Local News for Wednesday 11th January 2017

Three days of winter
The islands fall under three consecutive Met Office weather warnings from this morning, with snow, gale force winds and lightning among the winter treats in store. Although the worst snowfall is expected away from the West coast and islands, strong winds will gust up to 70 mph today and, coupled with the snowfall, could bring periods of blizzard conditions. A weather warning came into force just after midnight last night, and remains until tonight. There’s a second warning for snow and ice tomorrow, and a third for Friday. Ferry disruption is expected to be widespread today – sailings between Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy and between Oban and Castlebay were cancelled early, and further cancellations are expected this morning. CalMac Operations Director Drew Collier said: "Weather forecasts for across the west of Scotland are predicting a windy and cold run up to the weekend. We will review sailings on a case by case basis but would advise anyone planning to travel by ferry to take this into account when planning journeys in the next few days."

Loganair has also warned of travel disruption as airports across Scotland struggle with the extreme conditions. Anyone who prefers to postpone their flight arrangements can exchange their ticket for a flight after Friday, up to Monday January 16th, at no extra charge. A spokesman for Loganair said: “If you choose to remain with your original travel plans, please rest assured that we will do everything that we safely can to fly you to your intended destination as close to the scheduled time as possible.  We plan to fly all of our scheduled services, and we have standby aircraft and crews in place to help recover any disrupted services as soon as reasonably possible once weather conditions permit”. 
Time for a change in crofting – MSP
Isles MSP Alasdair Allan is urging crofters to help bring in a ‘new era’ for the Crofting Commission, by putting forward nominees for the commissioner to represent the Western Isles.  The Commission is responsible for helping to regulate and promote the interests of crofting, and Alasdair Allan said that this was an opportunity to bring fresh thinking directly from local crofting communities to the board. Dr Allan said: “At present, there is no getting away from the reality of the Crofting Commission’s difficulties. Confidence in the Commission among many crofters has taken a hit of late. The upcoming elections are, I believe, a vital opportunity to ensure a new era at the Crofting Commission. With a newly elected Commission, hopefully a line can be drawn under the issues that have plagued it over the past year and everyone can now focus their energies on building a better future for crofting.”  Crofters can get a nomination pack from the Comhairle’s returning officer. The deadline for returning nominations is Thursday 26th January and the deadline for returning ballot papers is Thursday 16th March. Results will be announced on 17th March.
Second cross-country race
The second race in the Lewis and Harris Cross-Country Series, sponsored by Alex Murray Construction, is on Saturday at the Lews Castle Green, with the earliest race under way at 9.45am. On the day registration for seniors is at the Bridge Centre from 9 to 10.15am – schools should use pre-registration forms which are due back in today.