Row over chairmanship of new Crofting Commission

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A strongly-worded attack has been launched against the Scottish government’s decision to appoint a chairman to the new Crofting Commission.

Isles MSP Tavish Scott said a failure to allow crofting representatives to choose their own leader demonstrated a “command and control” strategy being exercised by the SNP.

His comments came after the commission’s new representatives met the Holyrood environment minister Stewart Stevenson for the first time this week.

Kathleen Sinclair, who was elected to represent Shetland, joined forces with her counterparts from Orkney, the Highlands and Western Isles for Monday’s meeting in Inverness – a day after the new commission officially came into being.

The new chairman is expected to be appointed later this year.

But Mr Scott demanded to know why the commission was not free to choose its own leader, and asked the government to justify its “domineering decision to interfere”.

“I strongly believe that the board should be trusted to select their own chairman. The Scottish government’s decision says it all about their ‘command and control’ attitude.

“What’s the point of having elections to select the members of the Crofting Commission if the SNP have already decided the chairman is going to be one of their own? I will be raising this in parliament and awaiting with interest the Scottish government’s justification for this typically domineering decision to interfere.

“Kathleen Sinclair won the Shetland crofters’ vote to be the industry’s representative on the Crofting Commission. I have no doubt Kathleen and her fellow commissioners are well able to choose any actively competent person from within their ranks who would command the confidence of the crofting community. But no, the nationalist government wants to control the appointment. How disappointing but not surprising.”

The new commission is largely made up of elected representatives. But those appointed to the commission board are Susan Walker, William Swann and one-time Scottish election hopeful for the Conservatives in Shetland, Sandy Cross.

It supersedes the similarly-titled Crofters Commission, and has been designed to meet the changing needs of crofting in the 21st century.

The changes mean the commission will have the power to regulate crofting to ensure lands are occupied and worked or, if not, made available to those who want to croft.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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3 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    So typical of Salmond. Yet again the wishes of Shetland and Orkney folk are ignored. We must distance ourselves from this dictatorial buffoon and his divisive band of sycophants.

    Reply
  2. Mal Bremner

    In Aberdeen we`ve been subjected to an individual’s “domineering decision to interfere” and a ‘command and control’ attitude, hence we`re still waiting for our bypass to be built. Of course these attributes are not solely in the preserve of Salmond or any other member of the Scottish Government as ably demonstrated by Mr Tavish Scott when in his previous guise as Transport Minister. Pot and Kettle anyone?

    Reply
  3. Derick Tulloch

    Reminder to Tavish that the fact that there are elections to the Commission AT ALL is the SNP’s doing. That said I agree that the chairman should be elected by the delegates.

    Reply

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