Scalpay community look into land transfer

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THE community of Scalpay have agreed to investigate taking ownership of the island.

At a packed public meeting last night, landlord Fred Taylor’s proposal to transfer the land free of charge, was discussed.

The general response to the idea was positive and a steering group is to be set up to take forward further research.

Another development for the community this week was the acquisition of the former Minimarket.

Director of Scalpay Community Development Ltd, Morag Macleod said: “It was an awful blow for Scalpay when the mini-market closed. It was, like the school, a focal point for the island. Many of us could walk to the shop, and would feel the urge to call on friends on the way. In other words it was more than a facility for supplying groceries.”

She added: “It is a great relief to look forward to the return of this facility, and with the prospect of using share options to keep the shop going, we hope the whole island will feel that it is their shop. Patience will be needed, however, this being only the first step towards restoring this valuable commodity to the island.

“We are very grateful to Harris Development Ltd for all the support they have given us through the development officer, Kenny MacLeod initially, and Coinneach Morrison who has been instrumental in bringing us to this advanced stage.”

Coinneach Morrison, Harris Development Ltd Development Officer also welcomed this step forward: “In a recent survey over 83 per cent of all households in Scalpay stressed the importance of providing a community shop on the Island and this week sees the community taking a significant step towards catering for their own need. There is still an awful lot of work to be done before this facility becomes operational but this is a very important milestone in the project and I’m delighted that this community run company now own the building and we can now concentrate on the renovation and upgrade of the premises.”

He added: “The timing of the community purchase of the building and the proposal to transfer Scalpay Estate into community ownership is entirely coincidental but I feel that both developments can provide Scalpay with the capacity to impact positive change in their own affairs.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to the staff and board members of existing community shops in Tolsta, Ravenspoint and Eriskay for their advice and support over the last six months and we will doubtless call upon their expertise again as we move towards the delivery phase of the project. I would also like to thank HIE, Leader and the Comhairle for their assistance throughout this project.

“The next phase of the project involves opening up a community share option which allows people to purchase shares in the local cooperative responsible for operating this community led venture.”