SNP alarmed at lack of plan for Hillcrest

editorial image

Concerns over the lack of a firm plan for services for vulnerable children in the Western Isles were raised by the SNP Group in recent Comhairle meetings.

As councillors voted to proceed with a redesign of the children’s residential facility, Hillcrest, the SNP are alarmed by the absence of detail regarding transitional arrangements.

The Comhairle previously deferred a decision on changes to Hillcrest until members were satisfied with transitional arrangements.

Councillor Gordon Murray, seconded by Councillor Rae Mackenzie, proposed that the decision was deferred until councillors received more constructive information.

Addressing the Comhairle he said: “We all agree that Hillcrest/Action for Children provide an excellent service consistently reported by the inspectorate.

“At the last budget, the decision was made that the cut would only be realised when members were satisfied with the transitional arrangements.

“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.”

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

Following the meeting, Councillor Murray said: “It is disappointing that the amendment to delay the changes was not supported by the majority of councillors.

“The SNP Group remains dissatisfied and it is difficult to see how other members are now happy with arrangements when no one is clear about the future of the facility.”

The SNP’s amendment further included a plan to re-introduce concessionary fares on the Sound of Barra and the Sound of Harris.

Councillor Donald Manford commented: “The reintroduction of concessionary fares is essential for renewing integration and integrity across the Western Isles as a unit.

“Despite the evidence being presented that this could be reintroduced at a cost of £12,500, the Comhairle Leader stated that the prices were ‘so small that it didn’t matter’. Mr Campbell went on to say ‘I’ve had no negative reaction to this so there is no point’. That is a position which I find utterly appalling.

“The SNP are resolved to continue the fight until this injustice is defeated.”