Gladhouse parking ban letter: “Official spin to justify the unjustifiable”

Monday April 18th 2022


Gladhouse Reservoir, photograph by Lee Live.

Letter to the Editor from Midlothian View reader Dave Soulsby

I awoke on Tuesday morning and was horrified to read a news headline stating that Midlothian Council had effectively banned public access to Gladhouse Reservoir.

The article stated that parking had been suspended along the bank of the Loch and went on to state that “Local Residents have reported wild life being chassed, litter left around and public urination on the banks of the loch as well as reports of campervans emptying toilets into the loch.” Because of this bad behaviour by some visitors to the Loch and that parking of cars along the road that runs along the bank constituted a safety issue, All parking would be banned until October.

You cannot access Gladhouse with out a vehicle of some kind!

This painted a picture of rampant delinquent behaviour and vandalism! “Official spin to justify the unjustifiable”

I have been a frequent visitor and user of Gladhouse for many years. I visit it with my family to swim, Paddleboard, and just walk, have a picnic. This is something I have done for many years and all year round. “Wim Hoff” Ice swimming in winter for my mental and physical wellbeing. I have never seen any behaviour there that I have not seen in any park, or beach, or place where large numbers of people congregate.

This Ban on all parking is an effective BAN on all Midlothian Residents and council tax payers RIGHT to access to OUR beautiful loch.

This comes at a time when there is real financial hardship for many families with the cost of living crises paired with an epidemic of mental health problems stemming from the lockdowns and isolation experienced during the global pandemic of the past two years.

This is the Easter Holidays and many families need cheap ways of having a day out with their children.

I myself planned to take my grandchildren to the Loch this week during their Easter holiday break. Now not possible!

I have contacted Derek Milligan (Leader of Midlothian Council) to voice my disgust at the actions of the council and to my astonishment, he informed me that neither he nor any elected members of Midlothian Council had been informed of or consulted on the parking and effective access ban.

The decision was taken by unelected council workers on the grounds of safety access for emergency services and complaints by Local residents.

This is totally unacceptable!

Councillor Milligan has said that he has asked for a full report from the council employees who took it upon themselves to action this ban.

However due to the upcoming elections it will not be looked at before the end of MAY!

I want to see this actioned upon NOW, before the elections as the decision of my elected Councillor on this matter, will surely influence which way I vote.

I will never vote for someone who backs this BAN.

There can’t be more than 6 “Local residents” in 2 cottages and one house on the banks of the loch.

Conversely the massive house building around Midlothian has increased the population enormously and as Residents and council tax payers in Midlothian we ALL have the right to access our countryside.

The solution cannot be a ban on access for the many in favour of a few!

There is a big problem with parking at the Loch! This is not news to we the people who use the loch. It has existed for years, left unaddressed. I believe that it has not been addressed because a few people, with influence, do not want large numbers of people using the loch. So making it almost impossible to access is an easy solution!

I say it is the responsibility of our elected council to find a solution, which does not impinge our right to free access.

My solution would be to build facilities to deal with the parking problem. I would suggest a large car park could be very quickly built. There is a gate into a field with some hard core of stones or mats spread around, takes about a week, they do it routinely for music festivals.

Then more long term, possibly a ranger station with toilets and possibly a café and shop and adequate litter and dog waste bins.

The café and ranger station could help inform & educate people about the loch its history and the wildlife. Any cash raised by the café and shop could go towards the upkeep of the area.This is a very cheap and simple solution.

What can we the residents of Midlothian do to reverse this decision?

Write to your councillor get on social media and make your views known. If we don’t get any satisfaction with that then I suggest that we organise protests at the loch. With true peaceful but forceful protest we can regain our rightful access to our loch.

The people of Scotland have fought long and hard for free access to our countryside. The actions of rambling organisations and ordinary people have won us this right. Let us put our councillors and Midlothian Council on Notice that we will not accept this Ban on our freedoms.

My thanks to the team at Midlothian View for highlighting this problem and for allowing me the opportunity to express my opposition to this unjust and possibly illegal, ban on our freedom of access.

“Our land, Our freedom of access to our land.”

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