Comhairle confirm Council Tax rise

Stock image. Photo credit Dominic Lipinski/PA WireStock image. Photo credit Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Stock image. Photo credit Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Comhairle leader Angus Campbell insists a rise in Council Tax for residents of the Western Isles is necessary as the authority try to plug a £6m short fall.

Islanders will see a three per cent rise in their council tax bills after nine straight years of a freeze on council tax rates.

At this week’s budget setting in the Comhairle a vote was taken where despite opposition from some councillors a three per cent rise was passed.

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“If we had been allowed to put half a per cent on each year we wouldn’t be in this situation now,” said Angus Campbell.

“But we still have the lowest council tax in Scotland and the vast majority of people are prepared to pay a little bit more to keep some of the services that we have had to cut in the past. The rise is only 60 pence a week for a Band D property but we are are for some people it is an extra burden.”

The Council are battling further cuts to their budget but much of the hard work and difficult decision was taken last year when the Comhairle voted through a two-year budget which made a significant amount of savings.

“The budget, given the finances available to us, is as good a position as we could hope to be in,” continued Campbell.

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“Having to deal with a £6m drop in funding this year . We are lucky we did a two-year budget last year which did some of the work ahead of time and we have also built up some savings but we have to be aware of where the council will be in a year from now.

I think what we can do is put more money into the health and social care agenda, try and protect jobs and as part of that process we have had to take a three per cent rise in council tax.”

He added: “When you consider we have lost £20m of budget in real terms in the last few years, we have done as well as we could have done.”