The Scottish Crofting Federation have highlighted that the outrage of crofters at the treatment grazings committees are receiving from the Crofting Commission is escalating as another constable is appointed and shareholders are summoned to a Commission meeting.
Chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Fiona Mandeville, said:-
The behaviour of the Crofting Commission is causing widespread resentment and bewilderment in the crofting communities. We are all completely dismayed that the body that is supposed to be promoting the interests of crofting is instead behaving so negatively and harmfully. It seems to have lost all sense of reason.
Following summary dismissals of grazings committees by the Crofting Commission, and accusations of the Commission’s inconsistent and oppressive behaviour, the Scottish Crofting Federation held a meeting in Ullapool last Friday. Fifteen people attended, including deposed grazings officials, crofters and others. A vote of no confidence in the Commission was passed unanimously.
Ms Mandeville went on to say:-
The meeting was unequivocal in its opinion of the Crofting Commission’s conduct. As well as a vote of no confidence in the Commission, the meeting thought that it would be appropriate for the convener of the Commission to stand aside whilst an investigation is carried out into the summary dismissals of grazings committees and the internal procedures of the Commission that has led to this debacle. The Scottish Crofting Federation fully supports this.
How does the Crofting Commission intend to manage the day to day running of the grazings that they have left with no committee? Claims for CAP support are due imminently, both by committees on behalf of grazings and by individuals who need agreement of their grazings committee to use extra soumings. Large amounts of money, and we are talking thousands of pounds, will be lost. Will the Crofting Commission be ready to compensate for losses? Or do they expect the constables they are imposing on the grazings to do this? Whilst being questionable in legality, imposing constables is belligerent, particularly as shareholders are expected to pay them.
The issue seems to be around how committees manage their operational reserves. The Crofting Act is open to interpretation on exactly how this is supposed to be done but grazings committees have always taken a pragmatic approach. The Commission have apparently recently taken an interpretation that is simply unworkable. We are hearing from many committees that if they are forced to pay out all their operational reserves they will simply have to wind up management of the grazings. That will be the end of this unique system, which we hope is not the intention. The Commission is being utterly irresponsible.
Prior to summary dismissal, grazings committee members were called by the Commission to meetings with no warning of what the meeting was to be about. The commission are carrying on in the same authoritarian vein with another summons to their meetings again, with no consultation as to suitability of date, time or venue.
We understand that there may be other sacked grazings committees. The Commission has to be reined in and held to account. We understand that there may be other sacked grazings committees. The Commission has to be reined in and held to account. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the new Minister for crofting as soon as she or he is in place and will call for a full external inquiry.
It was reported in The Scotsman that a spokeswoman for the Crofting Commission said:-
The actions of the Scottish Crofting Federation are not a matter for the commission.
An extraordinary statement for the regulator of crofting in Scotland to say about the organisation that represents the interests of crofters. The regulator should be taking heed of what they say. Instead they appear to simply be closing the door on them. A door that the Scottish Government must break down with a view to sorting this sorry mess out once and for all.
Crabbit Crofter on Twitter summed the current situation up with this image:-