Some councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are concerned that if major investment isn’t directed into Stornoway’s abattoir then that could plunge a knife into the heart of crofting on the islands.
They say it is vital for crofters and island meat producers that the long-term future of the Island Road/Rigs Road premises is secure. Without it, live animals would have to be transported to the plant in Dingwall with huge impact on animal welfare, a clamp on profit margins and the creation of additional food-miles.
The Alliance group of councillors earlier said they were encouraged by the expressions of support at a recent Crofting Joint Consultative committee meeting for increased investment in the abattoir services throughout the islands.
Alliance group Convener Cllr John N Macleod said on Friday, ' I was very encouraged to hear expressions of support in maintaining and investing in this invaluable service for our islands food and agricultural sector.
"Many of us on the JCC and other councillors will be seeking a substantial investment in this service at next week’s Comhairle budget meeting.
“I feel the future of Crofting in these islands depend on it, delay is not an option.”
This is one of five points in the amendment being put forward to the meeting on Tuesday by Councillor Gordon Murray, who said the projects could be financed by savings that had been made by the Comhairle.
His other points relate to money for roads maintenance, a dental chair for the Uists, concessionary fares for the Harris and Barra CalMac rotes and an all-weather pitch for Stornoway primary school.
He claims the total costs would be around £800,000 or £900,000 and would amount to 0.8 per cent of the budget.
“It’s all financed from money that hasn’t been spent,” he claims. “We’ve got a lot of money from Scottish Government. The Covid costs have been covered. There’s been a lot of savings – eg £100,000 saved on mainland travel.
“We as councillors are responsible for the spend. No one can say to us ‘it’s not available’. All that we’re doing is that we’re putting forward a few proposals to try to make things better for our communities. We’ve listened to our communities and this is what they want; what’s important for them.
“There’s been a lot of underspends. Why not use some of the money for the aspirations for our community? The Stornoway Primary pitch would be a complete game-changer for the community because there’s a bottleneck of bookings for the other all-weather pitch at the Nicolson.
“In the current climate, we’ve got kids coming out of lockdown who haven’t had proper exercise, who need exercise, who need to get away from iPads.”