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Springbank's sign Scotched?

ONE OF the whisky world’s most famous names could have its bid to be part of Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations dashed by council red tape.

J&A Mitchell & Co Ltd, owner of Springbank and Mitchell's Glengyle Distilleries in Campbeltown, is planning on throwing open its doors to the public as part of the Scottish Government’s whisky month, part of the 2009 Year of Homecoming.

Staff at Springbank and its sister distillery Glengyle, also in Campbeltown, are holding an open day on May 21st and have erected a sign on the road to the Mull of Kintyre town to let potential visitors who may not be familiar with the geography of Scotland’s west coast know just where the distilleries are.

However, Argyll and Bute Council have ordered the company to take the sign down, leading to fears that potential visitors will be put off making the trip to Campbeltown.

The council’s position is that the sign must have planning permission and also breaches advertising regulations. In their letter demanding its removal, planners also state that planning permission is unlikely to be granted at any time.

Neil Clapperton, Managing Director of J&A Mitchell, was furious when he learned of the council’s letter.

He said: ‘This letter is a nonsense. The council official who wrote is says that permission is unlikely to be granted but who is he to make such a judgement? That is surely a matter for our elected representatives to decide at a planning meeting.

‘All we are trying to do is provide information for prospective visitors so that they know where our distilleries are and how to get to them. Bringing visitors to Campbeltown is crucial to the local economy and I’m staggered that Argyll and Bute Council should take an attitude like this without even speaking to us to find out the story behind what we are trying to do.’

Director of Production Frank McHardy added: ‘The First Minister has encouraged Scottish people and companies to get involved with Scottish Homecoming Year and J & A Mitchell are no exception, having for some time planned an open day at our distilleries in Campbeltown to fit in with other celebrations of whisky taking place during May. By adopting what J & A Mitchell consider to be a blinkered approach by the planning department of Argyll and Bute Council another good idea to attract more people to the Kintyre area would appear to have been Scotched.’

Campbeltown was once known as the whisky capital of Scotland, with more than 30 distilleries working in the town.

Today there are three working distilleries and the area is recognised as one of the country’s five whisky producing regions.

J&A Mitchell is an independent, family-owned company which practices traditional, hands-on distilling.

Springbank is the only distillery in the country which carries out the entire production process and produces a whisky popular with connoisseurs across the globe.