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September 26, 2012

Landowner makes the wrong kind of splash

For many, the chance discovery of a skimming stone while out on a shoreline walk is an opportunity not to be missed. But for some, that gentle pleasure of flicking the odd skimmer out across deeper waters has turned into (semi) serious sport.  Last weekend, the world’s finest skimming talent descended on the tiny island of Easdale for the annual world championship.  But an unexpected intervention by the island’s absentee landowner has stirred unwelcome ripples across the community. A buy-out is being spoken of.


The Scotsman, 19 September 

Islanders on Easdale may look at lodging a community buyout bid after the absentee owner tried to charge them for holding a charity event.

The suggestion, backed by ¬Argyll MSP Michael Russell, comes after Jonathan Feigenbaum withdrew permission for the World Stone Skimming Championships following a row with organisers, the Eilean Eisdeal Community Trust.

Mr Feigenbaum said in an open letter to residents that his decision followed the trust’s refusal to show him its public liability insurance and pay a fee for use of the disused quarry site where the stone skimming event takes place.

Donald Melville, a director of the Eilean Eisdeal Community Trust, said yesterday that a community buyout bid was not out of the question.

He said: “It may be something that comes out of this. It’s something that we could consider. It’s bound to raise its head.

“It’s not something we had thought about before, but we didn’t see this coming. The stone skimming championships have been going for 15 years. We have established the right. We don’t see why he is now taking charge and charging us.”

Whether the community of 60-70 permanent residents would back a buyout bid is another matter.

Mr Melville said a majority of residents would need to be in favour and added: “I think some would be for it, but some would speak against it.”

Mr Feigenbaum lives in ¬England.

The Eilean Eisdeal Community Trust owns the harbour, community hall and the museum. Mr Melville said: “We could also look at trying to buy the quarry.”

He stressed that the stone skimming contest, which usually attracts hundreds of people, would definitely be going ahead as planned on Sunday, despite the threat of legal action from Mr Feigenbaum if it does.

Mr Melville said Mr Feigenbaum wanted to charge £1,000 for the use of the old quarry.

The trust thinks the charge is excessive, as the charity event is being held to raise cash for community events.