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Voting slips for the Stornoway Trust election have been held up because of surprise high number of candidates.


A surge of interest in standing for the community landlord resulted in extra work for the printers delaying the despatch of postal packs.


Some 22 people are vying for just five seats on the Stornoway Trust - which covers nearly half the population of the Western Isles - making it the fiercely contested ballot for 40 years.


10,000 electors are patiently waiting for the delayed voting slips which should have arrived by now as they need to be posted back this week to arrive in London before the deadline at noon on 27 March.


The large number of people entering the race was unexpected going by past trends.


Though not obliged to do so, the Stornoway Trust is printing and delivering all candidates statements to voters along with the postal pack.


The “sheer volume” of candidates put the printers under pressure.


Stornoway Trust factor Iain Maciver said: “Such a huge amount of interest was not anticipated.”


Mr Maciver said the voting papers have now left the printers and are in the postal system.


They should be dropping through letterboxes on Wednesday, or Thursday “by the latest.”


The factor urged residents to read the postal packs and return the completed voting slips as soon as possible.


Votes posted locally by Saturday should arrive at the London count centre by the cut-off time.


Voting can also take place at the trust’s office in Stornoway between 8am and 8pm on Tuesday.


In 2015, the trust election almost slipped by with little fanfare but this time round two land leases are fuelling controversy.


Three weeks ago the trust voted to retain a ban forbidding golfers teeing on the Sabbath at the parkland course leased to the local club where the game has never been played, reflecting the historic local island values of observing the Sabbath.


Religion played no part in the decision said one trustee, pointing out a large number of people simply want to enjoy the grounds in peace, quiet and safety for one day of the week.


Another local dispute focuses on a David and Goliath battle over crofters’ rights to use their own moorland grazings to build a community wind farm.


The trust angered crofters by awarding French owned energy giant EDF a 70-year lease on the land.


Some residents say the trust should have built its own turbine scheme for the community.


The trust owns the Arnish manufacturing yard and is also embarking on an ambitious redevelopment of the Lews Castle grounds.


People who are 16 years or over and on the electoral roll within the trust area are entitled to vote. The estate stretches between North Tolsta, Newmarket, Point and part of North Lochs.


It also covers Stornoway, making it the only community landlord with a sizeable town under its wing.  


The Stornoway Trust was created as a community body in 1923 when landlord Lord Leverhulme gifted 69,000 acres of land to the people.

Delay in Stornoway Trust ballot papers

20 March 2018

Crofters are embroiled in a community versus corporate wind farms row with the Stornoway Trust