Local News for Thursday 14th September 2017

RNLI fundraiser cycles the isles
Tobermory RNLI crew member Rose Skelton is to swap Mull for the Western Isles over the next week, as she sets out to cycle from the Butt to Barra to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Rose has followed in her grandfather’s footsteps as an RNLI volunteer, and hopes to call into the three Western Isles’ RNLI stations along her route – starting at Stornoway RNLI on Saturday to cycle to the Butt at Ness and back, before heading south on Sunday to call at Leverburgh RNLI station along the way, and arrive at Barra RNLI on Wednesday or Thursday of next week. She said: “This is a ride I have always wanted to do, but have never been much of a hill cyclist (there are some steep hills!), nor have I ever cycle-toured alone. I will carry my tent and food with me on my bike, and sleep wherever I end up!”

MSP’s brick in the wall
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan had his name engraved on a little bit of Ness history, buying a specially engraved brick as part of the Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Hisorical Society) “buy a brick” scheme. The bricks were inspired by those used to build the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, which is seen in the logo used by CEN. All the sponsored bricks will be set around the entrance of the newly refurbished building. The scheme is part of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis fundraising efforts to develop the former schoolhouse and canteen in addition to extending the kitchen and museum areas within the main school building. Dr Allan said: “Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is a fantastic asset and resource for the community in North Lewis. The organisation has done huge amounts of work to record and preserve the history, language and culture of the area and I am glad to see growing demand for it to deliver more.

Welcome for changes to crofter payments
Back in the Scottish Parliament this week, Dr Allan supported an announcement from Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, of plans to stabilise and improve the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payment process. The includes a clear payment schedule and a loan scheme, plus improved IT and communications to help the system run better. Dr Allan said: “Everyone, including the Government, acknowledges that there were unacceptable delays in CAP payments over the last two years. I am pleased to hear the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to tackle the causes of poor customer service and provide a more certain timetable for future payments. This is an issue I have taken up with the Government on behalf of many individual crofters and I would urge anyone who has had issues to contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

Bolt-on prizes and community cash
Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery has announced more bolt-on prizes and a forthcoming distribution of up to £4,000 in community grants, as they come up to their fifth draw this weekend. There have now been 12 local winners in the lottery draws – three each from Broadbay and Barra, and two each from Ness, Uist, and Harris – a total of £940 in prize money so far. Barra Atlantic Gin have now joined Lewis Builders Ltd by donating to the next cash bolt-on prize. After the first four draws, support has reached 27% of the targeted 5000 tickets a week and the first round of funding to be made shortly is estimated to be between £3,500 - £4,000.

Trading Standards warn businesses
Trading Standards are advising local businesses to be aware of phishing e-mails from companies claiming they can reduce the costs of business rates. A spokesperson said: "Our advice is not to engage with firms who e-mail or cold call offering to help with rates overpayments or rating appeals. You should always be cautious when asked to pay money in advance, and we would remind businesses that if you agree to this type of service, you may end up being contracted into paying excessive amounts for service fees. If you have any questions or wish to check whether an e-mail is genuine, please contact the Comhairle's Revenues and Benefits Team on 01851 822643.”

Beach clean-up tomorrow
Volunteers are being encouraged to get active on the environmental message of this week’s Hebridean International Film Festival, by joining a beach clean-up on the Braighe on Friday. The festival, which officially launched last night, focuses on themes connected with the natural world, the environment and the islands. The free-to-join beach clean-up starts at the Braighe tomorrow at 11.30am, with free hot drink at An Lanntair afterwards.

Squad named for weekend match
Players have been named for Saturday’s Lewis and Harris FC squad to face Elgin City U20s at Highland Academy Park in Dingwall. Kick off is at 12.30pm and there are still seats available on the bus from Ullapool for anyone that wishes to go along and support. Get in touch on 07825 834967. The squad includes players from Carloway, Ness, Point, Westside, Lochs and Stornoway United.