ALLAN BACKS FUEL POVERTY BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, recently backed the Fuel Poverty Bill at Stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament.
The islands MSP spoke in the chamber and raised fuel poverty issues relating specifically to the Western Isles.
The Bill sets a target for the reduction of fuel poverty to no more than 5% by 2040. It also creates a new definition for fuel poverty which will work for people across Scotland, especially those on low incomes.
Alasdair Allan said: “Fuel poverty remains significant in the Western Isles. I was pleased to contribute to the debate in the Scottish Parliament about that issue.
I welcome the Bill and the Scottish Government’s commitment to making it work in the islands. There are specific circumstances we face in the islands – these include the windchill factor, which is not currently recognised in the system of cold weather payments; there is the ageing population factor; the predominance of detached houses, and the general unavailability of mains gas. There are on top of low incomes, the flawed universal credit rollout, a shortage of affordable rented housing and the spiralling cost of energy.
The Scottish Government is working to tackle fuel poverty, but there is work that the UK Government need to do as well. Benefit reforms, and rising fuel costs are within the remit of the UK Government, and they must challenge these factors. This Bill is a significant step in battling the scourge of fuel poverty, making homes warmer, greener and more energy efficient.”
Read more: Local News for Thursday 28th February 2019
COMHAIRLE CALL FOR URGENT ACTION ON FERRY REPLACMENT
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called for urgent action on a ferry fleet replacement programme. Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Uisdean Robertson said:
‘The Comhairle has been encouraged by the open approach and sympathetic ear Ministers have given to engaging with us on ferry matters but we need to see real action from Government to overcome the decades long underinvestment in Scotland’s lifeline ferry fleet with orders placed at shipyards to replace all four major ferries that have already been in service for 30 years or more.
‘With the imminent passing of winter, islanders should be looking forward to the summer with a sense of optimism. This is again tempered by an unease that stems from the likelihood of technical failure in the ageing fleet of ferries which we must rely on as the lifeline for our communities.’
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar wrote to the Islands Minister late last year following the positive discussion he had with business and community representatives at the ferry summit in Uist in November. The Comhairle set out a range of measures to improve reliability and resilience on the crossings to and within the Western Isles in the short, medium and long term.
The success of RET means the fleet size needs to increase by one if not two new major ferries. This would provide a dedicated ferry to both Harris and North Uist and the Stornoway route should be stepped up to a two ferry operation.
Read more: Local News for Wednesday 27th February 2019
IOLAIRE GRANITE WREATH DEDICATION SERVICE
A dedication service for the permanent granite wreath to be laid in memory of the Iolaire will take place at Garrabost Memorial Gardens on Saturday, March 2nd at 11am
The sculpture has been commissioned by Point War Memorial Committee and funded by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust (PST).
The service will be led by Rev Alasdair Macleod of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). There will also be a piper and children from the Point and Sandwick area who have family connections to the disaster will play a role in the service. Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony. John Murdo Nicolson, Treasurer of Point War Memorial Committee, stressed the dedication service was open to anybody but “obviously if there are any relatives, if as many of them turn up, that would be nice.
We have a plaque in the Memorial Gardens anyway for the Iolaire, but seeing it was the 100th anniversary we felt we had to do something. It’s a permanent wreath, that will always be there. I went to PST to ask for a donation to help us along with it but in their generous spirit they decided to fund it all.’
The granite wreath has been placed under the Iolaire memorial plaque, which bears the names of the men from the district who were lost, and will be unveiled on the day. It was crafted by a company on the mainland and cost around £2,200.
Read more: Local News for Monday 25th February 2019
HARRIS FOOTBALL CLUB TO GET WESTERN ISLES LOTTERY FUNDING
The Western Isles Lottery have given Harris Football Club their first result of 2019 by announcing they will receive all funding currently being raised by supporters of the Lottery across Harris.
All proceeds raised will go to the Football Club to ensure they receive the best start to their resurgence into the Lewis & Harris Football League.
A Team spokesperson said: ‘This will be the first time since 2014 that we have entered a Harris senior team in the league.
‘We also believe it is important to give the youngsters the opportunity to get involved in a team representing their island, which will promote a feeling of pride among them and point towards a bright future for football on the island by encouraging younger age groups, giving them something to aspire to.
‘Without a sponsor providing direct financial support, we rely on bodies such as the Western Isles Lottery to enable us to function as a club and we also hope that the community will again unite around what is still a great institution!”
The Lottery Team said: “The Club’s application identified specifically what they required the funding for, which matched one of our 3 criteria and we therefore had no hesitation in agreeing to the request.
Read more: Local News for Tuesday 26th February 2019