Local News for Friday 8th February 2019

ACTION NEEDED NOW TO KEEP FREE TV LICENCES FOR OVER 75’s

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant is seeking a review of Government plan to cut free TV Licences for over 75’s
Rhoda Grant said ACTION NEEDED NOW TO KEEP FREE TV LICENCES FOR OVER 75’s

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant is seeking a review of Government plan to cut free TV Licences for over 75’s
Rhoda Grant said ‘The UK Government currently fund free TV Licenses for over-75s, a scheme introduced by the last Labour Government. The Conservative Government has decided to stop funding this scheme at the end of 2020.
The BBC must now decide whether or not they continue the scheme from their own budgets. The cost of providing free licences to the over 75’s will cost in excess of £700miliion.
The BBC Consultation on the future of the scheme will end on 12 February.
Rhoda continued
“The proposals on the table are: 1. - Scrap free licence fees for over-75s. 2. - Replace with a 50% concession for all over-75 households, and 3. - Increase the age threshold for eligibility – Raise threshold to 80 and link free TV licences to over-75s who get pension credit
‘However, I believe that the UK Government should continue funding this scheme, rather than passing the buck to the BBC.
‘TV plays a very important part in the lives of the elderly who rely on it to keep up to date with local and world events, plus having the TV available helps with loneliness and isolation when people are house bound. The over 75’s have paid their taxes all their lives. Is it too much to ask that they get free TV licenses?’
Rhoda has written to the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport asking them to seriously review this decision.

 

NEW FIRE SAFETY STANDARDS AFOOT FOR SCOTTISH HOMES

All domestic properties are to have smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms
New rules to reduce deaths in household fires have been announced with improved standards introduced for fire and smoke alarms in Scottish homes.
The improved standards will mean every home in the country must have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room or lounge, and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings.
The changes also mean every kitchen must have a heat alarm, and the alarms will have to be interlinked so they can be heard throughout the property. There must also be a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances.
The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds is being extended to all homes in Scotland.
The regulations come after a consultation carried out following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London in June 2017.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“Although the standards come into force in February 2021 we hope most people will recognise the additional safety benefits and take action sooner.”
It will be responsibility of the home owner or landlord to ensure the new fire and smoke alarm standards are met. Estimated costs are the region of £200, however this will vary according to what is already in place and the type of alarms used.

‘The UK Government currently fund free TV Licenses for over-75s, a scheme introduced by the last Labour Government. The Conservative Government has decided to stop funding this scheme at the end of 2020.
‘The BBC must now decide whether or not they continue the scheme from their own budgets. The cost of providing free licences to the over 75’s will cost in excess of £700miliion.


The BBC Consultation on the future of the scheme will end on 12 February.


Rhoda continued 

ACTION NEEDED NOW TO KEEP FREE TV LICENCES FOR OVER 75’s

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant is seeking a review of Government plan to cut free TV Licences for over 75’s
Rhoda Grant said ACTION NEEDED NOW TO KEEP FREE TV LICENCES FOR OVER 75’s

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant is seeking a review of Government plan to cut free TV Licences for over 75’s
Rhoda Grant said ‘The UK Government currently fund free TV Licenses for over-75s, a scheme introduced by the last Labour Government. The Conservative Government has decided to stop funding this scheme at the end of 2020.
The BBC must now decide whether or not they continue the scheme from their own budgets. The cost of providing free licences to the over 75’s will cost in excess of £700miliion.
The BBC Consultation on the future of the scheme will end on 12 February.
Rhoda continued
“The proposals on the table are: 1. - Scrap free licence fees for over-75s. 2. - Replace with a 50% concession for all over-75 households, and 3. - Increase the age threshold for eligibility – Raise threshold to 80 and link free TV licences to over-75s who get pension credit
‘However, I believe that the UK Government should continue funding this scheme, rather than passing the buck to the BBC.
‘TV plays a very important part in the lives of the elderly who rely on it to keep up to date with local and world events, plus having the TV available helps with loneliness and isolation when people are house bound. The over 75’s have paid their taxes all their lives. Is it too much to ask that they get free TV licenses?’
Rhoda has written to the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport asking them to seriously review this decision.

 

NEW FIRE SAFETY STANDARDS AFOOT FOR SCOTTISH HOMES

All domestic properties are to have smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms
New rules to reduce deaths in household fires have been announced with improved standards introduced for fire and smoke alarms in Scottish homes.
The improved standards will mean every home in the country must have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room or lounge, and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings.
The changes also mean every kitchen must have a heat alarm, and the alarms will have to be interlinked so they can be heard throughout the property. There must also be a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances.
The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds is being extended to all homes in Scotland.
The regulations come after a consultation carried out following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London in June 2017.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“Although the standards come into force in February 2021 we hope most people will recognise the additional safety benefits and take action sooner.”
It will be responsibility of the home owner or landlord to ensure the new fire and smoke alarm standards are met. Estimated costs are the region of £200, however this will vary according to what is already in place and the type of alarms used.

‘The UK Government currently fund free TV Licenses for over-75s, a scheme introduced by the last Labour Government. The Conservative Government has decided to stop funding this scheme at the end of 2020.
‘The BBC must now decide whether or not they continue the scheme from their own budgets. The cost of providing free licences to the over 75’s will cost in excess of £700miliion.


The BBC Consultation on the future of the scheme will end on 12 February.


Rhoda continued “The proposals on the table are: 1. - Scrap free licence fees for over-75s. 2. - Replace with a 50% concession for all over-75 households, and 3. - Increase the age threshold for eligibility – Raise threshold to 80 and link free TV licences to over-75s who get pension credit
‘However, I believe that the UK Government should continue funding this scheme, rather than passing the buck to the BBC.
‘TV plays a very important part in the lives of the elderly who rely on it to keep up to date with local and world events, plus having the TV available helps with loneliness and isolation when people are house bound. The over 75’s have paid their taxes all their lives. Is it too much to ask that they get free TV licenses?’
Rhoda has written to the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport asking them to seriously review this decision.

Read more: Local News for Friday 8th February 2019

Local News for Thursday 7th February 2019

UTILITA APPOINTED AS HEBRIDES ENERGY NEW PARTNER

Partners in the Hebrides Energy Company are keen to ensure that local customers are on the best possible deal for them following the transfer of Our Power customers, including those who had signed up to Hebrides Energy tariffs, to Utilita as of 31st January.
Hebrides Energy partners have been in contact with Utilita seeking a continuation of the competitive tariffs Our Power had offered. However, given the rise in electricity prices, it is probable that customers will be placed on a tariff that is more expensive than what had been available through Our Power. Over the next few days, customers should receive a welcome pack from Utilita confirming what tariff they have been placed on. It would be advisable to review if that is the best possible deal for you as a household, as switching to an alternative provider may be a good option.
For customers on standard meters, you can look at what is available on the market at the moment via the Tighean Innse Gall’s Switch platform https://switch.tighean.co.uk/
Customers on Total Heat Total Control should compare the Utilita tariff with what is currently available from SSE. These do not appear on any switching sites but will be featured on the SSE website or by calling them directly.
If you need further assistance and advice on switching your energy supplier, you can contact Tighean Innse Gall on 01851 706121 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ofgem have published information for Our Power customers on their transfer to Utilita which should answer the majority of queries and this is on the Ofgem website. Any queries regarding individual accounts should be directed directly to Utilita, using the account number detailed on the Welcome Pack.
HHP will also be contacting tenants who were signed up to Our Power from the start of their tenancy once more information becomes available.


CONSULTATION ON ANIMAL CRUELTY SENTENCING

The Scottish Government is seeking views from Western Isles residents on proposals to strengthen enforcement powers for animal welfare offences.
Proposed amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 would increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty offences from 12 months to five years imprisonment, and a potential unlimited fine.
These new tougher penalties could also apply to attacks against service animals. The changes would also allow quicker rehoming of animals removed by animal welfare inspectors.
It is also proposed to enable enforcement authorities to issue fixed penalty notices.
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said:
‘Animal welfare is a subject that I feel very passionately about so I’m delighted to be launching this consultation
‘We want to have the highest standards of welfare for our animals, but before we introduce new legislation, it’s vital that we know what relevant stakeholders - particularly those with practical experience of animal cruelty issues’. The consultation page can be found online at
https://consult.gov.scot/animal-welfare/animal-health-welfare-act-amendment-2019/
The consultation period Closes on 26th April 2019.

Local News for Tuesday 5th February 2019

COMHAIRLE COMMENTS ON TALK TALK

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called on the Scottish Government to intervene in the Talk Talk proposals for the transfer of its Stornoway operation to Manchester.

The Comhairle has written to Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, stating;

“Given the fragility of the local economy and the detrimental impacts that these losses will have are there any additional and specific supports that the Scottish Government can offer?”

Talk Talk has confirmed that they are transferring their Stornoway operation to Manchester with the loss or transfer of 60 jobs.

Cllr Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, said: ‘This is a significant blow to the economy of the Western Isles. Our immediate thoughts are with the employees of the company and their families and we will play whatever role we can in supporting them. We anticipate that the Comhairle, together with our partners in SDS and HIE, will be implementing PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) procedures.

‘However, I also believe that the Scottish Government can and should play an active role and do what they can by way of supporting the employees’.

The Comhairle has emphasised that in a city location such as Glasgow the equivalent scale of job losses would be more than 3,000, resulting in a major and significant impact on the local economy.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 5th February 2019

Local News for Wednesday 6th February 2019

REGIONAL MSP COMMENTS ON ISLES CALL CENTRE CRISIS

Highlands & Islands Regional Labour MSP Rhoda Grant speaking about the decision by TalkTalk to close down their facility in Stornoway said:
‘There needs to be discussions around this decision which seems to have come out of the blue and will have an adverse impact on the island, the economy and more importantly the 59 individuals that are employed by the company.
‘My heart goes out to all these dedicated employees. The company say they are centralising and moving the jobs to Salford in Manchester with little dialogue with the workforce, trade unions or wider community.’
Rhoda went on: ‘It is my understanding that this company was financially supported by HIE,
‘I am writing to HIE asking what support they gave and whether there us an opportunity to claw this back if this decision is not reversed.
‘I have also spoken to the company but they are adamant that they will not reverse this decision but are offering their staff relocation to Salford. However, I am keen to find out if similar work can be procured for the staff involved and whether HIE have looked into that’.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 6th February 2019

Local News for Monday 4th February 2019

HIE BRAND DEVELOPMENT COURSE IN STORNOWAY

Business persons in the Western Isles are to be afforded a golden opportunity organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), as part of its Entrepreneurial Academy, the brand development workshop will be delivered by experts in the field and will be free to attend takes place in Stornoway in March.

At the workshop, delegates will learn how to communicate the vision, mission and values of their business or social enterprise, while gaining knowledge of how to build a brand that reflects the company’s operations and the experiences of its customers.

Bill McMillan, head of business growth for Outer Hebrides at HIE, said:

‘To stand out in a crowded marketplace, business leaders should consider how their brand reflects who they are, what they do and their values. Today’s consumers look beyond logos, slogans and adverts; seeing more than just products and buying into a company’s identity’.

The workshop will be delivered by Lesley Thomson, managing director of communications consultancy Spreng Thomson, and Janice Kirkpatrick, creative director of design agency Graven.

Read more: Local News for Monday 4th February 2019