PROJECT TO ENCOURAGE NUMBERS OF WOMEN IN POLITICS COMES TO WESTERN ISLES
A project to get more women standing for political office is running two workshops in the Western Isles this month. Sponsored by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, a ‘Women in Politics’ workshops will run in both Stornoway and Balivanich.
The Parliament Project is a non-partisan initiative that seeks to inspire, empower and encourage women to run for political office in the UK. It runs information and skills building events and offers peer networking to support women to get elected. Since summer 2016, the Parliament Project has delivered workshops to over 3000 women in Scotland and England many of whom have gone on to stand for election.
The Women into Politics workshops will focus on allowing women to share their political ambitions, get information on different political roles available to them, hear from a previous female Councillor about her experiences and explore barriers to entry that are unique to the Western Isles. These events are open to all women.
The Stornoway workshop ‘Women into Politics’ will take place at Caladh Inn, 11 James Street, Stornoway, on May 30th from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. and will feature former Western Isles councillor Catriona Stewart.
The Benbecula workshop will take place at 6:30pm to 8:30pm on May 31st at An Caladh, East Camp, Balivanich, and the featured speaker is former Western Isles councillor Mairi Bremner. The workshops will be delivered by Lee Chalmers, Parliament Project Founder and Co-Director and Katie Brown, Parliament Project Lead for Scotland.
Read more: Local News for Monday 13th May 2019
25 YEARS COMMUNITY PLANTING UNDER CROFTER FORESTRY ACT
The economic and environmental benefits of planting trees on crofting ground will be in the spotlight on the 2nd day of the Croft Woodland conference continuing today, Friday, in Boat of Garten.
The conference is celebrating 25 years of crofter forestry following the Crofter Forestry (Scotland) Act of 1991.
Its architect, former Western Isles MP Calum Macdonald, and Assynt Crofter Bill Ritchie, a leading mover in the community buyout of Assynt estate, spoke yesterday on the first morning of the conference.
Mr Ritchie recalled:
“The Crofter Forestry Act was very important and Calum was responsible for that. He was the person who steered it through Parliament.”
The Crofter Forestry Act was brought forward by Calum Macdonald as a Private Member’s Bill and it was the first extension of the rights of crofters over their grazings since the 1880s.
Calum explained: ‘Prior to this, the rights of crofters over their grazings were just what they had been for 100 years, namely grazing your animals and cutting peat…The only people able to plant trees in the Highlands were multi-millionaires using it as a tax dodge.
Duncan Mackay who was clerk to the Sandwick North Street township said: ‘Before the Crofter Forestry Act came along we were struggling to raise £70 for fertiliser for the grazings, because if you wanted to do improvements, you had to go round begging for money.’
With the passage of the Crofter Forestry Act, common grazings committees could receive £5,000 a year for 15 years in compensation for planting 100 hectares or 190,000 trees.
Read more: Local News for Friday 10th May 2019
COMHAIRLE REMIND PUBLIC ABOUT BEST START GRANT
Western Isles Council is reminding the Public about the ‘Best Start Grant’, the grant comprises two cash payments that you can apply for if you're a parent or a carer. You can get these payments if you have a child who's the right age for a payment whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or tax credits
The available Grants are:
1. The Pregnancy and Baby Payment
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment is part of a package of three payments that will give extra money to low income families during the early years of a child’s life. Best Start Grant School Age Payment opens for applications on 3rd June and Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment will be available by Summer 2019
2. Early Learning Payment
The Early Learning Payment is a package of three payments that will give extra money to low income families during the early years of a child’s life. It is a £250 payment made between the ages of two and three and a half years old. This is to help with the costs of early learning for eligible families who have a child
More information and how to apply is available on the Social Security Scotland website at www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant/
SNP Cllr ASKS FOR REVIEW OF USE OF SANDWICKHILL SCHOOL
An attempt to review the future use of Sandwickhill School and possibly return it to the school estate as a primary school was turned down by the Western Isles Council at the Education Committee recently.
With the current roll of pupils using the facilities down to two and likely to fall further and with another ninety houses planned for the Mackenzie Estate, Stornoway South SNP Councillor, Rae Mackenzie asked for a report to review the future use of the school.
Cllr Rae Mackenzie said: “As the populous grows at Parkend, facilities need to be put in to strengthen the community and there is nothing more community-centred than a school.
"We have a school building on our doorstep, let’s bring it back into use for the surrounding area. Parkend and Sandwick has great potential given the increase in housing and we should be looking at opportunities for shops and food outlets to create a community hub and resurrecting the school would be a great start.”
Cllr Mackenzie has requested that the report be brought back at a later meeting.
STORNOWAY STRAMASH GETS FIVE YEAR SPONSORSHIP
Organisers of Lewis music festival Stramash are celebrating after securing a five-year sponsorship deal from Point and Sandwick Trust (P.S.T.), which will help with running costs and allow them to expand their operation.
P.S.T. has pledged £7,000 to the festival – a £2,000 grant towards the purchase of a tent extension and £1,000 a year for five years towards running costs.
The annual festival is held every summer on the Castle Green in Stornoway with the aim of providing a platform for local musicians and artists to showcase their own material.
Stramash – on August 9th and 10th this year, with Astrid and Twister confirmed as headliners – is always free to enter, fully inclusive, and the organisers have been gradually buying all the equipment they need over the years, to become fully sustainable.
The money from P.S.T. will allow them to buy a tent extension this year, to increase its capacity by 20 per cent. It will create a much-needed backstage area and a marshalling area for musical equipment, which will allow for bigger musical set-ups on stage and faster changeovers between bands.
Paul Matheson, chairman of the Stramash Stornoway Community Group, said the money from P.S.T. was “a complete game changer”.
Donald John MacSween, P.S.T. general manager, said: “Stramash, organised entirely by Paul and his dedicated band of volunteers and talented island musicians, is now an important part of the summer event scene in the islands.
Read more: Local News for Wednesday 8th May 2019