Local News for Tuesday 25th July 2017

Corbyn visit indicates ‘winnable’ seat
A visit to the Western Isles in August by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn indicates that Na h-Eileanan an Iar is one of the seats considered winnable by Scottish Labour. The Western Isles constituency party told followers at the weekend that they were delighted and looking forward to welcoming Mr Corbyn, and that his visit to the islands highlights commitment to reaching out as Labour seeks to promote an alternative to the Conservative Government in Westminster. Media reported a Labour supporter backlash during the recent General Election campaign, after Labour spokesmen in several constituencies suggested traditional Labour voters should tactically vote Conservative to keep the SNP out of seats. In the Western Isles, support for the successful SNP candidate, Angus MacNeil fell, and votes for Labour increased, but there was also an increase in Conservative support. Mr Corbyn is to tour Scotland in August, with the Western Isles just one of the constituencies now described as ‘marginal’ by Scottish Labour.

New crofters for vacant crofts
Four vacant croft tenancies in the Western Isles have been let to new entrants by the Crofting Commission, on the basis that they will use the land and ensure it is not neglected. The four previous tenancies were terminated as the former tenants were not complying with their duty to be resident and the landlords failed to let the crofts within the necessary timescales. After local advertising and shortlisting, eligible tenants were chosen for crofts at 18 Rushgarry in Uist, 12 Garrygall in Barra, 24 Gravir in South Lochs and 15 Cromore, also in Lochs. New entrant, Dennis McGonnell said,” I was delighted to be selected as the new tenant for the croft 24 Gravir. I have lived on Lewis for 12 years and was always very eager to get into crofting especially working with animals. My plans for the croft include getting some pigs to deal with all the ferns and overgrowth, before reseeding and then letting some rare sheep graze happily, once I’ve fenced the boundary. I’m looking forward to getting started.” The Crofting Commission’s Joseph Kerr said, “We wish the new tenants every success in their ventures. We have a further five crofts to let in the near future and are having ongoing discussions with landlords in order to seek solutions which would result in the crofts being occupied and worked.”

Next festival heads east
With HebCelt’s music still ringing in our ears, An Lanntair is already making plans for Purvai 2017, a cultural festival and a historic event in Stornoway. In the first ever exhibition of Colin Mackenzie’s India Collections the event celebrates one of Scotland's most famous 19th century explorers, who was born in Stornoway in 1753 and went on to lead a life of travel, discovery and exploration in India. Purvai 2017, with the Colin Mackenzie exhibition, will bring back to life a forgotten part of Hebridean heritage, which reaches far beyond our island shores. The festival in August includes a truly inspirational line up of concerts, talks, workshops and visual arts and you can win a Festival Pass to Purvai via the An Lanntair Facebook page.

All-clear for loch toxins
Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified that the high levels of shellfish toxins identified in Loch Seaforth, East Loch Tarbert and Loch Stockinish in Harris June 19th. have returned to safe levels. The warning against eating shellfish from this area has now been lifted.