Com­mis­sion is slammed in new re­port into gov­er­nance prac­tices

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

THE Croft­ing Com­mis­sion has been given a damn­ing in­dict­ment of its ac­tiv­i­ties in a scathing gov­er­nance re­view.

The re­view was un­der­taken at the re­quest of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and makes damn­ing reading about the cur­rent prac­tice within the com­mis­sion.

Busi­ness ad­vis­ers Scott-Mon­crieff said: ‘There have been no­table fail­ures in gov­er­nance within the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion, at both ex­ec­u­tive and non- ex­ec­u­tive lev­els. The com­mis­sion has not been work­ing as a fully ef­fec­tive, co- or­di­nated en­tity.

‘It has spent con­sid­er­able time dis­cussing in­ter­nal prob­lems and re­act­ing to crises and con­flicts.

‘ While no body op­er­ates with­out pres­sures and set­backs, the com­mis­sion has been par­tic­u­larly im­paired in this re­spect.’

The re­port con­tin­ued: ‘Strong per- son­al­i­ties, dif­fer­ences of opin­ion and ap­par­ent in­con­gru­ent in­di­vid­ual ob­jec­tives and pri­or­i­ties have also im­paired ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance.

‘What could be per­ceived by some in­di­vid­u­als as a pas­sion for sup­port­ing croft­ing and “do­ing the right thing” for crofters can si­mul­ta­ne­ously cre­ate an en­trenched and in­flex­i­ble ap­proach to ad­dress­ing and re­solv­ing chal­lenges fac­ing the com­mis­sion.

‘This has re­peat­edly led to per­son­al­ity clashes, a cul­ture with­out full and trans­par­ent ex­change of equally-im­por­tant views, and a break­down of some re­la­tion­ships which are cru­cial to good gov­er­nance.’

In re­gard to a meet­ing that hit the head­lines last year, the re­port said: ‘The way in which the Septem­ber 2016 Brora board meet­ing and the sub­se­quent reper­cus­sions have been han­dled must have eroded crofters’ and the wider pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of the abil­ity of the com­mis­sion to op­er­ate as a co­he­sive and fo­cused unit. This type of ad­verse pub­lic­ity is over­shad­ow­ing the com­mis­sion and its staff. It is de­tract­ing from the wider out­comes and achieve­ments of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.’

The re­port also cites is­sues with doc­u­men­ta­tion and the ro­bust­ness of records man­age­ment along­side lack of re­spect for each other within the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The find­ings of the re­view are be­ing care­fully con­sid­ered, as chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion, Bill Bar- ron, ex­plained: ‘A num­ber of im­por­tant points have been made in the gov­er­nance re­view and we are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing ro­bust pro­cesses are in place to achieve a high stan­dard of gov­er­nance within the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘I will be putting in place a full ac­tion plan to en­sure these points are ad­dressed, as re­quested by the Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary.

‘We have al­ready made some of the im­prove­ments rec­om­mended in the re­view and we are de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive in­duc­tion pro­gramme for the new board of com­mis­sion­ers fol­low­ing the elec­tions in March 2017.

‘Con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment within the com­mis­sion, and build­ing on the rec­om­men­da­tions from the re­view, will help us to cre­ate a fo­cused and ef­fec­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to se­cure the fu­ture of croft­ing.’

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