Susan Dick, who owns the fields at Milton, with one of her ponies.
By Bill Heaney
Updated on November 15, 2021
Hold your horses or, in this case, make that your ponies. Horse lover Susan Dick has still heard “not a peep” from West Dunbartonshire Council about the field she owns at Milton by Bowling.
She claims that Council, which has a reputation for taking its time, has let loose companies working on the field which they claim is an integral part of a proposed multi-million industrial complex on the old Esso tank farm on the banks of the River Clyde,
They are so convinced that this City Deal is sound that they have gambled £6 million of council taxpayers’ money on the polluted site, which stretches from Dunglass roundabout to Dumbuck junction the A82 Glasgow-Loch Lomond road.
However, in their own inimitable style, the Council, who have hemhorraged 400 staff over the past year of lockdown, appear yet again to have cocked things up by not doing their research into landownership and putting the whole project in jeopardy.
They could end up having to evict Susan from her land, but Clearances, even on a small scale such as this, is not what the SNP were founded for.
Ms Dick told me: “My land agent – Galbraiths – has sent on to the council’s agent all info asked for last Monday but we’ve had no reply as yet.
“We are attempting to source another field – one that WDC can give us hopefully to house the ponies on, run our business from and rebury the ponies that are currently buried on our own land .
“Were not holding out for money we just want land for our ponies.
“We have heard nothing in regards to our two insurance claims for extensive damage that WDC have caused to our land.”
Today (Wednesday, Novembewr 17, 2021)) The Democrat asked Susan where the issue had got to now.
She told me: “Not a peep out of them. The only update I have is that it took them nearly five months for their insurance department to obtain reports on the damage to my fields/land and so on.
“The reports were due from the council’s own departments, so the hold up was all at their end and after many months of me chasing and also a complaint finally they were obtained .
“I still haven’t heard if the claims will be settled though.”
She added: “This damage was caused when on our land doing soil testing – the testing involved a lot more work than we were informed of and to both fields rather than one – the ground in our fields was not protected as we were told and was left in a state which was something akin to a World War One battlefield.
“The second set of damage was caused when doing work nearby and WDC went onto our land without permission nor prior notification and caused damage to our road, fencing, smaller field and trees.”
Earlier Ms Dick explained her position in the matter which has been dragging on for months if not years.
She said: “The issue is I need somewhere for my ponies to have a permanent home rather than on a rented field. I bought my field over 20 yrs ago and felt I had secured a safe future for my ponies regardless of my future financial health.
“The ponies have chronic health issues that need carefully managed and we have been led to believe for last four years that we would be obtaining Sheepfold or some other piece of land which might have been okay, but then of course we were only offered cash.
“I’m not interested in cash as I cant secure another field anywhere not for what I am being offered for mine and even if I also add my savings to the pot there is no land available.
“I need my own field to remain in my ownership or the half of it that isn’t being used or some other piece of land that WDC sourced for me if it was suitable.”
Yet more evidence has come to light that the Council’s obsession with secrecy has come into play here.
Ms Dick said: “I dont know whats going on behind the ‘closed doors’ of WDC. I just know I am not being dealt with fairly.
“WDC have as recently as April this year been on my land and dug up my private road, dumped tonnes of rubble onto my field, destroyed trees and damaged fencing all without permission or prior notification to myself. They treat it as if they already own it.
“There is now an insurance claim in about this and also the previous insurance claim against them has still not been settled.
“The previous one is for damage to my field during soil testing (March 2020) as it was left looking like a battlefield despite assurances it would be put back to what it was before works began.”
Susan Dick – “There will be no amicable solution if no land is on offer.”
She added: “Following a meeting between the parties just the other week, apart from promises of information being forthcoming, we haven’t yet moved on but my agent is working on our reply then I expect we’ll hear from WDC
“There will be no amicable solution if no land is on offer to myself though as my ponies need somewhere to live that is secure for their lifetimes and WDC have had eight years to sort this out.
“I have supplied them with all information they’ve asked for and attempted to source land myself and to help them source land and we felt we had somewhere ie Sheepfold but it needs tested properly and must be safe – something that could have been done four years ago.”
SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council refuse to comment to The Democrat which they have banned and boycotted for almost three years now.