Local News for Tuesday 16th February 2016

Rain, gale, flood and hail
From 10am today we’re under a yellow Met Office ‘be aware’ notice for heavy rainfall, freezing at first and driven on gale force winds. Saturated ground may struggle to cope, leading to the risk of flash flooding on lower ground. The warning, in place from 10am today until 12 noon tomorrow, says: Outbreaks of rain, reaching northwest Scotland on Tuesday morning, will spread southeast during the afternoon, becoming heavy at times. Over high ground, the rain may be preceded by a brief period of snow or even freezing rain. The rain will be accompanied by gale or severe gale south to southwest winds, with gusts of 50-60 mph, and perhaps 70 mph over the Western Isles, before easing overnight. The rain will gradually clear southeastwards overnight and into early Wednesday  but may turn to snow on high ground above about 250m before it does so. With the ground still saturated, please be aware of the likelihood of localised travel disruption due to surface water flooding”.

Loch Seaforth ‘planned maintenance’ queried
12 engineers moved to Stornoway at the weekend for what service status notices called ‘planned maintenance’ on the MV Loch Seaforth should not have been in the islands at all, according to Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant. The Loch Seaforth was taken off the Stornoway Ullapool route on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the passenger route to be operated by the MV Isle of Lewis, and no freight service overnight on Sunday.  Mrs Grant said "I am advised that a dozen engineers were moved to the islands at the weekend to work on the ferry.  The ferry was believed to be off route for 'planned maintenance' – 'planned maintenance' takes place in dry dock, not in Stornoway, which is why I am contacting the Transport Minister and CMAL to ask what is going on."
Meet the funder
Today sees the first of a series of "Meet the Funders" roadshow sessions, aimed at businesses, community groups and people with good ideas. The  events start today at 1pm in Lews Castle Museum Community Room, Stornoway and will run from 1-7.30pm each day at Balivanich, Castlebay and next week in Tarbert. Community groups, businesses or anyone interested in starting their own business will get the opportunity to meet with funding bodies who may be able to help with useful advice and tips on how to get financial assistance. Taking part will be The Big Lottery Fund, Business Gateway, The Prince's Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Western Isles Development Trust, who all join the European funding programme LEADER, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Comhairle’s Regeneration team. After today you can catch the roadshow on Wednesday at Balivanich Community Centre, Thursday at Castlebay Community Centre,  and next Tuesday, 23rd February at Tarbert Community Centre.

Big award for Kildonan Centre
South Uist’s Kildonan Centre has had big news, learning this week that they have been awarded over £91,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Eachdraidh Easgaidh (Building on our active Heritage). Led by volunteers from the local community the project, totalling over £800,000, will extend the museum and improve the site inside and out. Work is due to start in March with a phased development to keep the building to open through the tourist season. New interpretation displays are to be created, including a traditional smithy and a wool shed which will be used for live interpretation sessions. Young people will help develop multi-lingual audio tours and there’ll be a new Junior Comann Eachdraidh (Historical Society). Kildonan Museum was built in 1997 and is an established popular visitor attraction in South Uist with a museum, café and craft shop. South Uist Historical Society treasurere William Doherty said: "We are looking forward to developing into a venue where both the local community and our visitors can enjoy a memorable experience, learning about our heritage and ensuring that our collections are secured for the enjoyment of future generations."