Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have refused to accept a cheque for £11,400 to go towards a trial opening of Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais on Sundays.

The money had been raised by Families into Sport and Health (FiSH), via a crowdfunding campaign which was backed by a sizeable donation from the Scottish Secular Society.

FiSH argued that a decision the Comhairle took in October – to reject a Sunday opening trial - had been made on religious, and not financial grounds.

But a spokesman for the Comhairle said: “The Comhairle took a democratic decision not to extend the opening hours of Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais for financial and operational reasons.

“That decision stands and therefore the Comhairle will not be accepting money from FiSH as to do so would be entirely inappropriate. 
“We would ask FiSH to consider what it intends to do with the money it raised and whether it should be donated to one or several of the many worthy causes in the Western Isles or indeed returned to those who donated.”

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell reiterated that the council’s stance was a policy decision that had been taken democratically.
“We have just had a recent re-examination of the situation and we feel very strongly that giving 84 hours of access to the leisure facilities over six days is far in excess of what you get in many other places,” he said.

“I am also very conscious that there are issues to do with employment and employees working at the Sports Centre, and there are other financial issues to consider, despite the crowdfunding.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for FiSH said that the fight would continue. The group commented: “The council has now officially and publicly refused the funds at our cheque presentation.

“Going forward, this was only our first attempt to get the council to accept the funds. We will continue to campaign to get the October decision rescinded and a trial started.

“Our immediate next step comes in the form of supportive councillors bringing up the issue of a FiSH funded committee meetings next week.”

They added: “This is not the end of the campaign and this is not a victory for the council. It is merely one more obstacle they've put in front of us.”