Local News for Thursday 29th March 2018

Choices made in Trust election
Tuesday night saw a late finish at Stornoway Town Hall as votes were counted in the election of five new trustees for the Stornoway Trust. The successful candidates were Murdo Campbell of Portnaguran, Norman Maciver, Back, Donald ‘Dickie’ Macleod of Stornoway, Catriona Murray, North Tolsta and Donald Nicolson of Sandwick. They were selected from 22 candidates for the five places – the largest field for 40 years. A large number of votes were cast on the day at Stornoway Trust office, as polling packs had been printed close to the voting deadline, and many were too late to post their votes to Electoral Reform Services in London, which counted postal votes. A total of 4,261 votes were cast, of just under 10,000 eligible voters in the Trust area, which covers Stornoway, Point, Broadbay and parts of Lochs. After the result, returning officer Iain Maciver thanked the counting team for their hard work on a busy and tense evening.

Eilidh’s family responds to findings
The family of Barra schoolgirl Eilidh Macleod, who was killed almost a year ago in the Manchester Arena bombing, have released a response to the findings of an enquiry into the atrocity. Using the community magazine Guth Bharraidh to publish their thoughts, Roddy and Marion Macleod said: “As a family, we have considered Lord Kerslake’s report into the Manchester Arena tragedy and the recommendations contained in it. We wish to echo the praise awarded to individuals who made life and death decisions by keeping first responders at the arena. There is no doubt that these first responders provided the dying and injured with the vital comfort and aid at their time of most need. As we approach the first anniversary of her death, we continue to mourn our beloved Eilidh. We think of her in the same bright and positive light that shone from her during her short life with us as a daughter and as a sister. We also mourn all victims of atrocity. Throughout this whole nightmare our respect and admiration for all the emergency services remains undiminished.” Eilidh’s friend Laura Macintyre was also seriously injured in the bombing, but has now returned to school in Castlebay.

NHSWI changes patient escort scheme
A new system has been approved for paying the travel costs of escorts who support island patients travelling to hospital appointments away from the Western Isles. The NHS Western Isles board meeting on Wednesday agreed to re-shape the scheme with new criteria by which funding of escorts is approved, strictly based on clinical need. The decision on whether or not an NHS funded escort is approved will now be made by the NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Angus McKellar, with advice from GPs, rather than by individual GP Practices. Dr McKellar explained: “It is important that there is fairness across the Western Isles, and so a new process has been developed, and tested, where GPs will provide clinical information to me regarding escort requests, and the decision as to whether or not a funded escort is approved is made via my office.” The new system was piloted at Langabhat practice from March last year and Broadbay from May. It will be rolled out to the three remaining GP Practices in Lewis and Harris from April onwards. The new process will begin in the Uists and Barra in July 2018. Dr McKellar concluded: “It is important to stress that, where escorts are clinically required, we will continue to fund them in line with our policy. However, we must ensure that the criteria are applied in an equitable way.”

Cash award for North Uist project
North Uist Historical Society is one of nine projects across Scotland to get cash for a major local development, in the Scottish Land Fund’s latest announcement of grant funding. The society will get £100,586 to buy the Old Carinish School and adjoining School House in North Uist to relocate their important Collections from Benbecula, to make these accessible and to become an active community hub for the Gaelic Language, for learning, family history and visitors. The grant bid was supported by islands MP Angus MacNeil and MSP Alasdair Allan, who warmly welcomed the announcement. Dr Allan said: “I believe this project shows tremendous vision and will contribute to a real cultural enrichment in North Uist. There is a real opportunity to have locals and visitors alike engage in, preserve and learn from the island’s own tangible and intangible cultural heritage.”