Residents say no to Point expansion

Plans to extend the boundaries of the Point ward are being strongly opposed by residents on the Stornoway side of the Braighe.

Last week councillors were told of proposals put forward by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (LGBCS) - one of which is to extend the Sgire an Rubha ward to include Sandwick and Plasterfield.

Stornoway South councillor Charlie Nicolson said the Sandwick Community Council and also the Parkend, Holm and Mossend Residents Associations had all met and voiced their opposition to this change.

He said: “It was felt that the area would lose its identity and also the name did not cover the area suggested by the Boundary Commission. It does not fit into the Point catchment area even down to Education terms where the catchment areas for primary schools are different schools.”

He said councillors would hold meetings in the area in August.

It was agreed at last week’s Comhairle meetings that a Member’s Seminar be held as soon as possible to discuss the issue of ward boundary changes and a response from the Comhairle be submitted to the Commission. A public consultation would also take place over the next few months organised by the LGBCS. Other controversial proposals include plans to put Harris, Lochs, Uig and Bernera all together in one ward and to extend the An Taobh Siar agus Nis ward to include Carloway, Breasclete, Callanish and Garynahine.

It was the view of most councillors at the meeting that the current system of multi-member wards was not working well in the islands and it was also agreed to make representations to the Scottish Government through the Our Islands Our Future campaign to consider a system which better reflected the geography and natural communities of the Western Isles.

Cllr Ronnie Mackinnon, whose ward covers South Uist and Barra said he had to get a ferry from one part of the ward to another: “It’s just not working, he said: “The islands should be looked at separately, it was fairer to have one member to one ward.”

Leader Angus Campbell added: “The majority of councillors back that stance. People forget that we are dealing with an area equal to from Glasgow to Newcastle, the old system was much fairer.”

Chief Executive Malcolm Burr said the legislation meant that one or two member wards were not allowed and that these arguments had been put foward before.