Local News for Wednesday 31st May 2017

Return to campaign trail as last postal votes go out
The second and last wave of postal ballot packs are going out today, to those who registered to vote by post close to the deadline last week. The General Election is on Thursday June 8th, with polls opening at 7am and personal voting at 47 Polling Stations around the islands.

Candidates for the na- h-Eileanan an Iar constituency yesterday made a tentative return to campaigning as the SNP launched their manifesto. SNP candidate Angus MacNeil and Scottish Labour candidate Ealasaid Macdonald had reached agreement to suspend campaigning after the Manchester bombing last Monday, in which one Barra teenager was killed and another seriously injured. Both Mr MacNeil and Mrs MacDonald have strong connections to Barra, where the schoolgirls and their families live.

Yesterday Angus MacNeil said the SNP would give Scotland and the Western Isles constituency the voice it needs at Westminster. He said: "While we are currently going through a difficult time in the islands, post-Manchester, there is still an election ongoing. On June 9th we may wake up to the reality of a further five years of increasingly hard line Tory Government at Westminster and it is more vital than ever that Scotland's voice is heard. The SNP have a proven track record as the real effective opposition at Westminster and have pulled up the Tory Government on a diverse range of issues including tax credit cuts, cuts to women's pensions, the appalling rape clause and ongoing austerity measures which hit the poorest and most vulnerable in society. We want to see a fairer more progressive society and one where Scotland has a voice and a right to choose its own future.”

Ealasaid MacDonald, Labour's candidate in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, underlined the importance of all organisations and representatives across the islands working together with the primary focus of securing our islands' future. Ealasaid said: 'It is clear that action is needed to ensure the long term stability of our islands' economy. There are some exciting ideas from organisations and individuals, both public and private, which would have a positive impact on our islands. However, for these to be achieved we need an MP who is focused on partnership working and engaging across all sectors to facilitate change and harness opportunity.”

Also standing in the Western Isles constituency are Scottish Christian candidate John Cormack, Dan McCroskrie for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, and Lib-Dem candidate Jamie Paterson.

Injured crewman
An injured fisherman was taken to Western Isles Hospital on Monday afternoon in an emergency operation co-ordinated by Stornoway Coastguard. The crew member was aboard the FV Silver Chord, fishing 13 miles east of Stornoway in the Minch, when the skipper called for assistance, saying a man had sustained a serious facial injury. RNLI lifeboat Tom Sanderson was launched from Stornoway at 4.25pm and Coastguard helicopter R 948 also attended. Arriving ten minutes ahead of the lifeboat, the Coastguard helicopter landed a paramedic winchman aboard the fishing boat and the casualty and winchman were then lifted from the fishing boat to the lifeboat, at 25 knots, the casualty receiving further treatment as the lifeboat returned to Stornoway at full speed. Back at Stornoway at 5.30pm, the casualty was handed over to Scottish Ambulance Service paramedics and taken to the Western Isles Hospital for further treatment.

Stornoway lifeboat crew were paged once again by the Coastguard just after 7am yesterday, when an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was set off from a fishing vessel in the Minch. The lifeboat was recalled by the Coastguard shortly after launching, as the vessel confirmed that it was an accidental activation.

Nominate for Queen’s Award – Lord Lieutenant
The Lord-Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin has urged islanders to nominate local voluntary groups for The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) 2018. The QAVS, which was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's coronation, is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. The Lord-Lieutenant said “ It is now several years since we had a QAVS presented to any group in the Western Isles and I know that there are hundreds of people throughout our islands who give thousands of hours of their free time to voluntary groups. If you know of a group that makes a difference to your community, please consider nominating them for the Award.” Nominations have to be submitted by 30 September 2017. Full details on how to make a nomination can be obtained on www.qavs.direct.gov.uk

Wee Studio Bunker opens
The new recording studio in Benbecula, Wee Studio Bunker, is showing off its wares with a top-notch recording and video of local artist James Stewart singing ‘Live Forever’. The studio’s the latest venture for musician and businessman Keith Morrison, whose studio in Stornoway has hosted local, national and international talent. Keith said “We’re proud to show our very first production here at Wee Studio's Bunker. James Stewart was our guinea pig as we tested out our new equipment, microphones, cameras, lighting and sound treatment in the studio. We are overwhelmed with the results. Better than we could have ever imagined and, due to modern technology, on par with any recording studio in the world”. Wee Studio Bunker is open to the public from tomorrow for recording and video production, but will tonight host an open evening starting at 7pm.