Nicola Sturgeon adds voice to concerns over West Linton party house

Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon has added her voice to the chorus of concern over coronavirus transmission risks sparked by the reopening of a party venue in the Borders.

Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 7:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th August 2020, 6:56 pm
Nicola Sturgeon taking first minister's questions at the Scottish Parliament today, August 12. (Photo by Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images)

The return of parties of 30-plus revellers at a time to Greenloaning at West Linton last month has already prompted complaints among neighbours and at this week’s meeting of community councillors there about disruption and alleged breaches of social distancing guidelines, and now Ms Sturgeon has joined in that condemnation too.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale Christine Grahame has already expressed concerns about the return of party-goers to the venue, also known as Linton Lodge, and she brought that issue to Ms Sturgeon’s attention at first minister’s questions at the Scottish Parliament today, August 12.

“I have raised with the first minister my constituents’ concerns about a so-called party house in West Linton, where the proprietor, Michael Cameron, is apparently defying Covid security measures,” said Ms Grahame.

Greenloaning Mansion at West Linton, alias Linton Lodge.

“For example, one weekend, 30 men from London at a stag do were too drunk for the police to safely disperse them.

“Does the first minister agree that that attitude beggars belief and that it could cause a spike in the virus not only locally but beyond?”

Ms Sturgeon shared her concerns, saying: “I agree.

“That conduct is not responsible in the circumstances that we live in.

“The guidance is very clear that large numbers of people from different family groups should not gather in shared accommodation for leisure purposes such as stag and hen parties.

“The rules that govern circumstances in which people can spend time with friends and family apply both at home and away from home at any type of holiday accommodation.

“We have seen in Aberdeen what can happen with gatherings that do not adhere to the guidance, particularly where alcohol is involved.

“We expect guests to comply with the guidelines, and we absolutely expect accommodation providers to act responsibly when letting larger properties.

“The recovery of our tourism and hospitality sectors is at a very fragile stage, and I urge everyone to play a full and responsible part in supporting that recovery while, of course, keeping Covid suppressed.”

Though its legal status as a party venue is currently in dispute following enforcement action by Scottish Borders Council officers in 2018 and failed appeals to Scottish ministers in 2019 and the Court of Session in Edinburgh in January, Mr Cameron has resumed hosting groups of guests since the relaxation of lockdown laws last month, as he had been doing since 2008.

It’s still advertised online, at www.greenloaningmansion.co.uk, and charges as much as £5,980 for a four-night stay, plus extras such as a chauffeur service, catering or use of a spa.

Its resumption of activities after four months off has left villagers grateful for that respite disgruntled about the disruption once more being caused and also worried about the health risks they fear might be posed.

It is understood that Mr Cameron is now claiming to be using Greenloaning as a domestic house again with only incidental use for parties.

A lawyer for Mr Cameron, 58, also director of Edinburgh’s Dominion Cinema, previously insisted: “The complaints alleged are not accepted nor justified.

“Mr Cameron, in letting the property, has always and will continue to abide by the Covid-19 rules and principles for self-catering accommodation.”

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