It had been expected that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) would announce the candidates for the Crofting Commission Elections 2017 on Friday 27 January.
However, apparently, due to the large number of nominations received just before the deadline of Thursday, names of the candidates could not be released until Monday 30 January. And on Monday we discovered that those candidates are:-
East Highlands (East Sutherland, Easter Ross, East Inverness and Moray)
- Rod Mackenzie, Teanroit, Beauly.
- Archie MacNab, Orsay, Old Inn Croft, Blairninich, Ross-shire.
- John Ferme McMorran, Keepers House, Balnacoil, Brora, Sutherland.
South West Highlands (Lochaber, Argyll & Bute, Arran and Cumbrae, Small Isles)
- Ronnie Campbell, 5 Bohuntin, Roy Bridge, Lochaber.
- Colin Niall Kennedy, Croft No2, Arinagour, Isle of Coll
- Catherine Mackinnon, Cul a’Bhile, Bohuntin, Roy Bridge.
- Billy Neilson, 27 Cruachan Cottages, Taynuilt, Argyll.
- Uilleam Smith, 2 Caledonian Road, Inverness.
West Highlands (West Sutherland, Wester Ross, Skye & Lochalsh)
- Jonathan James Hedges, Caravan, Rossal, Rogart.
- Stephen William Love, 13 Sand Passage, Laide, Wester Ross.
- Mairi Mackenzie, Torran, Loggie, Lochbroom, Ullapool.
- Peter O’Donnghaile (Donnelly), 5 Camustianabhaig, Portree.
- Alasdair MacEachen, 15 Aird, Balivanich, Benbecula.
- Iain Maciver, 23 Laxay, Isle of Lewis.
Only one nomination was received for Caithness & Orkney and also Shetland. Thus each candidate for those two constituencies is automatically elected and no election will take place.
Caithness and Orkney
- Cyril Annal, Stensigar, South Ronaldsay, Orkney.
- Andy Holt, North House, Papa Stour, Shetland.
So only one of the existing elected crofting commissioners is standing for election again. That is the controversial convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy. All other existing elected commissioners have clearly had enough of the many problems that have beset their tenure in office. Much of which Colin Kennedy has received the blame for.
Thus the following commissioners will all vacate office following the elections:-
- Marina Dennis – East Highlands
- Ian George Macdonald – West Highlands
- Murdo Maclennan – Western Isles
- Arnold Pirie – Caithness and Orkney
- Kathleen Sinclair – Shetland
There will be continuity in respect of one of the appointed commissioners, David Campbell, having already been appointed by the Scottish Government to serve a second term as a commissioner.
It is also interesting to note that Colin Kennedy’s seat (South West Highlands) is the most hotly contested one with five candidates fighting it out for a spot in Great Glen House.
The Scottish Crofting Federation welcomed the high number of nominations for the Crofting Commission elections citing it as a very positive sign for crofting. Their Chair, Russell Smith, said:-
The number of people willing to stand as candidates for the forthcoming Crofting Commission elections is very heartening. It shows that crofters care about the survival of crofting and the Crofting Commission. There is a resilience within the crofting community and the will to move on.
It is very positive that so many have stood to be counted in the Highland constituencies, especially in the South West. The Western Isles have 2 candidates but it was disappointing that Scottish Government did not take the opportunity to create further constituencies in such a large area. Orkney has relatively few crofts now so it is perhaps no surprise to have only one nomination but it is disappointing that Shetland only put forward one candidate when it is has so many well-worked crofts.
But we have enough candidates to run an election and to form a new Commission with crofter representation. That is what this is all about. We now need a good turnout to vote on 16th March, and await the Scottish Government to make the remaining appointment.
It just goes to show the resilience of the crofter, that despite the recent problems that beset the islands and the commission that there are indeed crofters who are able and willing to stand up and be counted, for myself, I am delighted that there is some competition for the seat in the South West Highlands,
Crofters have much to be proud of and much more to fight for,