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.

Read more: Local News for Friday 20th May 2016

Local News for Thursday 19th May 2016

Louisa raised for investigation
The wreck of the Stornoway fishing vessel Louisa has reached Glasgow after being raised from the position where she sank, near the island of Mingulay, with the loss of three lives. Crew members Martin Johnstone and Chris Morrison drowned in the incident, while skipper Paul Alliston is still missing. One crew member survived. Marine Accident Investigators issued pictures of the Louisa after she was lifted from the seabed on Sunday. The sinking is the subject of a joint investigation between the Marine Accident Investigation Board and Police Scotland. An MAIB spokesman said: "Our investigation aims to establish why the Louisa sank and why lives were lost. A full and detailed report will be published at the end of our investigation”.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 19th May 2016

Local News for Wednesday 18th May 2016

Skye fatality – witnesses sought
Police are asking for public help after a 24-year-old woman died in a road traffic collision on the Isle of Skye. The accident happened at about 10.10am on the morning of Friday 13th May, on the A87 just north of Broadford. Sadly, the woman died at the scene. At the family’s request, her identity will not be released by Police Scotland. Police are appealing to anyone who saw the vehicle, a red Ford Fiesta, in the area around 10am on Friday to make contact via 101 if they haven’t already done so.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 18th May 2016

Local News for Tuesday 17th May 2016

Jobs to come in HIE forecast
Highlands and Islands Enterprise are predicting up to 100 jobs kept or created in the Callanish area over the next three years, in an announcement about the 2015/16 year’s figures. They estimate that 130 jobs will have been created or retained in the Outer Hebrides because of their investment in the past year,  pointing to major projects in Lochboisdale, where a new Port of Entry was opened in September and in Harris, where 17 jobs were created at the Isle of Harris Distillery in Tarbert. Work will start soon at the HIE owned site at Breasclete, where BASF Callanish Ltd is expanding and 80 high quality jobs will be supported, with 20 more in the life science sector in the next three years. Other potential expansion areas are in the creative industries, food and drink and tourism. There’s been £300,000 investment at Harris Tweed Hebrides for a major expansion project which aims to create up to ten jobs. HIE also funds local development officer posts in North Uist, Barra, Galson, Lochs and Harris.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 17th May 2016

Local News for Monday 16th May 2016

Google translate scammers
Email scammers have targeted the Western Isles with a message written in Gaelic, according to reports. The email comes from Italy and claims to be from an African man whose father has been poisoned. Police said the message seemed to have been written using the online translation tool, Google Translate,  which has only had Gaelic available since February. Some islanders in Benbecula who received the message said the Gaelic was ‘poor’.

Read more: Local News for Monday 16th May 2016