Reporter “shocked” by Barra pitch revelation

Barra FC’s current training area on Tangusdale machair

A Scottish Government reporter who heard an asset transfer appeal on Barra last week was “pretty shocked” to learn that the island has been waiting for almost 40 years for an all-weather sport facility.

Trevor Croft, an official with the Division of Planning and Environmental Appeals, was on Barra to hear from both sides in an appeal brought by the Barra Sports Forum against a decision by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar not to transfer a piece of waste ground to the community. In doing so, the BSF became the first organization in Scotland to invoke the Community Empowerment Act to challenge a local authority decision.

Chris Denehy of the BSF said Mr Croft had been “pretty shocked” to learn that the comhairle had promised Barra an-weather sports facility in 1983, when the new school in Castlebay was being built.

He added: “We have a very strong case and Mr Croft said there would probably be a quick turnaround on this because it is the first asset transfer appeal using the act. It is amazing to think that the comhairle are talking about knocking down the old school and replacing it – before they build the pitch which was meant to have been part of the school in the first place.”

A spokeswoman for the DPEA could not say how long it would take for Mr Croft to finish his report. It will then have to be considered by Scottish Ministers before they make a decision on the appeal.