Families into Sport for Health (FiSH), a group set up with the common goal of having the Lewis Sports Centre open seven days a week, has expressed the members' disappointment this week at the majority of Western Isles Councillors, who voted to keep Ionad Spors Leodhais closed on Sundays.
"The fact that none of the opposing councillors recognised either the potential additional health benefits that could be achieved, or the need to establish parity with the Southern Isles facilities where Sunday opening is long established, is a significant concern to FiSH who represent many 1000s of local residents."
A survey organised by FiSH showed that 71% of the 659 users surveyed over 7 days were supportive of opening ISL on a Sunday, but members of FISH believe: "This hard data was not heeded."
"It appears that, according to opposing councillors, the potential costs of running the trial at £11.4K (or just £5.7K in this financial year, if it had opened this month as requested) were just too high at 0.0001% (or 0.00005% if over two financial years) of the overall budget for 2016/17. In statistical terms this is classed as an insignificant amount. This reasoning, enabled by senior staff, was just plain silly in the view of FiSH, particularly when CnES underspends for the year just past were over £1m, from a total budget of over £111m.
"In addition, at the meeting, councillors were also made aware that Transocean had just donated a large sum of money to the council, some of which was to promote sport for children (£60,000), yet this could not be applied for this particular use.
"From the watching public, in the galleries, as Presbyterian councillors stood up and proclaimed that it had nothing to do with their beliefs... but rather financial issues, it made both embarrassing and uncomfortable viewing. It was a poor advert for local democracy facilitated by senior officers and a demonstration, in the view of FiSH, of the continuing church influence on the local authority.
"Such decisions are clearly breaching the Equality Act (2010) as well as the councillor's own code of conduct."
FiSH are also setting up a CrowdFunding site to raise the money required to fund the trial. They have already received a number of pledges.