Row over Western Isles Schools legal advice

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TO go to court or to let it go will be the decision facing the Comhairle next month when they consider legal advice over the Scottish Government’s school decisions to prevent closure of Shelibost, Carloway and the S1/2 departments of Lionel and Shawbost.

Meanwhile the Comhairle’s SNP group are querying the legality of the Education Committee taking powers to make the decision to seek legal advice without the need for full council approval.

SNP Councillor Annie MacDonald, who is a member of the committee, has written to the Committee Clerk and the Chief Executive to formally record her dissent at the decision made.

A statement from the SNP group stated: “If taking these powers required the Education Committee decision to be unanimous then it wasn’t.

SNP Councillor Annie Macdonald was treated shabbily on the day by not being allowed to speak on the matter and so she had no alternative but to subsequently write to the Committee Clerk and the Chief Executive formally recording her dissent.”

They added: “These bullying and cowardly tactics extended to the full Comhairle meeting before which SNP group members were advised that the matter could not be raised or debated further in the Chamber due to the powers taken by the Education Committee the previous week. It seems the Comhairle will now do whatever it can to stifle debate on the school closure issue by not letting the members who are not on the Education Committee speak on the matter, while the four affected schools and communities are left high and dry wondering what on earth is going on.”

The Comhairle is already thought to be in the process of seeking legal advice at a cost of up to £3,000. This advice could be forthcoming imminently but the Comhairle will not formally consider this until the March series of meetings.

The report to be prepared for those meetings will also give information on the cost of going for a judicial review.