Local News for Monday 11th July 2016

Festival week begins
The big top is up on Lews Castle Green and it’s the start of a big  week, as Stornoway welcomes the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival. With sold-out concerts and a huge influx of visitors to the islands – half of whom come from outside the UK – it’s looking likely to be an even bigger economic boost than usual. HebCelt’s first night Hebridean Women show at An Lanntair and the last night in the main arena, headlined by Runrig, were early sell-outs, and since then tickets have been snapped up for all the festival’s other main events. The festival shop on Cromwell Street will open for extended hours on Wednesday and, as always, organisers urge local people to pick up tickets as early in the week as possible, to avoid the queues as more visitors arrive.

Read more: Local News for Monday 11th July 2016

Local News for Friday 8th July 2016

All-night walkers on their marks
Charity walkers set off from Perceval Square at 8pm tonight, to walk all night in aid of the Leanne Fund. The Dusk2Dawn 50k walk will see 70 walkers putting their best foot forward for the charity, which supports those affected by Cystic Fibrosis and their families. This year’s route takes in Lews Castle Grounds, Newvalley, Laxdale and Benside before heading out to Point. They are expected to arrive back in Perceval Square between 6 and 8am on Saturday morning. If you’re out and about overnight, or en route for Saturday’s early ferry, give them some encouragement and support.

Read more: Local News for Friday 8th July 2016

Local News for Wednesday 7th July 2016

Runrig reminisce a week before HebCelt
Just one week before their headline appearance at Hebridean Celtic Festival, founding members of Runrig have been reminiscing about their earlier visits to the festival. Calum Macdonald's favourite memory comes from sixteen years ago when, in 2000, he shared a fast RIB to Ullapool with drummer Ian Bayne, whose wife was about to give birth. Calum said: "Iain's first child Erin was imminent and his wife was heading towards the labour suite, so a speedy solution was arranged to get him back home. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I just had to hitch a ride as well. It was a beautiful Hebridean night with a full moon and the Minch was flat calm. Half way across, the boat-owner, Woody, cut the engine and we just sat there for a moment in the stillness. Unforgettable." All the members of Runrig see HebCelt as a 'homecoming' gig in the heartland of Gaeldom. They will close the four-day event on Saturday, 16th July during a nationwide tour in support of their last studio album, 'The Story', Rory Macdonald said: "Of all the festivals we have played there is no doubt that HebCelt is the festival that is closest to the music and the people that inspired us. It is very much home ground." Songs from the latest album will be heavily featured in the set, along with some of the older, better known songs, giving the night added poignancy for local audiences who have grown up with Runrig.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 7th July 2016

Local News for Wednesday 6th July 2016

More Ullapool buses – still book ahead
Travellers wanting to get from Ullapool to Inverness by bus should notice a difference, after Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS) agreed to get extra coaches onto the service. But the advice is still to book ahead if you want to be sure of a seat. Capacity on the 961 service has caused concern, which was discussed by the Comhairle’s transport committee this week. Coach operator Scottish Citylink, say they put on an additional coach whenever bookings for the service exceed capacity, but they have to know this more than 48 hours in advance. Extra coaches also run every Friday, Saturday and Monday to serve summer ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool.  At this week’s meeting all parties agreed that it was not commercially viable for the operator to ensure capacity if people don’t book ahead. Cllr John Mackay, Chair of the Comhairle's Transportation committee said: “Additional capacity cannot be completely guaranteed by the operator and all passengers should make every effort to book as far in advance as possible".

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 6th July 2016

Local News for Tuesday 5th July 2016

Five month wait for driving test
Learner drivers in the Western Isles are facing ‘unacceptable’ waits of up to five months to take driving tests, and Isles MP Angus MacNeil is calling on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to review arrangements urgently. Mr MacNeil has been approached by constituents trying to book car and vocational tests who report delays of several months from time of booking until the actual test. He said: “Delay to vocational testing such as for HGV, bus or trailer tests has an effect on people’s livelihoods. The DVSA needs to address this situation as a matter of urgency. The delays are also affecting those wishing to secure a car driver’s licence, which is especially disappointing for young people hoping to pass their test before heading for university. DVSA have said that efforts are being made to offer incentives to examiners willing to travel to remote locations, however there is doubt locally about any impact this will have. In the past, those wishing to take vocational tests and car tests could expect a test within a month and the deterioration of this service is not acceptable.”

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 5th July 2016