Local News for Friday 5th August 2016

Gale warning for weekend
An early warning was published yesterday by the Met Office, warning of strong winds over Saturday night and through Sunday. Wind speeds fo up to 50mph, with possible gusts of 60mph, are more likely to cause disruption in the summer months because more people are out and about outdoors, and the chief forecaster says there’s a strong likelihood of a period of ‘unseasonably strong’ winds.. The yellow ‘be aware’ warning, in place from 5am Sunday, says: “A period of strong winds across Scotland and northern England from late Saturday is most likely to peak on Sunday morning, before easing through Sunday afternoon.  Whilst the expected gusts of 45-50 mph and isolated 60 mph are not exceptional for these areas of the country, increased outdoor activity at this time of year will lead to a greater likelihood of disruption.”

Lewis Carnival tomorrow
Regardless of the forecast, organisers of tomorrow’s Lewis Carnival say they’re absolutely positive it will be 20+ degrees with no rain whatsoever. This year’s parade will include floats, pipe bands and motorbikes, and drivers are reminded that roads between Willowglen and the town centre will be closed for the float procession between 1 and 2pm. South Beach Car park is also closed from 6pm tonight until 6pm on Saturday for the funfair. The fancy dress competition, open to under 5s, under 16s and adults, will be judged at 3pm tomorrow in front of the main stage at South Beach.
Castle open for weddings
The ground floor of the newly renovated Lews Castle can now be booked as a luxury wedding and conferencing venue, according to the operators, Natural Retreats. Weddings and other events can use the Castle's grand and beautifully restored ballroom, dining room, library and morning room, while the upper floor will also offer luxury self-catering accommodation from early next year. The refurbished castle is expected to attract upwards of 50,000 people each year and will create at least 25 new jobs, many of which will be undertaken by islanders. Matt Spence, founder of Natural Retreats said: “Lews Castle offers something for everyone. With the launch of Lews Castle as a venue for weddings, corporate events and even Christmas parties, we can offer a luxurious experience in a breathtaking, inspiring location.  For further information on Lews Castle, visit https://www.naturalretreats.com/uk/destinations/lews-castle
Island crofters share grants
Crofters in Lewis and North Uist are among those getting a share of £705,000 under the Croft House Grant scheme. Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing confirmed yesterday that 21 crofters across Scotland will share the pot, intended to help them to build or improve homes. Mr Ewing said: "Good quality housing is essential for crofters. We need to draw people to Scotland's most remote and rural communities and the Croft House Grant can do that. Upgrading or building new properties can help crofters fulfil their duty to live on or close to their croft and can help them undertake additional agricultural activity”.

Harris phones back on
Phones went back on at 8pm on Wednesday after a breakdown in phone service affecting households on the Isle of Harris. Police Scotland and other services put emergency routines in place while the service was down earlier this week, with extra police patrols and Tarbert, Scalpay and Leverburgh Fire Stations open to pass on emergency messages.