Local News for Monday 21st January 2018

CROFTING FEDERATION ASSURED BY SCOT GOV THAT SUPPORT WILL BE MAINTAINED

Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) says it has received assurance from the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, that he is absolutely committed to maintaining Less Favoured Area Support at 80% of the 2018 funding level for the next financial years 2019 and 2020.

Russell Smith of SCF said: ‘Less Favoured Area payments (LFASS) are vital for those of us in the Highlands & Islands who face natural constraints, so the prospect of this support being cut to 80% in 2019 and then to only 40% in 2020 was unthinkable.

‘Following intense exchange with Scottish Government, SCF has now received an assurance that the less favoured area support will not drop below 80% of the current rate and those crofters on the minimum payment will stay the same. However, this is still a real cut which could have been avoided if we had transferred to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme.

‘We commend Scottish Government for having listened to our, and others’, representation and for giving this assurance. It is not clear where the extra money will come from so we will continue to monitor the situation.’

Read more: Local News for Monday 21st January 2018

Local News for Friday 18th January 2018

REVIEW ON COUNCIL WARD BOUNDARIES

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the announcement from the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland that it has begun a review into the electoral arrangements for six council areas, including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
This has arisen because of the Islands (Scotland) Act, unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament last year, which allows for electoral wards of one or two councillors to cover populated islands.

The review will lead to recommendations on the number of councillors for each council area and the number and boundaries of wards for the election of those councillors. Consultation with the island councils and the public is planned for spring and summer 2019.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “Since 2007, council wards in Scotland have been represented by either 3 or 4 councillors. In some areas, this has led to wards that cover huge areas and take in a variety of communities. One of the most obvious examples of a need for reviewed boundaries is in Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist, which is the only ward in the Western Isles separated by a ferry journey.
There will be a range of views on how we can ensure that council wards in the Western Isles are more representative of the communities they encompass and I hope as many islanders as possible engage with the consultation.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 18th January 2018

Local News for Thursday 17th January 2018

ENDING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT MAY HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON ISLANDS POPULATION

MSPs from across Scotland have teamed up to highlight their concerns over the impact that ending Freedom of Movement through Brexit may have on the local areas they represent.

Representing the Western Isles, Alasdair Allan MSP has highlighted the impact that ending freedom of movement would have on Scotland’s island populations. The islands MSP said:

“The biggest issue facing communities across the Western Isles is depopulation, with our working age population set to decrease by 17% over the next decade.

“The current system of free movement has allowed people from across the EU to do much needed jobs in the Western Isles. Whether it’s the doctors who work in our NHS, those working in the fishing industry or those who have come here and started businesses; EU nationals are an integral part of our communities and have contributed enormously.

“Ending freedom of movement has dire implications for our population projections. It would damage certain industries of vital importance to the islands while exacerbating labour issues across our health and social care sector.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 17th January 2018

Local News for Wednesday 16th January 2018

FIRST MINISTER SUPPORTS DESEGNATION OF IOLAIRE SITE AS A WAR GRAVE

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the support of the First Minister for designating the site of the wreck of The Iolaire as a War Grave.

The MSP for the Western Isles, Dr Alasdair Allan raised the issue recently at First Minister’s Question Time. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that she was supportive of the move.

The First Minister also attended the Iolaire 100th Commemorative service on 1st January.

Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Chairman of the Iolaire Working Group, Cllr Norman A MacDonald, said: “I very much welcome the support of the First Minister and the Scottish Government for the designation of the Iolaire site as an official war grave. We raised this issue with the Scottish Commemorations Panel and it would be fitting for the memory of the men lost on that terrible night and their families that recognition is given in this way.
We are also all very grateful that the First Minister, together with HRH The Prince Charles, Lord of the Isles, attended the commemoration service on the 1st January and paid a very fitting tribute.”

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 16th January 2018

Local News for Tuesday 15th January 2019

LEWS CASTLE UHI STUDENTS TO LEARN ON STAGE AT HEBCELT

Past and present music students are being offered the chance to take their skills to the stage at this year’s Heb Celt.
The Hebridean Celtic Festival has teamed up with Lews Castle College UHI to provide young talent with an opportunity to perform in front of an international audience.

The competition is open to any performer or band which includes members who are studying or who have studied (graduates) on one of the music programmes delivered by Lews Castle College UHI.

They must play a genre of music that reflects the general programming of the festival.
To enter, acts need to prepare a promotional pack in electronic format to promote their music to the judges and must include at least one high resolution photo and a biography, links to good quality recordings (three tracks) of their music and video of a ‘live’ performance (optional).

Entries should be sent to https://marcatoapp.com/forms/hebcelt/showcase-comp/new

the winning prize also includes £500 to cover expenses and passes to enjoy the rest of HebCelt.

The deadline for all submissions is midnight on Friday, 8 March 2019.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 15th January 2019