Uil­leam Smith

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

In my teens and 20s, I worked on the fam­ily croft on Is­lay, of which I am now tenant.

I at­tended schools in Bow­more and Oban and, af­ter agri­cul­tural col­lege, worked as a shep­herd be­fore be­ing self- em­ployed on Is­lay.

With limited op­por­tu­ni­ties on the is­land, I joined the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture as a field of­fi­cer work­ing through­out Ar­gyll­shire for about nine years, dur­ing which time I vis­ited Tiree three days each month.

Af­ter 16 years with the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion as graz­ings of­fi­cer and devel­op­ment of­fi­cer, I re­tired in 2014.

These years with the com­mis­sion gave me sig­nif­i­cant in­sight into how it op­er­ates, and I know many of the able and hard-work­ing staff.

The com­mis­sion has a pol­icy to pro­mote the es­tab­lish­ment of ef­fec­tive graz­ings com­mit­tees and ac­tively sup­port them. How­ever, the com­mis­sion’s re­cent han­dling of com­mon graz­ings cases is one of the rea­sons why I am a can­di­date in this elec­tion. The re­cently pub­lished re­view of the com­mis­sion em­pha­sises the need for change.

I have vis­ited ev­ery par­ish in the croft­ing coun­ties and met hun­dreds of crofters, graz­ings com­mit­tees and as­ses­sors. These con­tacts have given me valu­able knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence which I will put to good use if elected.

I have been a mem­ber of the Scot­tish Crofters’ Union and Fed­er­a­tion for 30 years. I speak Gaelic, though not flu­ently.

There are many mat­ters for the com­mis­sion to ad­dress, such as em­ploy­ment in croft­ing com­mu­ni­ties, sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of leg­is­la­tion, ac­tive sup­port for graz­ings com­mit­tees, re-in­tro­duc­tion of schemes like the Croft­ing Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Scheme, Croft En­trant Scheme and Crop­ping Grants.

With po­lit­i­cal change in the near fu­ture, the com­mis­sion will need to pro­mote the case for croft­ing and crofters to re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port, and I be­lieve I can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to these dis­cus­sions and de­ci­sions.

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