Local News for Monday 17th April 2017

Island voices wanted for Minecraft
The voices of islanders are in demand during a landmark event planned for tomorrow in Stornoway as part of the year-long Dig It! celebration of Scottish archaeology. The popular video game Minecraft is set to add St Kilda to its landscape, and creative partners ImmersiveMinds are taking on the challenge of building the island landscape, with a map of St Kilda that will be available for gamers all over the world. The ImmersiveMinds team will capture voices and other sounds for the Minecraft world tomorrow and invite adults to join them at An Lanntair tomorrow evening from 7.30 to 9pm to lend their voices to the recordings and learn more about the Minecraft site. Earlier in the day younger people can go along to Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle to check out the Minecraft version of St Kilda, to help re-build the site in LEGO or to “dig-a-long” with the archaeology excavation on their own laptop. That’s from 4 to 5pm. All of the action will be documented on social media throughout the day.

Deadline for voters
The deadline for registering to vote in the local government elections on May 4th is tonight at midnight and you can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 31 local councillors will be elected in nine wards, to serve for a five year period. The election will use the Single Transferable Vote System and is the first local election at which 16 and 17 year-olds will be entitled to vote. Postal voters should be receiving their ballot packs now and Malcolm Burr, Returning Officer for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has advised postal voters to make sure you read and follow the instructions carefully before completing your ballot paper. He said :”Don't forget to include your date of birth and signature on the postal voting statement. Follow the instructions in the pack to make sure your vote counts. For this election you will be asked to number the candidates in order of preference using 1, 2, 3 and so on – you can make as many or as few choices as you wish. Postal ballot papers must be received by the Returning Officer by 10pm on 4 May. So, as soon as you have completed your ballot paper and postal vote statement place it in the envelope and return it to make sure that it is received in good time."

Dental care in bad shape – MSP
Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant says that care for islanders’ teeth is not as good as has been claimed, due to confusion about statistics, and problems attracting and keeping dentists in the islands. She said the Population Health Directorate has admitted that the Western Isles Health Board figures are distorted, with patient registration figures claiming that 80% of people in the Western Isles are registered with a dentist, while a Freedom of Information request to the Western Isles Health Board showed just 50.6% of people in Lewis and 53.2% in the islands as a whole are actually registered. Mrs Grant said: “In 2011 NHS Western Isles opened a Dental Centre on a huge scale which they claimed to be “one of the most significant healthcare developments in the past decade”. However, there have been difficulties attracting and retaining dentists and the situation facing dental patients in Stornoway is desperate.This, in conjunction with the unacceptable situation surrounding the sudden announcement to close Lochboisdale dental practice, just seems to be adding to the pain and suffering of those seeking a normal dental service on the Islands.”