A decision to close the Hillcrest Residential home in Stornoway has been deferred by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

The controversial proposal recommended that children currently looked after in Hillcrest should be placed in foster care, saving £350,000 in 2016/17.

Councillors decided this afternoon that they needed more information on the proposal before the facility was wound down.

The issue will now be deferred until 2017/18.

A meeting of the full council heard that the Comhairle had listened to public opinion following an extensive consultation period.

As such, Stornoway bus station and public conveniences will stay open, pending a review into these services, which will consider franchising.

The Stornoway abattoir will also remain open, but charges will increase further in 2016/17 and a working group will be set up to monitor its performance.

The café at Stornoway Library is still earmarked for closure – although councillors agreed to offer the business as a franchise in the first instance.

A proposal to save £211,000 by reducing the ad hoc roads maintenance budget was rejected. 

Instead, this figure was halved by 50 per cent.

The Comhairle agreed to discontinue with the use of all itinerant teachers in primary schools, saving £232,500.

This went against an amendment by the SNP group on the Comhairle, who argued that itinerant teachers be retained.

Their amendment, which also argued that the Comhairle purchase its electricity from Hebridean Energy Company, was defeated by 22 votes to 5.

Other councillors highlighted that since the company had not yet been set up, it would be irresponsible to include it in their budget-making.

It was also agreed that streetlighting in the Western Isles would be switched off between May and October.

The 2016/17 Council Tax was frozen at the 2007/08 level of £1,204 for Band D properties, and as RET was now in place on the inter-island services the Comhairle’s own concessionary fares scheme would be discontinued.

Following the meeting, Comhairle Convener Norman A. Macdonald paid tribute to all those who had participated in the consultation process, adding that the approved budget demonstrated that the council had listened to the public.