Billy Neil­son

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

Over the past year we have seen the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion and the wider croft­ing com­mu­nity’s af­fairs be­ing played out in the me­dia, wast­ing time and re­sources.

I am stand­ing as a can­di­date for elec­tion to the board of the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion be­cause I be­lieve my wide ex­pe­ri­ence in agri­cul­ture, croft­ing and ru­ral af­fairs can make a sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion in strength­en­ing the fu­ture for crofters, their fam­i­lies and the wider com­mu­nity.

As a com­mis­sioner, I would strive to aid the reg­u­la­tion, the re- or­gan­i­sa­tion and the pro­mo­tion of croft­ing.

The guid­ing prin­ci­ples must be to pro­tect, rep­re­sent and help to form the strate­gic plans for croft­ing and, with oth­ers, to fa­cil­i­tate con­sul­ta­tions in the fur­ther­ance of croft­ing.

Above all, we need to look to the fu­ture of croft­ing and crofters.

Work­ing a small croft in the Bon­awe town­ship of Taynuilt, I was elected as graz­ing clerk, where I got in­volved in grass­roots croft­ing, and fully ap­pre­ci­ated the way of man­ag­ing the land through the skills and tra­di­tions of croft­ing.

I was made acutely aware of the lack of young en­trants to croft­ing and of empty crofts, when a po­si­tion arose as part of the High­lands and Is­lands Croft En­trant Scheme.

I ap­plied and was suc­cess­ful in be­ing ap­pointed the devel­op­ment of­fi­cer.

In my time, I over­saw en­trance into croft­ing of more than 40 new en­trants, which I found ex­cep­tion­ally re­ward­ing, see­ing the new gen­er­a­tion achieve their goal of a fu­ture in croft­ing, tak­ing on ten­an­cies.

Through this in­volve­ment, I was asked by the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion and oth­ers to act as an as­ses­sor and to sit on the ref­er­ence group steer­ing the 2010 Act through Holy­rood and also as an in­vi­tee to the cross-party group on croft­ing.

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