Local News for Thursday 5th May 2016

The polls are open
47 polling stations around the Western Isles are now open for voters in the Scottish Parliamentary Election. The polling places range from community halls to a bowling club and will remain open until 10pm today. Voters will be asked to cast two votes, one for a constituency MSP for na h-Eileanan an Iar, and one to decide who will be the list representatives for the Highlands and Islands. Once polls close tonight, counting begins at Lewis Sports Centre, where an announcement on the constituency result is expected sometime after 1am. Ballot boxes from Barra are being transported by sea and road to Benbecula, from where a chartered plane will bring all the ballot boxes from the Uists and Barra to Stornoway. In the event of bad weather or any other reason for delay, a boat is on stand-by to cross the Sound of Harris, but this would significantly delay the declaration in the islands.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 5th May 2016

Local News for Wednesday 4th May 2016

Election figures
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have released figures ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Parliament Election, with the total electorate in Na h-Eileanan an Iar now standing at 21,695. There are 4,531 postal voters, who should by now have posted their ballot packs back in the envelopes provided. Postal papers can also be brought to Polling Stations tomorrow between 7am and 10pm, or handed in at the Comhairle’s Election Office on Sandwick Road. Anyone who finds themselves unexpectedly unable to get to a Polling Station due to illness or changed work arrangements can apply for an emergency proxy vote today or tomorrow. Depute Returning Officer Derek Mackay said: “It’s everyone’s democratic right to cast a vote. It’s their opportunity to influence who will represent them for the term of the Parliament. We would hope to see as high a turnout as possible and get as much voter engagement as possible. I think that strengthens the whole democratic system.”

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 4th May 2016

Local News for Tuesday 3rd May 2016

Louisa will be raised
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is to request that salvors raise the FV Louisa from the seabed near Mingulay where she sank early in April, as part of their investigation into the circumstances of her sinking. The MAIB is conducting an enquiry into the foundering of the FV Louisa while at anchor off  Mingulay, resulting in the loss of three fishermen, two from the islands. Skipper Paul Alliston is yet to be brought home, despite extensive searches of the area by volunteers and Search and Rescue teams. The enquiry will look into the reasons why water flooded into the boat, whether automatic alarms actually sounded, and why a liferaft did not operate as it should have done. Salvors will wait for a weather window before trying to raise the wreck, which is lying in relatively shallow water and occasionally visible at low tide.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 3rd May 2016

Local News for Monday 2nd May 2016

Police news
A man who appeared in court at Stornoway on Thursday has been remanded to Porterfield Prison in Inverness, after failing to come up with a bail payment imposed by the court. The 36-year-old man had been arrested following incidents in the town centre at 2.30pm on Wednesday, and was charged with two counts of sexual exposure.

Read more: Local News for Monday 2nd May 2016

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.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 29th April 2016