Highlands & Islands

Depopulation fear over Western Isles Council cuts

A family
Angus Campbell said families may move away as a result of cut backs

Having to make council staff redundant as part of budget cuts could lead to families leaving the Western Isles, a senior islands councillor has warned.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it was facing cuts of between £2.5m and £6m, depending on its financial settlement from the Scottish government.

Leader Angus Campbell said the comhairle could potentially be forced to make compulsory redundancies.

He said the affected staff may then move away from the islands.

Depopulation has been a long-running issue for the Western Isles.

Mr Campbell said the local authority's policy was to seek voluntary redundancies.

But he added: "It is inevitable that once we have taken the voluntary redundancies out of the system there might be people going compulsorily.

"If we lose these people we don't just lose them from a job, we often lose them to the islands and their families and their children.

"It is something we want to avoid at all cost, but we cannot rule it out."

More men

The Western Isles, which includes the islands of Lewis, Harris and the Uists, has a population of about 26,180.

The population has been in decline since 1999.

In 2007, it was revealed more women than men had left the islands.

The research commissioned by the comhairle also found that fewer women were moving to the islands.

The Hebrides Migration Study said 71% of those coming to the area were male.

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