Local News for Friday 19th May 2017

 Food Standards justifies salt company action
Hebridean Sea Salt ‘deceived customers’, according to Food Standards Scotland, who have taken the unusual step of issuing a press statement about an ongoing case. The Lochs-based company has ceased to operate after queries were raised about the provenance of the gourmet sea salt, said to originate from pure Hebridean waters, and sold through national chains including Marks and Spencers and Sainsburys. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been leading an investigation into the company, and in a statement released yesterday, a Food Standards Scotland spokesman said: “We would not normally disclose the details of an active and ongoing investigation. However, given the coverage of this case, we believe it is now in the public interest to disclose the issues that are under investigation. This is not simply a case of mis-labelling. Investigations discovered that over 80% of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt. It is Food Standards Scotland’s view that, whilst this is not a food safety issue, deception of consumers on this scale is not acceptable and could damage Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for high quality, authentic food and drink products.” Hebridean Sea Salt’s premises in industrial units at Habost, Lochs have closed and the product has been recalled from supermarket shelves.

Read more: Local News for Friday 19th May 2017

Local News for Thursday 18th May 2017

Eriskay testbed for new broadband fix
Households in Eriskay have been selected to take part in the first commercial pilot of new technology to increase the speed of fibre broadband over very long phone lines. Long Reach VDSL is being tested by Openreach, building on trials in Lewis last summer. Broadband speeds tend to slow over long distances, so higher power levels are being tested to increase the distance over which broadband can be delivered. If the Eriskay test proves successful, the test households will keep the higher speeds for the foreseeable future.  Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Being able to test new technologies like this in a real-life setting is a crucial step before we can deploy them on a much wider scale. I hope people in Eriskay will see real improvements in their broadband speed as they help us find an answer to the challenge of delivering faster, fibre broadband over longer lines.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 18th May 2017

Local News for Wednesday 17th May 2017

Council chiefs
Uig Councillor Norman ‘Dokus’ Macdonald has been elected as the Convenor of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a second term, receiving 20 of the 31 councillors’ votes at yesterday morning’s full meeting of council. The role of convenor of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar includes diplomatic and practical duties, such as hosting civic receptions and other events in the Western Isles, and representing the islands at functions on the mainland. At the same meeting, Stornoway North Councillor Roddy Mackay was elected to the more political role of council leader, succeeding Angus Campbell, who stood down at the recent election. Cllr Mackay received 18 votes against Cllr Donald Manford’s 13. Further committee chairmanships and other roles were also decided yesterday, and will be settled today at the last of this round of council meetings.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 17th May 2017

Local News for Tuesday 16th May 2017

Council chiefs to be chosen today
Leading posts in the new Western Isles Council will be decided from today, as the full Comhairle and some of its committees meet for the first time since the Local Authority Elections on May 4th. The SNP group of seven councillors has proposed forming an administration, with ambitions to see their members in the roles of Convenor -  formerly held by Cllr Norman ‘Dokus’ Macdonald – and council Leader, the position vacated when Angus Campbell stepped down at the election. Today will see those posts voted on by the 31 councillors, who include 15 new faces. The full Comhairle meeting will be followed by four committee meetings, with chairs and vice-chairs of each committee to be appointed. Tomorrow sees a further meeting of the full council and two more committees.
Sgoil an Rubha in Edinburgh
Five pupils from Sgoil an Rubha (Point School) were in Edinburgh yesterday at the national Scottish finals of the annual Euroquiz. Together with teacher Ellis Macleod and parent helper Graham Cay, the five made the trip to the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood. Fraser Cay, Beth Wordie, Isla Ross, Gabi Mackay and Erin Macphail are the third team from Sgoil an Rubha to represent the Western Isles, after beating all other schools in the islands for three consecutive years. They were among 31 schools competing yesterday with questions covering the languages, culture and history of European countries.

Breast screening goes on the road
The NHS Breast Screening unit is about to go on the road, after several months in Stornoway. Women over 50 are being encouraged to take up the opportunity of attending regular screening, which has been offered to every eligible woman in the Western Isles. The bus leaves Stornoway after final appointments tomorrow, and will be in the Harris Inn car park from 18th May until 30thMay, before going on to the Uist & Barra Hospital car park between 12th June and 14th July and finally to Castlebay Pier car park in Barra from 5th June until 8th June. NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts said: "Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in Western Isles women, but it's also very treatable when caught early.  Taking up your breast screening appointment is important and the appointment takes only a few minutes."

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 16th May 2017

Local News for Monday 15th May 2017

‘Business as usual’ in Isles health services
The international crisis of computer software which affected NHS Western Isles, along with hundreds of other organisations nationwide, will not have any effect on patient services today, a spokesman has said. Services at Western Isles Hospital and with GP practices through the islands will be operating as usual today, and it’s not anticipated that there will be any changes to clinics or appointments. The malicious software, which locked down computers in 12 out of 14 Scottish health boards, has been isolated, according to Scottish health secretary Shona Robison. An NHS Western Isles spokesman said: “The only problem we experienced was in transferring x-rays images to other hospitals, but this did not affect the delivery of our services here. Everything is running as we would expect and it will be business as usual on Monday.”

Read more: Local News for Monday 15th May 2017