Local News for Wednesday 4th December 2013

Severe weather coming

Severe weather looks set to batter the islands earlier than expected, with violent storm force winds and near record cold temperatures, and wind chill down to -17º centigrade. Today’s westerly gales are set to become storm force overnight and into tomorrow, coinciding with high tides tomorrow morning to make travel problems likely. CalMac freight and passenger services between Stornoway and Ullapool are on standby for cancellation at short notice, and the Sound of Harris sailings are aready disrupted by tidal conditions, with only two sailings from Leverburgh due today.

There’s a Met Office yellow warning of very strong westerly winds during Thursday, gusting up to 80 miles per hour. The winds will then veer northwesterly and will bring much colder arctic air with frequent snow showers for around 24 hours.
The expected weather conditions have caused SSE to bring forward essential work on the network in the Bays of Harris. Power to 109 customers is now due to be off for three hours this morning, to remove generators and put the network back to normal. The works between 9am and 1pm will affect Stockinish, Cluer, Grosebay and Scadabay.  SSE have tried to phone all affected customers but have asked radio listeners to pass on the information to anyone who may be affected.

Rewarding Radio from Isles FM

Isles fm is set to become the most rewarding radio station in the west, with the launch this week of the new Radio Rewards subscription scheme. It gives listeners a chance to get their own rewards, at the same time as supporting the radio station which has been serving the isles for nearly 20 years. For an annual subscription, listeners get the chance to win one of a total of 48 cash prizes in the year. “It’s a sort of crowd-funding,” said managing director David Morrison. “It will raise money for Isles fm, to help us continue our development. But in keeping with our community ethos, there’ll also be prizes each month out of the funds raised.” The Radio Rewards scheme is to be launched live on Friday during Behind the Headlines, and the first month’s prizes will make Christmas special for four lucky winners. “In fact,” David added, “You could buy a subscription for a Christmas present, and give someone 48 chances of a Christmas bonus through 2014!”

Delivery code for remote areas

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing has launched a new voluntary code designed to remind national delivery companies to give the islands a fair deal on delivery costs. The Consumer Futures document published by the Scottish Government yesterday sets out five principles on delivery charges, coverage and information, and on the flexible use of alternatives including the Royal Mail for people living at island or remote addresses. After the launch yesterday, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: “Many companies continue to penalise island customers with extra delivery charges, even for small items. This issue continues to be one of the biggest complaints constituents bring to me and it is particularly irritating when, in many cases, all companies have to do is use the Royal Mail. The Scottish Parliament doesn’t presently have the authority to legislate on postal services, but with this agreement in place I hope companies which ignore it now expect to be named and shamed.”

Watch out for crofting ‘predators’

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has issued a warning to crofters to watch out for predatory practices by “experts” regarding the Crofting Register. SCF Chair Derek Flyn said: “The year of voluntary registration of crofts ended on the 30th November. The next phase is compulsory under certain circumstances.  We have received reports of letters from ‘professional advisors’ implying that registration is now completely compulsory, crofts must be digitally mapped and that the services of a ‘professional’ will be needed. This is not the case.  In most cases crofters can mark their own boundaries on a map and there is no necessity to employ anyone to do this. Unless there is a serious boundary dispute there is no need for a lawyer to be involved. Problems can be avoided by crofters talking to their neighbours and preferably drawing maps as a community.”