Commenting on the decision taken today by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to axe the Benbecula to Barra air link,  Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil said:

“I am disappointed that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, despite SNP councillors voting against, have decided to axe part of Scotland’s transport infrastructure.  The effective reduction of Stornoway to Benbecula air link and the complete axing of the Benbecula to Barra air link is a retrograde step.   

“Basically the Comhairle are given money by the Scottish government to run these services but are now axing these services while pocketing the cash.  It also has serious political consequences when the Comhairle can place such little importance on transport subsidies to its own outlying areas when we argue and defend our case in Edinburgh for the islands generally.

“It seems quite amazing that 6 out of 7 councillors from Uist and Barra except Donald Manford votes to cut Air Services for their communities.”

“I also hope that this does not lead to a reduction in numbers using the hospital in Stornoway given the Comhairle’s transport cuts.”

Speaking from Benbecula, Alasdair Allan added:

“As someone who used the Barra to Benbecula flight today, it is clear to me what importance this service has in keeping the Western Isles connected.

“I have recognised the financial pressure under which the council finds itself, but to effectively axe this lifeline service is a significant blow to the community.

“The SNP council group did not vote for these cuts and proposed alternative budget measures. It is deeply disappointing that the Council as a whole did not take the same view.”