View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday 4 May

A bitterly cold day, with a steady northerly breeze. There were a few showers, some with hail, sleet and snow. Although it is May 4th, the mercury did not do any better than 6C / 43F. And it felt like it. The occasional sunny spell did nothing for the raw feeling.

The results from local elections came in through the afternoon, and there were quite a few changes in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Western Isles Council. The turn-out here was among the highest in the country, with up to 61% in Point, the Eye peninsula east of Stornoway. The turn-out for other elections was down to 24% in places.

I was pleased to hear that a community buy-out is to be considered for South Harris, which includes Berneray and other islands in the Sound of Harris. The estate was sold off in 1925, among other possessions of the late proprietor, Lord Leverhulme. If the buy-out bid succeeds, the whole of Harris will be in community ownership. The movement towards community ownership was started by the people of Assynt (north of Ullapool) in 1992, followed in 1997 by the islanders of Eigg. It has allowed them to determine their own future, rather than being stifled by the whims of an absentee landowner. Community buy-outs are the result of legislation, enacted in 1886, which afforded security of tenure to crofters in the Highlands and Islands.