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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Hutters win backing from MSPs
Carbeth hut
Hutters have been locked in a dispute over rent
The Scottish Parliament's justice committee has called for better legal protection for the country's hutters.

In a report published on Tuesday, MSPs said the current system left those living in huts open to exploitation to a degree that was no longer acceptable.

The inquiry was prompted by a petition to parliament from the Carbeth Hutters Association, which has been in dispute with its landlord over rent increases.

The committee concluded that an independent rent control and arbitration system should be introduced.


Carbeth hut
The committee backs more rights for hutters
The committee's MSPs said: "We appreciate that this will require careful thought and consideration and that accurately defining the interests of hutters is complex.

"The committee therefore invites the Scottish Executive to consider ways of providing legislative protection for hutters."

Members said legal changes would prevent landlords raising rents as a way of forcing hutters out, but would also ensure tenants were obliged to pay up.

With the exception of the Tory MSP Phil Gallie, the committee also supported legal measures to give hutters increased security of tenure.

'Debtors' charter'

The report recommended that the executive consider including the committee's suggested measures in the Land Reform Bill.

But the Carbeth estate trustee, Allan Barns-Graham, said he was disappointed with the report and alleged the committee's recommendations amounted to no more than a "debtors' charter".

More than 80 Carbeth Hutters have been withholding payments in protest at rent rises of up to 42% as well as increased service charges.

The huts were established when the grandfather of present landowner let out plots of land at peppercorn rents to poor families in Glasgow to give them holiday breaks in the countryside.

However, Mr Barns-Graham said he would have to put up the rent to help pay for necessary improvements to the site.

The Scottish Landowners Federation has recommended that a chartered surveyor be brought in to fix a fair rent given that both social and commercial interests were involved.

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See also:

23 Nov 99 | Scotland
Landowners back hutters
02 Nov 99 | Scotland
Fire warning on Carbeth estate
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