Members of the Community of Dunkeld and Birnam and Members of Living Rent gathered last Friday to deliver a letter to representatives from the National Trust for Scotland(NTS) in support of two local tenants, Chris Claydon and Scott Trotter who were served a notice to quit from the charity.
In the letter the community demand that the NTS immediately cease their eviction proceedings against the couple, who have been part of the community for more than 30 years and have been a tenant of the property at Castle Cleirach for 18 years.
Before the community handed the letter to the representatives, they met with Ms Claydon and Mr Trotter. Ms Claydon shares what happened in the meeting with the representatives saying: “Well, we were hoping that there might be an opportunity to come to a better resolution with the national trust for Scotland today, that they perhaps would allow us to move into their soon to be vacant property or if not that, that they would either allow us to move back in once any investigations or possible repairs had been done to the house.
“But they were very clear that they weren’t intending to do that. So, we discussed how people were feeling about their decision making and we discussed also the kind of gifting of the properties and the ethos behind that.
“But again, they weren’t for budging, they didn’t seem to care very much that, the impact it was having on people lives on our lives and so unfortunately there was no resolution made today, we did ask them if they would ask the board if there was an opportunity for some resolution to have a conversation about.
“So, we’ll wait to hear from them but yes it wasn’t as successful as I hoped but they came, and we know clearly where they stand.”
Following the conclusion of the meeting, the representatives from the National Trust for Scotland were presented with an open letter from the members of the community which had been signed by over 150 local residents and were invited to meet with the community through the Community Council.
The representatives took recite of the letter from the community. When asked if they would comment, the two representatives declined and said that the press office would provide a comment.
A Spokesperson for the National Trust for Scotland said: “The National Trust for Scotland has had to seek vacant possession of this property to enable essential structural works to take place, as we are required to do, both as a private landlord and as a conservation charity. Unfortunately, we do not have any suitable alternative accommodation available to offer at this time. We have doubled the notice period to give the tenants more time to find suitable alternative accommodation. We appreciate this is a difficult situation and have tried to be as clear and open as we can with our communications on this issue and have offered to meet previously.”
Members of the community turned out to show their support of the couple and Ms Claydon explains what the community support means to her: “That means the world to me it really does.
“Everyone’s been so supportive, I’d like to say particularly thanks to John Ferguson and Laura Graham who went out collecting signatures with me and have been a great support to me and all my other friends that have helped to gather signatures and have said the kindest things and I’d really like to thank everyone for coming here today, I mean that was so heart-warming and lovely and to Jackie for making the fabulous Tenantopoly. It’s just amazing so it’s just heart-warming, it’s very emotional, its lovely.”
John Ferguson, a neighbour, fellow Living Rent member and Church of Scotland Elder presented the letter to the representatives and shares how he feels the letter was received by them: “They were willing enough to receive the letter because what else could they do really, but the purpose of asking them other than giving them the letter was to invite them back to the community, because the Community Council have tried to get them to come and speak to the Community Council and it just got no response.
“So we wanted to formally say we’d like you to come back to the community and have a conversation with the community about what’s happening here, and I think is incumbent on an agency like that to do this and be willing to come and meet the community, because this is a close knit community, and there not just losing their home there’s no other accommodation or very little other accommodation, there losing their community and at a time like this that is a shocking thing to be doing to people for no good reason.”
Mr Ferguson added when asked if the representatives were receptive to the idea of meeting with the community: “I don’t think they were receptive to anything particularly. I think they are feeling that they are the owners of this property and its entirely up to them to carry through what they think is a just action and it clearly isn’t a just action.”
Lachlan MacEwan, Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council Chair said: “The NTS, in the opinion of the Community Council, have acted in a most unfair manner towards their tenants of over 18 years. Someone in NTS has made a massive error of judgement. This is an issue created solely by NTS and one that only the NTS can resolve”
Adding, “The concern the community has at the moment, is yes, the plight that Chris and Scott have, but not only that, it is the concern of all the other residents that are in the area that have for the same lease or a similar lease”.
Drs Mike & Jan Silburn, who are both retired GPs in the community said: “We have known Chris since she moved to Dunkeld in the early 1990s, initially as her GP, and more recently through her impressive service on the Community Council.
“She has always contributed to society, by running the Rainbows, fostering 11 children over a period of five years, giving them a second chance in life, and she continues her commitment to children by serving on the Children’s Panel. This demonstrates her worth beyond question. It seems to us very unfair for a powerful National body to effectively evict, with no offer of alternative accommodation or re-entry, someone who is such a valuable member of our community.”
The open letter presented to the National Trust for Scotland.