Local News for Tuesday 8th November 2017

VisitScotland ‘has given up’ on islands
VisitScotland has been accused of 'relinquishing its responsibilities to rural areas' following the announcement that tourist information offices in Lochmaddy and Castlebay are to close. The closures follow last year's closure of the Lochboisdale office and will mean no national tourism authority presence in the 70-mile stretch of tourist heaven between Vatersay and Berneray. Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said: "I am very disappointed at VisitScotland's decision to close the tourist information centres in Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist and Castlebay, Isle of Barra. At a time when tourism is increasing and the season extending, this seems a strange decision and suggests that VisitScotland are relinquishing responsibility to rural areas. I wrote to Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, and asked her to intervene following closure of the Lochboisdale office. I have again written to her, following the latest closures, seeking her intervention to change this decision.” A year-round visitor information centre remains in Stornoway with a seasonal office in Tarbert but Mr MacNeil expressed concern for the future of these offices also, given the closures elsewhere.


Shoebox week
It’s Blythswood shoebox week, with collections being taken from Thursday onwards from those who have put together a package of goodies to help people in deprived areas enjoy a few luxuries and necessities at Christmas. This year, those donating shoe boxes are asked to deliver them to the old Co-op store, at the back entrance on Kenneth Street (opposite Lodge Fortrose). Drop-offs can be made at the following times: Thursday - 3.30- 6pm, Friday 3-7pm or Saturday 10am to 12 noon. No donations should arrive later than 12 noon on Saturday. A list of what to collect in your shoebox and a tick sheet to show what you have donated is available from the website shoeboxappeal.org

Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery
The fund for three more island lifestyle projects has gone up once again, with the award of last week’s prizes in the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery. A total of £8,454 has now been raised for local projects from funds raised by ticket sales in the weekly lottery. This week the first prize of £153 went to Mrs 'M' from Barvas, adding further to the funds awarded to Eoropie Playpark Project. The second prize of £63.75 was won by Sarah Maceachen from Eochar, in South Uist, adding to the Balivanich play park project) and
third prize of £38.25 went to Ken Fryer from Tong, adding further to the Stornoway Christmas lights and fireworks fund. Funds raised are allocated according to ticket sales in each area in the islands, with the list of six projects to be funded selected by local organisations in each area. The next draw is on Saturday at 8pm.