A heated meeting attended by 80 crofters in Stornoway has led to calls for Crofting Commission convener Colin Kennedy to resign – although the meeting agreed the Commission itself is good for crofting.
The Scottish Crofting Federation hosted a meeting in the town last week which attracted a huge number of crofters from townships all across Lewis and Harris and the overwhelming message agreed was that Mr Kennedy must go.
It was also agreed that the Upper Coll grazings committee must be re-instated and the current Crofting Commission must be sorted out by Scottish Government but a Commission is essential to crofting.
Vice-chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF), Russell Smith, said: “It was a loud and clear message coming out of a very lively but thoughtful discussion. This is not knee-jerk reaction; the attack on common grazings committees by the Crofting Commission has been on-going now for several months so crofters have had plenty of time to think about this.
“It is not surprising that there is a call for the convener of the Commission to stand down and for deposed committees to be re-instated.
“It is perhaps more notable that, despite what is widely regarded as very poor behaviour, the Crofting Commission is wanted, albeit following a thorough review and improvement of procedures. I think that this is a sensible approach.”
The meeting heard presentations from representatives of the removed Lewis grazings committees, SCF, Inksters Lawyers and Scottish Government, not only on the topic of the Crofting Commission but also on CAP, support to crofting and advocacy for crofting. The meeting, that sometimes became quite heated, was well-chaired by SCF member Donald MacSween.
Mr Smith continued: “The procedures of the Commission clearly need to be investigated and modified to stop this sort of thing happening again. The Crofting Commission may well be an ‘arms-length government body’, but the Scottish Government still has a responsibility to make sure that the Commission operates in a fair and reasonable manner – and does possess the powers to intervene, for example by removing a Commissioner, if it sees fit.”
Following discussions a vote was called on the motion “this meeting has no confidence in the existing Crofting Commission and supports the SCF call for the resignation of the convener Colin Kennedy”.
The motion passed by a majority.