Following my recent blog post on the 2017 Crofting Elections Consultation being flawed there have been calls for Shetland and Orkney to remain separate constituencies in the 2017 crofting election.
The Shetland Times reported online yesterday that Liberal Democrat candidate for Shetland in the Scottish election, Tavish Scott, was of the view that Shetland and Orkney should be considered as separate constituencies in the 2017 crofting election.
Mr Scott said:-
Shetland’s crofting communities face different challenges to those in Orkney, but yet again the Scottish government is proposing to ride roughshod over the needs of local people.
The SNP simply does not understand these differences. Already we have ministers who have imposed a one-size-fits-all approach, failing to take into account the unique nature of crofting in the isles.
Already crofters are spending more time meeting the demands of regulation and waiting for payments that have been delayed by months.
The consultation needs to offer something different: separate constituencies for Orkney and Shetland in the 2017 crofting election.
Diversity between our crofting communities should be encouraged and supported but the SNP does not appear willing to even entertain that idea.
This view was backed up by NFU Shetland Chairman, Jim Nicolson, who said:-
Regarding constituencies, my position is that Shetland remains a constituency on its own.
It’s very, very difficult for whoever is the commissioner. It’s time consuming, expensive, and there are a large number of crofters to represent in Shetland as it is.
Hopefully the consultation exercise will take account of such views resulting, if necessary, in the addition of a further elected crofting commissioner to allow the Western Isles to be split into two constituencies (if there does indeed exist the desire to do so) but not at the expense of unnecessarily and unreasonably combining Orkney with Shetland.
Photo Credit: Rob McDougall