The ongoing battle over open cast coal in the Douglas Valley has had a shocking development, with South Lanarkshire Council issuing each member of the Douglas and Glespin Community Council legal notices stating that proceedings against them are to begin at Lanark Sheriff Court over alleged libel claims. This move is seen by the community as an attack on their freedom of speech.
This latest dispute, where South Lanarkshire Council, (under the auspices of Archie Strang, council Chief Executive), are taking primary school teachers and pensioners to court in an effort to silence their dissenting voices, comes because of a logo reading “South Lanarkshire COALcil” and an article titled “South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Coal Hand-in-Hand at Community LIE-aison Meeting”. The logo superimposes the Council’s logo with that of Scottish Coal, and the article was a repost, linked from the Coal Action Scotland website.
The article described a liaison meeting between the community, Scottish Coal and South Lanarkshire Council. At this meeting, the council made every effort to exclude the community from it, misrepresented what was said in minutes and council workers were indistinguishable from Scottish Coal representatives.
Coal Action Scotland are demanding that South Lanarkshire Council end all legal proceedings immediately and issue an apology to the Community Council.
Fiona Reed from Coal Action Scotland said today: “It is unbelievable that the Council would take legal action over what is essentially a link, and not even contact the original authors of the article. This is nothing more than an attempt to limit the Community Council’s freedom of speech. The community has to put up with ill health, environmental and economic degradation from open casting, and now the politically-motivated bullying of this deceitful council.”
Coal Action Scotland are also asking people to stand in solidarity with the Community Council and post up the controversial logo and article on their websites and blogs.