Local News for Wednesday 3rd May 2017

Polls open tomorrow for Council Elections
It’s the last day of campaigning for candidates in the local council election campaign. Polls open at 7am tomorrow, with 31 councillors to be elected for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. There are nine multi-member wards in the Western Isles, in four of which four councillors will represent the residents and five wards which have three members each. The election is conducted using the Single Transferable Vote system, with voters asked to number the candidates they wish to support, using number one for their preferred candidate, two for the next and so on. There are 47 Polling Stations at which voters can vote between 7am and 10pm tomorrow - the voting card which you received by post will tell you which is your polling station. Postal votes can also be handed in at these stations if they have not been posted already. The count takes place on Friday, starting at 9am, and all available results will be announced via social media and on Isles FM’s afternoon news programme Behind the Headlines, from 4pm.


 
Ealasaid is Labour’s choice
Lewis resident Ealasaid Macdonald is to be the Labour Party candidate for the Western Isles in next month’s snap General Election. Eriskay-born Ealasaid has master’s degrees in politics and international relations, and in European policy and law. She returned to the islands after studying in Aberdeen and working for 10 years as a local authority officer. She now lives on her croft in Benside and has two young children in Gaelic Medium Education. Ealasaid said: “We need a hard-working representative who will put our islands first, especially as we face such uncertain times ahead.” The Western Isles candidate is part of a full list of candidates announced this week, in which 50% of those standing are women. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “This announcement sends a powerful signal about the Labour Party’s commitment to gender equality, and I hope other parties will now follow our lead.”
 
Battle on to save Scalpay jobs
The fight is one to protect jobs in Scalpay, after the fire at the weekend which destroyed the Net Store, workplace for 14 island residents. It emerged yesterday that the Harris community newspaper De Tha Dol had lost their whole archive, as this too was stored in the devastated building. Musical instruments and other property of Feis nan Eilean was also destroyed. Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has urged Highlands and Islands Enterprise to do everything possible to keep the 14 local jobs within the Harris economy, saying that there is ‘real concern’ about the impact of the fire on the local economy. Speaking yesterday, Dr Allan said: “I spoke on the phone to HIE interim Chief Executive Charlotte Write to emphasise the importance of making sure that these local jobs are secured if at all possible. I will also be seeking to contact the company themselves to offer assistance in this.  Fourteen jobs represent a very significant part of the economy in Harris, and are a vital contribution to the community in Scalpay itself.”
 
‘Woeful’ wait for driving tests
Isles MP Angus MacNeil has criticised the ‘woeful’ delay in theory tests for would-be drivers in the islands, after learning that some people are waiting 14 weeks to take the test, while others have travelled to Ullapool to cut the waiting time down. Mr MacNeil says the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) must take immediate action to address island concerns over theory test delays, which affect car tests, motorcycle tests and the vocational tests for a Category C & D license. Mr MacNeil said: “I understand that at least six people had to travel to Ullapool recently to take the test, this is a ludicrous situation which the DVSA must address quickly. I also understand that there are no trailer test dates available in Stornoway and people are expected to travel to Inverness as it is the nearest test centre.  This is financially onerous and damaging to businesses.”
 
Barra welcomes Ally McCoist
Rangers legend and former Glasgow Rangers manager Ally McCoist landed in Barra during Monday’s fine weather, and he has been welcomed by football fans as he begins a cycle tour of the islands.