Com­plaint is not up­held

The Oban Times - - Districts -

THE Com­mis­sioner for Eth­i­cal Stan­dards in Pub­lic Life in Scot­land has not up­held a com­plaint against seven coun­cil­lors or for­mer coun­cil­lors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in con­nec­tion with a de­ci­sion not to open Lewis Sports Cen­tre on a Sun­day.

The com­plaint, on be­half of the Fam­i­lies Into Sport and Health (FISH) group, had al­leged a con­tra­ven­tion of the coun­cil­lors’ code of con­duct.

It al­leged that a num­ber of re­spon­dents failed to reg­is­ter an in­ter­est in re­spect of church mem­ber­ship in their Reg­is­ter of In­ter­ests, in con­tra­ven­tion of sec­tion four of the Code of Con­duct (Reg­is­tra­tion of In­ter­ests).

It was also al­leged that, at a meet­ing of the full coun­cil on Oc­to­ber 5, 2016, all sev- en of the re­spon­dents failed to de­clare a non-fi­nan­cial in­ter­est, namely their mem­ber­ship of cer­tain churches.

Their mem­ber­ship and their re­li­gious be­liefs were said to have in­flu­enced them to vote against Sun­day open­ing of the Ionad Spòrs Leòd­hais (ISL).

On Oc­to­ber 5, 2016, the pol­icy and re­sources com­mit­tee met to dis­cuss a re­port by the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the comhairle which con­sid­ered the fea­si­bil­ity of open­ing the ISL on Sun­days for a 12-month trial pe­riod. That meet­ing, by a vote of nine to two, rec­om­mended to the full coun­cil that it was not op­er­a­tionally fea­si­ble for the ISL to open on a Sun­day.

At a full coun­cil meet­ing later that day, it was agreed by a ma­jor­ity vote of 19 to nine (with one ab­sten­tion), to ac­cept the rec­om­men­da­tion.

All seven re­spon­dents voted with the ma­jor­ity not to pro­ceed with open­ing of the ISL on a Sun­day.

All the re­spon­dents, in their re­sponses to the com­mis­sioner, stated that they voted against Sun­day open­ing of the ISL due to em­ploy­ment, op­er­a­tional and fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions, bud­get con­sid­er­a­tions or due to the views of their con­stituents, to­gether with the views ex­pressed in the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s re­port.

The com­mis­sioner’s find­ings stated: ‘I do not con­sider that there has been suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence pre­sented to show that they acted in ac­cor­dance with their own re­li­gious be­liefs or that their de­ci­sions were de­ter­mined by their mem­ber­ship of a re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘My con­clu­sion is, there­fore, that the al­le­ga­tions out­lined in the com­plaint did not in­volve a breach of the Coun­cil­lors’ Code of Con­duct by coun­cil­lors Gor­don Mur­ray, Char­lie Nicolson, Cather­ine MacDon­ald, An­gus Mor­ri­son, Don­ald Crich­ton, Iain Macken­zie and John Mackay, and I find ac­cord­ingly.’

THE comhairle was sched­uled to ad­ver­tise the 2017 ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gramme this week and to com­mence com­mu­nity meet­ings through­out the Western Isles be­gin­ning the week of the June 5, 2017. Given re­cent events, it has been de­cided to post­pone both the re­cruit­ment and the meet­ings un­til fur­ther no­tice.

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