It was announced by Catriona Maclean, at a meeting of the Scottish Government Crofting Stakeholder Forum in Inverness this morning, that she was stepping down as Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission from early October.
She has taken a promotion within the Scottish Government as Deputy Director of the Food, Drink and Rural Communities Division.
I will be leaving the Crofting Commission to take up a promotion as Deputy Director of Food, Drink and Rural Communities Division from late October. I am delighted to have been asked to lead on such a key area of work for the Scottish Government.
The Food and Drink sector covers a wide range of industries and creates both jobs and wealth for Scotland. It also has an impact on health and sustainability and I look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure the sector maximises its impact.
That said, it is not without a great deal of sadness that I leave the Crofting Commission and my staff who are all dedicated to providing an excellent service to crofters. Scottish Government is taking steps to fill the vacancy my departure creates and I am confident that the transition will be as smooth as possible and that continuity of service provision will be maintained.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank staff, Commissioners and stakeholders for the support they have given me in the last 3½ years and wish them well for the future.
It is a shame to see Catriona leaving the Crofting Commission at a critical time when there is still so much to be resolved in connection with the Common Grazings debacle.
It appears clear from documents obtained via Freedom of Information requests that Crofting Commissioners acted contrary to her advice in appointing grazing constables in circumstances where she had advised them it was illegal to do so.
It must have been difficult for her to be in the situation of providing proper and valid executive advice to a board who ignored it. Perhaps no surprise then that she is moving onto bigger and better things when the opportunity arose.
I wish her well in her new role which I imagine comes with the joy of no board to herd!
The Scottish Government now need to act swiftly by putting in an interim Chief Executive at the earliest possible opportunity. That Interim Chief Executive must try and resolve the internal conflict that clearly exists within the board and the issues surrounding Common Grazings that appear to have been created by the Convener. The question of seeking to prevent shareholders receiving SRDP and, possibly also, VAT funding being particularly serious.
There have been many calls for the Convener to step down and crofters will possibly be wishing that today’s news revolved around such a resignation rather than seeing the Chief Executive leaving the organisation.