Consultation on potential changes.
Crofters are being asked for their views about Crofting Commission elections, ahead of next year's vote.
Crofters are due to go to the polls in March 2017 to elect six members to the Board of the Crofting Commission. The organisation is the only public body in Scotland where majority of Board members are elected by the people it regulates, with the other three Commissioners appointed by Scottish Ministers.
The Scottish Government has today (March 18, 2016) launched a formal consultation on:
- The boundaries for the six constituency areas
- Who should be able to vote in the election
- Who should be able to stand for election
- The process of appointing a new Commissioner, should a vacancy arise before the 2022 crofting election
- The maximum amount and process for election expenses.
The elections will be administered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The Scottish Government, the Comhairle and the Crofting Commission are working together to ensure a free and fair election process and to encourage a high voter turnout.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Aileen McLeod said:
"Crofting makes a vital contribution to the economy, environment and communities in Scotland's rural areas. Electing Crofting Commissioners has helped give crofters a stronger say in how they are regulated, and elected members have brought valuable local knowledge and experience to their roles as they work together for the good of all of crofting.
"The first Crofting Commission elections in 2012 were ahead of their time in allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote. With just a year to go until the next round of voting, now is the ideal time to look at whether there is anything we should be doing differently to ensure the 2017 elections are a success. For example, I am particularly keen to encourage more women to stand for election.
"That is why I urge all crofters, and everyone with an interest in crofting, to have their say before the Scottish Government consultation closes on June 22, 2016."
Crofting Commission Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, said:
"The Crofting Commission welcomes the news of the consultation on the draft regulations for the Commission elections. It is important for crofters and crofting stakeholders to be involved in the election process that will ultimately shape the future of the Commission and crofting. This is the second election for the Commission and it is important for all those with an interest in crofting to understand the elections and what is involved. I would encourage crofters to take part in the consultation and have their say for the 2017 elections."
Cllr Alasdair Macleod, Chair of Sustainable Development at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said:
"Crofting is fundamental to the way of life in the Western Isles. In fact, just under a third of all crofts in Scotland are in the islands. The Comhairle is pleased to have been asked to administer the elections and we would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation."
The consultation can be accessed via https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/agriculture-and-rural-communities/2017-crofting-elections
The Crofting Commission is the regulator of crofting. The Commission:
- acts to enforce crofters duties to be resident on, and cultivate or make other purposeful use of, their crofts.
- takes decisions on regulatory applications such as decroftings and apportionments.
- maintains the Register of Crofts and carries out the annual crofting census.
- supports grazings committees by producing templates for grazings regulations.
- promotes the interests of crofting and participates in a number of groups where crofting is discussed.
The Crofting Commission gained new powers and a new way of selecting its Board in 2012. The Crofting Commission Board is made up of nine Commissioners, six of whom are elected by crofters for a term of five years, and three of whom are appointed by the Scottish Government. The number of elected Commissioners will remain the same for the 2017 elections, which will be held on March 17, 2017.
The Crofting Commission is unique as a public body in having a Board where the majority of its members are elected by the people it regulates.
Whilst elected Commissioners are voted in by crofters from a particular geographical area, once elected Commissioners work together alongside appointed Commissioners for the good of all crofters – they do not work to further the interests of their constituency alone.