Local News for Wednesday 23rd November 2016

No tug decision ‘vindicated’ – MCA
The chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Sir Alan Massey, yesterday told a House of Commons committee that the decision to leave the West Coast of Scotland had been ‘vindicated’. His  remarks came as the committee took evidence on the grounding of the Transocean Winner, the oil rig which went aground at Dalmore in August. After attending this week’s meeting, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said the west coast of Scotland remains unprotected and vulnerable. Despite the grounding of the rig, Sir Alan Massey told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee that it had been the right decision to reduce ETV provision in Scotland to just one vessel. The Committee was carrying out an evidence session into the Transocean incident at the request of Mr MacNeil, who said: “It was not surprising to hear the comments from the MCA yesterday, they do after all work for the UK Government. Sir Alan Massey said that it would take ‘very unfortunate circumstances of bad luck’ for the case for two ETVs in Scotland to be looked at again – the reality is that most maritime emergencies are ‘unfortunate circumstances of bad luck’ and that is when a tug would be required. The UK Government is playing fast and loose and crossing its fingers that statistically rare probabilities do not ever occur.” Isles MSP Alasdair Allan added his concern, saying that the remarks were completely misguided and defended Tory cuts rather than offering a justifiable reason for reducing the number of emergency towing vessels. 
Dr Allan said:
"The grounding of the Transocean rig should be a wake-up call for industry. Towing rigs to places such as the Mediterranean for decommissioning is less safe, more harmful to the environment and more inefficient than decommissioning in Scottish ports."

Get your flu jab – GP
Stornoway GP Marten Walker is reminding patients across the Western Isles to make an appointment for their flu vaccine, as winter begins to hit. The flu virus can spread more easily in colder temperatures and it’s believed this flu season could be serious, especially for those with heart conditions and other underlying conditions. Dr Walker, who is a GP at Group Practice in Stornoway, said: “If you have a heart condition or any other underlying health conditions, I would definitely recommend getting the flu vaccine as you could experience serious complications if you were to get the virus.The vaccination only takes a few minutes and it protects for up to a year. It really is the best defence against flu this winter.”
Point pupils’ kindness mentioned at Holyrood
Pupils in Sgoil an Rubha’s Scripture Union have been cngratilated in the Scottish Parliament after raising money to help thousands of families in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew tore through the country in early October. The ‘Hush for Haiti’ sponsored silence at the school raised £780 which was donated to Tearfund Scotland after seeing their appeal for help. Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament congratulating the pupils for their generosity and kindness. Mrs Grant said “Many areas have been cut off, whole communities have been destroyed, and many more are without electricity.  The pupils of Sgoil an Rubha are to be commended for their caring and compassion and for their drive to actually do something to help.The school, and the wider community, can be very proud of their young people’s kindness.”

Gambia group away again
A second group of volunteer workers from Lewis have set off for the village of Kabakel in Gambia for a work week to help the villagers. 15 volunteers from the Gambia Partnership will continue work painting the school, which was built last year with donated equipment and money raised in the Western Isles. They’re also helping to secure a source of fresh water, and supporting evnagelism in the village.