UK's only council-run abattoir to raise costs by 15%

Costs at Stornoway abattoir have been increased to help it get closer to financially breaking even.

UK’s only council-run abattoir to raise costs by 15% iStock

Costs for the services of the UK’s only council-run abattoirare are set to increase by 15 per-cent in the coming season.

It comes after councillors backed the plans for Stornoway abattoir when the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) met last week.

The increases will see slaughter costs for sheep under 12 months of age rising to just over £42 per head, and with cutting costs rising to just over £12, with the same level of cost increases set to be applied to older sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats.

Since 2018, costs at the abattoir, the only council run abattoir in the UK, and which is a non-statutory service provided by the Comhairle have been subject to an on-going and above-inflation increase in costs in recent years in order to bring the costs of the service to the Comhairle closer to a financial break-even.

At the recent meeting of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee, that backed the cost increase, Stornoway North councillor Gordon Murray said that he was concerned that the cost increases wouldn’t achieve what the Comhairle intended, adding that he thought they “actually put people off,” from using the facilities.

Councillor Murray proposed that a new short-term working group, made up of councillors, Comhairle staff and invited “stakeholders”, be established to “formulate recommendations for the future provision” of the service, which he stated, “…are vital not only to crofting community but also to safeguard public health, as clearly, charges being increased on an annual basis and by 13% above current annual inflation is not sustainable. “

David MacLeod, the Comhairle’s head of municipal services, responded: “At the moment the abattoir runs at a significant loss that is actually borne by [the Comhairle’s Municipal Services] budgets.

“I’d be happy to be involved in a member officer working group to look at options. We have done a number of exercises with users and various industry parties to see if there is anything we can do in terms of changing the length of the opening season, looking at alternatives for different types of services, like opening in the spring for pigs, but none of those have really made any differences.

“The fundamental truth about the abattoir is that it is sustained by the throughput of sheep. We have roughly the same number of sheep going through the abattoir [each year], but it has gone down, and bear in mind the total number of sheep in the Outer Hebrides has close to halved.”

Councillors on the committee backed councillor Murray’s proposal.

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