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Jura residents vote to take over island's only shop

The residents of Jura have voted by more than three to one to take over the island's only shop.

VITAL: Jura Stores is a lifeline for the 200 islanders.
VITAL: Jura Stores is a lifeline for the 200 islanders.

Some 173 inhabitants were entitled to vote. A total of 139 exercised that right, with one spoilt paper, 31 votes against the idea and 107 votes, 76.9%, in favour.

The 200 islanders' nearest alternative retail outlet is in Bowmore, on Islay, which involves a 10-mile drive from Jura's main settlement Craighouse to the ferry terminal and much further for those who live in the north of Jura. The crossing of the Sound of Islay is then followed by another 10-mile drive. Not to mention the return journey.

The owners of Jura Stores, Steve and Bev Martin have run the shop since 1990, but have found it very difficult to keep going and have been trying to sell the business.

Despite advertising it for sale, there was no interest. They were faced with having to close it down but approached the community-led Jura Development Trust, which has applied successfully to Scottish ministers to exercise a Community Right to Buy under land reform legislation. The Scottish Government appointed an independent valuer who has put a price of £95,000 on the business.

The community has already received development funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Big Lottery to work on the shop project, and the islanders are desperately hoping that these bodies will help fund the purchase now, as widely expected, the community has voted to proceed.

Before the vote Peter Wotherspoon, secretary of the Jura Development Trust, said it was absolutely vital the community secured the shop: "Imagine what it would like to lose our only shop."

Sarah Compton-Bishop, who works with the trust said: "I have done the Bowmore shop run by public transport and it takes five hours there and back. That's from Craighouse, but more than half Jura's population live further north.

"There was a clear vote in favour of the buyout so we will now send these results to the Scottish Government for them to further consider the community right to buy application before making the final decision."

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Local government

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