Local News for Thursday 2nd August 2018

CHANGING FACE OF COMUNN EACHDRAIDH NIS
Significant changes are taking place at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis as refurbishment continues to make good progress and is nearing the half way stage.
Cllr John Mackay said "I am delighted to see the renovations at the Comunn Eachdraidh making good progress. Credit for getting matters to this stage must go to the management committee and all staff for having the vision and drive to bring this forward. The volunteer effort that allows the Comunn Eachdraidh to go from strength to strength is truly incredible".
The front extensions have slowly disappeared over the recent weeks and steelwork has appeared to form the new face of the building. The defibrillator that was located at the former front entrance has now been relocated to the side of the Croileagan building. New signage is appearing around the site to encourage the public to continue to visit Comunn Eachdraidh Nis and make use of the ever popular gift shop, cafe and archive room. Access is now through the rear of the site and the public are requested to be aware when approaching the premises and especially when driving to the interim main entrance at the rear of the cafe.

All the bricks as part of our Buy a Brick fundraiser have now been sold and the engraving process is underway. Bricks will form a legacy wall in a prominent place at the foyer. Remember you can follow progress of the renovations by searching for and liking their Facebook page: Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Vision 2020.

RURAL BANKING SERVICES STUDY
A study into the importance of local banking services in rural areas has recommended a ‘whole system response’ to meeting the banking needs of communities and businesses. The study was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid a growing trend of rural bank branch closures. Some closures can result in road and ferry journeys of more than 50 miles to the nearest alternative.
In its report, consultants Indigo House Group said banking facilities need to be understood as core to local community infrastructure. It added that there is a disconnect between local bank closures and efforts to strengthen and grow local economies. Access to cash remains fundamental to the viability of small retail businesses, prominent in rural areas. This is especially in relation to tourism, where successes in generating income within fragile communities could be hit by the loss of access to cash via local banks. Online banking, Post Office banking and mobile bank vans go some way to providing alternatives. However, concerns about these include cybersecurity, the fragile nature of Post Office contracts, and accessibility of mobile banks for less able people. Customers facing a shift from a local branch to a mobile bank considered this a backward step.
In its recommendations, the report called for a collaborative approach involving Scottish Government, HIE, local authorities, community members and delivery partners, including the banks and Post Office. The report also recommended a Post Office banking strategy that would include securing the long-term sustainability of contract Post Offices to support rural economies and infrastructure. The full report on HIE’s rural banking study is available online at www.hie.co.uk/access-to-banking-services

SEAWATCH FOUNDATION ANNUAL CAMPAIGN
Every year, scientists at the Sea Watch Foundation lead a campaign to get members of the public contributing to science to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises and they’re calling on you to get involved with the National Whale and Dolphin Watch ongoing from the end of July and running until 5th August 2018
“It’s all about reporting your whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings as well as getting out there to look for them” begins Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer for the research charity.
“Without reports from the public on these magnificent animals we cannot compile data which is used for their protection” continues Chiara.
"With the help of our new sighting app, the Whale Track app, everyone (wildlife enthusiasts as well as boat operators) is now able to record and submit their sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises from across the Hebrides", said Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, the Trust’s Science Officer.
The charity encourages wildlife-lovers to head to the coast to collect watch data of their own. No experience is necessary and the team at Sea Watch will be happy to set you off on the right foot.
Find out more about the event: www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw
Register your own watch: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw-2018/
To know more about the Whale Track App: https://hwdt.org/whale-track/