Local News for Friday 31st August 2018

The Comhairle has tentatively welcomed the recent announcement by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, that £3.5m is to be invested by Scottish Government to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and to return them to service quicker if they do.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said, “Our discussions with the previous Transport Minister confirmed that Transport Scotland were working with both Caledonian Maritime Assets and CalMac Ferries to identify ways and means to improve the resilience and reliability of what is obviously an ageing fleet. We are pleased to see that some progress is being made”.

“The announcement of a contribution of £3.5m is welcomed. We await details of how this funding is to be spent but we are aware that, not only is an increasing number of vessels in the fleet becoming more expensive and time-consuming to maintain to the necessary standards because of their age, but the availability of parts and, in some cases, the need to manufacture or fabricate them from “scratch”, is proving to be a growing challenge for the operator”.

Read more: Local News for Friday 31st August 2018

Local News for Thursday 30th August 2018

Scotland’s lifeline ferry services are to receive £3.5 million from the Scottish Government to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and to return them to service quicker if they do.
The move was announced by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson at a public meeting on the island of Arran.
The aim is to tackle obsolescence on the vessels, which would take the ferry out of service for an extended period of time. The fund will be used to start a programme of obsolescence upgrades during the overhaul period this winter and to procure replacement parts for obsolete equipment. These parts will be installed at the next appropriate maintenance opportunity.
Mr Matheson said: “We are very much aware that, as our ferries age, additional resources will be needed to keep the vessels running so our island communities stay connected.
“The funds will be used to upgrade or replace key systems and equipment on the vessels. This will be tackled on a priority basis to avoid potential vessel breakdowns and delays to the ferry service and customers.
“During the forthcoming overhaul period this winter, CMAL and CalMac will initiate the obsolescence programme of upgrades and spare part procurement. This will provide future resilience providing, in the longer term, increased vessel reliability and availability.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 30th August 2018

Local News for Wednesday 29th August 2018

A name synonymous with all things related to Highland bagpipes will be centre of attraction on the first day of this September’s Blas festival.
The music of the late great piper, Pipe Major Donald Macleod MBE, from the Isle of Lewis will be showcased in ‘Crossing the Minch,’ a project dreamt up by The Big Music Society, led by world class pipers Calum MacCrimmon (Breabach and Tryst) and John Mulhearn (Tryst).
Crossing the Minch will commemorate the outstanding music of Donald Macleod, who was arguably the most influential piper and composer of the 20th century.
The two-night tour, which will visit An Lanntair in Stornoway on 7th September and Ullapool Village Hall on 8th September, will wow audiences with a unique showcase of Donald Macleod’s music featuring special guests including James Duncan Mackenzie (Breabach), Innes White (Assynt), Fiona MacAskill (Kinnaris Quintet) and the Glenfinnan Cèilidh Band. With a concert performance in the first half and a cèilidh dance in the second half, bringing your dancing shoes is highly recommended!

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 29th August 2018

Local News for Tuesday 28th August 2018

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has called for transparency in the funding and ownership row surrounding the MV Loch Seaforth.
Rhoda Grant MSP said ‘we have recently witnessed debilitating situations with ferries, being removed from service without consultation, suffering a major mid-sailing breakdown of the fleets flagship vessel, without proper answers. We are now subject to the revelation that CMAL does not, and appears never to be able to, own the MV Loch Seaforth.
The MSP continued: ‘As if this wasn’t enough, CMAL, the “asset” arm of this regime then sign a lease deal with Lloyd’s Bank and sub lease it to Calmac Ferries Ltd, who are actually trying to run the ferry company.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 28th August 2018

Local News for Monday 27th August 2018

The parents who successfully campaigned against the reorganisation of junior Gaelic Medium classes at Stornoway Primary have thanked everyone who helped their cause.
It was a stressful summer for the parents, who were unhappy and angry at the plan from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education department to split year groups and create composite classes where previously they had run as straight year groups.
The problem focused on the class going into GM2 (primary 2). This class, of 22 children, had been hailed as a great result for Gaelic Medium Education as it was the first GME intake for Stornoway Primary that was big enough to stand alone, without being combined with the class above.

Read more: Local News for Monday 27th August 2018