Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 31st August 2020

POINT COLOURS ON SLOPES OF KILIMANJARO!

The colours of island football team Point FC are in action on the slopes of Kilimanjaro after the community consultant for wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust brought them out to Africa.
Alasdair Nicholson was making the trip – postponed from March to August due to the coronavirus crisis – in a personal capacity but was pleased to bring with him the strips, surplus after Point and Sandwick Trust had sponsored new ones, as a gift for the children of Mbahe primary school.
He also brought them footballs and pens, donated by Point and Sandwick Trust, and biology textbooks for the neighbouring Daranjani secondary school.
Alasdair has been making regular visits to this part of Africa since 2015, primarily to develop local skills in community enterprise. His trip this year renewed his contacts with Ndoro Cultural Tourism Enterprise, who are interested in hearing about the progress of community projects in the Outer Hebrides such as the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path, and also with the school, who had asked for the science resources during a previous visit.

Read more: Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 31st August 2020

Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Thursday 27th August 2020

NEW WESTERN ISLES FERRY DELAYED UNTIL 2023

A bigger, 102 meter long, ferry for the Lochmaddy and Tarbert routes will not sail until 2023, some five years later than the original date. The new vessel is one of two twin ships being constructed at the Ferguson Marine yard on the Clyde. The other vessel will operate the Arran service.

Work had slowed to a crawl in 2019 and then the ship builder, owned by multi-millionaire Jim McColl, went bust before the Scottish Government took public ownership of the yard last October.

In common with the rest of the manufacturing sector, the yard has been either closed or on restricted working for nearly six months due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The total additional estimated cost for the project remains unchanged at between £94.8 million and £98.8 million.

Read more: Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Thursday 27th August 2020

Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Wednesday 26th August 2020

CARE HOME VISITING UPDATE

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar care homes have re-introduced indoor visiting. The Director of Public Health has confirmed that the Western Isles has had very low levels of COVID-19 infection throughout the pandemic. That there have been no COVID cases in care home residents or staff, and no evidence of circulating virus as of 23rd August.

As per Scottish Government guidelines, the care homes have meet certain requirements, prior to indoor visits commencing. They include risk assessments, the preparation of a physical space to allow indoor visiting and to ensure there is adequate PPE to support safe visiting;

Duty rotas must be sufficient to ensure that adequate staff are in place to manage indoor and outdoor visiting simultaneously, as well as all the required cleaning regimes.

A Comhairle spokesperson said: “Through the continued hard work of care home staff, in preparation for indoor visiting and through the evident partnership working between Health and Social Care managers, care homes are well placed to manage this next stage of the recovery plan.

Understandably, there are strict conditions attached to any visits taking place, and all nominated visitors will be provided with written guidance prior to visits.

Read more: Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Wednesday 26th August 2020

Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Tuesday 25th August 2020

NEED FOR LAND RIGHTS REFORM

Lewis crofters, in their bid to develop community-owned turbines on their common grazings, instead of the corporate-owned turbine, preferred by the landowner, the Stornoway Trust, have had their appeal to the Court of Session, turned down

The crofters, from the four crofting communities of Sandwick North Street, Sandwick East Street, Melbost and Branahuie and Aignish representative said: “While we are naturally disappointed at the Court of Session’s decision to turn down our appeal. We warmly welcome, the Court’s perceptive and helpful comments, which they added to the decision. We hope that they will be studied and acted upon by Members of the Scottish Parliament and by Government Ministers.”

In its Decision the Court said: “As a postscript, it could be said that this case, does identify general concerns, about the development of, what might be underused croft land, including common grazing. The needs of the crofting communities are not identical to those in the late Victorian era.

The crofters’ spokesperson continued: “We agree wholeheartedly with that analysis and it is why we took the appeal to the Court in the first place. Whereas the Crofting Commission has a clear duty under the Act, to reach its decisions on applications made to it, by balancing the full range of affected interests, including the interests of the landowner, the estate, the crofting community and the wider public interest.

Applications made by crofting communities to develop their common grazings, are uniquely subject to what our case has shown, is an effective veto by the landowner alone, without consideration of the other interests.

Read more: Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Tuesday 25th August 2020

Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 24th August 2020

COMHAIRLE MAY NEED TO SAVE £6.6M IN NEXT TWO YEARS

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have held a special meeting of the full Comhairle. A report before Councillors setting out a range of measures to deliver the Comhairle’s updated Corporate Strategy was agreed.

The report included financial savings required to bridge the projected financial shortfall over 2021/22 and 2022/23. All proposals will be subject to consultation and full impact assessments prior to decision by the Comhairle on implementation.

The Comhairle is bringing forward its budget setting process to take account of the difficult circumstances arising out of the COVID Pandemic. The Comhairle is potentially looking at a need for savings of £6.6m in the next two years.

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay said:

“Over the past 10 years the Comhairle’s approach to financial stringency has been a combination of efficiency savings, service redesign and maximising opportunities. However the circumstance facing us now are unprecedented although we will continue to work with COSLA, SOLACE, Directors of Finance and other organisations to lobby Government to recognize the extremely difficult situation for Councils. Essential to the success of any Budget Strategy is its alignment with the Corporate Strategy, with the political priorities agreed by Elected Members, and with other plans, such as our Workforce Strategy.

“COVID has been as unsettling to public finances across Scotland and the UK as it has been unwelcome in its effects. Our job is to prepare, plan, mitigate and support each other through this crisis and this process.”

Read more: Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 24th August 2020