Local News for Wednesday 25th April 2018

ANZAC day commemoration in Stornoway
ANZAC day is to be commemorated in Lewis today, as members of 816 Squadron, the Royal Australian Air Force, honour servicemen in the wars. ANZAC day, held on April 25th each year, is a national day of remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. It was originally devised to honour those who fought and died at Gallipoli during the First World War. The Royal Australian Air Force has four sea hawk helicopters at Stornoway airport this week, as they participate in the NATO operation Joint Warrior. Their crews are to assemble at the Melbost war memorial at 11.30am today, where Pipe Major Peter Mackay of Lewis Pipe Band will play a lament. Also based at Stornoway airport this week is the Royal Navy Air squadron 820, with Merlin helicopters. Crews are being made welcome at the Army Reserve Centre on Church Street in Stornoway by 7 Scots regiment, who hold their own Gallipoli commemoration event this Friday at the Ross Mountain Battery memorial. The service at 7.30pm on Friday will be followed by open house at the drill hall for refreshments.

More CalMac pressure from new community board
CalMac is facing added pressure from members of its own community board over disrupted services and antiquated vessels serving routes to the islands. The board, which was only formed in September last year, held their third meeting at Largs and Millport last week and sent a strong and unanimous message on behalf of their communities to CalMac's managing director, Robbie Drummond and other members of CalMac's management team. They said measures being taken to deal with a recent vessel breakdown are failing to prevent major disruption, are bringing significant economic damage and are having a detrimental impact on individual and familiy life. Their damning criticism covered cuts in timetabled sailings, deployment of vessels with inadequate capacities and inability to book for would-be passengers, as well as poor communications between the company and its customers. In a statement issued yesterday, the community board said: “While the board recognised that CalMac have to operate with the resources available to them there is huge frustration that … the service is at serious risk if even one vessel is out of action.” The board has offered to work with CalMac on a future plan, Robbie Drummond has accepted the offer and a small group of Community Board members has been identified to start working with CalMac, CMAL and Transport Scotland as soon as possible.

Government go-ahead for Barra hospital planning
Approval has been given for the outline business case for the replacement of St Brendan's Hospital and Care Home in Barra. The Scottish Government's capital investment group has given approval for the development of the full business case, and NHS Western Isles says work on this will commence immediately, Welcoming the news, MSP Alasdair Allan said: “Despite the excellent service provided by NHS staff, it has been recognised for the better part of a decade that the current facilities are simply unfit for purpose. A new hospital is desperately needed and people in Barra have waited too long for this to happen. Barra Councillor Donald Manford said: “Securing outline business case approval for Barra's hospital is the huge step forward we have been striving towards for so long. I look forward to us now moving rapidly to full business case approval.”

LED project a shining light
The LED Energy Communities project in Galson and Carloway has proved a shining success, beating its own targets and leading to follow-up projects in both areas. Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) worked with Galson and Carloway Estate Trusts to help hopuseholds become more energy efficient and to combat fuel poverty. Now both trusts plan to work together to continue the legacy of the project, by running a new energy efficiency project by themselves. The LED Energy Communities project involved two TIG project officers, Finlay MacLennan and Amy Kapherr-Diament, working in the Galson and Carloway areas to install low-energy lighting and educate householders on other energy saving measures. Each estate trust contributed £7,500 to the project. Galson's money came from their community investment fund and Carloway had help from Western Isles Development Trust and BASF Pharma in Callanish in raising their sum. The Climate Challenge Fund contributed more than £121,000. With a planned 220 home visits, the project workers actually carried out 235 altogether – 105 in Carloway and 130 in Galson. They installed a total of 3,003 lightbulbs, which will be a continued carbon (and cost) saving.