Local News for Tuesday 28th June 2016

Politicians to Isles settlers – you are welcome
Politicians yesterday moved to reassure European incomers to the Western Isles that their place in the islands is valued and important, regardless of future political developments. MSP Alasdair Allan offered to meet constituents who are concerned about the implications to them of the UK's stated intention of taking Scotland out of the European Union. The Western Isles voted to Remain in the EU by 55% of the vote – alongside every other local authority area in Scotland. Dr Allan, who serves as Europe minister in the Scottish government, said: “For citizens of other EU countries living in the islands, I appreciate that this is a worrying and uncertain time, not least because there is no obvious plan on the part of the UK government at present to deal with their situation. I want to make very clear how much I value the contribution of people from around Europe, who have put down roots in the islands and who have made this home for their families. There are a number of areas of the island economy, both private and public sector, which would be very much worse off without your contribution. Like, I suspect most people in the islands, I want you to stay.” Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil headed for Westminster yesterday, as Parliament met for the first time since the result. He also pledged support for EU settlers in the Western Isles, saying that it was his priority to reassure European citizens living in the constituency. He said: “You are welcome and valued in our communities. I have already reassured some people personally in my constituency that I am on their side, the SNP is on their side and they will remain in Scotland. They are valued equally with everybody else for as long as they choose and in reality the islands need all the people we can get. I will endeavour to write to as many EU nationals living in Na h-Eileanan an Iar as possible over the coming weeks to reiterate that message.”

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 28th June 2016

Local News for Monday 27th June 2016

Pipe Band Champions come home
Lewis Pipe Band returned victorious from the European Pipe Band Championships on yesterday’s evening ferry, bringing home a trophy and the title of European Champions. The band contested at the competition in Forres at grade 3a for the first time, after having been promoted just this year. Three of the four adjudicators ranked them first out of the 10 competing bands in their grade, which included the City of Inverness Pipe Band and other bands from England, Scotland and the Netherlands.

Read more: Local News for Monday 27th June 2016

Local News for Friday 24th June 2016

Pipe Band off to Euros
Lewis Pipe Band are off on the early ferry tomorrow (Saturday) on their way to compete in the European Pipe Band Championships. 20 band members plus friends, family and supporters are travelling, to join thousands of pipers and drummers from as far afield as Australia, Oman and all across Europe, competing in four arenas in Grant Park, Forres. Lewis Pipe Band will be the first of ten bands in their grade to compete, and expect to be on the field at around 3.15pm. The band have raised their game after being promoted once again following last year’s competitions. They now compete at Grade 3A.

Read more: Local News for Friday 24th June 2016

Local News for Thursday 23rd June 2016

Polls open in Euro Referendum
Forty-seven polling stations manned by 94 polling station staff opened at 7am this morning, so that island voters can have their say in the  EU Referendum. In the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar voting area there are 21,259 eligible voters and election staff want all of them to feel confident and able to take part in an important process for the UK. Last month an impartial voting guide was sent to every household, giving information on what to expect on polling day and how to take part. The question on the ballot paper is 'Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?'.  Voters will be instructed to put a cross in the box for their preferred outcome - 'Remain a member of the European Union' or 'Leave the European Union'.  Polling stations remain open until 10pm today, and voters who have opted to vote by post need to make sure their postal ballot pack is returned by 10pm too. You can hand it in at your polling station if you have forgotten to post it.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 23rd June 2016

Local News for Wednesday 22nd June 2016

Western Isles population – down and out of balance
The Western Isles population has dropped, and the islands’ demographics are weighted towards older people, according to current population estimates. Now Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is to hold a seminar on the decrease in population and demographic imbalance. Estimates put the number of islanders at 27,070 as at 30 June 2015 – a decrease in the overall population of 180 in one year. The decrease in the population is due mainly to the highest levels of negative natural change over the last decade – that is, the number of deaths exceeding the number of births. Cllr Angus Campbell, said: "Net migration is an essential part of counteracting negative natural change. These islands offer a good quality of life but we also need to provide the infrastructure for people to fulfil their aspirations and for that we need good and affordable housing, good services and most importantly; a multi-agency approach”. The Comhairle this week agreed to host a population and migration seminar in the autumn and have invited Islands Minister Humza Yousaf to attend. 0The ambition is to work with the private and community sectors to create a confident Outer Hebrides where young people are highly valued, and where the population is stable and moving towards growth.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 22nd June 2016