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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 19:38 GMT
Islanders win battle for Gigha
Isle of Gigha
The island was offered for sale at 3.85m
The islanders of Gigha have won the fight to own their own island - despite the fact they were not the top bidders in the sale.

It was announced on Tuesday afternoon that the 3,400 acre island will be handed over to a community trust.

The trust has won backing from Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish Land Fund.

The island was on the market for 3.85m and it is understood a total of four bids were made.

Willie McSporran
Willie McSporran said islander are delighted

But an HIE spokesman announced that land owner Derek Holt, who has been described by islanders as having shown a "constructive attitude", had opted to sell to the locals.

The 110 people on the island will now effectively be in control of their own destiny.

Willie McSporran, spokesman for the new Isle of Gigha Community Trust, said: "This is a historic and wonderful day for the islanders - it marks a new chapter in our story and I'm sure the celebrations will be remembered for a long, long time.

"We are delighted with all the support we've received and are full of enthusiasm for the future.

"We are all prepared to do whatever it takes to make community ownership a runaway success."

The trust, with a membership of 80 and an elected board of seven directors will now take over the running of the island estate, with the official handover due to take place early in the new year.

Gigha island
Bids closed at noon on Monday

Mr Holt said: "This has been an exciting few week for my family and the islanders of Gigha.

"As I said to George Lyon MSP at the start, we had no objection to the islanders bidding if that is what they wished."

He added: "The island community must now remember they are at the other side of the fence and will all have to become benevolent business people, remember we are only a short time here, but Gigha will be here forever."

The bid has been given financial backing by the Lottery-funded Scottish Land Fund and by the Community Land Unit (CLU) at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as being supplemented by the islanders' own fund-raising efforts and private donations.

George Lyon, the MSP for Argyll and Bute, praised the residents for their hard work in working together during their campaign to buy the island.

He said: "This is fantastic news. I would like to pay tribute to the tenacity of the Gigha community who have worked so hard over the last few weeks to put the bid together, they are to be congratulated.

George Lyon
George Lyon has been heavily involved with the islanders

"It's a wonderful day for all concerned and everyone is now looking forward to the future."

John Watt, the head of the CLU, said: "We are delighted the islanders of Gigha have been successful - especially as the demonstrated will to take over the island was so strong.

"They are following in the footsteps of others, notably Assynt, Eigg and Knoydart, but each community is different and each faces its own challenges.

"To some extent the hard work starts here, but the CLU is prepared to stick around for the long haul and help the islanders realise their dream of a prosperous and confident island for themselves and for future generations."

Mr Watt added: "It's also worth putting on record the appreciation we, and the islanders have for the constructive way in which the landlord approached the sale and the community interest.

"There was a deal of goodwill all along, amply demonstrated by the acceptance of the community offer which was substantially less than competing bids."

BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson reports
"The asking price was nearly 4m"
See also:

30 Oct 01 | Scotland
God's mild Scottish island
30 Oct 01 | Scotland
Gigha residents await buy-out result
29 Oct 01 | Scotland
Islanders 'optimistic' as bids close
12 Oct 01 | Scotland
Islanders back buy-out bid
24 Aug 01 | Scotland
Land reform splits Lib Dems
18 Aug 01 | Scotland
Islanders consider community buy-out
13 Aug 01 | Scotland
Call to help residents buy island
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
Isle be yours - for 3.85m
16 Jul 01 | Scotland
Land reform warning to ministers
29 Sep 00 | Scotland
Man of many jobs retires
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