Local News for Monday 13th August 2018

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has accused Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL), the Scottish Government owned agency charged with running remote, rural and island airports, of wasting over £18,000 of public money on a study into proposals to centralise its air traffic control system.
Research by Mr Finnie has revealed that HIAL spent £18,602 on a ‘scoping study from EKOS setting out why Inverness should be the preferred location for proposed Remote Towers Control Centre.’

Commenting, John Finnie MSP said:
“HIAL’s proposal to slash jobs throughout remote, rural and island communities by centralising its air traffic control operation is short-sighted and will disadvantage the communities it is supposed to serve by centralising skilled jobs.
“My latest research has revealed that HIAL have spent £18,602 on a scoping study which found that Inverness was the prime location for this centralised system. It beggars belief that such a sum was spent stating the obvious.
“Instead of spending thousands of pounds telling us what we already know, it would serve HIAL better if it listened to the expert air traffic controllers, and their Trade Union Prospect, and ensured that these important, skilled jobs remain in communities throughout the Highlands and Islands.”

The need for an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) was highlighted again last Week when the largest ferry in the CalMac network, MV Loch Seaforth, lost power in the Minch, said Isles MP Angus MacNeil.
Mr MacNeil is calling on the UK Government to once again look at the situation which has left the West Coast without an ETV based in Stornoway and is currently serviced by a vessel which also covers the Northern Isles.
He said: “It is lucky that the ETV, the only boat that could have assisted MV Loch Seaforth in the worst case scenario, was also on the West Coast.
“However this shows that for now we need to have an ETV based in Stornoway in case of a similar incident in future.
“The one thing we know is that the unforeseen will happen and we need the insurance policy of a West Coast tug. The UK Department of Transport are dodging their responsibilities here and crossing their fingers which is not good enough.”
The ETV Tug in Stornoway was removed in 2011 as a cost cutting exercise by the UK Government.

A panel from the Great Tapestry of Scotland depicting the Iolaire disaster of 1 January 1919 will be on display at Museum nan Eilean Lews Castle as part of an exhibition commemorating the tragedy.
The loan which has been agreed between the museum and the Great Scottish Tapestry Trust will enable visitors to the exhibition to see a unique example of public remembrance of those on board the Iolaire.
The Tapestry as a whole is composed of 160 hand stitched panels which depict the history of Scotland since 8,500 bc, designed by artist Andrew Crummy and made by over 1,000 volunteers from across the country. It has been exhibited across Scotland, including in the Scottish Parliament. Parts of the Tapestry have previously been seen in the Outer Hebrides at Museum nan Eilean Uist & Barra on the Isle of Benbecula.
The panel commemorating the loss of the Iolaire was stitched during 2012 and 2013 in Harris and South Uist by Tracey MacLeod, Moira MacPherson, and Gillian Scott-Forest.
Nick Smith, Heritage Manager at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “We are grateful to the Great Scottish Tapestry Trust for agreeing to loan this panel and for their support and assistance as the people of Lewis and Harris prepare to remember the centenary of the loss of the Iolaire”
Museum nan Eilean’s exhibition The Iolaire will open on Tuesday 2 October, preceded by a private view in the evening of 1 October.