Staff Diverted to Brexit Related Legislation
New Crofting legislation which was to come before the Scottish Parliament in the form of a Bill has been dropped by the Scottish Government.
In 2017 the Scottish Government launched a consultation process about the future of crofting. This was to help improve a proposed Crofting Bill. Public meetings were also held across the country including one in Orkney Kirkwall Public Event for Crofting Consultation
At the time Fergus Ewing, Rural Affairs Secretary in the Scottish Government said:
“Crofting delivers valuable local benefits and a successful crofting sector helps our rural communities to thrive. It is therefore vital the law that governs it is fit for purpose.
“Initial discussions have shown while there is plenty of agreement that the current law needs to change, there are many views on what should replace it.”
News of the Crofting Bill being dropped has angered local politicians.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, Liberal Democrat said:
“It has become increasingly clear that crofting regulation is out of step with the distinct needs of communities like Orkney. I am regularly contacted by constituents left frustrated by crofting rules and procedures that are less and less relevant to their circumstances.
“Yet the decision by the Rural Affairs Secretary, Fergus Ewing to abandon new crofting legislation means more of the same for years to come. This is despite the fact that many of the current rules actually work against the very objectives of trying to encourage people to remain in our more remote communities and make best use of the land available. That makes no sense at all”.
In his letter to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee Fergus Ewing explained that the reason the Crofting Bill was being dropped was that staff resources were now diverted to dealing with the implications of Brexit. Click on this link to read the letter: Letter to REC Committee
Local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour, is disgusted with the Bill being dropped.
“The Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, gave a statement to Parliament last month (10 September) advising that “Members could be assured that his officials continue to work on reform of crofting legislation” and now, just a few weeks later, he advises that work on the Crofting Bill will be suspended ‘for the foreseeable future’.”
“So many times we have heard Fergus Ewing extol the worth of crofting in the cultural heritage of Scotland. He’s also stated that crofting continues to contribute to the sustainability of remote and rural communities and that that is partly as a result of the support and attention that the Scottish Government and its predecessors have provided in the past and are providing now.”
“Even his own SNP colleague, Alasdair Allan, said last month that he was disappointed to hear about the timetabling problems relating to a crofting bill.
“Fergus Ewing was happy to take the praise for the value that crofting contributes to the sustainability of remote and rural areas yet just weeks later, his officials get pulled away to deal with Brexit, leaving these vulnerable communities high and dry, ignoring the needs of crofters.
“The SNP used their last majority to force through damaging legislation and now won’t take the time needed to sort it. I would think crofters the length and breadth of the Highlands and Islands will be feeling very let down by Mr Ewing and his SNP colleagues as they turn their backs on the needs of this industry.”
Fergus Ewing concluded his letter saying:
“Whilst I am disappointed in the circumstances that have arisen and that have resulted in my having to take this decision, I feel that it is the appropriate one given the demands that will be placed on not only the Scottish Government but also Parliament and stakeholders as we address uncertainties generated by Brexit.”