New era for crofting

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The starting gun for the first ever crofting elections was fired today with the official publication of the Notice of Elections.

For the first time, six people will be democratically elected by Scotland’s crofting community to represent their interests. The remaining three spaces are to be filled by Ministerial appointment, today announced as Susan Walker, William Swann and Sandy Cross.

The postal ballot for the further six members will take place in March 2012 with the count on March 16. The official change from the current Crofters Commission to the Crofting Commission will then come into effect on April 1, 2012.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Susan, William and Sandy who will bring a great deal of knowledge, experience and drive to the Crofting Commission at this very important time for crofting.

“Crofting is the very fabric of many of our rural communities, and has inspired songs, literature and art for hundreds of years. The Scottish Government wants to give crofters a voice to determine their own future and these first ever Crofting Commission elections is a solid step down that road.

“Crofting has defined cultural shifts in our history. Today marks another historic moment - when Scotland’s crofters get a seat at the table to make decisions that affect their future.

“The Scottish Government believes crofts that are occupied and worked can be the biggest contribution to the sustainable economic growth and development of our crofting communities. Having an effective regulator is a vital part of achieving that aim.”

Eleanor Arthur, Shetland Crofter and Chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, said:

“The crofting elections are an exciting development for crofting as crofters will be able to directly influence how crofting is regulated in the future. I would encourage all crofters who are eligible to vote to make sure the commission have the correct details for them so that they receive a ballot paper. They should also consider standing for election and they should certainly encircle their vote.”

The Highland Council’s Chief Executive Alistair Dodds is the Returning Officer for the 2012 crofting elections. Mr Dodds said:

“This landmark election is a great opportunity for crofters to engage with the decisions that affect them. There are many able people within crofting communities from Shetland to Argyll and I hope to see many coming forward and running for the six positions on the board.”