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Battle growing against Loch Lomond area big business sell-off
Lynda McEwan, Socialist Party Scotland
A major battle has broken out over the £30 million privatisation of land in Loch Lomond, West Dunbartonshire in Scotland, which has given rise to fresh resistance against the for-profit model of big business.
In early spring of 2017, plans began to emerge from Iconic Leisure, which owns Flamingo Land - a theme park in Yorkshire - for what could only be described as a massive land grab in a world-renowned beauty spot. Comprising 44 acres and including upscale hotels, lodges, a monorail and a brewery, most of the land around Drumkinnon Bay and the banks of the River Leven is being sold off.
Almost immediately after the news broke, an online petition against the development was created with over 30,000 signing. It seems that local opinion does not support the proposal.
Concern for the environment, about local infrastructure being overwhelmed, over the quality of the jobs, and that a national park is being sold to the highest bidder, are among the reasons for such strong opposition.
Iconic Leisure has unveiled its plans, hosting a public consultation attended by hundreds of angry residents wanting clarification on details. But locals were met with corporate suits using patronising language in order to deflect the residents' questions.
Socialist Party Scotland has joined the struggle, particularly as it became clear that any jobs would be seasonal and offer only low pay or zero-hour contracts. We also oppose the environmental destruction that this would cause.
Local activists have organised a 'Hands Round Drumkinnon Bay' event, which around 300 attended, and which brought much needed interest from local newspapers, spreading the word on the dangers of this privatisation going unchallenged. Scottish Enterprise - which owns the land and chose Iconic Leisure as the preferred buyer - has come under huge pressure to reconsider this sale.
Another key consultee, the Balloch and Haldane Community Council, received 25 petitions from local residents to hold a meeting where they could raise concerns. Held in a local church on a Tuesday evening, there was standing room only and an outpouring of anger that the council had given its approval.
Going forward, we say that working class people deserve more than seasonal, low-paid, non-unionised jobs and point out that there are no guarantees that any companies contracted to build will be local small businesses.
Furthermore, the scale of the project and the price of the current lodges at the sister site would mean what is currently free and accessible land, enjoyed by families for generations, faces being gentrified - locking local children out.
- A demo will be held on the 8 September in Balloch. We will be attending and speaking, raising the need for a mass campaign of civil disobedience against the construction.
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