DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEME MAY COME TO THE ISLANDS
Western Isles SNP MSP Alasdair Allan recently questioned the Scottish Government on how proposals for a Deposit Return Scheme will apply to island communities like the Western Isles.
Deposit return schemes, are a way of reducing litter and increasing recycling, where consumers pay a small deposit that is fully refundable once the empty bottle is returned.
The islands MSP was questioning Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP during a Ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament outlining how Scotland’s new Deposit Return Scheme will work. It will include aluminium and steel cans as well as drinks containers made of glass and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic with a 20p deposit as part of plans to combat climate change.
Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:
‘Deposit return schemes will have an important role to play in curbing litter.
‘It is important the scheme into account people in island communities who may have to travel long distances to the nearest shop. It was therefore welcome to hear the Cabinet Secretary’s confirmation that there will be scope within the scheme for communal return points to be set up, at community centres or schools for example, to make it easier for people to return items.
‘Keeping our local environment litter-free is especially important in the islands, given the natural beauty of our landscape.’
Read more: Local News for Tuesday 14th May 2019
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.