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Hebrides News


►  Councillors vote over Sunday opening of Lewis sports centre


The comhairle is set to turn down a sum of £11,400 being donated for Sunday opening for Lewis Sports Centre.


Campaign group, Families into Sport for Health (FiSH), will have to keep the £11,400 it raised through an internet crowdfunding drive.


However, Fish is still going ahead with a public relations event to present the cheque to the council on 3 February.


A council representative may or may not turn up but Hebrides News understands the group will be given an explanation why the Sunday opening condition cannot be fulfilled.


The council previously stressed Sabbath observance is not the reason why councillors voted against seven day opening.


It said a democratic vote which decided the outcome was based on an objective assessment of the likely costs and the employment and operational issues involved – not just purely financial issues.


A Fish spokesperson said: “The cheque presentation will be the official offering of funds to the CnES for a 12 month trial of Sunday opening hours of ISL.


“Should the council wish to accept or decline the funds, they can do so at that time.”


The comhairle said councillors democratically voted against the trial opening not just on costs but taking account of staffing and operational issues.


Islanders had the opportunity to engage with elected councillors and representations from the wider community were reflected in the majority decision, it added.

Fish said it feels 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 as precedent had been set with the swim club.”


Its spokesperson said: “We would like the CnES 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."

The group said it feels let down by the council's “persistent efforts” to keep the facilities closed on Sundays “instead of reasonably considering” the possibility of opening.


The fundraising drive was only successful due to the National Secular Society (NSS) stepping in.

With 24 hours to go it was looking doubtful if the high profile campaign would gather sufficient support to hit its target £11,400.

The NSS said it intervened and paid the outstanding amount to “ensure success” for the crowdfunding initiative.

It said the attempt by “religious fundamentalists on the Western Isles of Scotland to stop families using a swimming pool on the Sabbath is not the first time the local council... has imposed its religious dogmatism on the whole community.”


►  Councillors vote over Sunday opening of Lewis sports centre



Council to refuse cash for sports centre Sunday opening

24 January 2017