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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Islanders back buy-out bid
Achamore House
The current owner is selling the island
The people of Gigha have voted by a majority of more than two to one in favour of mounting a community bid to buy the island.

Residents now have until the end of the month to raise the asking price of 3.85m.

The chairman of the islanders' steering committee, Willie McSporran, said he was confident they could make a succesful bid.

He said that the island had come a long way in six weeks, and it could go even further in another fortnight.

Gigha island
The island has attracted interest
Residents were asked if they supported the idea of a community buy-out in a ballot after the 3,400 acre island, located 20 miles from the Mull of Kintyre, was put on the market by owner Derek Holt. The vote was 50 to 24 in favor of the move.

The 74-year-old, who is a previous owner of Skibo estate, bought the historical island - which comes with its own baronial title - about 10 years ago.

Prospective buyers will have to offer over the 3.85m asking price if they wish to buy the island, which is home to 110 residents.

Gigha is one of the UK's largest privately owned islands boasting 37 cottages, a shop, a nine-hole golf course and a private airstrip.

Community representatives had previously met Highlands and Islands Enterprise to discuss the possibility of a buy-out to ensure the island remained in community hands.

Ballot of islanders

Selling agents FPD Savills have reported that the island is generating interest with at least one prospective buyer.

Mr Holt wrote to the residents explaining that his decision to sell was taken due to ill-health.

Politicians have previously urged the Scottish Executive to intervene and ensure the island does not fall under the control of an absentee landlord.

Local Liberal Democrat MSP George Lyon welcomed the islanders' decision.


This majority vote has taken us over our first hurdle in our community buy-out process and we are delighted, as well as being very excited.

Willie McSporran
"This is fantastic news. I will be asking the Scottish Executive to pull out all the stops to get funding in place in time," he said.

"The islanders of Gigha now need to call in all the support and help offered to them by the various bodies and act as quickly as possible to put in their offer for their island."

Mr McSporran added: "This majority vote has taken us over our first hurdle in our community buy-out process and we are delighted, as well as being very excited.

"We realise that we have a challenge ahead of us, requiring dedication and much commitment on our part, but we hope to meet this challenge with enthusiasm and hard work.

"Fundraising is uppermost in our minds at this stage. We need to raise funds to meet our contribution."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Craig Anderson reports
"There exists political backing for the move"
See also:

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
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