Local News for Tuesday 13th March 2018

Stones commemorate island tragedy
201 stones will be laid in Carn Gardens next Friday, to commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the Iolaire on January 1st 1919. The stones have been collected from the home villages of each of the sailors lost when the vessel sank at Holm, while bringing men home at the end of the First World War. The centenary of the tragedy is being commemorated by a number of events and memorials between now and January 1st 2019. Each of the 201 stones will be incorporated into a unique memorial in Stornoway town centre planned by Stornoway Amenity Trust, who have been working with The Nicolson Institute and Stornoway Historical Society on the Iolaire Memorial Project. The memorial will be close to the Town Hall and will consist of a slate engraving on a wall and a cairn built with the significant stones. A bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority will also be put in place nearby. The plan to include stones from the home village or town of all victims was devised by pupils of The Nicolson Institute who have spent the last few months working on those collections. Stones have now been collected in villages all over Lewis, Harris, Berneray (North Uist) and also from the home towns of the 20 victims who were not from the Isles, including from the Isle of Wight, Liverpool and elsewhere in the UK. The new memorial will be unveiled at 11am on March 23rd by descendants of some of those lost in the Iolaire.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 13th March 2018

Local News for Monday 12th March 2018

Urgent appeal from Coastguard
Coastguard teams across the West of Scotland issued an urgent appeal for information this morning after a vessel called Hanson 2 sent a mayday call just before 1am this morning. The spelling of the vessel name was unclear, but the message came from an area between Ullapool and Tobermory. Mallaig and Tobermory RNLI Lifeboats searched the area thoroughly for six hours with nothing found. A number of relay broadcasts to vessels in the area were also made with nothing seen or heard. No other distress alerts had been received. If you have any information on this vessel please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Read more: Local News for Monday 12th March 2018

Local News for Friday 9th March 2018

CalMac woes continue
Ferry disruption will continue next week as CalMac struggles to shift traffic with vessels out of service. A revised timetable on the Tarbert Uig route is to operate from Monday 12th until Thursday 29th May, in an effort to keep passengers moving. Services across the Sound of Barra, from Lochboisdale to Mallaig and possibly from Castlebay to Oban are all affected by the ‘operational difficulties’ which have arisen from planned dry dock and emergency repairs to vessels in the CalMac fleet. CalMac is trying to work out routes to get passengers from the Uists to the mainland while the technical problems are being dealt with.

Read more: Local News for Friday 9th March 2018

Local News for Thursday 8th March 2018

RNLI red letter day
RNLI Leverburgh Lifeboat station has two red letter days in the diary now, with the arrival of their new Shannon Class Lifeboat on April 21st, and a naming ceremony for the new vessel on July 14th. The new lifeboat is to be called the Stella and Humfrey Berkeley and will arrive on station next month. The arrival will be celebrated by the whole community of South Harris, who have been fundraising energetically since the lifeboat station opened on a trial basis in May 2012. The new vessel was launched in Poole in January and has the call-sign RNLI 13-25, so the team have picked 13.25 as the exact time of her launch on Saturday April 21st.

Ferry ‘chaos’ hits Barra
There has been significant disruption to ferry services between Barra, South Uist and the mainland, which has now reached a crisis point. CalMac is still completing its scheduled dry dock winter service programme, with MV Clansman and MV Lochinvar in dock – but MV Clansman has ‘an emerging issue’ in dock, and MV Loch Alainn has meanwhile been unexpectedly withdrawn from service on the Sound of Barra due to technical issues, with no replacement vessel available until Saturday. All sailings from Ardmhor to Eriskay and return were cancelled yesterday and today, while the Lochboisdale to Mallaig and return sailing are still cancelled. Some additional sailings have been laid on between Lochboisdale and Castlebay and from Castlebay to Oban. The community magazine Guth Bharraidh described the service to the Isle of Barra as ‘chaos’ as CalMac struggled to patch together transport options to serve the island and South Uist.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 8th March 2018

Local News for Wednesday 7th March 2018

Western Isles happier with buses
People who use bus services in the Western Isles are generally happier with the standard of service than people elsewhere in Scotland, feeling safe, getting enough time to sit down before the bus moves and being treated well by drivers, according to new figures produced this week by Citizens Advice Scotland. In a survey of bus users, 88% were happy with the cleanliness of the buses (against a national average of 68%) and 73% content with service punctuality, against a national average of just 44%. But passengers were less happy with the frequency of island bus services, 59% of respondents saying they were dissatisfied, and 13% of people said they couldn’t get to the GP, hospital or to work by bus. The results were part of a report on Scotland’s bus services called ‘Creating Better Journeys’, released by CAS yesterday. CAS Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said: "People deserve a bus service that is reliable, affordable and pleasant to use. We undertook this survey because we wanted to give consumers a voice. The responses came from all parts of Scotland but there was a notably high rate from people in rural areas, where problems like bus infrequency are often more acute. Citizens Advice Scotland will now be meeting with bus companies, local authorities and the Scottish Government to find ways of addressing these issues. Our objective here is to create better journeys for the people who rely on bus services."

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 7th March 2018