Local News for Friday 10th June 2016

Hebrides recognised as Scottish – 750 years ago
A speech to the Scottish parliament in Norwegian yesterday commemorated the date when the Hebrides were acknowledged to be part of Scotland, 750 years ago. The speech was made by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan to commemorate the Western Isles’ Viking links and mark the anniversary of the Treaty of Perth, between Magnus VI of Norway and Alexander III of Scotland.  It was a first for the Scottish Parliament, in that Dr Allan delivered his speech in Norwegian, although he admitted that his Norwegian was ‘hesitant’. Dr Allan was participating in a member's debate, initiated by Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser. He said: “As an admirer of Norway, and a hesitant learner of Norwegian, this seemed like the perfectly opportunity to deliver the first Norwegian speech of the modern Scottish Parliament. The Western Isles were the central issue in the Treaty of Perth. “Innse Gall", one of the Gaelic names for the Western Isles, means ‘the isles of the strangers’ and refers to the fact that the strangers – a euphemism for Vikings – had exerted political control over the islands until the treaty. While the Treaty ended Norse rule over the Hebrides, as we know, it did not sever the many connections that exist between the two places. This was a very welcome opportunity to celebrate the long, productive and very amicable relationship between Scotland and Norway, and in particular, to commemorate the islands’ central place in the story of Scotland.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 10th June 2016

Local News for Thursday 9th June 2016

Petition against woodland cull
An online petition has been started after planning permission was granted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a new church with a 77-place car park, on a site currently planted with trees. The petition on the change.org website is to be delivered to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar if it reaches 500 signatures, with over 350 signed in its first 24 hours. The petition states: “Many locals object to the Stornoway High Free Church building a new church and 77 parking spaces on Smith Avenue, taking away 15% of tree plantation in the process. Locals are not necessarily opposed to people having a place to worship in, but to natural habitats being taken away for the sake of a building and car park. Two local councillors protested against the build of the church as well as 16 local representations - but we must have more to make the council re-think its approval of planning permission”. One signatory on the petition wrote: “We do not need 77 parking spaces for churchgoers when there is parking at the Nicolson, the council and Tesco lying empty on a Sunday. Trees are few and far between in Lewis without chopping more down.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 9th June 2016

Local News for Wednesday 8th June 2016

LochboisdaleTIC ‘must re-open’
There’s growing pressure on VisitScotland to re-open the Tourist Information Centre in Lochboisdale, with MP Angus MacNeil the latest to demand a rethink by the national tourism agency. Last week VisitScotland announced a new initiative placing responsibility for tourist information on the shoulders of providers such as b&bs and tour companies. The reason for closing the tourism office was, they said, lack of suitable employees available to keep the office open. Mr MacNeil is not alone in contesting that claim – one South Uist resident told Isles FM: “ I would have gone for the tourist office job, as so many people living here would have as well, I am sure the marina and Mallaig ferry will be bringing more tourism daily.” Mr MacNeil described VisitScotland’s decision as baffling and incomprehensible. He said:  “People in South Uist are bewildered by the reasons given for the closure.  There are undoubtedly plenty of suitably qualified people who could do this work. We are now approaching the height of the tourist season and visitors arriving in Lochboisdale will be greeted by a locked tourist office. I will be writing to Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland to take immediate steps to rectify this situation and re-open the Lochboisdale Tourist Office.”

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 8th June 2016

Local News for Tuesday 7th June 2016

Give planning power to islands- call
An independent review into Scottish Planning procedures recommends that Island authorities should have more flexibility in assessing and deciding planning applications.The report, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places,  describes so-called “special circumstances”, affecting islands and says more flexibility would reflect the distinctive local context for planning.The Chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Environment and Protective Services Committee, Cllr Norman Macleod, said: “It is right that specific island considerations should be taken into account in planning issues and more flexibility for Island authorities sits comfortably with the objectives of the Our Islands Our Future campaign.”

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 7th June 2016

Local News for Monday 6th June 2016

Police news
A 35-year-old man is to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal after police were called to North Beach Street on Sunday at 1am, where he was found in an agitated state, lashing out and trying to fight several people. He was taken into custody and released later in the morning when he was sober.

Read more: Local News for Monday 6th June 2016