Hot on the heals of Fergus Ewing MSP being reappointed yesterday as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy it was announced today that First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had nominated Mairi Gougeon for the new role of Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment. As such she will report jointly to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.
Being SNP MSP for Angus North and Mearns (well outwith the Crofting Counties) I am unsure how familiar Mairi Gougeon will be with crofting law. However, as my law firm, Inksters, has an office in Forfar, within her constituency, I will be more than happy to meet her there (or indeed in Edinburgh) to fill her in on the complexities of crofting law and what reforms are required.
Thankfully, at a critical stage in the planned reform of crofting law, she did not shuffle Fergus Ewing MSP away from his post as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy with responsibility for crofting. Connectivity has however been moved away from his portfolio and is now with Michael Matheson as Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity. Thus Fergus Ewing’s title changes from Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy.
Fergus Ewing was in post during the difficult times surrounding the common grazings crisis. He has had many meetings with crofting stakeholder groups regarding the need for crofting law reform arising primarily from matters identified in ‘The Crofting Law Sump Report‘. His recent announcement about a two phased approach to crofting law reform was widely welcomed. He understands the problems at hand and what needs to be done to resolve them. It would have been a huge mistake not to allow him to oversee the introduction of the next crofting reform bill.
Today Brian Inkster was on the stand answering queries, amongst others, from new entrants about finding and securing a croft and from established tenant crofters about the procedures to purchase a croft.