SNP councillors slam rise

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The SNP Group at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have rejected plans to impose a 3 per cent council tax rise on the people of the islands.

Cllr Donald Manford put forward an amendment to the Comhairle’s motion at yesterday’s (Tuesday) budget setting meeting, seconded by Cllr John A Maciver, which proposed no increase in council tax.

Cllr Manford said: “The Comhairle are imposing this additional burden on households when people are already struggling to make ends meet. The fact is that the council does have funds available due to underspends which should be used to provide the services which are the responsibility of the council to provide.

“The extra money provided by the Scottish Government far exceeds the money which will be gained by the rise in council tax.

“The Western Isles may have the lowest level of council tax but it also has the lowest average wage in the country and the SNP group feel this additional burden on the community is unnecessary”

Cllr Manford added that constitutional constraints at the Comhairle were designed to thwart debate and that although the SNP Group had managed to submit an amendment to the council tax plans, it had not been done in the way we would have wished.

The Group’s amendment also proposed a report be brought before the Comhairle on the reintroduction of an air service between Barra and Benbecula – the two issues were included as one amendment due to constitutional rules regarding the suspension of standing orders.

Cllr Manford said he was aware that many councillors would have supported the proposal had it been in a single amendment but due to constitutional constraints this had not been possible.

The amendment was defeated, however and councillors voted 22 -6 in favour of the council tax rise.

Nevertheless, a report on the potential for a Barra-Benbecula service is to be brought back to councillors in the future.