Local News for Thursday 4th May 2017

Polls open in Council Elections
The polls are now open in the 2017 local authority elections, with candidates waiting to see who islanders will choose to represent them for the next five years as councillors.  MP Angus MacNeil and MSP Alasdair Allan are encouraging people to use their vote – whichever way their voting preference lies. Mr MacNeil said: “It is very important that people come out and vote in the council elections. I would encourage them to rank all candidates in order of preference and I would advise them to use all numbers so that their vote holds value throughout the process”. Alasdair Allan added: "The Comhairle is the biggest employer in the islands, and a huge provider of public services locally. Voting in the council election matters, and I would encourage people to turn out.” There’s been one last-minute change to the polling stations for today. As the Tolsta Community Hall is temporarily unavailable, the polling station has been changed to Tolsta Community Development Limited, which is just across the car park from the Hall. Signage is in place to direct voters. Votes will be counted from 9am tomorrow at Lewis Sports Centre, with results announced through the day on social media. Isles FM will have all available results on Behind the Headlines from 4pm tomorrow afternoon.

Many support Feis fundraising
A GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Feis Eilean na Hearadh has raised  nearly three-quarters of its target sum in just two days. Fèis Eilean na Hearadh promotes Gaelic language, culture and heritage through an annual festival for school age children on the Isle of Harris, with this year’s festival just a few weeks away in June.  Last weekend’s fire at the Scalpay factory destroyed items donated over the years, including musical instruments, and although the Feis were due to buy some new items anyway, they now just hope to replace what has been lost. They’ve set a target of £4,000 cash on GoFundMe, with £2,700 raised within 48 hours. Second hand materials and instruments will also be greatly appreciated and can be donated via Sir E Scott School in Tarbert. 
Road surfacing work starts
The Comhairle is due to start this year’s road surfacing programme in Berneray, on 8th May and will continue on to other locations in North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist for a further two to three weeks. Once work has finished in Uist operations will move to Harris and Lewis around the 25th May for a further four to five weeks. Work will be done on the A859 Harris west side, in South and North Lochs, Bernera and Point. The Comhairle is advising drivers to expect some delays and to comply with posted temporary speed limits, signage and any traffic management throughout the work sites. Works are weather dependent and are subject to delays.
Power to HebCelt Islands Stage
The award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival has confirmed an international line-up for its Islands Stage, which will be sponsored by Lewis Wind Power for the second successive year. The partnership fits with HebCelt's environmental credentials as well as giving a platform to local voices such as Lewis-born singer songwriter Eleanor Nicolson, who releases her fourth EP to coincide with her HebCelt appearance. Also appearing are Tide Lines, a four-piece band including former Skipinnish members Robert Robertson, from Lochaber and Ross Wilson, from Mull. On Friday night, the stage will be given over to visiting Canadian act the Lumber Jills, and former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan. Musicians taking part in this year's Ceilidh Trail will kick off Saturday night's performances.
Swimmers’ mystery revealed
There’s no longer any mystery about the next challenge for three Lewis open-water swimmers, who are set to swim 21 miles from the Flannan Isles to the Outer Hebrides this summer in aid of the RNLI.  Colin S Macleod, Ed Smith, and Stuart Baird are busy preparing for The Flannan Isles Mystery Swim, planned to honour the memory of the three lighthouse keepers who vanished from the rocky outpost in December 1900. The Team will swim in relay formation, in 45 minute legs, from the Flannan island of Eilean Mor to Uig on the Isle of Lewis. Team Captain Colin Macleod said:  “The thing about swimming in the ocean is that you don’t know what’s out there. We’re happy to put our lives on the line to raise money for the RNLI as they do it all the time. And anyone who knows the story about the Flannan Lighthouse Keepers, it had to be a team of three swimmers to represent the missing keepers.” You can find out more about The Flannan Isles Mystery Swim – as well as more on the islands and their enigmatic past – online at www.theflannanislesmysteryswim.co.uk