Local News for Friday 19th May 2017

 Food Standards justifies salt company action
Hebridean Sea Salt ‘deceived customers’, according to Food Standards Scotland, who have taken the unusual step of issuing a press statement about an ongoing case. The Lochs-based company has ceased to operate after queries were raised about the provenance of the gourmet sea salt, said to originate from pure Hebridean waters, and sold through national chains including Marks and Spencers and Sainsburys. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been leading an investigation into the company, and in a statement released yesterday, a Food Standards Scotland spokesman said: “We would not normally disclose the details of an active and ongoing investigation. However, given the coverage of this case, we believe it is now in the public interest to disclose the issues that are under investigation. This is not simply a case of mis-labelling. Investigations discovered that over 80% of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt. It is Food Standards Scotland’s view that, whilst this is not a food safety issue, deception of consumers on this scale is not acceptable and could damage Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for high quality, authentic food and drink products.” Hebridean Sea Salt’s premises in industrial units at Habost, Lochs have closed and the product has been recalled from supermarket shelves.

Election pledges from Labour candidate
The Scottish Labour candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Ealasaid MacDonald has unveiled a series of pledges to the electorate during campaigning in Barra. Mrs MacDonald said she was concerned at the decline in the islands’ economy over the past 12 years, and would campaign for an economic deal for the islands, Crown Estate money to be benefit our communities, delivery of the promised interconnector, a tourism fund and improvement of transport links across the islands. She said: “In order to provide our young people with opportunities and be in a position to care for those in need and our elderly, we must have the foundations of a varied and active economy creating jobs, investment and long term stability.”

During yesterday’s campaigning, Scottish National Party candidate Angus MacNeil drew attention to a Scottish Parliament vote which called for all powers on fisheries to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament after Brexit. Mr MacNeil said: "Powers over fisheries should be fully devolved, allowing Scotland to take a unique, localised approach to our fishing sector, putting the interests of our fishing communities and the wider natural environment at the heart of what we do. I would want us to go further given the area of waters the Hebrides bring to the table.”

A former Labour MP for the islands, Calum MacDonald, yesterday welcomed the commitment in the Conservative manifesto to 'support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland where they will directly benefit local communities.' Mr MacDonald, executive director of Point and Sandwick wind farm, met industry secretary Greg Clark earlier this year to discuss community energy projects in the Scottish islands. He said: “We can build on this community success to transform the economies of the Scottish islands and, if the Conservatives are indeed returned to Government in Westminster, I look forward to meeting again with Ministers to discuss the best way forward to enable this huge potential to be released."

Angus MacNeil and Ealasaid Macdonald will be among next Friday’s guests on Behind the Headlines. Also standing for the Western Isles constituency are Scottish Christian candidate John Cormack, Dan McCroskrie for the Scottish Conservatives and Lib Dem candidate Jamie Paterson.
Monday is the deadline for voter registration if you wish to vote in the General Election on June 8th. The Electoral Registration Officer in Stornoway can be contacted on 01851 706262.

Army invasion of Lewis and Harris
Lewis and Harris are set to be invaded by soldiers from today, when members of regular infantry unit 4 SCOTS - The Highlanders – and part-time reservists 7 SCOTS, are joined by 205 field medical regiment and 32 signals regiment for a week-long tour of the islands. From today an indoor airsoft range will be set up in Perceval Square, with a Foxhound recce vehicle and various members of the regiments on hand to give information about Army careers and volunteering. Next week the whole troop looks likely to be upstaged by the Royal Regiment of Scotland mascot, Shetland pony Lieutenant-Corporal Cruachan IV, who will be touring primary schools with his handler, Pony Major Cpl Mark Wilkinson. Cruachan is normally based in barracks in Edinburgh, but has a national following and loves meeting people. He will be at Stornoway Primary on the morning of Thursday the 25th, Sgoil an Rubha that afternoon, at Lionel school and Sporsnis next Friday and next Saturday morning he will be travelling down to the Harris Distillery, returning to Perceval Square in Stornoway next Saturday afternoon.

New wave measuring from Lewis
Researchers in the Western Isles have completed a year-long trial of a wave-measuring system installed at the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. A team at Lews Castle College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, have been testing the maritime radar system,  used by ships to detect obstacles, but modified to gather data from the surface of the sea. The team believes the technology is more reliable than the use of measurement equipment in buoys, and could be of great benefit to the offshore sector. Researcher James Morrison explained: "The standard method of measuring waves uses small, single point buoys, however these systems can be expensive to install and recover, and are very vulnerable to damage, loss and theft. The new technique can be used to accurately monitor large areas of sea, at low cost, with little supervision and maintenance."
Council chiefs ‘will work together’
The newly elected Leader and Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will work together with colleagues for the benefit of communities across the Outer Hebrides, but there will be no overall political administration formed, despite hopes by the seven-member SNP group that they could form the administration. The new leader of the Comhairle, Cllr Roddie Mackay, said: "As is the norm in the Islands we will not be forming an administration but I, the Convener, the chairs of committees and indeed all members, will work on behalf of all our communities. I believe this system offers a better way of doing so than under the label of a political grouping.” Convener Norman A Macdonald, who has been re-elected into the position for a second term, said: "We face major challenges ahead and it is only by working together that we can hope to overcome those challenges and give our communities the futures they deserve."
Cllr Mackay is the chair of the policy and resources committee, following his election as leader, and his vice-chair is Point councillor Alasdair MacLeod. The final committee chairmanship to be announced this week saw the audit and scrutiny committee to be chaired by Cllr Angus Morrison with vice-chair Cllr Iain M MacAulay.
Tonight’s football matches are all in the Lewis and Harris league, with Westside still riding high and unbeaten at the top of the league with 12 points. Aths and United meet at Goathill, Point are at home to Carloway, Ness travel to Back and Lochs to Barvas to meet Westside – all kick-offs are at 7pm.