Scottish Water sells part of ancient family Estate Policy Ground in the National Interest.
In the year 1058 Queen Margaret established an early Christian church dedicated to the Archangel Saint Michel on a hill “caer” site in Clydesdale and within 200 years the people of our district became “Caer-michels” or “de Carmichael”.
My family have been established here since 1292 and probably earlier. After the Independence struggle we were rewarded by King Robert The Bruce, through The Good Sir James Douglas for services at Bannockburn with a Barony land grant, and I remain today the 26th Baron of those lands and indeed 30th Chief of the name. Throughout history the Baron kept the king’s peace in the district and looked after the people of the district, including ensuring there was water in their wells and food in winter with fresh meat from his dovecot.
In 1750 The Third Earl of Hyndford was ambassador to Prussia for King George and Great Britain and invested considerable sums in landscaping the Policies at the core of the Barony ancient lands. As can be seen on the attached 18th Century plan this project included Bannockburn “shiltron” roundels and Union Jack ditches and plantations to represent both sides of our Scotland origin and UK present reality. This certainly demonstrates that he was a great diplomat in a debate that is current today.
In 1944 The British Parliament passed The Rural Water Supplies & Sewerage Act, which provided Councils with public funds for improving rural water supplies for schools and community, and in 1957 my Cousin, the 25th Baron, sold “in consideration of the price of One Pound Sterling” various sites including a 121 sq m tank site, within the landscaped Policy boundaries and yards from the westernmost shiltron roundels. The disposition was “in favour of the said The County Council of the County of Lanark and their successors as such authority according to the true intent and meaning of the said Act and to their assignees whomsoever heritably and irredeemably”. There was no provision in either the 1944 Act or the 1957 disposition for redundant sites to be returned to original owners. However it is probable that “the true intent and meaning” of the 1944 Act, in persuading the historic land proprietor to part with a number of sites for a pound, anticipated the sites would be restored and returned when no longer required. Throughout my 35 years at Carmichael the tank site known as the Carmichael Crossridge Service Reservoir has been in constant use for farms and houses at Crossridge, Newside and Bowhouse. Indeed until recently water board employees regularly visited my office and even in early 2015 the community thought the tank was still in use and it is clearly still signed as such. The boundary fence is broken and various metal hatches and pipes litter the farm ground outside the site. Clearly no attempt at cleaning up the site ready for sale has been made.
On 25 February Scottish Water as successors to Lanark County Council and West of Scotland Water sold the tank site at SVA Auctions in Edinburgh for £2100 as lot 30. Although I am a client at SVA Auctions, and although Scottish Water are familiar with my office and ownership of the ground that surrounds the tank site, no attempt was made to inform me or anyone in the district of the proposed sale. As can be seen in this picture a small SVA auction sale sign was placed on the site, which is barely visible or readable from the public road, and was not spotted even by neighbours who pass every day, until March 8th. This being the date I first became aware of the sale, although adverts were apparently placed in newspapers as far away as John O Groats around February 17th, no press advert was placed in our local Lanark Gazette or The Glasgow Herald, the newspapers read by most people in our district.
Last year Clan Carmichael celebrated the 700 anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn with some 45 clan members from six different countries returning to their clan lands for Homecoming 2014. The attached pictures were taken with, then First Minister, Alec Salmond at Bannockburn field. The realisation that there would have been no Clan lands at the source of our name without the Barony grant after that battle, was sufficient incentive to bring the descendants of our forefathers home from as far away as New Zealand.
I had asked Scottish Water to reconsider their sale of this lot before
completion, to the as yet still unknown purchaser, but was advised in a letter dated 23 March by Tom Axford, Head of Legal, that it could not be stopped as a binding contract is in place between Scottish Water and the purchaser.
Since the 1944 Act, watersupplies have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Ministers, and if this sale is truly in the national interest I would be very surprised. It is an injustice and an affront to our global Clan Carmichael heritage. It is an insult and a demonstration of gross ingratitude for the services provided by successive Carmichael Barons to improve water for our rural community, and is against everything the current SNP government has striven to achieve since gaining power at Holyrood in 2007. It demonstrates a disregard for our heritage landscape and sets an appalling precedent for government supported injustice by ignoring the “true meaning” of the 1944 Act.
Richard Carmichael of Carmichael
25 March 2015