Local News for Friday 20th May 2016

CalMac wins the contract
CalMac ferries will continue to serve all the routes around the Western Isles, with the announcement yesterday that they were winners of the £900 million contract to serve the Clyde and Hebrides ferry routes for the next eight years. The Scottish Government contract was awarded against a bid from private operators Serco, whose bid was judged ‘non-compliant’ with the requirements of the contract. Immediately after the announcement CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester said: “This announcement means that going forward we are the operator of choice for two contracts - the operations contract for Transport Scotland and the harbours contract for CMAL. We will now enter a stand-still period of 10 days before the contract is formally signed. We are still covered by a confidentiality agreement with Transport Scotland. This means that we cannot provide any detailed information.However, as soon as this legal period has passed we will be able to share more details. Isles MP Angus MacNeil welcomed the announcement, saying that the news was a relief for ferry workers after the Scottish Government had been obligated to open the process to competitive bids due to EU regulations. He said: “Many of CalMac’s crews had told me of their nervousness about this process and what it could have meant for their jobs or terms and conditions. Now CalMac must continue to serve the islands and improve services where possible”. The unsuccessful company, Serco, who are allowed to appeal the decision on the contract during the 10–day standstill period, said the competitive bid process was good for the contract, although they had rated their own chances of success as low.

KT Tunstall in Stornoway
Tickets to see KT Tunstall at An Lanntair in August go on general sale this morning at 10am, and are likely to be snapped up quickly. The singer is touring small venues in the highlands and islands, including Ullapool, Lerwick and Stornoway, and tickets are being sold by See Tickets through their website at www.seetickets.com KT Tunstall was last in Stornoway as a headline performer at Hebridean Celtic Festival in 2011.

HebCelt sell out
Meanwhile it’s been confirmed by HebCelt organisers that tickets for the main arena on the Saturday of this year’s festival are now sold out, as are weekend passes for the event. Saturday night’s headliners are Runrig, touring festivals in support of their final album, The Story. HebCelt had already announced two weeks ago that the opening concert at an Lanntair, Hebridean Women, was sold out. A HebCelt spokesman said: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed with your support this year. Thank you to all for buying their tickets in record time. Our opening concert in An Lanntair is sold out, together with Saturday Day Tickets and Arena Weekend Tickets. We do still have availability across many other concerts and events and the booking page has been updated to reflect that”.
Junior footballers in finals
Two junior island football teams are to compete in the finals of the this year’s children’s cup competition, open to young people in Gaelic Medium Education from across Scotland. Teams from Shawbost and Daliburgh are in the final six, after winning their respective regional competitions. 50 teams from 28 schools took part in regional competitions in Lewis, Uist, Skye, Inverness, Ardnamurchan and Glasgow. The Finals will be held at Lochaber on 7th June.une.