Saturday, November 10, 2012

All aboard the expenses wagon as SNP appoint latest crop of ‘Quangocrats’ to Scottish Land Fund Committee

AS the saying goes, it takes quangocrats to run a quango, and so five new members of the Scottish Government’s latest quango, the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) emerge as a result of appointments made by Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse, who appears to have felt the costs of remunerating these latest additions to the quango farm need not be mentioned in the Scottish Government's announcement :

Scottish Land Fund


Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse today announced the appointment of five members to the new Scottish Land Fund (SLF) committee.

The committee will be chaired by John Watt and is made up of George Campbell, Margaret Davidson, Derek Logie and Iain Matheson. The appointments will run until March 2015.

The Scottish Government’s £6 million Scottish Land Fund, launched earlier this year, is being delivered by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. With funding for three years the SLF will support more rural communities to buy their land and other assets.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said:

"The Scottish Land Fund aims to empower rural communities across Scotland by helping them acquire land and community assets which will make their communities stronger, resilient and more sustainable. The wide ranging experience of the committee members, each of whom has a deep passion for community land issues, will provide strategic direction and ensure the success of fund."

The new appointments are:

John Watt OBE will chair the committee - recently retired as Director of Strengthening Communities at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, where he had responsibility for HIE’s work with social and community development, including community land ownership and the growth of social enterprises. He has been involved in rural development for over 30 years, through his work for HIE and its predecessor the HIDB.

In 1997 he established HIE’s Community Land Unit, set up to provide advice and support for community land initiatives, and contribute to the development of land policy and legislation.  He was involved in many high profile community buyouts and helped deliver the first Scottish Land Fund and BIG's Growing Community Assets programme.

He is currently a non-executive director of New Start Highland and High Life Highland, two social enterprises based in his in home town of Inverness, and an advisor to the Scottish Government's Land Reform Review Group.

George Campbell - has been the RSPB’s regional director for North Scotland for the past 15 years. He is a crofter’s son from the Ullapool area & has worked in the past for the HIDB, The Highland Council and was the second director of the Scottish Crofters Union. He has also been a board member of HIE, The Deer Commission for Scotland, Eden Court Theatre, The Calman Trust & the John Muir Trust.

He has had a long involvement in community land issues, including a spell as treasurer of the Not for Profit Landowners Group.

Margaret Davidson - a local authority councillor in The Highland Council for some 17 years. She is a gardener and her family owns and operates a small family nursery. She was a founder member and Chair of the Community Woodland Association, and has been a member of the Forestry for People panel and the Highland Forestry Forum.  She was a founder director of Abriachan Forest Trust and has been a member of voluntary organisations in her community, and is actively encouraging communities to investigate the ownership of land and buildings.

Derek Logie - is Chief Executive of the Rural Housing Service, a post he has held for 16 years. The Rural Housing Service is a charity that helps rural communities take action to tackle local housing needs.  Derek has worked with over 100 communities, helping secure new homes and investment in many of them. He has strong connections with rural communities throughout Scotland including many community landowners. Derek is the author of a number of reports on rural housing including research on land for affordable housing provision. He was previously a member of the Rural Development Council, set up by the Scottish Government to advise ministers on rural issues.

Derek hails from Perthshire but now lives with his family in rural East Lothian where he is a member of his Community Council. When not working he can be found gathering mushrooms, snowboarding, or mostly chopping logs for his wood fuelled house.

Iain Matheson – a native of Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, attended Glasgow University qualifying in 1971 with a BSc Agriculture.  Iain obtained a diploma in Estate Management from Reading University and qualified for membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1979.

He joined the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Inverness in 1973 and worked for almost 38 years mostly in a number of Highlands and Islands offices delivering crofting grants and regulation, estate management, land use consultations, and various EU funded programmes, finally as Principal Agricultural Officer responsible for all the work of an Area office. The last six years were in HQ were spent on rural development policies, especially the SRDP and LEADER.  Before retiring in 2010 he worked on a number of crofting policies, and proposed changes to Parliament on Agricultural Tenancy legislation.

Iain’s other interests involve his family, Intereg IVA programme, Ayrshire LEADER funding rural communities development in Ayrshire, and being an active Scout Leader.

Each appointment will run from November 2012 to March 2015.

Each of these appointments are part-time and attract and remuneration will consist of expenses only.

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