Local News for Wednesday 17th February 2016

New Uig triangle ferry first cut
Steel was cut yesterday (Tuesday) for the two new ferries being built by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL), one of which is destined to serve the route between Tarbert, Lochmaddy and Uig. The steel-cutting ceremony marked the start of construction on the £97 million vessels, which are being built by Fergusons in Port Glasgow.  The new 100 metre-long, roll-on roll-off ferries will carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs and up to 1,000 passengers.  They will be owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) and will be operated by CalMac Ferries Ltd.  They will be dual-fuel vessels, operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine gas oil.  LNG is significantly cleaner and has been adopted by ferry operators in Northern Europe in response to tighter emissions regulations. The first ferry is due to launch in October 2017 and to enter service in summer 2018, with the second vessel following a few months later.   They’re currently known as hulls 801 and 802 and will be named in a competition to be run by CMAL later this year.

Benbecula next for Superfast Broadband
Benbecula is among the areas earmarked for the next phase of superfast broadband connection, as engineers implement ‘innovative solutions’ to historic engineering issues. More than 115,000 households and businesses across the Highlands and Islands already have access to superfast broadband and work in Benbecula is underway, expected to be complete by this summer. Once it is available, residents need to sign up for a fibre service with their chosen provider, as upgrades aren't automatic. You can find out if you have the service at www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen A spokesman for HIE, managing the project, said: “We are seeing increasingly smaller communities drawn in and are tackling some challenging geographies to reach people. Much of the work planned for upgrades are now on 'Exchange Only' (EO) lines, a historic legacy of the copper network which present unique engineering challenges. Engineers have worked out an innovative way to integrate these lines into the fibre rollout, rearranging the existing network and laying hundreds of metres of new cables to extra road-side cabinets,” They’re urging customers t sign up for fibre broadband when it is available, saying: “There's lots of competition in the broadband market, and people may be pleasantly surprised to discover they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service. Once you've tried superfast broadband, you'll never look back."

Water off
Water supplies will be turned off in some areas of Point between 10am and 4pm today (Wednesday), as Scottish Water continues upgrade work to the mains in the Flesherin area. Scottis Water is asking affected customers not to use taps or appliances such as washing machines during this period, and to let the company know if there’s anyone who might need extra help while the work is undertaken. They’re also asking local residents to park well awat from the areas where the work is going on. For more information, you can call the customer helpline on 0845 601 8855.
Western Isles Island Games Association 5k
Western Isles Island Games Association (WIIGA) have organised a 5k run this Saturday to raise funds for the athletes of the Western Isles to attend the NatWest International Island Games in Gotland, Sweden in 2017. The event, being run in Lews Castle Grounds, is supported by The Scottish Salmon Company and Galson Stornoway Motor Services. Anyone can support our local athletes by running, walking, pushing the pram or even taking the dog out for a walk this weekend. Entry forms are available from Lewis Sports Centre and those intending to take part should complete an entry form before Friday 19th February at 12noon. For more information, contact the Sports Centre on 01851 822800.