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Hundreds of people have lost employment at the council over the years due to “reduced spend.”

The equivalent of 300 full time jobs have disappeared for the council’s “shrinking workforce“ since 2010, said Mr Campbell.


This budget is a “rare“ experience as “no further savings” are required to be found for 2017 after a two year programme of cuts was introduced last spring, said council leader Angus Campbell.


Mr Campbell said the government should listen to the demands of the three Scottish island groups - Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney - which seeks public sector reform as many national schemes do not work in the islands.


Despite the “unprecedented austerity” the council seeks to protect services, avoid compulsory redundancies and invest in building projects, said the leader.


One “urgent” issue is to obtain UK government commitment to build a sub-sea cable between the Western Isles and the mainland to export electricity island wind farms, he pointed out.


The interconnector is hailed as the link unleashing a multi-million renewable energy industry to regenerate the ailing economy.


Another requirement is encouraging the Scottish Government to devolve Crown Estate control of the seabed and foreshore to the island community which would boost marine tourism.


Emphasis was on developing a skilled island workforce with criticism of Scotland-wide training schemes “aimed at mass throughput” which are not appropriate in the Western Isles.


Councillors voted to provide at least 28 modern apprenticeships plus supporting nine young people to start employment within the local authority .



The Western Isles faces a potential 25% cut in many services by the end of the next three years, according to comhairle leader, Angus Campbell.


The authority reckons the Brexit vote for leaving the European Union will mean growing inflation which, combined with ongoing pressure to reduce public, means £12 million savings “could be needed by 2020.“


“With health, social care and teachers protected, this represents a 25% cut in all other services,” said Mr Campbell.


The council’s budget is “now £20 million lower” compared to seven years ago, he pointed out.



£12 million cuts loom for Western Isles services in coming years

7 February 2017