Local News for Friday 29th April 2016

Pressure grows over crofter ‘sackings’
Political pressure is growing on the Crofting Commission to explain or step back on actions which have seen two Lewis Grazings Committees sacked over disputes. Politicians have promised Upper Coll Grazings Committee full support after their dismissal at the weekend, and now Mangersta Grazings Committee, removed from office late last year, are expressing solidarity with Upper Coll. In a statement, members of the now defunct Mangersta Grazings Committee said: “We have observed with great interest events in Upper Coll and see significant parallels with our own experience. The role of the Crofting Commission has been appalling and the sooner there is an inquiry into its entire operations, the better”. The Mangersta dismissals arose from a dispute over payments to an absentee landlord, while at Upper Coll disagreements over moorland grazings were reported.  Mangersta crofters say they are still waiting, four months after their committee was sacked, for a Grazings Constable to be appointed or for resolution of the disputed payments.  The statement concluded: “Our dealings with the Crofting Commission have given rise to serious doubts about what purpose this organisation is supposed to serve. At no point has it shown any interest in defending the crofting interest and instead has inflicted untold damage on the morale of a well-run, active crofting village through its erratic, overbearing and contradictory behaviour.”

Pyrotechnic amnesty
Stornoway Coastguard are opening their doors tomorrow for leisure boat users to drop off time-expired flares, maroons and other pyrotechnic devices for safe disposal by the Coastguard service. Anyone with devices that are out of date is encouraged to call 702013 first and tell the Coastguard station what they will be bringing along and approximately when. Doors will be open for collection of pyrotechnics from 10am tomorrow at the Coastguard station on Goat Island in Stornoway.
Reunion celebration at Salvation Army
The founders of the Salvation Army in the Hebrides, Majors Ray and Pat Brown, are to return to the islands to help celebrate 30 years of Salvation Army service next weekend. The two majors were appointed to the town of Stornoway to start the work of the international church and charity in 1983. The present church and community building opened in Bayhead in 1986, with the Browns bringing a young baby, and having their second child during their early years in the islands. They left the islands in 1987 and have since worked in New Zealand, Glasgow and Nottingham. Major Ray has also helped in relief work following natural and man-made emergencies in places as far flung as Japan, Iraq and the Philippines. Major Ray said: “We are both delighted to have the opportunity to revisit a place and people that have always been dear to our hearts.”  They’ll be leading worship at the church in Bayhead on Saturday May 8th at 11am, when anyone interested in or connected with the Stornoway Corps is very welcome to join them.
Football kick-offs move to 7pm from Monday, signalling the start of summer technically, if not in weather terms. Tonight sees the first cup final of the season, the ABC cup being contested by Carloway and Westside, kick-off at 6.30pm. The forecast is for a dry and bright, if chilly evening for the match.