Councillor’s shock at lack of discussion over island air service
‘ASTONISHING and abysmal.’ Those were the words of a Western Isles councillor on hearing the news that Barra and Vatersay were to be ‘left out’ of an island air service consultation, writes Ellie Forbes.
Donnie Steele, councillor for Barra and South Uist, Vatersay and Eriskay, told The Oban Times of his shock at the decision to ‘completely ignore the communities of Barra and Vatersay’ in the public consultations.
Consultation events on inter island air services were held in the Western Isles last night, with another tonight (August 18).
Mr Steele said: ‘There is a huge disconnect between Stornoway and the outlying communities. There is only one return flight a day for three days a week, and it’s effecting the communities.
‘There has been no explanation of why the people of Barra have been completely neglected.
‘The further south you go from the Stornoway/ Broadbay area the worse it [air services] gets. The decision to cut the number of flights from Stornoway to Benbecula was bad, but the decision to scrap all flights from Barra to Benbecula was scandalous.
‘Humza Yousaf the minister for transport and the islands will be contacted about this latest fiasco.’
A Comhairle, Western Isles, spokesman, said: ‘It was agreed by the comhairle that consultation and engagement as part of the review would include public meetings in Stornoway and Benbecula, seeking feedback on current and potential future service delivery issues.
‘As part of this process, the external consultants were also asked to engage and consult with all elected members and the Association of Uist Community Councils, Northbay Community Council and Castlebay and Vatersay Community Council.
‘In addition, the comhairle continues to look at further ways, in collaboration with other key stakeholders, including Loganair, to enhancing connectivity between Barra and Glasgow consistent with the views and preferences previously expressed by the community in Barra’.
Ahead of the meetings, Councillor John Mackay, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s chairman of transportation and infrastructure said: ‘For those of us living in island communities we all have experience, either directly or indirectly, of our air services and the impact they have. I warmly welcome these consultation events and would encourage the public to take this opportunity to make their voices heard as part of this work.’