A climbdown by the the Crofting Commission looks to have ended the increasingly bitter war of words over common grazings.

Although centred on Lewis, the clash has been closely watched by crofters elsewhere including on Skye.

The dispute took a dramatic turn when the Commission confirmed today that it has written to shareholders of Mangersta Common Grazings on Lewis to advise that the grazings constable has concluded his investigations and has stepped down enabling shareholders to appoint a new committee of their choice.

In the letter to shareholders the Commission stated that it regrets the conflicting advice the Mangersta Grazings Committee has been given over a considerable period of time in response to the investigations which took place due to a complaint made by a shareholder. 

Following the news a separate statement issued by the former members of Mangersta Grazing Committee stated: “We are pleased and relieved that common sense has finally intervened and that this whole affair has been brought to a conclusion, with recognition by the Commission that we acted with integrity and in good faith at all times.

"Latterly, we made our stand on behalf of the whole crofting community since the legal interpretation promoted by the Crofting Commission would, if implemented, spell the death of crofting on a communal basis.

“We have never accepted that the funds obtained by the village for agricultural and environmental schemes should be distributed as personal income and we have no intention of doing so.

“We continue to believe that there should be an inquiry into the functioning of the Crofting Commission.  Even more important, it is essential that crofting law is clarified on this and other matters where ambiguity may exist.

“With crofting at a low ebb in many places, it is regrettable that so much time and resources have been devoted to this unnecessary dispute. 

"However, we welcome a line being drawn under it and will work constructively with the Commission and anyone else where it is in the crofting interest to do so”.

In her statement, Crofting Commission Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, said: “The Commission acknowledges that Mangersta is an active crofting community and this matter has caused prolonged uncertainty and anxiety under which a line can now be drawn.  We look forward to working constructively with the new committee, once appointed, and other stakeholders in the future.”
 

“We continue to believe that there should be an inquiry into the functioning of the Crofting Commission.  Even more important, it is essential that crofting law is clarified on this and other matters where ambiguity may exist.