split about 50/50? Ehrm tough on you mate too if you can't understand democracy..
Also 'raped' - bit emotional surely? Using natural assets more like. 'Infatic'-oh dear..

Anonymous said...

So what is the Trusts plan B?

Anonymous said...

The Trust seems to have plenty of plans and ideas for the Castle grounds, not a bad thing at all, but it makes me wonder if they are as "impoverished" as you/they make out? And if they are, just how do they plan to fund the whole thing if Lewis Wind Park doesn't happen?

As for a "Plan B", aren't we already on Plan D now, with AMEC proposing years back that the windfactory be built up the middle of the moor, then Tolsta-Skigersta, then Tolsta to Stornoway before this 'final' proposal came along?

I've no doubt AMEC will have a Plan E in the offing, plus maybe a Plan F, G, H...

Anonymous said...

I believe LWP/AMEC are under pressure from their shareholders to pull out of Lewis.

The scheme itself is bad enough but the national negative PR it is producing for them is not good and they are set to cut their losses.

Anonymous said...

Ah, those poor shareholders. How will they live without that extra cash wrung out of the soggy peat blanket of Lewis?

Anon 2:51, if the moorland is not being managed, why not? 'Managed muirburn' these days consists of some stupid b@stard leaving an empty bottle on the heather in the middle of May. Result: hundreds of hectares of roasted moorland in the breeding season.

There are ways to develop what you call 'dead moorland' near the villages without using quarter of a million tonnes of concrete and polluting watercourses for years, possibly decades, to come. If only we had a Council that could see past AMEC.

Anonymous said...

Still no plan B from Trust or Council. I came in tonight having had a dream that I had seen a posting saying it was all fine and new ideas were on the horizon. However, no.

I for one am waiting. I see more rabid lunatic rants from the asylum in todays Herlad letter page.

stcik a sock in it guys. If things are that bad as you continually spout its because you chaps as "leaders" have taken us to this point.

If you had any hounour or dignity(Manford - do you know the meaning of that one?)you'd all quit.

i also note that the councillors in teh affected area are very quiet. have they been gagged or are they turncoats?

Anonymous said...

"Ah, those poor shareholders. How will they live without that extra cash wrung out of the soggy peat blanket of Lewis?"

What I don't understand is what the local population don't like about profits going to shareholders, if businesses are willing to take risks (as LWP was and is), surely they should be rewarded for that? I'm sure there will be many people in Lewis who are shareholders in Amec and British Energy. The problem is that the majority of crofters are against development - of any kind.

The Western Isles will become a 'no-go' area within the UK: we said no to Lingerbay and now we're saying no to windfarms. Amec and British Energy are two of the largest companies in the UK, they have invested millions of pounds in the scheme and it would appear that they're not going to get anything out of it. On the other hand our neighbours in Orkney and Shetland have embraced development and they are reaping the benefits.

The DTI have issued provisional licences for oil production west of Lewis (I believe it's Royal Dutch Shell that hold the licences) however, although surveys have found that oil is present nothing is happening. The cheapest way to get the oil ashore would be by pipeline to a terminal on Lewis but given the fuss created by people in the past they will no doubt choose to either pipe it to the mainland directly or use tankers.

I have lived here all my life but given the fact that the public sector is the main source of employment in the area I fear this can not be the case for future generations.

Just think about it, if windfarms got the go-ahead it would create jobs, thereby increasing the number of young families which would in turn mean a greater demand for education. If we had dealt with these economic problems a decade ago it may not have reached the stage of schools closing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:21
"What I don't understand is what the local population don't like about profits going to shareholders, if businesses are willing to take risks (as LWP was and is), surely they should be rewarded for that?"

AMEC takes very little risk with a project like this: their investment so far is relatively small beer financially to a company of its size, although the publicity over the continuing fiasco of the 'windfarm' certainly won't do them much good. Projects like these are massively subsidised. If they weren't, AMEC would never have come near Lewis. If public money is to be used to subsidise a private development, it would be wonderful if it wasn't used in a scam like the LWP 'windfarm'. Let the new Scottish Government invest directly in the islands and enable the locals to build projects they want, where they want them and with their support.

"I'm sure there will be many people in Lewis who are shareholders in Amec and British Energy."

I doubt that very much, but I could be wrong.

"The problem is that the majority of crofters are against development - of any kind."

I don't believe that at all and don't know where your evidence for that statement comes from. The problem in recent years has been that communities which could have been setting up their own projects with the help of the Council have instead been fighting the LWP monster and their own Council.

Anonymous said...

I'm told it is going to be approved as LWP have defeated the reasons in the letter.