Local News for Wednesday 15th August 2018

LABOUR PARTY CONCERNS ABOUT FERRY
The Labour Party in the Western Isles has called for an urgent statement from the Scottish Transport Minister on the crisis affecting Hebridean ferry routes.
The party’s prospective Parliamentary candidate, Alison MacCorquodale, said that last Wednesday’s breakdown of the ‘Loch Seaforth’ was “yet another warning sign that must not be ignored”.
She also called for full transparency on the terms of the SNP Government’s private finance deal which means that the ‘Loch Seaforth’ is owned by Lloyd’s Bank – the first ever CalMac ferry to be funded in this way. Ms MacCorquodale said: “It was this private funding model which drove the single ferry option for the Stornoway-Ullapool crossing against local wishes. Where does responsibility lie if the ‘Loch Seaforth’s’ problems recur or if she has to be withdrawn from service?

“As the owners of the vessel, what responsibility would Lloyd’s Bank have? Is there any contingency arrangement to ensure the provision of a life-line service? We need answers to these questions as a matter of urgency and I call on the Scottish Government to make a full statement”.

ROAD SAFETY ENCOURAGED IN THE WESTERN ISLES
Police in the Western Isles are urging drivers to make sure their vehicle is fit for the road following a series of safety operations based around summer festivals.
Officers working at HebCelt in Stornoway and the Eilean Dorcha Festival on Benbecula in the last month detected a number of offences related to MOT, insurance, construction & safe use.
Also detected were a number of speeding offences and one motorist has been reported in connection with drink driving.
Officers at HebCelt, stopped and checked approximately 120 vehicles over the course of the festival. This resulted in 17 drivers either being reported or issued with a fixed penalty notice for speeding, three for insurance offences and four for driving without an MOT. A number of safe use offences were also detected, including one vehicle being issued with a prohibition notice.
Chief Inspector Ian Graham had this advice for vehicle owners: ‘Before taking it out on the road make sure your vehicle is safe for use, has valid insurance and an MOT. the message is simple - drive within the speed limit, with consideration for other road users and with the road conditions in mind.

STORNOWAY PORT AUTHORITY OFFERS DESIGN CONTRACT FOR DEEP WATER PORT PLAN
Stornoway Port Authority is seeking bids to design one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Hebrides.
The Authority has ambitious plans to develop a deep-water port as part of its 20-year Master Plan aimed at creating significant economic growth for the islands.
The design of this, the first Phase of the Deep Water Port will also allow for the development of subsequent phases in the future.
The move is a major milestone in the deep-water port project which is the largest single development in Stornoway Port Authority’s history.
The design is due to be completed by May next year and it is hoped construction work can start by the end of 2019, with a target for completion by June 2021.
Stornoway welcomed 43 cruise ships in 2017, but attracts relatively few large vessels, as those over 156 metres in length are unable to berth alongside, and passengers are brought ashore by small tender.
To maintain and grow the cruise market, Stornoway needs a facility for berthing cruise ships up to 350 metres long. This would attract an additional 35-40 vessels a year, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase.