PRESS RELEASE:Local MSPs Lend Support to Raasay Crofters


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.”

Motion: Raasay Crofters’ Association

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.

Motion: Saltire Housing Awards 2012

Saltire Housing Awards 2012
That the Parliament congratulates the award winners from the Saltire Housing Awards 2012; welcomes the record number of submissions received for the awards; understands that 14 projects were given awards, with a further four receiving commendations; notes that the awards covered the length and breadth of Scotland, with seven of the awards and one of the commendations going to projects in the Highlands and Islands; further congratulates the Highlands and Islands-based architect firms that were successful, including Skye-based Dualchas Architects, winner of what is considered the prestigious 2012 Saltire Medal, Skye-based Rural Design Architects, winner of the 2012 Innovation in Housing Award and Shetland-based Richard Gibson Architects, winner of both an award and a commendation; considers the intelligent use of sustainable design in many of these projects to be a template for the future, and hopes to see this innovative approach to architecture continue.