Disbelief at Comhairle Schools court move

WESTERN Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has reacted with “disbelief” to the news that some councillors in the Western Isles are so determined to shut local schools that they would take the Scottish government to court because it reprieved four of them.

Dr Allan has urged the local authority to “stop digging” over the issue and to consider what the public must make of any proposal to spend large sums of money to pay lawyers in a bid to force schools to close.

He said: “I realise Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and I are not going to agree on the issue of school closures, but to be fair, I also realise that the Comhairle itself is split on the latest proposal.

“Their proposal would – incredibly – see council tax payers’ money being used to engage legal representatives in a bid to take the Government to court – all because it decided to keep open four of the schools the Comhairle wanted to close.”

Dr Allan continued: “I don’t underestimate the need for the Comhairle to save money, and I accept the reality of some schools closing.

“However, for the Comhairle to lay out money to engage lawyers to take on the communities in Shelibost, Carloway, Lionel and Shawbost, and to attack the arguments those communities have successfully made to ministers would be a quite breathtaking move.

“I have already been contacted by a number of people in Carloway asking me if the Comhairle are serious.

“That is a question for councillors to answer, but my strong sense is that they would be wise to stop digging on this issue, and to recognise the force of the arguments which were made to ministers for these four schools,” he added.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Stornoway Gazette (Thursday, February 10).