Motion S4M-05704: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 21/02/2013
Raasay Crofters’ Association
That the Parliament notes with concern the transfer of fishing and shooting rights on the island of Raasay from the Raasay Crofters’ Association to a South Ayrshire stalking firm; further notes that the association, which represents 11 crofters and has paid an annual fee of £650, was set up in 1994 to manage these rights on behalf of the local community; understands that the association held the lease from 1995 until November 2012 and that during that period it made the enterprise a success through its investment in training and facilities; queries if this success, which, it understands, resulted in a profitable butcher’s trade operating on the island, is one of the primary reasons that the lease was put out to tender for the first time in November 2012; understands that the Scottish Government informed the association that ministers were not obliged to accept the highest offer, and expresses concern at what it sees as this loss of local control and community involvement.
Ideas to empower Scotland’s communities – including extending the right to buy land – have been launched in a consultation for a new bill.
Giving urban communities increased powers that would allow them to buy their own land and buildings is one idea detailed for the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.
SNP MSP Jean Urquhart is encouraging as many people as possible to help shape the bill by responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation.
The MSP for the Highlands and Islands said:
“I am very excited by the opportunity afforded to local communities to influence these important proposals.
“Helping local communities to fully harness the enthusiasm, passion and dedication of their inhabitants will be a vital step in helping both urban and rural areas of Scotland to prosper.
“The consultation will be asking for views on extending the right to buy currently enjoyed by rural communities in Scotland to larger towns and cities, allowing them the right to ask to take on unused public sector assets and how communities can be more involved in making decisions on local budgets.
“These proposals will undoubtedly be a boost for the social enterprise sector. Social enterprises operating on a ‘more-than-profit’ basis play a central role across the Highlands and Islands, helping to regenerate towns and villages and bringing both economic and social benefits.
“Local communities know better than anybody else the challenges and opportunities they face.
“The purchase of Machrihanish airbase by locals in Argyll is just one example of what these proposals could help to make happen across Scotland.
“I would enthusiastically urge as many people as possible from across the country to respond to this consultation and to shape its outcome.”