Bays of Harris Feasibility Study
The Bays of Harris Steering Group has confirmed that a postal ballot to determine support for a community buyout of the Bays of Harris Estate will be held next month. The ballot will be organised and managed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Eligible voters will include residents of the Bays of Harris Estate who are registered to vote on the Comhairle’s Register of Electors, and tenants of crofts on the Estate who live outwith the estate but who are ordinarily resident within 20 miles (32 kilometres) of their crofts. It is anticipated that the result of the ballot will be announced in mid September.
The ballot announcement follows publication of a feasibility study last month by consultants, Duncan MacPherson and Faye Macleod, which shows that community ownership of the Bays of Harris Estate can make a significant contribution to securing the future sustainability of the community, which has faced decades of depopulation and a lack of affordable local housing. A business plan linked to the feasibility study, also published last month, shows that the estate is financially profitable – it had an income of £84,283 in 2021 – and details development proposals for the estate under community ownership focusing on affordable housing, local employment and supporting crofting development and other community projects.
The Steering Group advises any eligible voters not already on the Comhairle’s Register of Electors to ensure they are included on that Register by August 19th to enable them to vote in the buyout ballot. The Steering Group also advises any tenants of crofts on the estate who live outwith the estate’s boundaries but are ordinarily resident within 20 miles (32 kilometres) of their crofts, to contact the group by email at email@example.com by August 19th to ensure that they are also included on the register to vote in the buyout ballot.
Grant Fulton, a Harris Councillor and Steering Group member said, “The forthcoming ballot will be important in establishing the level of community support for a buyout of the Bays of Harris Estate. The Steering Group is pleased that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has agreed to organise and manage the ballot process, as they have vast experience of conducting similar community buyout ballots, both in Harris and elsewhere in the Western Isles. We urge the Bays of Harris community to make their views on a buyout of the estate known by returning their ballot papers after they have been issued.