Coll flights ready for take off after pay row

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Flights to Coll were expected to resume this week after a firefighters’ pay dispute.

Problems recruiting a new council-run fire crew meant flights from the mainland had to be suspended on safety grounds.

The council’s contract with Scottish Fire & Rescue Service for fire crew cover officially ended after January 29 and discussions with the service to put interim arrangements in place, in case recruitment failed, were not successful.

Islanders claimed the four fire crew roles being taken over from SFRS involved more work  in return for a lower salary.

Argyll and Bute Council said it had secured interest from islanders on Colonsay in posts needed for its airport and had hoped the same arrangement could work for Coll.

‘The approach we are taking mirrors what happens on other small islands with airports and the rate of pay is comparable to that of Scottish Fire and Rescue,’ said the council spokesperson.

However, a meeting on Friday between Argyll and Bute Council and Coll Community Councillors managed to agree ‘some steps’ forward, resulting in flights  being expected to resume on Wednesday, February 19.

‘Alongside this, we are training a dedicated fire safety crew for the airport. This is part of our commitment to support our non-statutory air services, which includes £2million funding over the next four years,’ said council the spokesperson.