Crofting Law whilst in Milan

Crofting Law whilst in Milan

The dome in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy

It is over a week since my last blog post. Not because it has been quiet in the world of crofting law but because I’ve been away in Milan. I didn’t quite escape crofting law whilst there as I had a meeting where a translator turned my crofting law advice into Italian. I hope nothing was lost in translation. Not sure what the Italian is for souming!

Last time I was away from the UK I commented that there was ‘no let up on the common grazings crisis whilst on holiday‘. Much the same this time around. Especially due to the fact that the ‘twa Colins’ (as they have become known in the comments section of this blog) are, somewhat incredulously, still in post.

Colin Souter, the Grazings ‘Constable‘ of Upper Coll, still seems to hold that ‘position’ despite the Crofting Commission announcing over three weeks ago that he would be stepping down “as soon as possible“. Why has he not stepped down or been stepped down?

Colin Souter has been uncharacteristically quiet during that period. Whereas Colin Kennedy, Convener of the Crofting Commission, has been uncharacteristically vocal. My last blog post looked at his  crofting ‘crusade‘ as revealed in The Scottish Farmer. A week later and The Scottish Farmer have published a letter from Colin Kennedy which starts with an attack on the Scottish Crofting Federation, rambles on a bit and is cryptic in places but seems to be blaming the  former Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission, Catriona Maclean, for everything that everyone else has been blaming him for. I will look at that, and the further breaches of the code of conduct by Mr Kennedy arising therefrom, in a future blog post.

Kennedy is the renegade commissioner who is breaking almost all, if not every, ethical standard expected of public office holders. The Editor of the West Highland Free Press wondered a couple of weeks ago how Kennedy had still not received his P45. Patrick Krause, Chief Executive of the Scottish Crofting Federation, writing in the Press & Journal around the same time expected this “Ozymandias with delusions of grandeur” to have been toppled by now.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, referred to Kennedy’s behaviour as “disappointing” and hinted at the powers the Scottish Ministers had to remove him. Since then he has gone on a personal tirade against those very ministers, his commissioner colleagues and commission staff. How has he been allowed to go on like this? Who is in control? What message does this send out to crofters and the general electorate? Where and how will it all end?

I referred earlier to “former” Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, because her replacement on an interim basis, Bill Barron, started work at Great Glen House on Monday. I will also look at that in more detail in a future blog post.

However, how can this new interim Chief Executive be expected to effectively operate an organisation where the Convener has gone renegade? Where that convener does not have the support of the other commissioners, the Scottish Ministers, any of the crofting representative bodies or the vast majority of crofters? Could the role be any more of a poisoned chalice?

What else happened over the past week? Well:-

  • The closing date came and went for applications for the two appointed Crofting Commissioner posts.
  • Top search terms leading people to this blog were “Colin Kennedy Crofting Commission” and “the Marquis & Marchioness of Stafford”. I have previously drawn comparisons.
  • Comments on the blog took on a Star Trek theme making a change from Star Wars analogies. The Dark Side have become the Klingons it would appear 😉
  • Revelations of baboon-a-grams being advertised on the Isle of Coll emerged. We are searching the News of the World archives for more on this story which just might eclipse the Convener’s Throne for amusement value.
  • It would appear that back issues of the News of the World, Press & Journal and Oban Times also hold other interesting stories about the Isle of Coll. We will see what our research turns up.
  • Crofting road shows will be taking place to inform crofters about the Crofting Commission  elections and other crofting issues.
  • The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has launched a call for written evidence to help inform its short, focussed review of priorities for crofting law reform.
  • Crofting Election Regulations have been put before the Scottish Parliament but these make no changes, as previously mooted, to the six constituency boundaries.

A week is clearly a long time in crofting law!

More detail on some of these stories  will appear in future blog posts. Do subscribe to this blog by inserting your e-mail address in the box in the top right of this page and press ‘Subscribe’. You will then receive the latest blog posts directly into your mail box as soon as they are published. You don’t want to miss that baboon-a-gram story 😉

Brian Inkster

3 thoughts on “Crofting Law whilst in Milan

  1. Linda Brackenbury

    “which is fair and equitable treatment of all crofters by applying the law fairly and equitably from Shetland to Arran as enacted by parliament, and not by judging crofters as good or bad people”.
    http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/opinion/letters/14822568.Colin_Kennedy_on_the_offensive/
    My husband’s lease fell under the Agricultural Holding (Scotland) Act 1991,
    his farm was described as a misnomer of a farm, which gave him the status of a crofter..what therefore, Colin Kennedy Crofting Commission Convener was fair in your treatment of my husband and or his family?
    Also, who wrote your letter to the Scottish Farmer, because, in my opinion it certainly was not you.

    Reply
  2. Kenny Macdonald

    Linda

    A quick look at the letter you refer to shows an attempt at blame shifting and a further attempt at bringing in as many conspiracy theories as possible. Some of them may have substance but we don’t know.
    One of the things we do know, is that Colin Kennedy chaired a meeting at Mangersta months before he chaired a meeting at Upper Coll.

    At that meeting it was revealed to the Mangersta Committee that the legal advice obtained by the Commission regarding the true meaning of the word audit, made clear that an independant scrutiny of the accounts was all that was required, and not a forensic audit.

    The information revealed to Mangersta was concealed from Upper Coll, and no advice was given to the accountants when they spoke to the Commission. All this was so that the committee could be dismissed for not properly carrying out its duties. The committee produced what was acceptable in Mangersta and in line with the Commission’s own website advice. It was “not good enough”, though actually it was.

    Dismissal followed immediately on receipt of the accounts. Which is an issue in itself. Common courtesy would have led them to help us in our so called duty. In fact, helping is one of their duties.

    Mr. Kennedy has to accept responsibility for this disgraceful treatment of volunteers. Being the cause of a human rights issue and undermining democracy when in a position of trust, is a very serious matter.

    None of this detail is in his letter.

    He should have stepped down by now.

    Being unwilling to go he should have been removed. Otherwise the Government are in danger of giving strong and wrong signals to the public and to its quangos.

    Reply
  3. Linda Brackenbury

    Kenny Macdonald, in short your last sentence says it all, this has and continues to be the case and not just with the present government!
    Some years ago I wrote to nearly every MSP, and MP, there was going..including Fergus Ewing SNP Msp and John Swinney SNP Msp, I also wrote to all of the quangoes, all of the agencies including the Crofting Commission,
    I too complained of human rights, suffice to add, there were few responses and of those who did respond none could offer anything, not even sympathy.
    Mr.Kennedy as you call him, will never accept responsibility, it is not in his nature..he will never apologise to anyone,
    he believes he is right in everything,
    Nicola Sturgeon SNP , said jump or be pushed… regardless of how hard she pushes, he will not step down..I hope the various government bodies have taken into account the information they hold on every crofter in Scotland..such information could prove valuable to a person if it was still available to the person for download.
    All I can say people..is watch your backs!

    Reply

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