Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News: Friday 15th May 2020


Many businesses across the Highlands and Islands, are still waiting to access the Government’s business support. The latest figures for the Western Isles, are one of the worst in Scotland, with 31.1% businesses waiting for support.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron commented
“Businesses are now months into this crisis and far too many of them, in this region, are still waiting for the support they need to survive. Small and medium-sized enterprises will be vital to our recovery, from any economic downturn. But if a significant portion across the Highlands and Islands, don’t get funding on time, it will be difficult for them to survive and save jobs.



Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands John Finnie, has written to the Scottish Government, urging it to heed urgent calls from local newspapers, for support during the pandemic. Newspapers in the Highlands and Islands have seen a serious drop in revenue during the coronavirus outbreak, despite many experiencing a sharp rise in online readership.
In his letter to Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, John Finnie noted the long and proud tradition of local journalism in the Highlands and Islands and warned that it would be near impossible to replace if lost.
Mr Finnie said: “Trusted sources of diligently reported news are more vital now than they have ever been. Local media plays an important role in some of Scotland’s most remote communities and is vital when it comes to holding politicians to account .If the Scottish Government doesn’t act, the Highlands and Islands risks losing an important asset.



Ferry operator Cal Mac has turned away people, trying to flout the rules on non-essential journeys to and from the Western Isles. The strict measures are aimed at reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus.
Six vehicles were refused travel at Stornoway and one was refused on the Berneray - Leverburgh service.
The ferry ban works in both directions, with islanders not allowed to travel to the mainland without a good reason, such as essential work, to attend a funeral or medical appointment. Cal Mac does not have legal powers to investigate all cases but does, if required, check up with employers to ensure travel is authorised. The shipping operator seeks evidence of island residency or key worker status for all customers on all sailings.



Properties occupied by charities can now apply for the £10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme to help with pressures caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The extension of the scheme is expected to support more than 3,000 small properties occupied by charities – including day centres, workshops and halls. It will apply to properties which are in receipt of any Charitable Rates Relief or Sports Relief, but are otherwise eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, said:
“It had become clear that many charities which run small premises, such as day centres and halls, had been hit hard by loss of revenue during the pandemic. This is particularly pressing for small and medium-sized charities which deliver health and social care support, and are heavily reliant on income from their retail operations.
“In order to support these vital charities we have therefore taken the decision to open up the Small Business Grant Scheme to allow them to apply for grants of £10,000 on the first eligible property and £7,500 on any additional eligible properties.”



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is inviting submissions of artwork submissions, which will be included in a new gallery segment of the fortnightly e-Cèilidh broadcast.

The artwork will accompany Fanaibh as' Taigh (Stay at home) a song written by one of e-sgoil’s Gaelic singing teachers.

Local children are asked to do a painting or drawing depicting the “stay at home” message, a thank you to NHS staff & key workers or perhaps simply a rainbow.

The artwork should then be photographed by an adult and sent into the e-Cèilidh team to be collated and displayed in a montage on the e-Ceilidh broadcast.



The next e –ceilidh is on Saturday 23rd May and will be hosted by local musician Iain Mackinnon and will feature performances from a variety of other local artists.