Local News for Thursday 26th May 2016

Shadow role for MSP
Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart has been named Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in the new Scottish Parliament. He has also been selected for a role as part of the powerful Scottish Parliament Corporate Body Committee (SPCB) which oversees the general running of the Parliament. Mr Stewart he was pleased to accept the new responsibilities, and said “ I have had previous experience with environmental issues and all three issues  will have far reaching effects on Scotland's economy, its people and its environment. We know already that Scotland has one of the lowest proportions of rented land in Scotland, so there is much work to be done.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 26th May 2016

Local News for Wednesday 25th May 2016

Former estate owner to sue
It’s been reported that the former owner of the Pairc Estate in Lewis is to sue the new owners, Pairc Trust, for £700,000. Barry Lomas says he’s owed the money for legal costs incurred during the sale, and compensation. Mr Lomas received £500,000 purchase price after protracted legal wrangling and interventions under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of 2003. Funding support came from the Scottish Land Fund, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and the local Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust, in addition to almost £300,000 raised by the Pairc Trust themselves.  Trust representatives said this week that they did not believe Mr Lomas was entitled to any payments, but that they expected he would pursue his claim.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 25th May 2016

Local News for Tuesday 24th May 2016

Councillor’s ‘Lucky to be Here’ presentation
A councillor who has first-hand experience of the value of life-saving equipment has presented Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with a heart-starting defibrillator. Cllr Angus Morrison suffered a heart attack in January 2014 and is now local co-ordinator for the charity Lucky2Bhere, which supplies defibrillators and trains people how to use them. Th charity was set up in Skye and now raises funds for the life-saving equipment in communities throughout the highlands and islands. Cllr Morrison said: “After recovering from my own heart attack, I had a discussion with paramedic Roddy MacDonald and we decided to contact Lucky2Bhere." The local  team of Lucky2BHere Eilean Siar has now been set up, led by Roddy MacDonald and Councillor Morrison, and the team have supplied defibrillators and training in Leverburgh, Tarbert, North Tolsta, Grimshader and now at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices in Stornoway. Over the coming months training courses will take place in various locations throughout the Western Isles. Lucky2BHere relies completely on fundraising and donations. For more information contact Angus Morrison on 07880 172971 or www.lucky2bhere.org

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 24th May 2016

Local News for Monday 23rd May 2016

Women’s Cancer Challenge blockbuster
Torrential rain failed to dampen high spirits at the tenth annual Women’s Cancer Challenge on Saturday, with a record turnout and 601 finishers at the line. This year’s winner, in a course record time of 18 minutes and 30 seconds, was Scottish national athlete Eilidh Mackenzie, who won the first Challenge 10 years ago while still a school pupil, a result that organisers Tony and Kirsty Wade said was ‘fitting’.  At least seven women had entered all ten of the events to date. The race has raised money for the Lewis Branch of Cancer Research UK every year since it started, and could this year come close to the £100,000 mark in overall funds raised by runners, sponsors and supporters. Among pledges and help on the day, Tescos donated support staff, water and bananas for the runners, Grillburger gave 1000 bottles of water and Fergusons Heating Systems pledged a £1 donation for every runner. Tony Wade said: “It was a day of stories, some of which we will never know, but there were many there who had their own challenges. The starting whistle was blown by members of the Hebridean Mens Cancer Group, and we heard that one of the finishers was a nurse who came straight from a night-shift to run. We also know that there were people running with us in Aberdeen, Donegal, Iberia and  Rhode Island - because they could not join us in person.“

Read more: Local News for Monday 23rd May 2016

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