The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation that will help ensure next year’s Crofting Commission elections run smoothly.
Covering the election of Commissioners to the Crofting Commission – the regulatory body for crofting – the approved legislation covers:
- Who should be able to stand for election
- Absent and proxy votes
- The maximum amount and process for election expenses.
- The process of appointing a new Commissioner, should a vacancy arise before 2022
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: ""Electing Commissioners to the Crofting Commission has helped give crofters a stronger say in how they are regulated. Elected members can bring valuable local knowledge and experience, and are needed to help safeguard a strong and vibrant future for crofting.
"We want to see the Commission focus on building on successful developments in crofting, refocusing attention on being an effective regulator and delivering an excellent service to crofters. To do this, we need people who care about the long-term future of crofting to stand for election, or re-election next March. It is vital that all crofters make their voice heard by voting in next year’s election to ensure that the Crofting Commission represents and reflects the interests and diversity of our crofting communities."
Crofter Mairi MacKenzie, 53, from Lochbroom, near Ullapool, says the commission needs candidates who understand crofting and its role in maintaining rural land and traditions, and in the economy. She said:
"The croft is vital for preserving not only the natural habitat here, but also the heritage of the area and our way of life. As custodians of the land it’s a crofter’s responsibility to maintain the land for the next generation.
"The Crofting Commissioners are a good way to have our voice heard, especially in changes of policy, and so it’s important to have people who are working in the system involved. For that reason, I think whoever is elected should come from a crofting background and should have seen for themselves the highs and lows of crofting."