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Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

Scottish Community Land Network will not be kept up-to-date after March 2012. However, a new site is being produced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and details will be published on this site as soon as they are available.

The most recent articles are available on the home page - previous articles are in their relevant topic areas (browse the 'Topics' menu on the left).

An interview with Maggie Fyffe

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Maggie Fyffe was recently awarded an MBE for her work with the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.  We took the chance to ask her a few questions about how she got involved with the Trust and what made them such a success story. 

How long have you been involved in the Isle of Eigg trust and what has your role been? How has your role changed over time?  
We moved to Scotland in the early 70s, rx cialis usa initially to the east coast, online and then we moved across to Eigg in 1976.  I’ve been involved with the Trust since the early 90s - firstly as a member of the Residents Association, sovaldi sale then I was elected as a member of the steering group to look at ways of taking the buy-out forward.  I was elected as a director once the Eigg Heritage Trust had been formed and somehow I ended up as the spokesperson for the group.  Then in 1998 I resigned as a director so I could apply for the job of administration secretary which I’ve done ever since.

What inspired you to get involved?
Seeing the injustice of the way a landlord could affect people’s lives and how the island was becoming demoralised and depressed because of it.  There wasn’t really one headline moment that inspired me, I just saw the events that were unfolding on Eigg at the time.  

What do you think have been the group’s greatest successes and challenges? Image of Eigg harbour
Living in a remote small community means that tackling any major project is a challenge.  I guess our biggest success is the way the community has risen to that challenge and continues to put a vast amount of voluntary effort into making things happen.  As for specifics, obviously one success was managing the buy-out in the first place – it was certainly a steep learning curve for all of us. 

Other things we can be rightly proud of include the building of An Laimhrig (the island’s pier centre with a shop/tearoom/craft shop/public toilets & showers); renovating 5 Trust owned tenanted properties; the renewable energy projects and being the only Scottish finalist in the Big Green Challenge.  Through all of those things we’ve tried to make sure that the work gets done by local people, which has helped to create employment on the island.  For example, we’ve done a lot of forestry work and people have had the chance to get trained and get the certificates they need, so the work can stay on the island.

What do you think has contributed to the group’s success?
At first it was the adversity - the sense of us versus a system of private ownership helped to catalyse us.  But it’s really just a bunch of ordinary folk who care deeply about the place they live in and who are prepared to put in the effort to improve their lot.

Did you have any disasters on the way?
I’m not saying it hasn’t been difficult at times but I don’t think we’ve had any major disasters and the good news is that 12 years later we’re still solvent!!

What would you do differently if you did it again?
I can’t really think of anything I’d change - the whole thing has grown organically, so people’s confidence and skills have grown in the process. The next generation are becoming more involved and there are people who are new to the island who are bringing in fresh energy.

What do you still want to achieve on Eigg?
We want to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and win the Big Green Challenge (well, and the £1million that goes with it, of course!).  We’ll find out who’s won in September this year, but there’ll be a lot of work done between now and then.  We’re always looking for ways of finding income streams which could be invested back into the island, so that’ll still be something we want to achieve.

Where are you planning to put the MBE – will it have pride of place on the mantelpiece or will it be in a drawer!?
I don’t have a mantelpiece or a display cabinet so it’ll probably be on display in the kitchen for a wee while and then end up in the general guddle!

What was the most unexpected outcome of your involvement in the Eigg Trust (apart from the MBE), and what was the most unexpected outcome for the community?
I used to make patchwork quilts and crocheted slippers so spending most of my time in front of a computer screen is quite a big change of direction!  The changes we’ve seen happen on the island over the last 12 years have had a huge impact on people’s lives – probably much more than we realised when we were starting out.

What advice would you give to others who are just starting out on the road to community ownership, or those who have lost their way?
Commitment is the main key, along with having solid community backing and being prepared for the huge amount of work it will entail.  Sharing information by whatever means is important but the best way for people to learn from our experiences is to come and see it for themselves.

If you were the Scottish Government minister in charge, what would you change to make a difference to community land ownership?
If we were starting out now, the structure that the trust has wouldn’t qualify under the terms of the Land Reform legislation.  So maybe more flexibility in how the legislation works and who can use it would be helpful.  Although community land initiatives share a lot of similarities, there certainly isn’t a one size fits all, so flexibility is really important.  I’d try and promote more recognition for the importance of the social enterprise sector as well.

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