Little prospect of inter-island flights in comhairle budget plan

The financial cutbacks which have led to a reduction in council services in the Western Isles is likely to continue until 2018, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar warned this week.

The local authority’s final allocation from the Scottish Government will be known next month, but they fully expect it to be in line with official indications given last year, and on which their current budgets were set.

It means, for example, that calls for the re-introduction of inter-flights to Barra are likely to be resisted unless a very strong economic case can be made by supporters. It is also unlikely there will be change to winter maintenance budgets.

The council’s policy and resources committee will meet today (Thursday) to discuss the financial position.

The 2013-2014 budget included savings of £2.8 million, with a further £2.7 million the following year.

In a report prepared ahead of the committee meeting, finance director Robert Emmott said: “Given the challenging outlook for 2015-18 it is suggested that the comhairle should not re-visit the 2013-15 savings proposals but, provided it does not reduce balances below the agreed level of £3 million, meet any shortfall arising from changes to the 2014/15 settlement from balances.

“It is therefore proposed that the draft budget for 2014/15 be prepared on the basis of the 2013/14 budget, adjusted for inflation, and amended in respect of the agreed savings.”