Local News for Wednesday 6th July 2016

More Ullapool buses – still book ahead
Travellers wanting to get from Ullapool to Inverness by bus should notice a difference, after Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS) agreed to get extra coaches onto the service. But the advice is still to book ahead if you want to be sure of a seat. Capacity on the 961 service has caused concern, which was discussed by the Comhairle’s transport committee this week. Coach operator Scottish Citylink, say they put on an additional coach whenever bookings for the service exceed capacity, but they have to know this more than 48 hours in advance. Extra coaches also run every Friday, Saturday and Monday to serve summer ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool.  At this week’s meeting all parties agreed that it was not commercially viable for the operator to ensure capacity if people don’t book ahead. Cllr John Mackay, Chair of the Comhairle's Transportation committee said: “Additional capacity cannot be completely guaranteed by the operator and all passengers should make every effort to book as far in advance as possible".

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 6th July 2016

Local News for Tuesday 5th July 2016

Five month wait for driving test
Learner drivers in the Western Isles are facing ‘unacceptable’ waits of up to five months to take driving tests, and Isles MP Angus MacNeil is calling on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to review arrangements urgently. Mr MacNeil has been approached by constituents trying to book car and vocational tests who report delays of several months from time of booking until the actual test. He said: “Delay to vocational testing such as for HGV, bus or trailer tests has an effect on people’s livelihoods. The DVSA needs to address this situation as a matter of urgency. The delays are also affecting those wishing to secure a car driver’s licence, which is especially disappointing for young people hoping to pass their test before heading for university. DVSA have said that efforts are being made to offer incentives to examiners willing to travel to remote locations, however there is doubt locally about any impact this will have. In the past, those wishing to take vocational tests and car tests could expect a test within a month and the deterioration of this service is not acceptable.”

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 5th July 2016

Local News for Monday 4th July 2016

Cruise passenger airlifted
A 60-year-old woman was airlifted from the cruise vessel Le Austral on Saturday evening, the vessel having been in Stornoway the previous day. The woman was suffering chest pains and was airlifted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Glasgow, by the Stornoway-based helicopter R948, late on Saturday night. Le Austral was west of Skye by that time, but still within the Stornoway Coastguard area.

Read more: Local News for Monday 4th July 2016

Local News for Friday 1st July 2016

EU nationals ‘welcome at Health Board’
Yesterday’s public board meeting of NHS Western Isles included a strongly worded statement of support for EU nationals living and working in the islands.  In the light of the Brexit vote, the Health Board said all EU nationals working within the Health Service are welcomed and valued colleagues. As an example of the important contribution people from other EU countries make, they cited the 15 consultants currently employed in the islands, of whom two are Scottish, nine from other EU countries and four from outside the EU. Board Chairman, Neil Galbraith, said: “EU citizens are more than welcome here and we look forward to continuing to recruit talented staff to work within the Western Isles.” He also made it clear that it was business as usual for all aspects of the health service.

Read more: Local News for Friday 1st July 2016

Local News for Thursday 30th June 2016

HebCelt heading for sell-out
The 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival is heading for a sell-out, with tickets going faster than they have done in any of the previous 20 years. Two weeks before the opening night on July 13th, HebCelt 21 is already the highest grossing on sales. All weekend tickets have been sold, as have those for the opening and closing nights, and for the concert by Skipinnish at An Lanntair, with just a limited number of main arena tickets still on sale for Friday. Half the HebCelt audience will come from off the island, bringing an economic boom for the Western Isles. News that Runrig were making their fourth appearance at the festival led to an unprecedented demand for early tickets from fans as far afield as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Several hundred were snapped up within hours of going on sale. Runrig will be among nearly 50 acts including the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Astrid, Julie Fowlis, King Creosote and Eddi Reader. Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: "This is easily our best performance ever, with big spikes firstly when we announced Runrig and put weekend tickets on sale back in November, and then when we released day tickets. Since then sales have remained very healthy and we are heading for a sell-out across most events”.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 30th June 2016