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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 13:19 GMT
Hutters vow to save way of life
By Michael Lloyd
For BBC Scotland's news website

Families facing eviction from their "huts" in south west Scotland are hoping to resolve the crisis in the New Year.

The hutters' colony at Rascarrel, in Kirkcudbrightshire, had been given an ultimatum - pay a near seven-fold increase in rents or get out.

Black and white pic of woman at hut
Five generations have experienced life in the huts
Now the hutters have been told the law may be on their side and they want to bring a court action early in 2005.

They claim to be defending a way of life that stretches back five generations.

Hutting has its origins in a Scottish working-class tradition of building cheap holiday homes, similar to Russian dachas.

Despite foreign holidays and higher living standards, it is claimed that nearly 800 families still choose to holiday in a hut.

The site owners, local farmers the MacTaggarts, said the rent increase was as a result of a valuation by a surveyor.

They are legally within their rights to make the increase and lawyers for the landowners said the hut families were told the rises would be phased in and taken to a fair market level.

One of the Rascarrel hutters, Bill Allen, says his great grandfather started the Rascarrel colony in 1936.

"He was a batman for an MP during World War One and he was given permission to put a hut on the shore - whether it was a reward for services or what, I don't know," said Mr Allen.

No running water

Hutting is all about getting away from it all - "detoxing" - as Mr Allen puts it. Another hutter, Norrie Milligan, says it is a unique experience.

He said: "I have been going down there since I was 15 - I am 53 now. I've always loved being there - it is a wee retreat and keeps my sanity.

"There are no services, no electricity or running water, it is basically a bothy. We collect logs off the shore and burn them in an open fire; it is going back to nature."

Huts have been passed down through the generations and Amanda Bradbury, whose 84-year-old grandfather owns one, says her own children just love being there.

She said: "Last summer they were swimming in the sea at nine o'clock. They collect driftwood and make fires and cook sausages and potatoes, things you can't do anywhere else.

Modern-day hut
The simple properties are said to be a haven of peace and quiet
"My son liked it so much last time we were down he asked my papa if it would be his when he grows up."

But the future remains uncertain for the eight families.

Two MSPs, Chris Ballance of the Greens, and Alasdair Morgan of the SNP, have taken up their cause.

Mr Morgan calls it a disgrace that the hutters have no redress against the increase in their rents, even steeper than the rise faced by hutters at Carbeth, which sparked a major protest.

But the MSP believes there is a chance that the Rascarrel legal action may succeed.

He claimed: "If they qualify as tenants at will, where they don't have a written lease, there is a provision for them to buy the land on which the property is situated, even if the landlord doesn't wish to sell."

Mr Milligan says it could be a test case, not just for Rascarrel but for hutters across Scotland.

He explained: "We are hoping to form a Scottish wide hutters association so we can all get together and give people security of tenure, because the situation is ridiculous at the moment."


SEE ALSO:
Hutters win backing from MSPs
02 May 00 |  Scotland
Landowners back hutters
23 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Fire warning on Carbeth estate
02 Nov 99 |  Scotland


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