Local News for Wednesday 7th March 2018

Western Isles happier with buses
People who use bus services in the Western Isles are generally happier with the standard of service than people elsewhere in Scotland, feeling safe, getting enough time to sit down before the bus moves and being treated well by drivers, according to new figures produced this week by Citizens Advice Scotland. In a survey of bus users, 88% were happy with the cleanliness of the buses (against a national average of 68%) and 73% content with service punctuality, against a national average of just 44%. But passengers were less happy with the frequency of island bus services, 59% of respondents saying they were dissatisfied, and 13% of people said they couldn’t get to the GP, hospital or to work by bus. The results were part of a report on Scotland’s bus services called ‘Creating Better Journeys’, released by CAS yesterday. CAS Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said: "People deserve a bus service that is reliable, affordable and pleasant to use. We undertook this survey because we wanted to give consumers a voice. The responses came from all parts of Scotland but there was a notably high rate from people in rural areas, where problems like bus infrequency are often more acute. Citizens Advice Scotland will now be meeting with bus companies, local authorities and the Scottish Government to find ways of addressing these issues. Our objective here is to create better journeys for the people who rely on bus services."

Launch of island energy company
Western Isles householders can now choose fairer energy tariffs and help bring money back into the community too, with the launch this week of Hebrides Energy, a not-for-profit company supplying power to the Western Isles. Led by a group of organisations including Tighean Innse Gall, HHP, the Comhairle and Stornoway Trust, the company will work with fair energy supplier Our Power to offer new ‘Hebridean tariffs’. It’s hoped the initiative will help reduce fuel poverty, with nearly 60 percent of island homes struggling to afford energy bills. Virtually every island home can opt to join and any profits will be used to tackle fuel poverty. Hebrides Energy Chairman Carola Bell said: “This is a first-of its kind venture for the islands and the team at Hebrides Energy has worked long and hard to get this far. It’s a great pleasure to be working with Our Power, with their proven track record and positive, community-centred ethos, and we hope that many islanders can benefit from the new tariffs on offer. A spokesman for Tighean Innse Gall added: “Switching can seem like a scary and confusing process, however TIG staff will be here to help, so they can choose the tariff that’s right for them.” And Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: “It’s good to see so many organisations working together in the islands to help address one of the islands’ biggest problems – fuel poverty. Anything that makes the islands a more affordable place to live over the winter has to be a good thing.”

Lewis Camanachd are hoping to get the shinty season off to a start on Saturday, with an away match against Lochcarron scheduled. The season opener was due to be an away match against Caberfeidh last week but that, like most mainland fixtures and February’s pre-season match against Skye, had to be postponed due to the weather. There are Easter shinty camps in Inverness and Portree for junior players from P1 to Under-14s. For more information on how to get your youngsters signed up go to Camanachd Leodhais Facebook page.