Local News for Tuesday 20th December 2016

Wild wind and weather
There’s a confusing and wild picture for the weather over the next few days, with a Met Office yellow ‘be aware’ notice issued for the islands through Wednesday and Thursday, but with ferry cancellations already taking effect today. Ferries between Stornoway and Ullapool are cancelled today, with widespread further disruption expected through the network. CalMac is warning anyone planning to travel by ferry this week that strong winds are forecast in many parts of its network leading to possible disruption of ferry services. Operations Director Drew Collier said: "Weather forecasts for the west of Scotland are predicting a stormy week for many especially as we near the weekend when people will be travelling for Christmas.We will review sailings on a case by case basis but would advise anyone planning to travel by ferry to take this into account when planning journeys in the next few days." CalMac is advising ferry travellers to check the website www.calmac.co.uk for the latest information. Isles FM will also keep listeners and Facebook followers up to date as news is posted.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 20th December 2016

Local News for Monday 19th December 2016

Tragic news for island relatives
Relatives of a Stornoway family are now known to be among those who have lost their lives during the chaotic conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Two related Syrian families came to the Western Isles this year and have settled in Stornoway, where they are being supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other agencies. Comhairle convenor Cllr Norman Macdonald told councillors at a private meeting last week that the trauma of the families had now been compounded, with news that some of their close family were among casualties in Aleppo. He said: ““It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that the Syrian families resettling in our community have lost very close family relatives during attacks in Aleppo over the last few days. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this time.”
Barra lifeboat
Barra Lifeboat was called to help out a fishing vessel with engine failure in wild conditions within Castlebay harbour on Saturday. The FV Spindrift called for help just before 2pm, and the lifeboat launched to take her in tow back to the quayside. The lifeboat was alongside and refuelled  by 2.40pm.

Christmas travel disruption
There’s increasing likelihood of travel disruption for those heading home for Christmas, with stormy conditions towards the end of the week, and proposed strike action at some of the airports connecting with Stornoway. Ground handling staff at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports are among those expected to take strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions and weather models are predicting a possible severe storm on Christmas Eve, with deep low pressure systems building in the North Atlantic.

Harris Santa run
Christmas started early in Tarbert at the weekend, where the village tree has been up and lit in the distillery car park, and the annual Isle of Harris Santa Run organised by Tarbert Fire Service on Saturday,  the real Santa leading the way in his sleigh. Santa later settled down by the distillery peat fire to give out presents to children, while parents and grandparents enjoyed mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies. All proceeds from the event will be going to a local charity. A Harris Distillery spokesman said: “It is a rare Hearach who has never leaned on a neighbour for a helping hand and a rarer one who will never offer theirs to those in need. Each and every day we turn to each other to get things done, so Christmas provides a great opportunity to celebrate all that is good about being part of the Harris community.”

‘No-one alone for Christmas’ – Salvation Army
The Stornoway-based corps of the Salvation Army want to make sure that no-one has to spend Christmas alone this year, and also to respond to numerous enquiries from local people keen to help with donations of food and gifts for children and families in need. This year the Salvation Army will be serving more Christmas meals than last year, and requests for gifts, food parcels and hot water bottles are also up. Lt Emma Newton told Isles FM: “We are providing gifts for over 100 children, food parcels for more than 50 families and dinner to anyone who would otherwise be on their own, serving two sittings, one on Thursday December 22nd at 12 noon and one on Christmas Day from 2pm. Anyone is welcome to join us for the meals, we don’t want anybody to spend Christmas Day on their own. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already made a donation either directly to us or through Tesco’s Giving Tree.” If anyone wishes to donate towards the annual toy, food and gift appeal, they can get in touch with the local branch at 59 Bayhead or by phoning 703875.
Stornoway athlete’s selection
Stornoway athlete Connor Maclean has been named in the Scottish Athletics under-23 squad for the Celtic Nations cross-country championships, due to take place in Cardiff on January 22nd. Connor is one of four in his event, and 24 across all age-groups, representing Scotland. There’s a total of 14 athletics clubs represented in the selection, and a Scottish Athletics spokesman said: “All at Scottish Athletics would like to congratulate those athletes selected, their families and coaches on the honour – and the clubs involved down the years in the development of these hard-working, talented young athletes.”

Local News for Friday 16th December 2016

Contractors challenge Trading Standards warning
A Trading Standards warning about doorstep sellers issued by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has drawn a robust response from the company mentioned in the release. The company, Union Technical Services, was mentioned by name with warnings about poor quality workmanship installing new heating systems. In response, UTS director Owen Coyle said: “Much of the facts stated by Trading Standards are unfounded and the matter has been passed over to lawyers. We are proud of our work on the Isle of Lewis and have not received any customer complaint against Union Technical Services (UTS) staff or any work carried out by our highly qualified engineers. From January 2017 we will be using local labour to ensure as much benefit is drawn into the local area as possible. Anyone who is unsure of the scheme or would like more information should get in touch or come to our meet and greet day which is being organised for the second week in January in Stornoway.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 16th December 2016

Local News for Thursday 15th December 2016

Send ‘pushy’ salesmen packing
CNES Trading Standards, Police Scotland and Tighean Innse Gall are advising householders to shut the door on doorstep salesmen described as ‘pushy’ in reports to their departments. Numerous people have complained over the last fortnight that door-to-door sellers claiming to work for the government have called uninvited. Trading Standards advise householders to think carefully before entering into any agreement to receive a "free" boiler replacement. One boiler recently installed by a company called Union Technical Services has not been fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions and poses a safety issue. A Trading Standards spokesperson warned: "Just because the boiler is free does not mean it comes without risk to you. If the installation is substandard you may have to pay to get this made safe.Incorrect fitting may invalidate both  the manufacturer's warranty  and your home insurance in regard to  your heating system." To report unwanted doorstep sales contact Trading Standards on 01851 822694 , out of hours on Faire the community careline on 701702  or Police Scotland on 101. Please dial 999 in an emergency.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 15th December 2016

Local News for Wednesday 14th December 2016

Port masterplan open for viewing
The masterplan for Stornoway Harbour over the next decades is open for viewing and discussion today – at drop-in sessions during the day and an open meeting later tonight. Stornoway Port Authority has created the plan to offer economic potential for the port to grow and prosper in years to come, with new marinas, deep mooring and on-shore facilities suited to yachts, cruise ships and industrial marine traffic. The plans are on display, with port authority staff and their planning partners on hand to answer questions, in Stornoway Ferry Terminal today from 10:30am to 12:30pm and there’s to be a public meeting 6:30pm in An Lanntair.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 14th December 2016