Jul 052013

Since the arrival of the Trump organisation at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, the provisions of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code have been at best selectively enforced, at worst ignored.  Security and greens keeping staff stop residents and visitors, gates have been padlocked shut, excluding anyone who wishes to exercise their rights but who has mobility issues.  Suzanne Kelly contacted the Shire’s access officers in February to remedy this problem, to no avail, leading to her complaint to the SNH, which is responsible for the Code.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code gives everyone the right to access the countryside for recreational purposes, so long as they respect property and abide by the code, closing gates securely behind them, ensuring litter is taken away, and so on.

Particular rules for golf courses specify behaviour such as ensuring dogs are kept on short leads, and play is not interfered with.

The Code should be viewed and understood by landowner and visitor alike.

It is accessible here:  http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com

Its cornerstones are:-

  • take responsibility for your own actions;
  • respect the interests of other people;
  • care for the environment.

Whether the Trump organisation or its local Vice President Sarah Malone-Bates, wife of Press & Journal Editor Damian Bates, have taken the Code on seems doubtful.

The catalogue of incidents where this code has been blatantly disregarded is a large one. Highlights – or rather lowlights include:-

  • Photographer Alicia Bruce being so threatened by staff she had to call the police;
  • Local residents have been stopped, forced to provide ID and details of their plans by Security;
  • A local resident was taken to the Clubhouse and not allowed on his way walking until the head of security agreed;
  • Permanently locked gates on at least three areas have prevented access, including stopping resident Michael Forbes from his previous right of way to the water with his boat.

Attempts to have the Code enforced since February produced no effect. The two Aberdeenshire access officers were put on notice that if there was no improvement by the end of June, a complaint would be lodged, which has been done both with the Shire and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Gated Community

Two gates on Leyton Farm Road remain locked at all times; one by the large gate between the Trump parking area and the road, and one at the other end of the road slightly set off the road on the West.

A long-standing right of way used by residents of the Forbes property was locked shut permanently as well, preventing Michael Forbes from taking his boat to the water, as had been allowed for decades previously.

It is understood Forbes was threatened by the police should he make any attempt to use this gate.

Additionally, there seem to be deliberate attempts to plant gorse on rights of way as documented by others.

Earlier this year, one of the access officers indicated they were meeting with local residents; but as it transpired, such meetings excluded the very residents who have been harassed while trying to exercise their rights.

A form was provided to be used for visitors and residents to make complaints; the form asks for details of whether the complainant contacted the Trump organisation.  It would be a brave soul indeed who would confront an organisation fronted by one of the world’s most litigious billionaires, whose employees have acted in an manner considered intimidating on occasion.

Clearly there is something amiss with this procedure and philosophy.

Why a form should be needed in order to complain about situations such as locked gates – situations which could easily be verifiable by relevant officers – in order for the Code to be enforced is a mystery, and in this set of circumstances it is unacceptable.

Using this form would make a person, particularly a resident, feel even more exposed – yet the people who are breaking the Code in the first place are free to do so with no apparent appropriate intervention.

A detailed set of questions and comment from the officers can be found here:   http://menie-estate-report.yolasite.com/

The last contact with the Aberdeenshire officers on 11 June; they were advised that if there were no improvement by the end of June a complaint would be made.

The Shire council spokesperson has commented:-

“We can confirm we have received a complaint regarding public access on land at the Menie Estate.

“Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, the public have the right to take responsible, non-motorised access to cross over the golf course. This excludes the tees and greens and should not prevent play.

“Discussions will continue with the Trump Organisation about public access through the estate. This will include concerns about unauthorised vehicular access and locked gates.

“We will investigate the complaint in line with our usual procedures and will respond as appropriate.”

Aberdeen Voice will keep readers advised of any progress.

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  32 Responses to “Scottish Outdoor Access Code Trumped”

  1. Just to note – the picture of the open gate between Leyton Farm Road and the parking lot is something of a rarity; I’ve not seen it opened since Leyton Farm Road was resurfaced with large gravel. Susan Munro had to exit via the parking lot before then – as Leyton Farm Road was impassible

  2. “We will investigate the complaint in line with our usual procedures and will respond as appropriate”
    Oh well that means the council will absolve themselves of any resposibility over this and do buggar all.

    For your information, the golf club where I am a member has a coastal path running alongside its borders and because of the terrain walkers sometimes have to walk within the confines of the course. This very rarely causes a problem and both golfers and walkers exist side by side.I should point out we are a privately run club not council owned.

  3. Back in April I complained to the Outdoor Access Officer that the the 5 public footpaths that were
    part of the Trump Golf Course plan did not seem to have been built. The following is the reply I received.

    “Dear Mr Downie,

    I have made enquiries with our planning department in order to establish
    what was required regarding public footpaths as part of the golf course
    development. I have visited the site several times over the past year
    regarding concerns over the public being able to exercise their access
    rights. My last visit, undertaken on 21/03/2013, found no restrictions
    which prevented members of the public exercising their access rights across
    the golf course.”

    So that’s all right then?

    • Thanks for bringing up the subject of the footpaths that apparently were meant to be part of the plan. As to the reply you received – they should know how disingenuous it is to say that they didn’t find ‘restrictions which prevented members of the public exercising their access rights across the golf course.’ – they must know that gates in the area are permanently chained shut – ‘ access rights across the golf course’ is only a small part of the story.

    • Might i suggest keepin yer een open next time downie!

  4. Tut tut Suzanne. You can’t expect Trumpshire Council – sorry, “Aberdeenshire” Council, to go against their leading investor can you? The whole thing sounds like a load of balls to me. Or am I just being cynical?

  5. It’s disgusting that council staff can go against or break planning law for their own needs or that of their chums.

  6. Give me an email if Forbes every tries to put his boat in the water, it would be comedy gold.

    His “farm” is a pigsty and a disgrace, how about having a go at him for ruining some of the coastline?

    btw Tonights tv show came across as just a rehash of precious efforts to run Mr Trump down, leave the man and the business alone, you’ve had you say.

    • Pigsty George? I could swear I heard doanald junior say there was no sign of any livestock on the programme tonight. Are you calling trump jnr a liar? 🙂

      Oh, and as for us ( or whoever you refer to as ‘you’ ) having had our say, you might be interested to know that it was actually the BBC who put the programme out, not Aberdeen Voice…. thought I should just point that out.

      Give me a shout if you’re struggling to find an address to write to in order to direct your comments to those responsible for the documentary. I’m sure we’ll be able to help.

    • Comedy gold eh?…I wonder if you were in Michael Forbes’ position would you find it so amusing?Somehow i think no,mair likely you would be greetin like a bairn ower it.

      • Andrew,

        He’s an attention seeker who lives in a run down dump, he has nothing to moan about, no one has done him any harm and he’s not been evicted.

        How about you stop worrying about him and worry about the families in Tillydrone who will soon be forced out of their homes? that’s way more deserving than a man who doesn’t maintain his property.

        And any launch of the boat he has would be comedy gold, it has more holes in it than an old Susannah article.

      • Michael Forbes an the other guid folk of the Meanie estate didnae court publicity,it was forced on them by trumps devious dealins.Did you watch the same panorama prog as i did?
        If so how can you or anyone else claim that trump is anythin mair than a stupid yank wi’ an attitude problem?

  7. Previous, 🙂

    The “independent” writers of the AV have previously stated they helped the program makers in their research, no doubt it was balanced points from both sides of the fence, I know myself my friends and workmates support Mr Trump and the new golf course, even though few of us play golf. We can see the bigger picture. I trust those who helped the BBC did point out the support as well as the negatives?

    An email address would be nice yeah, I thought the program was crap and object to funding such biased nonsense.

    And don’t forget that boat launch email, that would be so funny to watch. The rotten carcass wouldn’t make it off the trailer in one piece.

    • George

      I’m unclear as to whether you think it is right for access to be restricted as illustrated, or you behind efforts to uphold in a reasonable way the rights to access under the Code?


      • Julian,

        No matter what Mr Trump does people will still moan, as I previously said Mr Forbes will not be launching that boat anytime soon, for all we know he might appreciate the extra security the gate provides. I have gates on my property, I suppose given the laws of the land people still have the right to wander through my property but the gates are there to discourage them.

      • When it comes to wilfully misunderstanding what has gone before, Mr Smith knows no equal. ‘Extra security the gate provides?’ having a permanently locked gate blocking a historic access is no security. I love Smith’s take – ‘gates are there to discourage them’ – from exercising a legal right. Well done yet again George; you do bring a (thankfully) unique perspective to any debate you engage in.

      • How many other golf courses in Scotland have such security measures taken.I’m thinkin ther night time patrols by ex bouncers an criminals are so don donny an his kin can sleep easy.

      • The course has been vandalised before and Mr Trump is under constant harassment from socialist activists upset that a rich man is in the area, that explains the security.

        I’m pretty bewildered why people want access across a golf course anyway, the beach is still open and freely available, it just seems another stick to beat the Trump family with.

        If golf course rambling is your thing then please also use all the other numerous courses in the area!

    • For the record George, any help offered to the BBC was at their request, presumably triggered by elevated levels of activity re. Menie including a series of Aberdeen Voice articles by 3 different writers, a petition signed by 18,000+, and activities of Trump international itself.

      I am assured that information and assistance offered to the BBC by Aberdeen Voice did not deviate from the content of our articles which, in any case, were already in the public domain.

      Anyway, here’s that link to BBC complaints. Enjoy.

    • Dear George, I am getting quite concerned for your blood pressure, but am delighted to see you in one of your prolific (if less than logical) periods once more.

      Please do explain how the independence of AV is compromised if the BBC contacts us to seek further details of our articles. I was asked to assist (not least because I’ve been lobbying government and wrote a detailed, referenced report circulated to the media and government); I gladly helped, and would do so for other nationals interested in looking at the situation at Menie, or other issues I’ve covered.

      You’ll find a little hint as to the Beeb researching ‘both sides of the fence’ in the interview they had with Trump himself, which he cut short when the spectre of his Ft Lauderdale licensing deal, and possible mafia connection arose. By all means complain to the BBC about this ‘crap’ programme; include details of whatever you found inaccurate, and by all means share it with us too. I’m sure you will be able to find a means to contact them, given your astute analytical skills, but try http://www.bbc.co.uk as a starting point if you get stuck.

      Good for you and your friends and workmates for supporting ‘Mr Trump’ despite all the evidence of laws bent, environmental protection disregarded, government and police irregularities and peoples’ lives made difficult. You must be an empathetic group indeed.

      As to Michael Forbes’ boat – it is not that long ago that it was used; it is captured in You’ve Been Trumped at sea. After it was damaged when his property accessed in a scene captured in YBT, and after his access to the sea was cut off by the Trump organization with the police’s blessing, despite the Outdoor Access Code, it is hardly surprising that it might not be seaworthy now. You would find this funny, wouldn’t you?

      Everyone is entitled to informed opinion, but George you’ve clearly not done any research to speak of; you never offer any quantifiable data, no first hand testimony, no facts enter into your little diatribes. I’ve done the homework; the BBC did its homework over the course of 5 months. Why not take up the Voice’s long-standing offer and send us an article supporting your point of view, with references and evidence? We’re waiting.

      PS – there is a great deal of psychological writing on the neurotic need of some people to seek affirmation and acceptance of the rich and powerful by any means they can. This is to make up for their own insecurities and/or to try and gain some power through such recognition for themselves. Know anyone like that?

      • Billionaire or street sweeper, I treat people the same, you attack all rich people, jealousy, envy, I’m not sure, strange socialist mindset to have imo.

        All people are equal.

    • George,
      Dont know if you buy the P&J but
      ex employees and retired employees are extremely embarrassed at the subtle and not so subtle bias of the paper’s reporting of the Trump
      fiasco. Are you also accusing leading economists at the LSE,an ex president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, a leading figure on outdoor pursuits, and various conservation bodies of being biased in their views about Trump. THEY CAN’T ALL BE WRONG!!!

  8. Just before cutting short his Panorama interview, Donald Trump said, “Maybe you’re thick but when you have a signed contract, you can’t in this country just break it . . .” Well, that may help explain the question put recently to David Milne and Councillor Paul Johnston by Maureen Watt MSP before the Public Petitions Committee of Parliament, when she said “What are we talking about?”.

    Mr. Trump possibly prefers to conduct his business in Scotland because, where our planning laws are concerned, he can pretty much do what he likes. From the Government to Aberdeenshire Council. It is easy to see why some politicians do not want a public inquiry.

  9. Note to amend! Hence the locked gates. Who is going to challenge him? Or so he thinks.

  10. George: I’d be delighted to know all the people in Tillydrone who are to be evicted when the new bridge is built. Please enlighten us.

    Strange how Aberdeenshire Council are putting out enforcements notices in Westhill in regard to works which do not comply with permissions granted, but didn’t in regard to Mr Trump’s organisations deviations from plan. It just goes to show that they can enforce the law when it suits them.

    The Panorama programme showed up Trump for what he is – an egotistical bully. No one loves a bully, except our George it seems.

  11. George,
    I have heard it all now. You must have a crystal ball if you can categorically state those who have allegedly harrassed Trump are SOCIALIST activists. As usual George you are long on vitriol but short on actual facts. The right of access gives people the right to walk across ANY golf course if they so wish
    providing they do not interfere with the golfers while they are in the act of playing a shot. Many people may not feel the need to walk across a golf course but in the case of Mr Trump’s course they are actively being discouraged from doing so .Mr Trump or his employees ,despite his obvious influence, have no right to stop people providing they adhere to the right of access code.Why should his course be different from any other in the land.

    • Why would you want to walk on a golf course, it’s bizarre.

      And the security is needed thanks to your activist mates who have already vandalised the course and equipment within.

      • George.
        You can walk across any golf course to get from A to B Many people do including football supporters who REGULARLY walk across the golf course at Aberdeen Links to get to Pittodrie from the beach area where they have parked their cars.
        Please George furnish me with PROOF it was anti Trump folk who vandalised his machinery.No one was charged so how the hell can you say who was responsible.

  12. A complaint will be made …

    Complaints have been made dating back YEARS and some of these are documented on my blog. Specifically in 2009 when I, as local councillor, following complaints to me, documents photographically 5 sites of locked gates. These were opened by order of the access officer. Locked again. Opened again.

    There is nothing to investigate, Aberdeenshire Council. Just look in your back files and update the old complaints and insist that Trump obeys the law.

    As a serial offender, well documented as such, there is no case for leniency

  13. The Trump organisation has failed to cite specific instances of vandalism at Menie, save one incident of damage to construction machines, rumoured locally to be from a disgruntled employee (he’s good at producing those). THE act of vandalism of course is the destruction of a SSSI – but I also witnessed the damaged to Mike Forbes fishing gear when Trump shoved this kit off land they claimed to own.

    • if you want more info on the actual police statistics on vandalism, my recent FOI will enlighten you further; details coming soon to Aberdeen Voice – Suzanne

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