David Stewart MSP

Fiddling with Bureaucracy while Crofting Burns

15 April 2009

The Labour MSPs for the Highlands and Islands, Peter Peacock, Rhoda Grant and David Stewart have accused the Scottish Government of entertaining `fiddling with bureaucracy while crofting burns’.

In a letter to Rural Affairs Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, they have argued the government’s priorities for crofting for the coming period should be to address the economic challenges facing crofting which is seeing a collapse of cattle and sheep numbers and a threat to the services which support crofting.

The MSPs are also asking her to defer what they claim will be very controversial proposed legislation which could add delay and cost into decision making at a time of economic crises for the industry.

Rhoda Grant said, “We have written to the Minister about the economic crises facing crofting and the proposed Bill, which will affect everyone in crofting.

“Legislation , especially in the current economic climate, will become a major distraction from the key issues facing crofting when all our efforts should be directed to tackling the grave concerns over stock numbers and wider issues like reforming the Scottish Rural Development Programme and Less Favoured Area Status, so that crofters can benefit more.

“In addition we are seeing threats to livestock transport , vet services and feedstock supplies, all of which crofting need.

“These problems require to be tackled urgently and diverting time and attention into debating the finer points of crofting regulation and new burdens on croft houses just doesn’t seem right just now.”

The MSPs have offered to work with the Minister and other parties in Parliament to address a desire for greater accountability of the Crofters Commission and point to the fact that the Minister has powers of direction and wide scope for action to address such concerns without resorting to legislation, unless and until those powers are found to be lacking.

Peter Peacock said, “The Crofting Acts give the Minister powers of direction over the Crofters Commission which have yet to be fully used

“These powers could be used to give the Commission more focus on absenteeism in those places where that is a real problem

“The election of the Assessors network could also be strengthened under existing powers, as a basis from which to draw new Commissioners.”

The Minister is due to visit Inverness later this week and visit a croft.

Rhoda Grant added : “During her visit this week and in other visits I hope she makes to crofts across the region, the Minister will hear first hand the issues facing crofters and the need for action.

The Government need to use all their current powers to improve the situation without diverting attention and effort into new legislation, the need for which is very controversial.

“They need to act before the economic circumstances of many crofters become untenable

“I don’t want to spend any time fiddling with bureaucracy while crofting burns.”

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Written by davidstewart

April 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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