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Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Islanders consider community buy-out
Achamore House
The current owner lives in Achamore House
Residents on Scotland's largest privately owned island are considering a community buy-out following the decision by its owner to put it up for sale.

Islanders on Gigha have already met local politicians to discuss how to raise the 3.8m asking price.

The present owner, 74-year-old Derek Holt, said ill health had forced him to put the island up for sale.

The island, which lies more than 20 miles from the Mull of Kintyre, has a population of 110.

Gigha island
The island extends to more than 3,000 acres
The community is now bidding to become its own landlord.

Community representatives will meet Highlands and Islands Enterprise next week to discuss the buy-out.

The Argyll and Bute MSP George Lyon has already called on the Scottish Executive to provide funds to help the islanders raise the 3.8m asking price.

The Lib Dem MSP said the island's situation illustrated a classic example of a community being bought and sold without their consent.

Mr Holt has said he would consider a bid from local residents.

Absentee landlord

But the selling agents, FPD Savills, have reported that the island is already generating interest - with at least one prospective buyer understood to be an American.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute, Alan Reid, said the Scottish Executive should take action to ensure the island does not fall into the hands of an absentee landlord.

He said it should provide money to help finance a purchase or take action through land reform.

The 3,400-acre island contains 37 cottages, a shop and a pub, as well as a nine-hole golf course and private airstrip.

I believe the community wants to buy the island and I want to help them do that.

Argyll and Bute MSP George Lyon
Mr Lyon said: "This is a classic example where an island community has been bought and sold over the past 30 years and never has anyone given them the chance to purchase the island and take control of their own destiny.

"I believe the community wants to buy the island and I want to help them do that.

"The thought of communities being bought and sold as some millionaire's play thing is abhorrent."

See also:

13 Aug 01 | Scotland
Call to help residents buy island
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
Isle be yours - for 3.85m
20 Apr 99 | Features
Tiny school's closure fears
05 May 99 | News
River deep, mountain high
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