Wanlockhead Community Trust presents to packed Grand Hall in Kilmarnock during Our Land Festival 2016

Wanlockhead Community Trust (WCT) Board Members Isobel Gibb and Mac Blewer recently gave a well-received presentation about Wanlockhead’s proposed community buyout during a recent event in Kilmarnock, part of the Our Land Festival 2016.

The land reform advocates talked to nearly 200 community leaders and activists who attended the programme, which was hosted by the local group, Ayshire Global Justice Now. The programme also featured Lesley Riddoch, the nationally acclaimed journalist and investigative reporter, and Andy Wightman, MSP, author and land reform advocate, and speakers from the Scottish Government.

Arthur West, Secretary and Organiser for Ayrshire Global Justice Now, who coordinated the event said: “Our group was absolutely delighted that our recent our land event went so well. It was really encouraging to see the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock packed out for the event. Our thanks go to all our speakers. However we were particularly grateful to representatives from Wanlockhead Community Trust who gave a fascinating insight into the work of a local group fighting for a just and socially productive use of land assets in their community.”

In a powerpoint presentation, Blewer and Gibb outlined an overview of the Wanlockhead buyout effort as well as the numerous historical, natural and recreational values that the greater Wanlockhead landscape offers villagers and visitors today. They also shared some of the successes of the local campaign, including the completion of the village’s recently released community consultation report and locals’ efforts being covered by local, regional and national press including BBC News, The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald.

The Our Land Festival took place between 7 August and 10 September in over a dozen venues from Aviemore and Aberdeen to Dumfries and Dunfermline. The Festival, according to its official website, “reaffirm[ed] calls for bolder and braver [land reform] legislation than that passed in Holyrood earlier this year. [It]…also discuss[ed] how communities can use the new legislation and powers that have been passed by the parliament.”

Lesley Riddoch and Andy Whightman set a hopeful tone for the festival and for the efforts of citizens in Wanlockhead, framing the current land reform debate in Scotland as part of a much larger effort that has been gaining momentum for years. During the coming months, WCT Trustees will be working further with them and other advocates across the country as the Wanlockhead buyout moves forward.

Said Isobel Gibb, “It was tremendously rewarding to speak with so many interested and informed advocates about our village’s efforts to create a sustainable future for itself. And it was excellent to hear about other grassroots buyout efforts in villages, towns and cities around Scotland. Their work gives our efforts credence and hope.”