Highlands & Islands

New offer to fund Lewis swimming pool Sunday openings

Swimming pool
Image caption Stornoway's swimming pool is not available seven days a week

Campaigners are to renew an offer to pay the cost of trial Sunday openings of a leisure centre and its swimming pool in Stornoway on Lewis.

Leisure centres on Lewis and Harris have been traditionally closed on Sundays in observation of the Sabbath.

Families into Sports for Health (FiSH) has made a previous offer of funding.

But the council - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - has ruled out opening the site on Sundays for "operational reasons".

Similar sites in other parts of the Western Isles run by the comhairle, including on Benbecula, are open on Sundays.

Image caption Uisdean Macleod says islanders should be given the chance to use the leisure centre on Sundays

The comhairle has previously said that it had taken a "democratic decision" not to open the centre in Lewis on Sundays, and its councillors were best placed to decide on local demand for a service.

It said the decision not to open on Sundays was not only for Sabbatarian reasons.

FiSH has offered to pay for a six month-long trial.

Uisdean Macleod, a parent and campaigner with FiSH, has been pushing for the leisure centre to be opened on Sundays since the early 2000s when the construction of the building was completed.

He said: "There is demand for it, and there is also opposition and they have their views about it being closed on a Sunday and that is absolutely fine.

"But their views should not restrict the wishes of others."

Mr Macleod said young islanders were leaving with little intention of returning to the isles in part because of a lack of opportunities on a Sunday.

Image caption Catriona Murray says there are many people who value Sundays as a day off

But another islander, faith blogger Catriona Murray, supports the closing of businesses and leisure facilities on Sundays,

She said: "Not everyone who is opposed to Sunday opening is necessarily Christian or even a church-goer.

"There are an awful lot of people in this community who value the fact that we are a six-day economy and there is this guaranteed day of rest."

The comhairle declined to comment on the latest call to open the leisure centre seven days a week.

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