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MP urges public to sign NTS reopening petition

By David Porter

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MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson, is backing a petition started by local campaigners calling on the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to explore all other options before making redundancies or prolonging the current closure of its properties in the north-east of Scotland.

Gordon MP Richard Thomson
Gordon MP Richard Thomson

NTS grounds, gardens and buildings across Gordon have been closed since the Coronavirus enforced lockdown.

However, for the majority of NTS properties within Aberdeenshire, only the gardens and grounds will be reopening on July 6.

Properties at Castle Fraser, Haddo House and Pitmedden Garden are set to remain closed until 2021.

A petition has been started by Friends of Leith Hall in an effort to get the property reopened to visitors before 2022.
A petition has been started by Friends of Leith Hall in an effort to get the property reopened to visitors before 2022.

Meanwhile, Leith Hall, near Kennethmont in Aberdeenshire, is one of six Scottish properties which will be mothballed until the 2022/23 season.

The Friends of Leith Hall - a group which campaigned successfully to have the hall re-opened several years ago - is now being re-formed with the aim of using community enthusiasm to find solutions which would result in the property reopening sooner.

Those behind the petition hope that it will help to encourage NTS to revise their plans with the aim of opening properties sooner.

The MP commented: “For our communities and the region’s tourism and visitor economy, these properties are of great significance both culturally and economically.

"The announcement that these properties and their gardens - beloved to so many will remain closed is disappointing and will make it harder for the local visitor economy to recover as we ease out of lockdown.

“Despite the current financial challenges the Trust is facing, I’d urge the NTS Board to heed this petition and to engage fully with groups such as the Friends of Leith Hall to explore what some of the alternatives to remaining closed might be.

"This will allow better engagement with our local built heritage and perhaps find new ways of allowing visitors new and returning to enjoy what we are fortunate enough to have on our doorsteps.

“I ask for all people who visit these grounds and enjoy the historic buildings to demonstrate their support by signing the petition, and to continue to support those properties which remain accessible however they can.”

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