Moray villagers pack into crisis talks with local MSP

Back Street in Newmill - MSP to check on available funding.
Back Street in Newmill – MSP to check on available funding.

A PACKED NEWMILL village hall saw around 100 local residents take part in discussions led by Moray’s MSP over the challenges being faced by the local community.

Richard Lochhead agreed to chair Monday’s meeting following several concerns expressed to him by the local community association and residents – these included lack of maintenance to local roads, the future of a derelict building in the village square and services being provided by Moray Council.

Joining Mr Lochhead was local councillor Gary Coull and Rhona Patterson, chair of the Newmill Community Association.

A key issue was the condition of roads and lanes owned by the Newmill Estate and claims that the absentee landlord had refused to maintain them to a safe and acceptable standard. Villagers attending expressed their frustration that the Estate owners are unaccountable to people who live and work in Newmill – and who pay rents to the Estate.

At the meeting Mr Lochhead promised that he would seek out further information about the landowners, who are believed to be in New Zealand, and that he would look into if there was any support or funding available that would allow the community the opportunity to fill potholes on Back Street themselves.

Following the meeting Mr Lochhead said: “It is abundantly clear from the turnout at the meeting that those who live in Newmill care deeply about their community and want a greater say on its future, and for their voices to be heard whether that be when dealing with Newmill Estates or the Council.

“There are real concerns about some of the infrastructure within the village which is owned by the Estate and deep frustration that the absentee landowner is unwilling to maintain the roads and the lanes that many tenants and residents rely on.

“I’ve promised the community that I will take steps to find out more about the absent landowner, with the aim of holding them to account over the condition of the land.

“I will also be looking into what funding there might be available to allow the community to organise the repair of the roads in the meantime.”