Local News for Thursday 12th September 2017

Cash crisis at craft fairs
A cash machine that is always breaking down has left craft producers fuming in Tarbert, with customers having to leave purchases because they can’t get cash to buy them. The ATM next to the bus station and tourist information centre in Tarbert has been taken over by Cardtronics after continuing problems for the Bank of Scotland, which used to run it, but in the past few weeks it has broken down again. One Harris resident said: “The guys trying to sell their stuff at the Hand Made Tarbert Craft Fair have to send customers away again due to a lack of cash. When will something happen to this permanent issue?” Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has contacted Cardtronics, who do not list the cashpoint on their own website. Mr MacNeil said: “It really is not good enough that the ATM in Tarbert has been out of action for the past three weekends and as I understand it, the cash machine is still not working. This is a very poor service from Cardtronics and is an issue which causes a great deal of disruption to residents and tourists. A reliable ATM is essential.”

Lottery cash festive boost
Christmas decorations, play equipment and public toilets are among the improvements chosen by community groups keen to spend cash from the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery. The Lottery made its first distribution, of £4,674 at the end of September. Cash is being distributed based on the number of people in each postcode who buy lottery tickets, and six organisations are sharing the responsibility of distributing the money, with 60p from each £1 ticket spent in the player’s home area. Among projects to be funded are Christmas street decorations in Harris, which recently lost their old decorations to a fire, and funds are also needed to upgrade Scalpay playpark. Barra and Vatersay and Benbedula also want to spend money on playparks, while Stornoway Amenity Trust plan to repair and upgrade their own festive displays and activities. There are bolt on prizes this Saturday sponsored by Lewis Builders and Barra Gin, and the message to everybody is to join in and help raise more, so that more can be done.

HebCelt greener still
This year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival has been congratulated for cutting down its environmental impact, and is one of only two Scottish events among the ten finalists for the UK Greener Festival Award. It’s the second time in four years HebCelt has made the shortlist, which also includes Edinburgh's Meadows Festival, Glastonbury and the Cambridge Folk Festival. HebCelt innovations have included the introduction of Ecocups designed to be re-used, helping to cut back on plastic waste, and it was the first Scottish festival to partner with E-Car Club to provide a fleet of discounted electric cars for music fans. A Greener Festival is a not-for-profit company which sends an auditor to assess festivals, helping to make them as green as possible.

Island renewable claims move ahead
The UK government has formally applied to the European Commission for state aid clearance for island renewable energy. The news came to Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil this week from Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Mr MacNeil said: “I have maintained discussions with Mr Harrington to ensure that the case for island renewables is submitted to the European Commission and I am very pleased to have now received confirmation that this has been done. This development keeps us on course for the auction in the first quarter of 2019, which is what is important for the development of islands renewables.”