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The SNP group of councillors on the comhairle hit out at the council for apparently not having a “firm plan” for services for vulnerable children in the Western Isles.


The result of a council vote on Tuesday aims at the effective closure of the Hillcrest children’s care home in Stornoway which is run by Action for Children staff.


The council is looking at building a new, larger residential care facility at an earmarked site by the Sandwick Learning Centre, formerly Sandwickhill school, outside Stornoway.


The change - which could save £350,000 - was previously agreed on condition councillors were satisfied with the transitional arrangements.



SNP alarmed at “lack of firm plan” for Hillcrest

8 February 2017

This week councillors agreed a proposed strategy  to redesign the service which means Hillcrest would no longer be a children’s care home.


The SNP criticised the “absence of detail” over the proposed changes.


In a heated debate, Cllr Gordon Murray, seconded by Cllr Rae Mackenzie proposed that the decision was deferred until  “more constructive” information was provided.


Mr Murray said: “No model has been agreed, no information is available on the future accommodation, where, when?


“So, we, the SNP group cannot be satisfied and are therefore unable, with the information presented, to agree the cut to the service."


But Cllr Roddie Mackay suggested it was “pointless” to debate the issue now because an update report was to be considered at council meetings at the end of the month.


Then “councillors can intervene and, if not happy, can revisit it.”


Rae Mackenzie pointed out the council was voting to “take the £350,000 cut today” without a satisfactory plan in place.


Council leader Angus Campbell said there was “no threat to Hillcrest in the lifetime of this council.”


Rae Mackenzie retorted: “There are only two or three months left of this council,” referring to the end of the council session before the May elections.


The motion to go ahead with the changes to Hillcrest was supported by 22 councillors while five supported the SNP’s bid to delay.


Following the meeting, Mr Murray said it was “disappointing” the council refused to delay the changes.


It is “difficult to see” how other councillors members are now “happy with arrangements when no one is clear about the future of the facility.”