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Hebrides News


Wrong to expect cash donation to overturn democratic vote says comhairle

24 January 2017

►  Councillors vote over Sunday opening of Lewis sports centre


Accepting money for a trial Sunday opening of the Lewis Sports centre would give the “wrong impression,” after a democratic vote was taken on the issue says the council.


In October, councillors voted 19-9 against a motion for a year's trial run to open for three hours each Sunday.


But Sunday opening supporters raised £11,400 to cover the costs for a year-old pilot.


A cheque will be available to be presented to the council on 3 February but the council is rejecting the cash.


Comhairle leader, Angus Campbell, said: “The decision of the comhairle was not to implement a pilot.


“We have been very clear that this decision was not only based on the financial implications but also on the employment and operational issues involved and the need to represent the views of the majority of people in our wards.


“Members of the community had the opportunity to engage with our 31 elected members across the length and breadth of the Western Isles and the numerous representations made were not only taken into account fully, but also reflected in the majority decision not to go ahead with trial opening period.


“Therefore, it would be wrong to give the impression that money raised could change that democratic decision.”


The comhairle previously took a swipe at what it sees as the London-based NSS’s interference in a local matter.


Local group, Families into Sport for Health (FiSH), launched a crowdfunding appeal after the comhairle voted against testing out seven-day opening of the facility.


There was insufficient support to hit its target. Then the National Secular Society (NSS) stepped in with a hefty donation to cover the outstanding amount.


In a joint statement with Fish at the time, the NSS said it got involved as “Sabbatarians have imposed their dogma on islanders for long enough.”


It claimed the council was putting up a “smokescreen” and involved in “religious bullying and intolerance” as Sabbatarian councillors try to maintain an “iron grip in 'their' patch, in pursuit of their own sectarian interests.”



►  Councillors vote over Sunday opening of Lewis sports centre