Isles FM News: Tuesday 5th May 2020


As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is putting special measures in place to allow a meeting of the Comhairle this week on Wednesday 6th May.

Committee meetings have been temporarily suspended but items will be considered at the full meeting of the Comhairle. This will be the first time such a format has been adopted.

Most Members of the Comhairle will attend on a virtual basis. The public and press will not be able to attend the meeting in person but will be able to follow on-line through Vscene. A link to the meeting will be posted on the Comhairle website issued via a press release and posted on the Comhairle’s social media channels, ten minutes prior to the meeting.

An archive recording of the meeting will be available on the Comhairle website following the meeting.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Chief Executive, Malcolm Burr, said:

“As has been often stated, these are unprecedented times and therefore we are having to take unprecedented steps to allow the democratic process to continue to take place. It important that we do so and that all Members have the opportunity to discuss issues and take decisions.”

The full Comhairle meeting will take place at 10am on 6 May.



Following the issue of guidance by the Scottish Government on 1 May 2020 specifically referring to the construction sector, the Comhairle and HHP would wish to confirm that construction activity associated with the Lochmaddy Pier, the Stornoway Primary School, the Lewis Residential Care (Goathill Development) and the Goathill Affordable Housing projects continues to be suspended.

Scottish Government has confirmed that the guidance, originally issued at the beginning of April, remains in place until further notice. Accordingly, the works at the above projects, which are currently not categorised as “essential” under the prevailing circumstances, remain suspended on the same basis.

Measures have been put in place by the respective Contractors to ensure the sites continue to remain safe and secure for the duration of the suspension.

In the meantime, the Comhairle and HHP continue to plan with Contractors and other partners for a site restart once restrictions are lifted sufficiently to allow this to happen. Both organisations will seek to commence works as quickly as possible thereafter but only when they are satisfied that it is safe to do so and that suitable precautions are in place.



A group of newly qualified junior doctors joined NHS Western Isles to help local staff in the fight against coronavirus.

Four individuals joined the local health service from Aberdeen University, as Interim Foundation Year doctors. The group have just qualified from medical school, and will be taking up hospital based roles to help support the clinical teams, prior to commencing their formal FY1 (Junior Doctor) posts in August 2020.

NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Dr Frank McAuley, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome these four skilled clinicians to NHS Western Isles and we are very grateful that they chose the Western Isles for their placements. Their input will be invaluable and we hope to provide them with a positive experience to help increase their knowledge and skills as they enter into their new careers.”



Isles MP Angus B MacNeil is reminding crofters to submit their Single Application form (SAF) as the closing date for submission is fast approaching. The closing date for submission of Single Application Form (SAF) is Friday 15th May. s/topics/apply-for-funding/single-application-form/

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This year especially we must try and get as much money into the islands as we can, crofters need to be claiming for their land. I know how busy this time of year is for many crofters with lambing etc and this year has its own additional pressures given the ongoing situation with Covid-19.

“The date for submitting the SAF application is less than 2 weeks away, Friday 15th May, and I want to remind crofters if they haven’t already done so to submit their application.

“The easiest way to complete the Single Application Form is online. To do this, you must be registered with Rural Payments and Services.



NHS Western Isles in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have launched their new Psychological Wellbeing Hub service to help people of all ages across the Outer Hebrides manage their anxiety while coping with the coronavirus outbreak.

Staff from across both organisations, alongside their key community partners will offer support, advice and signposting alongside telephone support, to help people deal with problems with their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

The Psychological Wellbeing Hub will complement the support being offered through Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's Resilience Helpline which provides people with information on how to access practical support, and the NHS Western Isles COVID-19 Advice Helpline which provides information for general health queries or concerns regarding the COVID-19 situation.

The new initiative is being led by Psychology and Public Health at NHS Western Isles and Education and Social Work Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, with the aim of helping people struggling to manage at home and to reduce the workload of frontline NHS and social care work



The community of Barvas has rallied around to give Sammy Macdonald a 70th Birthday, and Jackie and Chrissie Ann Smith a Golden Wedding Anniversary, which they will likely never forget.

With the current lockdown putting pay to the initial plans to mark both these significant milestones, the families and neighbours of Sammy, Chrissie Ann and Jackie, wanted to make a special effort to celebrate the occasions.

The incredible community effort swung into action with three pipers - Ashleigh Macdonald, Adam Macdonald and Alex Murray, playing a set of tunes which brought all nearby neighbours out to their gates – whilst observing physical distancing, of course - to sing, cheer and clap as the two significant milestones were marked in the most amazing act of kindness.

Mairi Helen Macdonald, Jackie and Chrissie Ann’s neighbour, Sammy’s daughter, Lorraine, and Ashleigh Macdonald, Piping Instructor, who were the key organisers, commented:

“Sammy, Chrissie Ann and Jackie were completely overwhelmed, it was so emotional but so heart-warming.”