Local News for Monday 8th October 2018

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan raised the issue of social security assessments in island communities recently during a sitting of the Scottish Parliament.
The islands MSP was questioning new Cabinet Secretary for Social Security Shirley-Anne Somerville about how assessments will be delivered in island and other rural areas to meet their distinctive needs.
Certain powers on social security are now devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with legislation being passed earlier this year to set out how 11 benefits, such as Winter Fuel Payments and Personal Independence Payments, will be delivered.
Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said: “It is vitally important that Scotland’s new social security agency avoids the mistakes of the UK Government and recognises the challenges that face people in island communities. The UK Government’s approach to welfare has been truly horrific. It is unfortunate that 85% of social security payments will still be controlled by Westminster, but I hope Scotland is able to put dignity and respect at the heart of delivering the limited welfare benefits we now have control of.’

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Chairman of Transportation has once again made a call for Cal-Mac to locate senior posts, within the ferry company, in the communities that they serve.
The call comes following a rejection of a request to Cal-Mac for assistance with travel costs from a film company – Limbo Productions who are planning a production in the Uists.
Cllr Robertson said: “Many businesses were affected by the disruption to ferry services over Easter and the summer. This film company coming to the Islands off-season will provide a small but significant economic boost for many of those businesses. I would have thought that Cal-Mac would recognise the good-will this would have generated and be more generous in meeting the request for travel assistance. Perhaps if some of their management posts were located in the Islands then they would have a better idea of what is important to local people and the economy.”
‘This general request has been reiterated by the Comhairle and others to a wide range of transport-related government agencies and bodies over the last several years, disappointingly, with no real or meaningful progress.’

Following recent rumours of the closure of the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in Tarbert causing unnecessary concern within the Harris community, Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) wants to make clear that it has not agreed to, nor does it support, the closure of Tarbert VIC.

As part of a broader agreement with VisitScotland on the shape of future visitor information in the Outer Hebrides, OHT agreed that, from next season, Tarbert Visitor Information Centre (VIC) will operate as a partnership between VisitScotland and a local business in the current premises. We have been led to believe that this will operate on a year-round basis.

The Outer Hebrides-wide plan tailors VisitScotland’s national plan to reflect our islands geography and the changing ways visitors now seek information.