A campaign to open up ownership of a Scottish island to the local community has been backed by a senior Scottish Government minister.
Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, supports attempts to encourage residents of Bute to join the Mount Stuart Trust, the company that owns and manages most of the island.
Mr Russell, who is also local MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: "I have had a very productive discussion with the trust in recent days and I think their work is very important to the island. It seems to me, however, that there would be great benefit to be had from a wider membership that included those who live on the island or who work closely with the island."
He continued: "I would support local people seeking and gaining membership and my own application is simply designed to draw attention to the issue. I hope the trust will think seriously about the matter and I will be writing to them to make that point."
The trust is controlled by five members of the Marquess of Bute's family, an accountant and a lawyer.
Campaign group Land Action Scotland wants residents to join the trust to give people a say in how their community is run.
Group founder Andy Wightman, a land rights campaigner and author, said: "This is an extremely welcome intervention from Michael Russell, and it sends a clear message to the current owners of Bute: from the grass roots to the corridors of power, Scottish public opinion is against the old model of aristocratic land ownership and entitlement.
"The Mount Stuart Trust now have a decision to make. Are they a genuine charity which puts the interests of the residents of Bute first? If so, then they will have no choice but to accept applications from excellent candidates like Michael Russell, and start opening up Bute to local residents.
"Or will they batten down the hatches, decline every application, and confirm local fears that they are motivated only by their own self-interest?"
Responding to the launch of the campaign, David Cameron, of Community Land Scotland, said: "It is one of the tragedies of private land ownership that some communities can be reluctant even to register an interest in community land ownership, for fear that it is seen as a hostile move. Land Action Scotland has made clear that their goal here is to put pressure on the estates to open up membership, at which point local community members could join as a means to ultimately securing community control."