Highlands and Islands MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie have lodged a Parliamentary motion expressing concern at the “loss of local control and community involvement” on the island of Raasay after the news that fishing and shooting rights on the island have been tendered to a South Ayrshire stalking firm.
The motion, marked for Members’ Business, has already attracted cross-party support among MSPs following national coverage of the Government’s decision to award the lease to South Ayrshire Stalkers, whose bid for the lease was £2000 more than the bid submitted by the Raasay Crofters’ Association who have operated the lease since 1995.
Jean, an Independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said:
“This move has sent shockwaves through the local community on Raasay and the Association, who have done an excellent job in developing the facilities on the island since control was given to the community.
“Taking away what has been a successfully controlled lease from the local community cannot be justified on the grounds of ‘best value’, as ‘best value’ surely encompasses more than financial considerations.
“It’s only right and proper that Parliament has a chance to debate the issue of what we really mean by community empowerment and land reform.”
John, also an Independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, added:
“I was pleased to support Jean’s motion, which highlights the excellent work undertaken by the local community in maintaining and developing facilities on the island.
“While I have no doubt that the successful bidder has only good intentions for Raasay, the principle of community control, particularly where it has a proven record of success, must be upheld, and I hope that this decision can be reviewed.”