Local News for Friday 23rd December 2016
Tributes to popular presenter
Tributes have been paid to long-standing Isles FM radio presenter Kenny ‘There you go’ Macleod, who has died suddenly at the age of 63. Kenny’s sudden death at his home in Glasgow was reported late on Wednesday, with Isles FM colleagues stunned to hear of the loss to their radio family. Kenny, who came from Grimshader in Lochs, had been living on the mainland for some years, but still contributed Irish music shows to the airwaves. In earlier years he was an Isles FM stalwart, presenting Duisg, the breakfast show, Rock and Ceilidh and other live shows. His warm-hearted broadcasting style and quirky sense of humour made him a local legend. Many Isles FM listeners have posted, emailed and rung with their condolences. One listener said “What sad news, he was such a character and will be fondly remembered. Thoughts are with his family and his friends at Isles FM.” Isles FM managing director David Morrison said: “We are all in shock here. Our thoughts are with Kenny’s daughters, grandchildren and wider family, to whom we send our condolences at this very said time.”
Storm Barbara due to hit
The severest weather warning of the winter so far is in place for the 12 hours from noon today (Friday) to midnight, as Storm Barbara is expected to sweep across the Western Isles. All ferries are cancelled for the day, with transport operators urging passengers to travel early rather than risking being delayed by further bad weather. Loganair is operating a radically revised schedule, with some of today’s (Friday’s) later flights cancelled and others operating at changed times. They don’t rule out further changes and are advising passengers carrying infant or baby food, medicines and other essentials to make sure they have enough in their hand baggage in case there are further delays after baggage has been checked. Barra airport is especially vulnerable to further disruption.
The Western Isles emergency planning group met at lunchtime yesterday (Thursday) and provided additional information on services. Buses will not run today (Friday) and the bus station will be closed. A decision on Saturday services will be made during Friday. Other council services such as leisure centres will be closed, but essential services will still operate and the Comhairle’s offices will be open. There will be adjustments made to homecare service and all those affected will be contacted directly. The out of hours support service provided by Faire will continue to be available on 701702. If you are in need of urgent medical attention, please contact NHS 24 on 111 and avoid unnecessary travelling.
All dustbin collections are cancelled on Friday and will be rescheduled. CnES Roads and Police will be monitoring all causeways. Scalpay Bridge and the Uist causeways are the most likely to be affected by the westerly winds. The information boards at Scalpay Bridge are currently not working, due to the weather. Updates will be provided through the Comhairle's Twitter and Facebook page as that situation develops.
MSP seeks assurance on resilience
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart used First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood yesterday (Thursday) to seek assurances on how the response to Storm Barbara will be managed. Mr Stewart asked: “Is the First Minister confident that the Transport system is prepared for and resilient enough given the onset of storm Barbara? The First Minister assured MSPs that the Government had been in talks with Transport Scotland and other agencies and she was satisfied that contingencies were in place to deal with the storm. Of course everyone was reminded to take care of themselves and look out for others at such times. David Stewart said “ Given that the epicentre of the storm is across the Highlands and Islands, with winds expected to reach 90mph and damage to property likely, I wanted reassurance for the constituents of this area that the Government and the other emergency agencies were fully prepared.”
Isles FM to stay on air
Isles FM intends to stay on air live for all the usual programmes today (Friday) including Duisg from 7.30-10am and Drivetime from 4-6pm. If necessary, and extra live hour will be added to the timetable between 3 and 4pm. In addition our Christmas broadcasting schedule begins today, with Kathleen’s Christmas Oldies at 10am and Alec Nicol’s Christmas Love Zone at 11am.
And now it’s Storm Conor
A new storm is set to follow on the heels of Storm Barbara, Storm Conor expected to affect the north of Scotland from 3am on Christmas Day until 6pm on Boxing Day. The highest risk for the Western Isles is between 8am and 4pm on Boxing Day (Monday). A Met Office amber ‘be prepared’ warning updated this morning says: “A further spell of very strong winds associated with Storm Conor is expected through Christmas Day (Sunday) and much of Boxing Day (Monday). Gusts of 70-80 mph, locally 90 mph are possible for a time as a swathe of particularly strong winds in associated with Storm Conor passes across the far North of Scotland and the Northern Isles, before easing through Boxing Day afternoon. There is potential for renewed travel disruption (for example bridge closures and ferry delays), disruption to power supplies, as well as large waves affecting coastal areas, while heavy rain in the West Highlands may lead to rising river levels.
Storm Barbara began to make her presence felt during the night, and woke islanders early with heavy rain driven on severe gale force winds. The whole of the CalMac service status page turned red, with all services to, from and between the Western Isles cancelled today. Many ferry services will remain affected tomorrow morning, with morning sailings from Stornoway to Ullapool, between Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy and across the Sound of Barra already cancelled. Reviews are continually taking place and CalMac aims to run services whenever it is safe to do so. Due to the forecast of Storm Conor’s arrival, Boxing Day travel is also looking to be in doubt. Please continue to refer to CalMac’s webpage at www.calmac.co.uk for latest information
Flights to and from Barra were all cancelled today. Flights between Benbecula, Stornoway and Inverness this afternoon have also been cancelled. Loganair are expecting to run to the published schedule on Saturday and have contingency plans in place to operate extra flights including an extra Glasgow-Benbecula service BE6809 at 11:10 to carry customers who planned to travel to Barra today. Inter-island travel will take place by Twin Otter aircraft or ferry, as weather conditions permit. Customers booked on BE6852 Barra-Glasgow will now travel on the slightly earlier BE6856 Barra to Glasgow service scheduled at 12:45. Loganair also recommend that all travellers check with their website at www.loganair.co.uk before travelling.
200 homes in the Coll area were without power this morning, SSEN remind householders that the new easy dial number 105 is the one to use when reporting power loss or looking for information about repairs.
Public services are still affected and a number of social events have been cancelled tonight. Buses will not run this evening and there will be further adjustments made to homecare service – all those affected will be contacted directly. The out of hours support service provided by Faire will continue to be available on 701702. If you are in need of urgent medical attention, please contact NHS 24 on 111 and avoid unnecessary travelling.
The dustbin collections which were cancelled today have been reschduled as follows: Collections due in Stornoway today will now be collected on Tuesday 27th December and the recycling collection in North Lochs will now be on Friday 30th December.
Santa’s Christmas helicopter trip
Santa Claus is still expecting to make his annual Christmas morning tour of the Broad Bay area with the help of elves at the Search and Rescue helicopter crews based in Stornoway, but he has privately told Isles FM that the weather might make it difficult. In case the helicopter can’t help him out, he’s had special storm-proof kits made for his reindeer to ensure all gifts get delivered in time, whatever the weather does.
In other news
‘Homely’ new look for specialist children’s equipment
New equipment funded by NHS Western Isles has given a homely new look to respite care rooms for children in Stornoway. Action for Children runs respite accommodation at Hillcrest and have installed an adjustable bed and a lightweight hoist to replace older equipment. Valerie Russell, Children’s Service Manager, said “The bed is very high tech and comfortable but also looks quite homely. Staff are also extremely happy with the hoist which compared to the last one is like a Mercedes compared to our old Lada!" Emelin Collier of NHS Western Isles added: “Despite the fact that this is very high tech equipment, it does not look at all ‘institutional’. In fact, with personalised bedding for each young person using the bed, the room looks very homely and welcoming.”
Western Isles trials childcare options
The Western Isles is one of 11 locations announced for a series of trials of enhanced childcare provision in 2017. Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald, announced the trials earlier this week, with additional hours of childminding, Early Learning Centres linked to local employment services and out of school care services to be linked with Early Learning Centres. The trials will take place around Scotland, with Argyll and Bute and the Shetland Isles among other locations to be supported. All the trials are due to start by Summer 2017 and will be supported by over £827,000 Scottish Government funding.