A cheque from Rabbie's Trailburners to Portree and Braes Community Trust has enable the trust to purchase a number of picnic tables and benches.

The cheque handover took place today (Thursday 22 February) at Bayfield Carpark.

The benches, locally made by Bill Milller, provide a welcome opportunity to sit and take in the views.  

Dot Urquhart of Portree and Braes Communtiy Trust told The Skye Times: "The Trust has worked on cleaning and tidying up the area and we were able to purchase a number of picnic tables and benches by the giving of a sizeable donation from the Rabbie's Trailburners. 

"They have a Green Team and every year they try to off set their carbon emissions by making donations to the communities they visit. 

"I would love to give them recognition for their kind donation to our community and also for the fact that some of the team will be here over a few days for path mending on the island."

Highland Council is set to receive a significant funding boost as a result of this year's SNP Scottish Government budget – with local services benefiting from an extra £9 million.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "This extra funding for Highland Council – an additional £9 million for the coming year – is a great settlement for our communities.

The SNP's progressive reforms – which will see 55 per cent of taxpayers pay less in income tax than if they lived in the rest of the UK – guarantee a two per cent rise in Highland Council's resource budget, providing extra funding for schools, roads and housing.

The Scottish Budget will also see Highland schools benefit from over £4 million as part of the Pupil Equity Fund, helping to tackle the attainment gap, and provides additional spending on our NHS – which will see an extra £400 million in funding to help protect our health service.

Raasay House won 'Best Historic Hotel' at the Prestige Hotel awards. 

Scotland’s Prestige Hotel Awards were created to showcase and reward outstanding service within the hotel industry. These independent awards are voted for by the public for their favourite venue and the exemplary staff that have left a lasting impression on Scottish holiday goers.

Raasay House said: 'We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we won 'Best Historic Hotel' at the Prestige Hotel awards this. Thank you so much to our wonderful customers for voting us into the top 100. Also huge thanks to our excellent team for all the hard work that they put in every day.'

 

Over 21,000 salmon have escaped from a fish farm in Loch Snizort.

Grieg Seafoods, operators of the fishfarm, said damage to one of the pens was discovered by a diver during a routine check.

Grant Cumming, managing director of Grieg Seafood Shetland Ltd., said: “Our priority is to prevent escape and a temporary mend to secure net was immediately applied.

“Marine Scotland were informed of the incident and the net was repaired the same day.  Since then we have counted the fish in the net and regrettably estimate that we have lost 21,700 fish.  The fish were in good health and had not received any medicines lately. 

“We are conducting an in-depth investigation to discover the root cause of the breach in the net to ensure it does not reoccur.”

 

RNLI lifeboats assisted a 1,200 tonne cargo vessel in the Kylerhea narrows.

Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig RNLI were paged at 7:34am on Sunday 18 February.  The cargo vessel, CEG Universe, was disabled with a broken rudder.

The vessel attempted to use its anchor to try and hold position against very strong tidal currents.  

 

Highland councillors have approved a 3% increase in council tax.

The rise was proposed by Highland Council's coalition of independent, Lib Dem and Labour councillors as part of efforts to close a £15m budget gap.
The council tax rise means an increase of £35.93 per annum on a band D property.

A series of roadworks are set to take place on the A87.

Bear Scotland say the works will be undertaken during the months of March and April. 

A87 Druim nan Cleochd - Mon 26th March – Fri 30th March. Mon 2nd April – Tues 3rd April. Dayshift. No closure planned.
A87 Head of Loch Ainort - Tues 6th Wed 7th March. Dayshift. No closure planned
A87 North of Broadford – Fri 9th March. Dayshift. No closure planned.
A87 Borve Junction – Mon 12th March. Dayshift. No Closure planned.
A87 Hinnisdale – Tues 13th March – Friday March 16th. Dayshift. No closure planned.
A87 Ard Dorch to Luib- Mon 19th March – Fri 23rd March & Mon 26th March – Fri 30th March. Dayshift. No closure planned.
A87 Sconser – Mon 26th March – Wed 28th March. Nightshift. Road closure.

Highland Council will consider a revised Capital Plan at its meeting in March, following decisions on available revenue at the Council’s budget setting meeting on 15th February.

Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson said: “Our revised Capital Plan will propose continued investment enabling us to do some very important projects over the next 5 years, including new school buildings and Phase 2 of the West Link and other road improvements. However, it is imperative that we get our Capital Plan into an affordable place in the light of the funding available to us.

“Highland is a region with unique issues and pressures which need to be taken into account in the level of funding we receive. Investment in our infrastructure is also of vital importance to a thriving economy. We will be continuing to lobby the Scottish Government to make this point and some of our Highland MSPs have been very supportive in this respect.”

Kate Forbes is spearheading a UK-wide campaign to ban plastic straws because of the danger they pose to onshore and marine environment, has called on supermarkets to ditch plastic straws from their stores.

The MSP spoke out the day after Asda became the first UK supermarket chain to pledge to remove plastic straws from their shelves and also replace them in their store cafes with paper alternatives.

Ms Forbes has written to all of the supermarket chains, and urged retailers to stop stocking plastic straws on shelves and in any cafes.

Already the Scottish Parliament, ScotRail Alliance, CalMac, several councils and public bodies have backed her Final Straw campaign.

Items like plastic straws can take up to 500 years to decompose, despite only being used for less than half an hour.

Tomorrow (7 February) she is expected to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament chamber as MSPs debate how to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “Asda’s decision to eliminate plastic straws from its cafes is brilliant news.

The constituency MSP for Lochalsh has welcomed news from the Royal Bank of Scotland that it will keep its Kyle branch open until at least the end of the year.

At the end of last year Kate Forbes MSP made a fact-finding visit to the branch, which had previously been earmarked for imminent closure, and met with regional manager Paul Dykes as well as local staff.

Along with Ian Blackford MP, Ms Forbes had been expressing firm opposition to bank bosses, and the Lochalsh MSP also led a Scottish Parliament debate on the closure of banks in rural areas.

The Kyle branch has almost 2,500 customers, and last year saw 25,000 transactions. If the closure had proceeded, the nearest branch would have been over 30 miles away in Portree.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “This is tremendously good news for the communities of Kyle.

“There has been such a lot of hard work since RBS first announced the branch closures in early December.

“I led a debate in the Scottish Parliament calling for RBS to reconsider these decisions and highlighting the detrimental impact on rural businesses and communities in particular.