12,000 people call for Scottish Government to act over Colstoun Mains eviction scandal

04/11/2015
michael

Four adults and seven children face eviction from East Lothian farm over land lord eviction

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT should intervene to stop the eviction of farming families in East Lothian who face the upheaval of being forced from the land, according to over 12,000 supporters of a land reform petition.

In just three days over 12,000 people have now supported the call on the 38 Degrees website to prevent the eviction, the details of which have led to widespread solidarity for the families involved.

The most vocal tenant farmer involved in the case, Andrew Stoddart – who has farmed Colstoun Main farm for 22 years – has spoken out against what he told CommonSpace was an attempt to evict the families to then charge higher rents to new tenants.

The petition, created by campaigner Michelle Anne Wood, reads: “Andrew and Claire Stoddart have been farming in East Lothian for 22 years. During this time they have invested heavily in infrastructure and buildings on their farm at Colstoun Mains, creating a profitable and well-managed business. The Stoddart family are an integral part of the community. Andrew and Claire are well liked, and their 3 children go to the local school, as do the 4 children of their employees.

“The Stoddarts have been asked to leave the farm by the end of November. Once evicted, the Stoddart family will be forced to move from the local area, laying off their two employees, and taking their children away from school and friends. They are to be given very little recompense for the investments they have made over their lifetime, leaving them both homeless and unable to buy a farm elsewhere.

“I urge you all to show your support by signing this petition to ask the Scottish Government to intervene and stop the forced eviction of the Stoddart family.”

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs and environment Richard Lochhead MSP is expected to respond shortly to calls to intervene in the eviction case from MSP s on the Scottish Parliament rural affairs committee.

The case follows growing calls for action on land reform, including strengthening the rights of tenant farmers to own their farms.

Such proposals – originally called for ahead of the agricultural tenancies review – never made it into the current Land Reform Bill proposed by the Scottish Government.

In the first vote of its kind for several years, SNP members voted against the party leadership position on land reform in a call for more substantial action on a range of measures missing from the current bill.

CommonSpace previously reported fears that conservative government lawyers were holding back more substantial land reform proposals.

The Colstoun Mains eviction is currently due to go ahead on Saturday 28 November.

Picture courtesy of Channel 4 News