Coun­cil­lor’s shock at lack of dis­cus­sion over is­land air ser­vice

The Oban Times - - News -

‘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.’

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