Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has today welcomed the decision by the Crofting Commission to 'draw a line' under its dispute with the former members of Mangersta grazings committee by withdrawing the grazings constable and allowing the village to form a new committee of its choice.

The grazings committee was removed from office by the Commission at the end of last year.

The MSP met with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, last month to discuss the removal from office of the grazings committees in Mangersta and Upper Coll, the implications of the Commission’s rulings in these cases and the future of crofting in the Western Isles more generally.

Alasdair Allan commented: “While it is regrettable that this dispute has rolled on for more than 6 months after the committee was removed from office, I nonetheless welcome this resolution and the Commission’s change of mind on this case.

“There was a great sense of anxiety within the crofting community about the wider implications of this decision, which many felt could affect the ability of grazings committees to hold, and make use of, common funds in future. I am glad that the Commission has reached an understanding with the grazings committee and that they are preparing new guidance for shareholders and committees.

“A few weeks ago I met with Fergus Ewing, the Minister responsible for crofting, to emphasise the strength of crofters’ feelings on this issue. This was a positive and constructive meeting, with the Cabinet Secretary being very receptive to my concerns.

“It has been quite disheartening to witness the recent difficulties in relations between crofters, and their representative bodies, and the Crofting Commission itself. I am hopeful this marks the start of a more productive relationship and that crofting bodies will be fully engaged with the new guidance being prepared.”