New crofting minister invited to Isles

The new Minister for Crofting in the Scottish Government, Aileen McLeod MSP, has been invited to the Western Isles to further her understanding of crofting.

In a letter to the minister, Councillor Donald Crichton, Vice Chairman of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee said:

“I write following a recent meeting with your predecessor, Paul Wheelhouse. At that meeting we discussed a range of issues of concern to crofters in the Outer Hebrides, in particular about the Crofter Housing Grants Scheme.”

Councillor Crichton went on to describe how Mr Wheelhouse had broadly agreed with the points raised, including the Comhairle’s position with regard to increasing the support available.

He added: “I understand that a consultation is expected soon on the future options for the scheme . We are of the view that this review has to be serious and come forward with substantial recommendations to increase the grant to a level that is realistic.

“A minimal increase will have little impact on the uptake of the grant and tackling the increased costs that people face building new homes in remote and rural areas.

“If this grant scheme was increased to a realistic level it could have a real impact tackling the social and economic challenges we face in our rural communities.”

Mr Crichton continued saying that Mr Wheelhouse had shared the view that Scottish Government owned crofting estates could be transferred to community ownership and hoped this is a view the new minister would also share.

He concluded by inviting the minister to visit the Islands to discuss these points and so that she could further her understanding of the issues.