The results are in from the count in Stornoway Town Hall for the Crofting Commission Elections. They are:-
East Highlands (East Sutherland, Easter Ross, East Inverness and Moray)
Stage 1 votes:-
- Rod Mackenzie – 150 votes
- Archie MacNab – 91 votes
- John Ferme McMorran – 71 votes
Stage 2 votes (following exclusion of John Ferme McMorran):-
- Rod Mackenzie – 181 votes – Duly elected
- Archie MacNab – 121 votes
South West Highlands (Lochaber, Argyll & Bute, Arran and Cumbrae, Small Isles)
Stage 1 votes:-
- Colin Niall Kennedy – 165 votes
- Billy Neilson – 124 votes
- Catherine Mackinnon – 67 votes
- Uilleam Smith – 55 votes
- Ronnie Campbell – 32 votes
Stage 2 votes (following exclusion of Ronnie Campbell):-
- Colin Niall Kennedy – 172 votes
- Billy Neilson – 128 votes
- Catherine Mackinnon – 81 votes
- Uilleam Smith – 57 votes
Stage 3 votes (following exclusion of Uilleam Smith):-
- Colin Niall Kennedy – 181 votes
- Billy Neilson – 152 votes
- Catherine Mackinnon – 98 votes
Stage 4 votes (following exclusion of Catherine Mackinnon):-
- Billy Neilson – 201 votes – Duly Elected
- Colin Niall Kennedy – 199 votes
West Highlands (West Sutherland, Wester Ross, Skye & Lochalsh)
- Mairi Mackenzie – 694 votes – Duly Elected
- Stephen William Love – 204 votes
- Peter O’Donnghaile – 164 votes
- Jonathan James Hedges – 95 votes
- Iain Maciver -1069 votes – Duly elected
- Alasdair MacEachen – 1059 votes
Only one nomination was received for Caithness & Orkney and also Shetland. Thus each candidate for those two constituencies was automatically elected and no election took place.
Caithness and Orkney
- Cyril Annal – Automatically elected
- Andy Holt – Automatically elected
Two of the seats were very close indeed.
In the Western Isles Iain Maciver got in with 10 votes over Alasdair MacEachen.
Most eyes were on the South West Highlands seat where controversial Crofting Commission Convener, Colin Kennedy, was re-standing for election. It was taken through 4 stages of voting with each transferable vote counting until Billy Neilson was victorious over Colin Kennedy by just 2 votes. Thus Kennedy, who many have been calling for long to go, is now gone. However, it shows that despite his controversial stance on a number of matters, that were decried by many far and wide, he still had fairly strong support amongst crofters in his own constituency.
Adding in the three appointed commissioners the nine new Crofting Commissioners are:-
- Cyril Annal – Elected – Caithness and Orkney
- David Campbell – Appointed – Landlord Representative
- Andy Holt – Elected – Shetland
- Iain Maciver – Elected – Western Isles
- Mairi Mackenzie – Elected – West Highlands
- Rod Mackenzie – Elected – East Highlands
- Malcolm Mathieson – Appointed
- Billy Neilson – Elected – South West Highlands
- James Scott – Appointed
Malcolm Mathieson and James Scott were only recently appointed and thus David Campbell is the only commissioner to have already served for some time (since June 2014) on the board of the Crofting Commission. David Campbell was clearly, at times, in conflict with the former Convener, Colin Kennedy.
Commenting on the results, Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing said:-
Crofting is an integral part of Scottish rural life and it is essential that it has dedicated people to represent and reflect the interests and diversity of our crofting communities.
The elected crofting commissioners will give crofters a stronger say in how they are regulated, bringing valuable local knowledge and experience to the role and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the six newly elected Commissioners on their election and wish them every success.
This group, together with the appointed commissioners, will play an essential role in the effective governance and operation of the Crofting Commission, ensuring that it has the policies in place to deliver fair, reasonable and transparent decisions on matters affecting crofters and rural communities.
Crofting Commission Chief Executive Bill Barron said:-
I would like to congratulate those who have been elected and I look forward to meeting and welcoming them to the Commission. With the three Commissioners appointed/re-appointed by the Scottish Government earlier this year, we now have a full complement of nine. I and all the staff of the Commission are determined to give the new Board the best possible support as they take on the responsibilities of leading the Crofting Commission. We believe there is a positive future for crofting and I will do all I can to help the new Board of Commissioners carry out their functions effectively.
With such a big batch of new commissioners ushered in at one time many hope that this will see a change in approach by the Crofting Commission as the organisation has been dogged by almost constant controversy over the past 5 years. Only time will tell. We will be watching and reporting.
Image Credit: © BBC Alba