Resignations clear the way ahead for Bernera

​Five out of six remaining directors of the Great Bernera Community Development Trust have resigned in recent days, clearing the way for a new board to be elected at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
Next month's EGM is expected to be held in the community hall.Next month's EGM is expected to be held in the community hall.
Next month's EGM is expected to be held in the community hall.

​The development came in advance of an annual general meeting at which there were expectations of a strong community response to recent developments.

As previously reported by the Gazette, the entire Bernera population had been encouraged to take out Trust membership in order to participate in the AGM and ensure its directors are representative of the community.

The directors who resigned are Virginia Allum, David Boag, Julia Higginbottom, Kevin Long and Anne Ryan. The only remaining director is the chairman, Callum Macaulay, a longstanding supporter of the Trust’s original objectives.

Concerns on Bernera about the workings of the Trust were brought to the surface by a survey conducted by Bernera Community Council in which 83 per cent of respondents expressed opposition to projects being pursued.

The findings of the survey led the Community Council to convene a public meeting which around 120 people attended. The meeting confirmed the extent of divisions within the community over the direction the Trust had taken and had led to the resignations of several long-established supporters of its aims, including the chairman John Porteous.

There was particular concern about a £101.477 grant from the Scottish Land Fund to acquire a disused hatchery in Kirkibost as a business and social “hub”. Many Trust members were unaware of this bid and its implications.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Land Fund said on Wednesday: “Our funding staff remain in contact with the Trust. The group has not acquired the building so no funding has been released to meet that cost.”

It is expected than EGM will now be convened with a view to putting the Trust back on course. Its original purpose was to pursue a community buy-out of Bernera and one of the recent fears has been that the behaviour of Trust directors, now departed, was undermining support for that objective.