Local News for Thursday 15th June 2017

Search and Rescue from Stornoway
Department of Transport Search and Rescue helicopter statistics, published yesterday, show that the Highlands and Islands region was the busiest in Scotland for taskings during the year to March 2017. 22% (565) of calls took place in the Highlands and Islands, with Stornoway responding to 123 calls during the year. Maritime jobs accounted for a quarter of all Stornoway taskings, with 40% over land and a further 35% over coastal areas. 67% of these were rescue or recovery jobs -  the rest were search only, support tasks or pre-arranged transfers. Sumburgh and Stornoway had the highest average duration of call-out, mainly due to their off-shore location.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 15th June 2017

Local News for Wednesday 14th June 2017

Scaled-back water main for Huisinis
Scottish Water has announced a revised plan for a new water main to serve Huisinis, after local alarm at an apparent cancellation of plans for a new main. The company say the planned works, costing about £2.5 million, will upgrade its treatment works at Gobhaig and lay 5km of new water main to connect it with Huisinis, where the existing treatment works would no longer be required.  Investment is also planned to add a new balancing tank at Miabhaig; while a further water treatment works at Cliasmol would be retained. Scottish Water Director of Capital Investment Mark Dickson said: “It is crucially important that we deliver value for money. We recognise that the proposal for North Harris is a reduced level of investment compared with the longer water main from Tarbert that was previously proposed.  However, we believe that the new scheme can meet the current and future needs of our customers by making use of the existing good quality water resources in the area.  There is significant capacity to accommodate planned development and new connections.” Plans for a new water treatment works at Lochmaddy have also been given the green light, alongside a new water main between Lochmaddy and Bayhead to give a single, improved water supply for North Uist at an estimated cost of around £15 million.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 14th June 2017

Local News for Tuesday 13th June 2017

Islands Bill published at Holyrood
An historic bill has been introduced to Parliament to meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands now and in the future. The Islands (Scotland) Bill published yesterday includes measures to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies, to create a National Islands Plan and to protect the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary. Also suggested are measures to ensure more flexibility around Councillor representation in island communities and to extend the powers of island councils where marine licencing is concerned. Presenting the bill, Islands Minister Humza Yousaf said: “This government is committed to promoting islands’ voices, to harnessing islands’ resources and enhancing their well-being. The measures in this bill underpin this ambition. In particular, the provision to ‘island-proof’ decision-making across the public sector will ensure the interests of islanders are reflected in future legislation and policy from the very outset. The Bill’s been given a welcome by Western Isles politicians, with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Roddie MacKay, saying: "This is the most significant piece of legislation for islands since the Local Government reorganization in 1974 and the establishment of islands councils. It is a significant step forward against depopulation, one of the greatest threats to our Island way of life. One of the founding tenets of OIOF was that Scotland's islands are 'special' – this is formal Government recognition confirmation of that fact.” Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan endorsed the Bill, saying: "The publication of these measures shows that the Scottish Government is serious about bringing more powers direct to island communities and making sure that national laws are workable in an island context."

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 13th June 2017

Local News for Friday 9th June 2017

MP elected for Western Isles
After a tense night at Lewis Sports Centre, the SNP’s Angus Brendan MacNeil is once again MP for the Western Isles. His win in the UK Parliamentary Election, declared at 2.15am, came by a reduced margin over near rival Ealasaid MacDonald, standing for Scottish Labour. Mr MacNeil polled 6,030 votes, down from 8,662 in the 2015 General Election, while Mrs MacDonald won the support of 5,006 voters, an increase from the 4,560 given to her predecessor as Labour candidate, Alasdair Morrison. Both candidates had spoken of a welcome on the doorsteps of islanders during their campaign, which was carried out under great stress with the tragic news from Barra – Angus MacNeil’s home island and one where Ealasaid MacDonald also has family connections. The two agreed to suspend campaigning after the Manchester bombing, and there was a low-key final push for votes. Angus MacNeil has been returned to Westminster as the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency for the fourth time. The turnout was 69.73% - down by more than 3% on 2015.

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Local News for Thursday 8th June 2017

Polls are open
Polling Stations are now open for the casting of votes in the 2017 UK Parliamentary Election, and will stay open until 10pm. Details of where you should go to vote are on your polling card, or can be found on the Comhairle’s website. In a late change, the Polling Station for Tarbert will be in the Council Offices, Old Primary School, West Tarbert. For this election you vote for one candidate only by putting a cross in the box next to your choice. If you applied for a Postal Vote, you must return it by 10pm tonight to any Polling Station in the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Constituency or at the Election Office, Council Offices, Sandwick Road, Stornoway.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 8th June 2017