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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been accused of blocking a bid to build a community sports facility on Barra.


Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh and Bhatarsaidh submitted an asset transfer request to the council for a plot of land opposite Castlebay Community School.


But the comhairle rejected the application and the community is now appealing the decision.


MP Angus MacNeil is perplexed at the council’s stance.


He said: “It is really hard to understand and difficult to explain why the Comhairle is preventing a community from building a much-needed sports facility.”


Mr MacNeil added: “I understand that one of the reasons for refusal is that the land in question may need to be used for the purpose of siting a portacabin during the construction of Castlebay Community School, however, I am told that land is being made available by a crofter for this purpose, should it be required.


“I have written to comhairle leader Roddie Mackay and all councillors.


“The comhairle must approve the community asset transfer of this land to allow the community to benefit from an all-weather pitch.


“This has full support on Barra and it is bizarre that the comhairle of all bodies should ride rough shod over the community.“


He continued: “Campaigners have lived with 18 years of promises from the comhairle. People are not even looking to the comhairle to fund it but to get out of the way and let it happen.


“The community has until the 30th of January for their community asset transfer appeal and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should remember they were only custodians of the King George V playing fields in Castlebay and shouldn't act like unreasonable Victorian landlords. Councillors, of course, have to ensure this.”

A council spokesman said: “The redevelopment of Castlebay School is in the very early stages of options appraisal and the final solution will depend on the level of funding available from the various supporting agencies.

“The preferred option would be to include an all weather pitch (AWP) in the scope.

“It is the council’s intention that an AWP be facilitated in Castlebay, be this through the transfer of land to the community, or incorporation into the school development project. The reason for retaining the land at the current time is to allow all development options to be considered.

“The council is supportive of the community’s aspirations to enhance the sporting facilities in Castlebay.”

Comhairle accused of blocking Barra all-weather pitch

25 January 2018