Local News for Thursday 19th January 2017

Ferry pulled off route for ‘essential repairs’
The MV Lord of the Isles is to be withdrawn from service from Monday, after maintenance checks discovered an area of thinning metal which needs urgent repair. Severe weather on the route between Lochboisdale, Mallaig and Oban is blamed for the wear, which will mean complete suspension of that route for at least a week. South Uist passengers are being urged to use extra services across the Sound of Barra, and to travel to the mainland from Castlebay on the MV Isle of Lewis. Robert Kelso, CalMac's Fleet Technical Manager, said "The ship's steelwork is inspected to a 5-yearly fixed schedule under MCA rules and wasn't due to be looked at again until the end of this year.   However, due to the severe weather conditions in which our ships operate, the onboard engineers do routine inspections in-between the formal one, and the latest of these just before Christmas found a small section which needed repair. We were keen to avoid taking the ship out of the water during the busy Christmas holiday period so agreed with the MCA that the work could be deferred until early in the New Year. We cannot say how long the repairs will take until the work has been formally assessed and scoped but we will do everything we can to get her back into service as soon as possible. In the meantime, we apologise for any inconvenience caused." Lord of the Isles will make her usual run to Oban on Monday morning, but will then be taken to dry dock in Greenock. Additional early morning and late evening services are being put in place on the Sound of Barra while the repair work is carried out.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 19th January 2017

Local News for Wednesday 18th January 2017

GPS message in a bottle from Iceland
A digital message in a bottle has taken almost exactly a year to travel from south-west Iceland to the Hebrides, and is now bobbing about off the west coast of South Uist. The yellow capsule, containing a GPS transmitter, is one of two released into the sea as a science experiment by an Icelandic TV station. Aevar the scientist launched the two capsules on January 10th last year, to show children how rubbish released into the sea creates problems far from where it is dumped. One ‘bottle’ has already washed up in Tiree, after skirting Mingulay and Barra to get there, and was picked up by Tiree resident Rhoda Meek. The second remains adrift off the Western Isles, and is still sending out bleeps showing its position. You can track the bottle in case it washes up near you, by following the link on our Facebook page. http://www.verkis.is/gps

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 18th January 2017

Local News for Tuesday 17th January 2017

Linda was no spy – Norgroves
The parents of charity aid worker Linda Norgrove have reportedly hit back at ‘ludicrous’ claims that their daughter was an MI6 agent working in Afghanistan, after an American website reported that was the real reason for her presence in the country. Linda died in October 2010 after an attempt to liberate her from kidnappers. She was working in the country as an aid-worker with the US agency DAI. Linda’s parents, John and Lorna Norgrove, who live in Uig, run a charity dedicated to her memory which raises funds for education and training, especially for women, in Afghanistan. Several national media sources have reported last week’s claims by the US website, in response to which John and Linda Norgrove issued a statement describing their daughter as ‘highly-principled’ and as someone who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. They said the claims of her involvement with MI6 were ‘ludicrous and hurtful’.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 17th January 2017

Local News for Monday 16th January 2017

Lock up your oil tanks – Police
Police are warning householders to be more vigilant about oil tanks, after the latest in a spate of oil thefts in the islands. Between 5 and 600 litres of fuel oil was stolen last week from a house at West Gerinish in South Uist – one of several such thefts since Christmas.  This theft took place sometime between 10am on Tuesday last week and noon on Thursday. Locking devices and alarms for fuel tanks are available online and from local retailers, and police ask householders to be more vigilant, and to report any suspicious activity to them on the non-emergency number, 101.
Assault in Stornoway
A 28-year-old man was taken to hospital with facial injuries in the early hours of Sunday morning, after he was assaulted on Cromwell Street in the town centre. A witness sought by police yesterday has now been identified, but police are keen to speak to anyone else who saw the incident, on the non-emergency number 101, or anonymously via crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Road accident
A car was left on its side beside the road near the Creed Enterprise Park after a road accident at 9am on Sunday. The driver was taken to hospital but released later, and there are no charges arising from the accident. Police are aware that the vehicle is still at the side of the road, and will be recovered later.
Theft of alcohol
And police are following a positive line of enquiry after the theft of a bottle of alcohol from the Co-op store on Cromwell street, at 9.30pm on Friday.
Crewman seriously injured
Stornoway Coastguard helicopter R948 was sent to evacuate a 25-year-old man who was seriously injured aboard a fishing vessel on Sunday afternoon. The FV Research was 65 miles north-east of the Butt of Lewis when she called fo assistance at 1.50pm on Sunday, reporting that the man had severe crush injuries to his leg. The helicopter was able to reach the vessel in moderate conditions and took him to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where he arrived at about 5.30pm.
‘Last chance’ for island renewables
This week sees what islands MP Angus MacNeil is calling ‘the last chance’ to convince the UK Government that it needs to support island renewable projects, with the future of the long-delayed interconnector to the islands hanging in the balance. Mr MacNeil is speaking to island community groups today, ahead of a meeting with Ministers from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on Tuesday to give his input. There are just over two weeks until the close of the UK Government’s consultation on whether Remote Island Wind projects should be subsidised in future. The UK Government has already decided to end onshore wind subsidies, but is considering whether remote island projects should be treated differently. Mr MacNeil said: “Without support from the UK Government, island renewable projects are less viable and this may in turn threaten the viability of the interconnector project. A thriving island renewables sector would be a win-win for the Government. Renewable energy from the Scottish Islands is cheaper than procuring it from offshore sources and, with the islands being the best wind resource in Europe, tapping into its potential would greatly assist the Government in achieving its energy targets. This may be the last chance to convince the UK Government.”
Rugby win for Stornoway
Stornoway Rugby Club made the best of home advantage on Saturday to deliver a slim but decisive victory over the Highland XV from Inverness, the final score 12-10. The first try came from Paul Afrin and the second from an intercept by Euan MacKinnon who popped it to speedster Chris Adams to take it in between the sticks. Iain 'Fish' MacKinnon's conversion won the game, and there was quite a celebration afterwards on a snowy Bayhead pitch.
Snow also added to the fun, and the challenge, of the second Stornoway Running and Athletics Club Cross Country race, in Lews Castle Grounds, on Saturday, sponsored by Alex Murray Construction. There was a good turnout of young runners and  lots of photos shared on the club’s facebook page, Full results available soon on the SRAC website.  The third and last race in the series is on February 18th.

Local News for Friday 13th January 2016

Romantic Harris for eloping couple
A couple of lovebirds who eloped to Harris have called their runaway wedding ‘just perfect’. Gladys and Richard Clark, who are both 50 and live in Aberdeen, came to Harris on the spur of the moment, having decided just weeks earlier to marry. The wedding was officiated on January 2nd  by Western Isles registrar Helen Maher, at Blue Reef Cottages, Scarista, where they were staying. Their only witnesses were Blue Reef’s owners Rhoda and Neil Campbell, Rachel Bibby of 58º North taking the pictures. Gladys said: “We went to the same school in Aberdeen, where we had a secret crush on each other, but our paths crossed again in September 2015 when we went on a cycling date after chatting on Facebook. In August last year we stayed in Harris and fell in love with the area, and decided in December to return and marry here. We managed to get to Luskentyre beach to get some photos – barefoot and freezing! Although less so for Richard in his Harris Tweed attire bought in Tarbert. The wedding feast was provided by Croft 36 at Northton and the day was just perfect from start to finish, with rainbows provided.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 13th January 2016