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

Local News for Tuesday 21st June 2016

Quarter million for Castle buildings
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is to put a quarter of a million pounds into renovation works in Lews Castle Grants, it’s announced today. £250,000 has been awarded for work on the Porter’s Lodge and Boatman’s House as part of Historic Environment Scotland’s Building Repair Grants scheme. The Porter’s lodge is the original main entrance to Lews Castle, whilst the Boatman’s House forms part of the distinctive sea wall facing Stornoway harbour. HES funding will help to rebuild, repair and protect these buildings, currently in a dilapidated condition, making them accessible to members of the public. Iain MacIver of the Stornoway Trust said, “This award will hopefully enable the Trust to add value to the exciting works now nearing completion at Lews Castle. Our aim is to further enhance the environs of the Castle through restoration works to the sea wall as well as much needed repairs to the Porter's Lodge and Boatman's House. We believe both these structures were an integral part of Sir James Matheson's vision for the Grounds. We now look forward to Historic Environment Scotland's help to try and bring these buildings back into use for the enjoyment of the public in a safe and more accessible condition.”

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 21st June 2016

Local News for Monday 20th June 2016

Flags at half mast for murdered MP
Flags on Comhairle buildings will be flying at half mast today, as MPs return to the House of Commons in tribute to MP Jo Cox, who was killed in her Yorkshire constituency last week. The convenor will convey to the speaker of the House of Commons the condolences of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, at the start of the week when the EU Referendum is to take place. Jo Cox was conducting constituency business when she was shot and stabbed. A man who has been arrested and charged with her murder.

Read more: Local News for Monday 20th June 2016

Local News for Friday 17th June 2016

Cyclists on a flyer
Charity cyclists got a flying start to the second – and longest – day of their marathon ride from the Butt to Barra yesterday. They left Scaladale soon after 6am and reached their second overnight stop, at Sgoil Linaclete, by 3.30pm. The day starrted with a donation from a visitor to the island, who was over from Aberdeen and had wondered why all the cyclists were together. After record speeds on the downhill stretch at Ardhasaig, the group reached Leverburgh for a generous spread laid on by the congregation at the Free Church Hall, and were also showered with donations by ferry passengers travelling with them across the Sound of Harris. Organiser Jane Nicolson said: “We really can’t thank the people of Leverburgh enough for the sandwiches and baking they prepared for us, and thanks to everyone for the amazing generosity we have been shown. The ambulance crew were kept busy with minor bumps and scrapes, and we had a few punctures to deal with, and of course everyone got caught in the rain somewhere along the route today, but it hasn’t dampened our spirits”. Tomorrow the 37 cyclists complete the last leg to Castlebay in Barra, and there’ll be an update from the team on tonight’s Behind the Headlines.

Read more: Local News for Friday 17th June 2016

Local News for Thursday 16th June 2016

Syrian refugees ‘will arrive this summer’
Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell has confirmed that Syrian families will arrive in the Western Isles over the summer months, with plans in hand for two related families to be housed around Stornoway. Cllr Campbell chose the week of the Refugee Festival Scotland to confirm the plan. The theme for this week’s festival is solidarity and Gary Christie from the Scottish Refugee Council said: "Now, more than ever, we need to stand together with people who've had to flee their homes and are now trying to build new lives here." Comhairle leader Angus Campbell told planning partners and councillors: "By the time we met again in September the Outer Hebrides will have welcomed Syrian families to be resettled in our community". He promised more information over the next few weeks.  Local agencies have been working hard to make the arrival of families as discreet and smooth as possible for the families, who will be supported where necessary but also given the space that they need to re-adjust to family life here in the Outer Hebrides. Cllr Campbell said he was "confident that as a community we will be welcoming and compassionate and allow the families the scope they will need to resettle within our islands."

Read more: Local News for Thursday 16th June 2016