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Hebrides News


Comhairle accused of coming up with new reason against Sunday sports centre

17 February 2017

A campaign group has accused the comhairle of “confusing” the community with “ever-changing reasons” for refusing to open the Lewis Sports Centre on Sundays.


In October, councillors voted 19-9 against a year's trial run to test open the Stornoway facility for three hours each Sunday due to the costs plus the lack of staff willing to work.   


The Families into Sport for Health (FiSH) group launched a crowdfunding appeal for the minimum amount of £11,400 costs of a pilot at the Stornoway-based 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.


Campaigners want to present the cheque next week but the council is rejecting the cash and will not accept the cheque.


Campaigners should give the money back or donate it to charity, says the local authority.


FiSH spokesperson, Pauline Matterson, said: "We feel it is necessary to hold a public event for this offering as throughout this campaign there has been public confusion.


“The community saw the crowdfunder as a solution to the stated financial problem.”


“We would like the council to provide an official and public statement in light of funds now being available as reasons against opening on Sundays have been ever-changing and the process for achieving community engagement ambiguous."

She maintained the council altered the “circumstances” after council leader Angus Campbell said the outcome was partly based on councillors representing the views of the majority of people in their wards.


Ms Matterson added: “Mr Campbell claims, after the fact, to speak on behalf of the majority of constituents even though that wasn't the reason cited at the time and ignores the fact that demand for Sunday opening exists.”

A council spokesman insisted: “There has been no change in position.”


He said councillors take decisions based on a number of factors, including the views of people in their wards.


“The one simple fact however, is that the council has taken a decision on the trial Sunday opening and that decision stands until another position is taken.


“The council will not therefore be accepting the cheque that FiSH are offering as to do so would be to accept money under false pretences as we would not be able to use the money for the stated intention.


Any move to change that decision needs the a suspension of standing orders of the council’s procedures before the issue can be reheard within a year of the original vote.


“In the meantime, we would ask FiSH and its supporters to consider what they intend to do with the money they have raised.


“There are many needy causes in the Western Isles or it could be returned to those who donated.”