BY MURRAY MACLEOD
The controversial crofting commissioner at the centre of a row over grazings committees has walked out of a meeting being held to discuss his future.
The Crofting Commission met in Brora today (Wednesday), and responded to a ministerial order for them to apologise over their handling of the recent common grazings debacle in Lewis.
The meeting descended into chaos when convener, Colin Kennedy, walked out after just a few minutes.
The meeting continued without him and the remaining commissioners unanimously agreed that he be asked to tender his resignation as convener.
They also agreed to a direction by Scottish Government rural economy minister Fergus Ewing that they offer an apology to the crofters of Upper Coll in Lewis, who have been at the centre of controversy over recent months over their handling of township funds.
Earlier this year the commission sacked the former committee at Upper Coll and imposed a ‘grazings constable’ to look after affairs. The constable, retired police inspector Colin Souter from Nairn, also conducted an investigation of the historical administration of common grazing money in Upper Coll going back several years. Mr Souter eventually produced a dossier of alleged procedural errors. Some of those in Upper Coll had earlier made an official complaint against Mr Kennedy.
The commission’s actions provoked outrage in the wider crofting community and last week, during a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party committee on crofting, Mr Ewing demand that they apologise. He also called for a review of the commission’s procedures.
Scottish Crofting Federation chair Fiona Mandeville said: “Surely now the convener will do what he should have done weeks ago – stand down and let the people who genuinely care about crofting get on with their work.”
Read more on this story in this week’s West Highland Free Press.