Local News for Wednesday 4th April 2018

CalMac ‘tweaks’ after pressure on ferry
The MV Hebrides has returned to service on the Uig triangle, with CalMac acknowledging they had underestimated the impact on passengers from the arrangements made to cover the service while they are one vessel down. The change came after Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said the company ‘had to get the Hebrides back on the Lochmaddy route” due to the acute situation which had arisen while replacement vessel MV Hebridean Isles was serving the Uig triangle. Mr MacNeil said: “The already fragile Uist economy was hit particularly hard by the situation over the Easter weekend, when the Hebridean Isles was clearly inadequate for the service.” CalMac announced new arrangements for the service on Monday evening, taking the Hebrides off the route serving Colonsay, Coll and Tiree and returning her to the Uig, Tarbert, Lochmaddy route. MV Hebridean Isles will now serve the daily Lochboisdale/Oban route. CalMac still have to deal with capacity issues resulting from the MV Clansman waiting in dry dock for the return of her propulsion unit from a yard in Denmark, where it was sent for repairs after an incident several weeks ago. Head of operations, Robert Morrison, said: 'The pressure on our services during this busy holiday period and the fact that we are a major vessel down means we have had to tweak our services again. We apologise for the disruption over the past few days to our North Uist and Harris customers in particular. We hope this new redeployment will address most of the capacity issues experienced on the Uig Triangle services over the past few days.”

Bonfire warning after moor fires
Stornoway fire officers are warning of the dangers of bonfires after a 20 acre swathe of moorland was set alight on Monday evening. The fire in Lower Bayble was the third of the Easter weekend, all started by embers from bonfires spreading onto open ground. Four fire appliances were called to Bayble at 5.30pm on Monday, when papers from a domestic bonfire blew onto moorland and set light to tinder-dry heather and long grass. Within a short time the half acre blaze had spread to 20 acres, with dense smoke blowing towards Swordale, causing concerns of further spread. Fire crews eventually had the blaze under control after three hours, and spent some time damping down and ensuring the fire would not re-ignite. On Friday similar fires were started in Upper Bayble and on Barvas Moor, when domestic bonfires got out of control. Stornoway fire station watch manager John Campbell said: “People are not really understanding the risk of setting light to domestic rubbish in the current conditions. It is not just Muirburn which we ask people to avoid just now. Fire, wind and dry grass really do not mix, and until this windy, dry weather ends we would like people to hold back from making bonfires, too.”

Loganair search for islands’ young people
Loganair has renamed one of their aircraft as they set out in search of the Spirit of Young People for 2018. The newly named aircraft signals a search for 30 deserving youngsters from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, who will all be invited to join a special charter flight heading to Edinburgh to celebrate the Year of Young People. In addition, the company is offering discounted flights for young people from Orkney and the Western Isles to attend the Big Takeover, a three-day festival in Shetland in mid-September. People in the Western Isles are being asked to identify 10 young people between 8 and 26 years old, who could have excelled through sport, culture, community or environmental contribution, or could have been a fundraising hero or challenged negative stereotypes of young people. Nominations can be made online during April and May by following the link on our Facebook page or via the Loganair website, and those selected will join others from Orkney and Shetland for a charter flight to Edinburgh for a St Andrews Day Parliamentary reception hosted by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Western Isles MSP Alistair Allan, and for the Young Scot Awards the following evening. www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/spiritofyoungpeople/