Highlands & Islands

Crofting Commission convener asked to resign

Colin Kennedy
Image caption Colin Kennedy refused to comment as he left the meeting in Brora

The Crofting Commission's convener has been asked by his fellow commissioners to resign amid a row with groups of crofters on the Isle of Lewis.

Commissioners passed a motion calling on Colin Kennedy to stand down after he walked out of a meeting in Brora, Sutherland, earlier on Wednesday.

They have also issued a public apology for how the commission handled its dispute with the crofters.

The meeting of the commission's board resumed after Mr Kennedy left.

He had earlier in the meeting refused to allow a commissioner to withdraw his declaration of interest in the dispute about the running of common grazings, including at Mangersta and Upper Coll on Lewis.

When officials told him he had to accept the request, Mr Kennedy closed the meeting and walked out.

As he left, Mr Kennedy refused to talk to a BBC Alba reporter covering the meeting.

Last week, crofting minister Fergus Ewing asked the commission, a body set up by the Scottish government, to rescind its decisions to dismiss grazings committees and apologise.

There are more than 1,000 common grazings covering tens of thousands of acres of land across Scotland, according to the Crofting Commission.

Grazing committees manage these areas of land and their members are elected by crofters.

'We are sorry'

The commission's apology was read at the board meeting. It will form part of a response to Mr Ewing's request that a public apology be made.

In the statement read at the meeting, the commission said: "The Crofting Commission wishes to apologise for the way it has handled recent grazings committee cases.

"Three unprecedented cases have been considered by the commission under Section 47(8) of the Crofting Act and resulted in committees being put out of office.

"The decisions taken by the commission have created a poor result for everyone involved.

"The actions taken in these cases did not enable communities to work together for the benefit of crofting and in fact have had an adverse impact on the crofting community.

"The commission acknowledges that the recent decisions have caused prolonged uncertainty and anxiety not only for the three communities involved but for all crofters, and for this we are sorry."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We note that the Crofting Commission Board has today issued a public apology about recent events.

"The Scottish government will continue to work with the Crofting Commission and will monitor the situation closely."

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