Friday, December 14, 2018
The skye times mobile

Elective surgical procedures have resumed in the main theatre complex at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness this week.

All planned operations were cancelled from 08 February after superficial cracks were found on some of the theatre walls.

Urgent work to rectify the problems was completed last week and after theatres were deep cleaned and air sampling tests completed, the theatres began operating again on Monday 19 February.

Andrew Ward, divisional general manager for the surgical division at Raigmore Hospital, said: “We very much regret we had to cancel planned operations and for the concern and inconvenience this has caused our patients.

“Our clinical teams are currently looking at the all the patients waiting for surgery and will continue to prioritise those with greatest clinical need. With the theatres now in operation we are in a better position to assess the delays for each patient, and how we will communicate with individual patients.”

Kate Forbes MSP has urged those living in the north of the island to make their voices heard in the external review of healthcare provision.

Sir Lewis Ritchie, commissioned by NHS Highland, is on Skye this week for a series of meetings relating to the review, and it is expected that he will report his findings in April.  

Kate Forbes MSP is urging everyone who has previously been in contact with her, by attending surgeries and special meetings, or through phone calls, letters and emails, to make their concerns known.

Following the recent temporary suspension of out-of-hours services at Portree Hospital, the Skye MSP said that healthcare provision in the north of the island has got to be sustainable and reliable.

The constituency MSP for Skye has welcomed new funding which will help resolve tourism infrastructure pressures at some of the most popular hotspots on the island.

Earlier today (26 February) it was announced that the Fairy Pools and the Quirang, both considered to be iconic attractions, will receive funding that will go towards improving car parking provision before the peak summer tourist season.

The Quirang will receive £100,000 from the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate, and the Fairy Pools £200,000 from LEADER.  A new car park will be created for the Quirang, 5km west of Staffin on the Trotternish peninsula, which will have 60 spaces and several additional places for small coaches and motorhomes.

Last summer vehicles were parked on verges and, in some cases, on croft land, as the roads struggled to cope with the high influx of visitors.

At the Fairy Pools, which receives well in excess of 100,000 visitors-a-year, there are plans to expand the existing 35-space car park to accommodate over 100 cars and approximately 20 mini-buses and campervans. Again, there were lengthy tailbacks and parking issues at the site last year.

The news was welcomed by Kate Forbes MSP, who last year hosted a successful visit to the island from Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism.

Artists are preparing to present their ideas for a memorial recalling a crofters' uprising on Skye.

Henry Castle and Tom Smith will show their ideas at Staffin Community Hall from 5 to 10 March.

Staffin residents were in dispute with landowners because of rent rises, insecurity of tenure and the eviction of families from land.  The unrest was part of a wider period of land rights struggles in the 19th Century known as the Crofters' War.

Tom Smith, of design collective Lateral North, and sculptor, Henry Castle, were selected from more than 40 applications from all over the world.

Staffin hall toilets will be open on Sundays for the first time.

The decision was made by Staffin Community Hall Association in response to increasing visitor numbers and a general lack of facilities.  

After the Brogaig toilets were closed, Highland Council awarded the Comfort Grant to the hall to enable visitor facilities to continue to be provided.  Whilst the award covers some of the cost of running the toilets, it only runs April to September, Monday to Saturday.

A 60 space car park could be installed at the Quiraing, if a planning application submitted to Highland Council is given the go ahead.

The car park will also have rom for 7-8 larger vehicles at the side of the road, while the car park itself will be off road.  

 

 

The external view of Out-of-Hours Urgent Care services in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross is to begin in earnest next week.

On Monday 26th February 2018 Sir Lewis Ritchie will start a four-day visit to the area as part an independent examination of local services provided by NHS Highland.

The visit follows an initial series of introductory meetings held on Friday 2 February in Portree and Broadford with local community representatives, clinicians and managers.

A series of meetings are proposed during Sir Lewis’s visit. This will include offering to meet representatives from the SOS-NHS action group; elected members, representatives from community councils of North Skye, Glenelg, Raasay, South Skye and Lochalsh; and key relevant NHS Highland partner agencies including Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), NHS 24, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service,  Police Scotland and the Coast Guard.

Sir Lewis will also meet with a range of NHS staff providing health and social care across the area including GPs and hospital-based staff.

Police are appealing for witnesses following a two vehicle collision on the A835 near Garve, which occurred about 2pm on Sunday the 25th February 2018.  
The collision involved a red Seat Leon and a white Audi S3.
The 20 year old male driver of the Seat Leon, sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision.
The road was closed until 11:30pm to allow for a collision investigation to be carried out at the scene. 

A donation from Rabbie's will go towards planting trees to help screen the Fairy Pools car park.  

The donation of £3000 was given to the Minginish Community Hall Association.

Photograph above from left to right: Nick Adam, Ewan McLeod, Rosario Melendez, Fraser McSorley, Julie Burnett and Alan Richmond.  

A week long Gaelic Medium Residential Sports Leadership Award course took place at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig recently.

Fifteen young people in Secondary schools from Mallaig, Ardnamurchan, Plockton, Portree, Dingwall and Inverness completed the SCQS Level 4 in Sports Leadership Award Course in Gaelic.

The Highland Council Gaelic Team in partnership with Highlife Highland secured funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to deliver the course. 

A set of keys have been handed in to local police in Kyle. 

The police took to Twitter asking if anyone could tell them what the key tag says, posting: "We think someone will be missing them...  Please give us a call on 101 or pop into Kyle Office so we can reunite with owner."

A cheque from Rabbie's Trailburners to Portree and Braes Community Trust has enabled 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.

Public toilets will be open all year round at Portree Harbour.  

Portree and Braes Community Trust say the toilets will be open from Thursday 1 March and will be mostly funded by revenue generated by the Trust.  

Combining playtime with Skye's Jurassic heritage is the latest achievement of the Aros Centre.

Construction has begun on a new indoor play facility.  The new developments form part of the Aros Centre's 25th anniversary.  

Entitled "Jurassic Island," the facility will have a dedicated party room which can be booked for private parties.  Jurassic Island will also feature a 3-tier soft play frame, reaching 6 metres in height with a 4.2 metres high slide.  Alongside will be a separate pre-school area, with the recurring Jurassic theme.

Delays are to be expected on the A82 today (Wednesday 14 February.)

Traffic Scotland have reported that the road between Drumnadrochit and Invermoriston is blocked due to a fallen tree.  Access is restricted in both directions.

Motorists are advised to approach with care.

A 21 year old man from Broadford is creating a film as his final graduation film.

Sean Grieve told The Skye Times: "I would like to produce inspiring feature films in Scotland and this short film will act as my first calling card as I graduate university and enter the professional world."

The film, entitled "Ailean's Number" is set at a ceilidh in the Scottish Highlands.  Running for ten minutes, the drama explores the themes of family, heritage and self-acceptance, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that there can be more important things in life than the pursuit of money.

The Skye Bridge is currently closed to high sided vehicles.

Traffic Scotland have advised road users to exercise caution when crossing the A87 Skye Bridge, due to the high winds currently affecting driving conditions.

The closure was issued on Tuesday 13 February at 11:26pm.  

Work is currently ongoing to upgrade the theatre complex within Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

As this work has progressed unforeseeable issues have been identified within the existing building structure which has led to the necessity to cancel all planned operations. 

An inspection carried out by structural engineers confirmed there are no structural issues but concerns have been highlighted relating to superficial cracks on some of the theatre walls within the main theatre complex. As a result, the clinical decision was made to stop all operations within the theatre complex until further notice.

Contingency measures have been implemented to ensure all emergency operations will continue as normal but out-with the affected theatre area.

The MSP spearheading Scotland’s Final Straw campaign – seeking to ban plastic straws – has welcomed a Scottish Government pledge to take action on the issue.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed the Government’s intention, which has been hailed by Kate Forbes MSP.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who also sits on Holyrood’s Environment Committee, has now called on the UK Government to step up to the mark and ensure a UK-wide ban.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “I launched my Final Straw campaign at the beginning of January calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to ban plastic straws. Since then there has been an incredible wave of public support.
 
“A lot of public bodies and private companies have voluntarily ditched plastic straws in the last months which is welcome but to make the big difference there has to be a blanket approach.

“Last week I announced I’d be shifting my focus to the supermarkets and so far Waitrose, Lidl and Asda have all said they have plans to ditch plastic straws or have already done so.

FilmG has announced the winners of this year's Gaelic short-film awards.
 
A glittering awards gala took place on Friday at Glasgow's Old Fruitmarket, with highlights of the event broadcast on BBC ALBA on Sunday as part of celebrations to mark ten years of FilmG.

Lana Pheutan from Skye, won two of the three awards for which she had been shortlisted, winning Best Performance and Best Student Film for her powerful film 'Coig Puing a' Trì' (Five Point Three) which tells the story of the challenges faced by transgender woman. Lana also won the People's Choice award, as voted by the public on the FilmG website.
 
North Skye residents Iain Wilson and Alasdair MacLeod amused and entertained judges with their comedy film, Ceum Dub, for which they won the award Best Mobile Short.
 
It was a star-studded night, with appearances from Greg McHugh, better known as Gary Tank Commander and River City actress and new face of Raven, Aisha Touissant.

Police Scotland has issued a warning to hillwalkers and people pursuing outdoor activities in the mountains of the dangers that inclement weather and the terrain can present.
 
In the last week Mountain Rescue teams have been called out over 13 times and police are reminding people to bear in mind that the weather can change very quickly.
 
Chief Inspector Neil Anderson, Operational Support Division and Land based Search and Rescue lead for Police Scotland, said: "Unless you are an experienced hillwalker or mountaineer I would advise against venturing into the hills if there is any likelihood of the conditions becoming adverse. Stay up to date with weather and Avalanche forecasts and be prepared to change your plans if the weather is expected to change. If you are not experienced it is a good idea to stick to the lower or less challenging areas.

Kate Forbes MSP will meet with survivors of recent flooding and earthquakes in communities across Nepal, as she endeavours to find out more about the impact of global climate change.

This week Ms Forbes, who sits on Holyrood’s Environment Committee, will also see how money raised by people in Scotland has helped people to rebuild their lives and homes.

She will be going to the Teraj, the south of the country, to see a project in Nepalgunj which is working to assist people in the aftermath of flash floods, which has received support from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund.

This will also include meeting with farmers who have started cultivation again, and people who have rebuilt their shelters.

The visit has been organised by Christian humanitarian charity Tearfund, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

A collision took place this morning (Monday 12 February) on the A890.

The Lochcarron to Achnasheen road is currently blocked.  Police are advising road users to avoid venturing out if possible, due to the treacherous road conditions.

Two Facebook groups have been formed to voice concerns over local roads.

The A82 Pothole Group, administrated by Martin Pawsey, and the A87 Pothole Group, formed by Heather Knowles, have been created to list potholes, assemble evidence on the state of the roads, discuss damage to vehicles and share the success rate of any claims made.

The A82 runs from Glasgow to Inverness via Fort William.  The A87 runs through Kyle of Lochalsh, across the Skye Bridge and through Kyleakin, Broadford and Portree, before terminating at Uig.  

Heather Knowles stated in the A87 group: "The more information we can get, the better our chances are of getting some effective repairs done.

"Like the A82 Pothole Group page, this is not a "Bear-bashing" page or a page to criticise the men who work on our roads.  This is a group for motorists who feel strongly about the state of repair of the A87."

Kate Forbes MSP has said she hopes that the Scottish Government's new Islands Bill will promote islanders' voices when it comes to healthcare provision in Skye and Raasay.

Despite repeatedly lobbying NHS Highland for solutions for both areas, the Isle of Raasay remains without adequate overnight cover and the suspension of out-of-hours services at Portree Hospital is occurring more often.

Describing it as "the most important legislation introduced for island communities", Kate Forbes MSP believes the new laws could help reverse depopulation.

Several roads in the centre of Inverness will be temporarily closed to traffic on the morning of Saturday 10 February as the city gears up to host the opening ceremony of the 2018 Snowman Rally.

Drivers are being advised that from between 7.30am and 12 noon the following roads will be closed to all vehicles:

Resurfacing will be carried out on the A87 at Druim Nan Cleochd this month.

The works are scheduled from Monday 19 to Tuesday 27 February, between the hours of 7am and 7pm each day.  No weekend works are currently planned.  

In another significant development for the Final Straw campaign, Waitrose has told Kate Forbes MSP that it will banish all plastic straws by September.

It comes days after Asda pledged similar action, as public pressure intensifies on supermarket chains to step up the fight against the scourge of plastic pollution.

In her speech in the Holyrood chamber yesterday (7 February), Ms Forbes also paid tributes to the 11 local authorities across Scotland who are supporting the aims of her campaign, as well as the many public bodies – such as National Museums Scotland, the ScotRail Alliance and the Scottish Parliament – who have all committed to taking action.

Ms Forbes has now pledged to turn the focus of her campaign onto private companies, such as bars, cafes, fast food outlets and restaurants.

A Skye community council is able to continue operating following recent interim elections.

Nominations were invited from 23 January to 7 February 2018 for persons seeking election to Community Councils serving Staffin and Waternish.

Following the close of Nominations today at 4pm (Wednesday 7 February), Waternish Community Council attracted more than half the maximum membership.

Staffin Community Council did not establish as they failed to attract half the maximum membership.

A dilapidated primary school on the Isle of Skye without a safe drinking water supply has never featured on the Highland Council's list of "priority schools for investment", a letter from the Scottish Government has revealed.

Skye MSP Kate Forbes recently wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney, along with parents and pupils from Broadford Primary School to highlight the plight of the ailing school building. 

Pupils, the parent council, the local community council, Skye councillor John Finlayson and Ms Forbes have repeatedly made the case for a new school.

In response, Mr Swinney said that Highland Council had received £63m towards the cost of school projects through the Government's Scotland's Schools for the Future initiative.

The Deputy First Minister added that the beneficiaries of the £63m "were identified by the Highland Council as its priority schools for investment and at no point has the Highland Council approached the Scottish Government to seek funding towards the redevelopment of Broadford Primary".

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.

An army veteran is aiming to walk the entire coastline of Britain.

Sam Doyle is raising awareness for veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)  His walk took him to the Isle of Skye in early January.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has joined the campaign to boost internet safety for young people – after pressure from fellow SNP MSPs Kevin Stewart and Gillian Martin led to Snapchat removing primary schools from their search function.

Marking Safer Internet Day, local MSP Kate Forbes backed this action and called on Snapchat to go further and also remove secondary schools from its search tool – which allows strangers to find and watch videos from these locations.

And Ms Forbes is also encouraging pupils across the Highlands to take part in a nationwide film competition that aims to raise awareness of the dangers related to sending nude photos online.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: “I appreciate the efforts made by my SNP MSP colleagues Gillian Martin and Kevin Stewart that have made Snapchat safer for children all over the Highlands and Scotland – and I hope that Snapchat go even further and remove secondary schools as well.

“Parents should speak with their children to make sure they know how to stay safe online and understand the risks of posting certain information – and I am glad to be involved in the campaign to raise awareness of this serious issue.

“The upcoming nationwide film competition is a great initiative that gives children across Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch the opportunity to engage with these dangers in a creative manner

“And Tuesday’s (6 February 2018) parliamentary debate brings this issue to the forefront and highlights the increasing risks when sharing personal information online.

“We must all do what we can to help protect our children when it comes to their online activity.”

Police are reissuing an appeal for the whereabouts of missing Scot Mackenzie from Portsmouth.

The 58-year-old went missing from the Tipner area of Portsmouth on the morning of Monday 15 January.  Scot may have travelled to Scotland and has connections to the Wick, Avoch, Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness areas.

It has been more than three weeks since Scot’s disappearance, and officers have carried out a number of lines of enquiry to locate him. He still remains missing, and we continue to urge members of the public to keep an eye out for him.

Scot is known to have visited Lloyds Bank on Commercial Road in Portsmouth at around 1.45pm the day he went missing. We have released CCTV images which show him in the bank before he exited, turning left along Commercial Road and walking past Boots. This is the last confirmed sighting of Scot.

He has been described as white, approximately 6ft 2ins tall, medium build, with grey receding hair. He was last seen wearing a green jacket.

Anyone with Scottish paper £5 and £10 notes has less than four weeks before they are withdrawn from circulation. 

The Committee of Scottish Bankers is encouraging the public to spend or exchange these notes before 1 March.

Issuing banks will still accept all Scottish money from customers after the deadline and paper notes may be replaced with plastic ones.

This deadline coincides with the withdrawal date for The Bank of England's paper £10 note.

A spokesperson for the Committee of Scottish Bankers said: "Thanks to the work that the issuing banks have already undertaken to swap the older paper notes with the more secure, environmentally friendly polymer notes, the majority of £5 and £10 notes have already been replaced with polymer. 

"We have set a deadline for using paper £5 and £10 notes as 1st March. The Scottish note issuing banks will continue to accept old paper based notes and there are currently no plans to change this."

Ian Blackford has been raising awareness of a Scottish Gas discount scheme.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is available to constituents in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

Ian Blackford says: "Warm Home Discounts are still available for Scottish Gas customers this winter, but you should apply as soon as possible. The scheme allows some applicants a rebate of £140 off their electricity bill.

"If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income and meet Scottish Gas’s criteria for the scheme you may be eligible. You can also qualify if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

"This discount is only available in limited numbers so please check soon on www.britishgas.co.uk/warmhomediscount or call 0800 072 8625 or 0800 294 8604 if you are a Pay As You Go Energy customer."

A leading Highland MSP has welcomed Community Land Scotland’s desire to reverse the trend of depopulation in the Highlands.

Last week CLS published a report on the subject, which called for land that was previously lived and work on to be repopulated – an issue that Kate Forbes MSP has previously highlighted.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has been one of the most vocal politicians about the need to reverse depopulation across the Highlands.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “The current planning system has a lot to answer for in terms of restricting rural regeneration.

 

A Yellow (be aware) Warning of Snow and Ice for Highlands & Eilean Siar has been issued by the Met Office from 0500 Tue 06 Feb to 1000 Wed 07 Feb.

The warning is for possible snow, sleet and hail on Tuesday with ice likely on Wednesday morning. For the full Met Office warning visit www.metoffice.gov.uk

 

The full results from the Glenbrittle Forest 10-mile Trail Race 2018 are as follows:

1. Murdo Mackenzie (1 hour, 4 minutes and 49 seconds)
2. Norman Ferguson (1:09:52)
3. Angus Murray (1:12:24)
4. Stephen Macdonald (1:14:45)
5. Dave Canning (1:14:55)
6. Niall Till (1:20:31)
7. Lesley Campbell (1:20:36) 1st lady
8. Sam Crowe (1:23:24) 2nd lady
9. John Coghill (1:27:27)
10. Heckie Cormack (1:27:49)
11. John Esson (1:28:14)
12. Alison Macdonald (1:28:39) 3rd lady
13. Phil Seddon (1:33:57)
14. Clara Connell (1:38:19) 4th lady
15. Amy Cunningham (1:43:21) 5th lady
16. Becky Milne (1:46:06) 6th lady

The out of hours service at Portree Hospital was temporarily suspended from 8pm this evening (Saturday 3 February.)

The service is based at the Minor Injuries Unit/Urgent Care Centre at Portree Hospital.

NHS Highland say the decision was made following ongoing staffing pressures. The MIU will reopen between 8am and 6pm on Sunday 4 February before being closed again until 8am on Monday 5 February.

 

 

The Glenbrittle Forest Trail run was held this afternoon (Saturday 3 February), with the snow-capped Cuillins providing a backdrop for the Skye and Lochalsh Running and Athletics Club race.

Young Felix Rossiter was at the start line to shout "Ready, Steady, Go!" and the runners were off!

 

North Skye Broadband, a “not for profit” community organisation, has scrapped its plans for rural ultrafast broadband because of Government funding constraints.

NSB said yesterday (Friday February 2) that “it is with huge regret” it had to abandon the plan.

NSB is a community organisation set up in 2015 to provide ultrafast broadband services to homes and businesses in communities across North Skye where no commercial provider has any plans to do so.

It said it “has been forced to abandon its “fibre to the premises” (“FTTP”) pilot/demonstrator project – intended to provide ultrafast fibre-based broadband connections to around fifty premises in the Glendale area of Skye – as a direct consequence of the Scottish Government’s “R100” initiative.”

Last summer, after nearly two years of abortive efforts to secure funding for an ultrafast FTTP network covering north Skye, NSB withdrew its State Aid Application to Community Broadband Scotland because it became clear that community broadband schemes are ineligible for State Aid funding.

Road policing officers in the Highlands and Islands are again warning people not to drink and drive after a significant number of motorists were caught over the limit in the last month.

A high profile national campaign was held targeting drink and drug drivers during the festive season - and officers have continued to stop drivers suspected to be over the limit throughout January.

Road Policing Inspector Neil Lumsden said: "It is very disappointing that we have arrested 31 drivers for driving while under the influence of alcohol during the month of January.

Holyrood has become the first parliament building in the UK to ban plastic straws.

In response to a letter from Kate Forbes MSP, who has been spearheading the Final Straw campaign, the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body (SPCB) confirmed that it has eliminated all plastic straws at its restaurants and bars, and will now only hand out paper ones on request. 

It is understood that Holyrood’s catering outlets were using around 4,000 plastic drinking straws a year.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “Whilst I’m campaigning for public bodies and businesses to ditch plastic straws, its important I start close to home and so I’m delighted that the Scottish Parliament has stopped stocking plastic straws and will only give out a biodegradable alternative when requested.

“The Scottish Parliament has long lead the way on environmental initiatives, and this is obviously another way in which it is striving to improve what it does.

“If the Scottish Parliament can do this, then I hope it encourages more councils and other public bodies to follow suit.

Highland Council has been urged to abandon plans to cut secondary school teacher numbers after the Scottish Government pledged at least an extra £7.5m to the local authority as part of its Budget deal.

Kate Forbes MSP said that with the extra revenue (for teachers) and capital (for school buildings) settlements, Highland Council now had to sort out woefully inadequate premises as well as abandon its austerity programme.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch spoke out after scores of constituents voiced their concerns about Highland Council's plans to chop teacher numbers in the region.

The Glenelg-Skye ferry announced today (Feb 28) they had now raised just short of £4,000 they need to replace the wheelhouse on MV Glenachulish. All collected in just four days.

 

Hotel Eilean Iarmain


Isle of Ornsay's Hotel Eilean Iarmain is seeking planning permission to provide a new kitchen in the latest applications made to Highland Council.

Meanwhile just outside Portree plans have been put forward to replace the existing boathouse at Storr Lochs with a similar structure of the same dimensions.

Other applications are as follows:

The last race in this year’s winter series held by Skye and Lochalsh running club takes place this Saturday (Mar 4th)

The Sconser 10k road will once again take place place along the Moll road to Sconser, offering great views and a few twists and turns along the way.

Registration is at Sconser Golf Club 11.00 - 11.45am, race begins at the Moll road end at 12 noon. Cost £5 (SLRC £1). Food to follow!

And while the official series will then be over the running club are planning one last event for the winter.


The future looks good for Skye shinty after Portree Primary P7 and Under team took top place in this year's National Indoor Finals.

The event was held in Fort William with the island youngsters beating all their rivals to take the top place.

Enforcement of waiting restrictions and other parking measures for Skye in the months ahead were being discussed today (Feb27).

A Highland Council report before the Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee made it clear that while police may no longer be responsible for enforcement the local authority is looking at options.

They said: “The criteria for enforcement resources are such that the service must be delivered cost neutral. The allocation of staff in the Skye area is an unknown at this time and it will require live assessment of the demand for enforcement to ensure adequate and efficient allocation of resources that does not defund any other part of the service.

Fiona in action


Skye's pint sized power lifter Fiona MacDonald has proved herself a record breaker.

For in one week-end she has taken the weight lifting world by storm and returned to her Uig home with a string of record breaking achievements.

Fiona travelled to Kings Lynn in Norfolk to take part in the British Drug Free Power Lifting Association's event and proved to be unbeatable in the Full Power category which involves dead lift, back press and squat.

As well as taking the overall title she Fiona, who only weighs 50 kilos, managed a staggering 105 kilos in the dead lift to set a new British and World record, 45 kilos in the back press which was a British and European record, while in the squat, her 62.5 kilo effort earned here a British and World record.

Will she be ready in time?

Skye's most famous ferry - the Glenachulish - is looking for a little help from its friends.

The last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland, she is ideally suited for  crossing the Kylerhea straits where she has been providing a car ferry service for many years.

However, this winter has seen a major outlay with over £30,000 spent on the ferry. Costs on replacing the wheelhouse in particular have escalated and now the charity run company are seeking support.

Police have made a new appeal for information following a pedestrian's death in Caithness.

Timothy Humphreys, formerly of Eynort, Isle of Skye, was struck by a car on the A836, near the A99 junction and the Seaview Hotel, at about 11:40pm on 17 February.  

The 34-year-old, who lived in John O' Groats, died at the scene of the collision as a result of his injuries. The road was closed until Saturday morning to allow a full collision investigation to take place.

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen anyone Mr Humphries on or near the A836 between the A99 junction and Newton in the hour leading up to the collision.

 

Anyone who witnessed the collision or has any information and hasn't already been in touch with officers is urged to contact Police on 101.

 

 

Alex is on the road again!  After making it safely across to Skye from Mallaig, he has walked all the way to Carbost.

Today (Saturday 25 February) should see him walked to Dunvegan, staying in Skeabost and walking to Uig and Staffin, though his plan could be subject to change.

Since starting his walk 937 days ago, he has raised £40,000 for British and Irish lifeboats.  This week alone saw £600 donated online.  Details on how to donate can be found here.

Police in Portree, Isle of Skye, are seeking assistance from members of the community to identify a vehicle believed to be in the local area.

Constable Jani Kari-Koskinen said: "Around 5pm yesterday (Thursday 23rd February 2017) concerns were raised by a member of the public for the wellbeing of occupant(s) of a green or blue coloured car with darkened rear windows and a roof box, which was parked within the Co-op car park on the town's Dunvegan Road at the time."

"In order to ensure the occupant's wellbeing, officers are keen to trace the vehicle described and would appeal to anyone who has information on the car to make contact with officers on 101. We would also appeal to the occupants/owners to make contact directly."

Skye is urged to show its Scot Spirit as biggest community event since the Jubilee to be held across the UK in June. 

Tens of thousands of community get-togethers are being planned and The Big Lunch is calling on communities in Skye to get involved over 17-18 June.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall hosted the launch at Clarence House as patron of The Big Lunch, one of the founding partners of The Great Get-Together, alongside The Jo Cox Foundation and dozens of other community groups, NGOs and faith groups.

The Great Get-Together will take place over the weekend of June 17 and 18. People are being invited to come together with friends, neighbours and others they don’t yet know for street parties, picnics, barbecues and bake-off competitions. It follows the first anniversary of Jo Cox’s murder on June 16 last year.

 Skye-based filmmaker, Chris Young, is set to announce plans for a new Script Development Programme, which will benefit new writers, producers and directors working in film and television.

Chris is set to make the announcement in his keynote speech at the Glasgow Film Festival's Industry Focus event this Friday (24 February 2017.)

The programme will be operated and run by new company, Young Film Foundation.

The Foundation is currently seeking appropriate funding partners and Young hopes to launch formally and open for applications later this year.  The Foundation will focus on script and project development with a remit to seek out and identify new and aspiring writers, producers and directors. It will nurture their talents through a programme of workshops, seminars and mentoring over a week-long residency in Skye. 

Stagecoach have revealed new proposed timetables, which are planned to commence on 24 April 2017.

The services revised include Skye, Inverness, Easter Ross, Black Isle, Sutherland, Caithness and Fort William.  

These proposals follow on from changes made in January where further feedback since those changes has lead to some further improvements being brought forward. Other changes are as a result of the now completed tender process carried out by Highland Council. 

The proposed timetables are available online now at stagecoachbus.com. The company is encouraging customers to review the proposals and share their thoughts, whether in support of the revisions, highlighting any concerns or sharing any other ideas customers may have on services offered.

NHS Highland is advising young people aged between 16 and 18 to get vaccinated against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) due to the Men W bacteria.

The Men ACWY vaccine was introduced to the national immunisation programme in 2015 for young teenagers and ‘fresher’ students going to college or university.

This was in response to an increasing number of cases of Men W disease seen across the UK. Older teenagers are at high risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may carry the bacteria.

Those aged 16-18 currently still at school will be offered the vaccine through the school programme due to commence shortly.

One woman and her dog will be walking 1,000 miles from Wales to the Isle of Skye.

Lisa Flude and her dog, Meg, will be leaving from Cardigan in West Wales and plan to walk to Skye via North Wales,  Leicestershire, Derbyshire Dales, The Lakes, Trossachs and Ben Nevis.

The couple will be walking to raise money for the Air Ambulance in Wales, The Haemochromatosis Society and the Dogs Trust.  Their target is £10,000.

Skye-based Nick Hanson has been announced as the 2017 winner of the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.

The Dumfries-born photographer submitted a portfolio of images shot in the Cairngorms, Skye and Glen Affric.  

He won the prestigious accolade despite strong competition from thousands of entries all over the globe.

Raasay Walled Garden was recently awarded funds from the Climate Challenge Fund. 

The award will fund the employment of a full-time gardener and part-time Community Engagement Officer.  It will also fund the purchase of equipment and seeds, needed to enable the supply of fresh local produce to Raasay Community store and R&B Distillers.  

A new TV channel for the BBC in Scotland will begin broadcasting in autumn next year, BBC director-general Tony Hall has announced.

The channel will have a budget of £30m and plans for the channel include a Scottish news hour from 9pm that will broadcast stories from Scotland, the UK and the world.

The director-general also announced an increase of about £20m a year for Scotland to make UK-wide programmes – and £1.2m extra for Gaelic channel BBC Alba, taking its budget to £20m.

Alex Ellis-Roswell will today (22 February 2017) be making his way from Mallaig to Armadale.

Depending on the weather, Alex plans to walk from Armadale, through to Broadford, Sconser and Carbost.

Alex would greatly appreciate offers of accommodation in the South Skye area.  

In 2014, Alex set himself the challenge of walking round the coasts of Britain and Ireland to raise money for RNLI.  To follow his personal updates, visit his Facebook.  His fundraising link can be found here.

 

 

Plans for a new fish feed factory on Skye have been given the go ahead by Highland councillors.

Members of Highland Council's north planning committee voted through the plans by 13 votes to three.

Marine Harvest hopes the new plans will be constructed by 2018.  

The Isle of Skye is set to make yet another film appearance in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

The upcoming movie was filmed in various locations around Scotland, including Shieldaig, Kishorn and Applecross in Wester Ross.  

Due for release in May, the film was directed by Guy Ritchie and will star Chris Hunnam.  

As well as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Skye's familiar landscapes will be seen in Transformers: The Last Knight.  

Alex Ellis-Roswell will soon be walking across the Isle of Skye in a bid to raise money for RNLI.

Alex has undertaken a challenge to walk 9,500 miles round the coast of Britain and Ireland.  Since starting from his home in Kent on 3 August 2014, Alex has raised over £33,000 and only has one more year of walking until he completes his challenge.  

Alex was recently in the Outer Hebrides as he walked the islands in January.  

From 1 April 2017 the Scottish Government is changing the basis on which properties are assessed for Council Tax and this will increase the charge for Council Tax properties that are banded E to H.

The Highland Council has no discretion in this matter and must apply these increases to the Council Tax charges from 1 April 2017.  Households living in properties in Bands A-D are not affected by these increases.

In addition to the increase in Council Tax set by the Scottish Government on properties falling within Bands E to H, The Highland Council has been given the flexibility to increase Council Tax on all properties, Bands A to H, by up to 3% from 1 April 2017. Council Tax legislation, set by the Scottish Government, determines any increase must be applied to all Bands in A to H.

At the meeting of the Highland Council on 16 February 2017 it was agreed to increase Council Tax on all properties by 3% from 1 April 2017.

Police in Caithness can confirm the identity of the man who sadly died as a result of a road traffic collision on Friday evening as Timothy Humphreys, known to many on the Isle of Skye.

Timothy, aged 34, lived in John O'Groats, but grew up and spent many years on the Isle of Skye. 

The collision occurred around 11.40pm on Friday 17th February on the A836 at near the Seaview Hotel and junction with A99.

Very sadly, Mr Humphreys was struck by a car and died at the scene as a result of his injuries. The road was closed until 7.45am on Saturday morning to allow a full collision investigation to take place.

It has been revealed that single malt Scotch whisky has reached £1bn worth of exports for the first time in 2016.

The leading brands include Talisker, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, the Macallan, Jura, Laphroaig and Highland Park.  Exports account for around 93% of production.  

Figures issued this month by HM Revenue and Customs trade shows the amount of pure spirit exported as single malt in 2016 was equivalent to 113m standard bottles at 40% strength.

Last year's Santa Dash saw around 250 runners take to Portree streets dressed as Father Christmas.  

Fifty percent of the surplus funds raised would go to a nominated charity, Skye Mountain Rescue.

Today, Skye Events presented Skye Mountain Rescue with a cheque for £1000, generated by the funds and donations raised at the Santa Dash.

Pictured is Skye Mountian Rescue chair Paddy McGuir receiving the cheque from Skye Events Chair Alistair Danter.  Also pictured is SMR treasurer Stuart Ashton, Skye Events Treasurer Jeanne Wells and Skye Events Marketing Director Hugh Campbell.

Skye's Alannah Pheutan received the award for Best Comedy at FilmG's award ceremony on Friday 17 February.

Her winning entry, Gaidheal Gu Luath, set out to create a perfect treatment to generate the perfect Gael.  Alannah also received the much-anticipated People’s Choice award.

FilmG is MG ALBA’s (the Gaelic Media Service) prestigious Gaelic screen talent awards, which this year attracted a record number of entries and was streamed live to audiences around the world.   

The ceremony was held at The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow and hosted by Fiona MacKenzie, face of BBC ALBA, and Niall Iain Macdonald, TV & radio presenter. Live entertainment on the night was courtesy of four-piece band, INYAL, fresh from performances at Celtic Connections and The Highland Annual.

12 hours of non-stop swimming - that is the challenge Hannah Wilson and Tara Lancaster have set themselves.

In a bid to raise money for charity, Lucky2BHere, and Macdiarmid Primary School, the friends started training in January for the event, which will be held on Thursday 29 June from 8:00am-8:00pm at the Fingal Centre in Portree.  

The event's Facebook page can be found here.

Ceumannan, the Staffin-based ecomuseum, will join forces with museums in Portugal and Costa Rica as part of an international project led by the University of St Andrews.  

Known as EU-LAC-MUSEUMS (Concepts, Experiences and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean) and funded by the European Union, the idea was conceived during a meeting of ICOM (the International Council of Museums) in Paris and will include studies into female migration between Caribbean islands and an international touring exhibition on art and migration, as well as questions of community empowerment and sustainability in remote areas.

Two sections of the A9 near Pitlochry and the House of Bruar are set to be upgraded starting later this month following an investment of over £600,000 from Transport Scotland.

Improvements to the two stretches of the route will take place first at the northern end of the Ballinluig dual carriageway near Pitlochry followed by works to a section of the road at Clunes Lodge, to the north of House of Bruar.

The works will involve strengthening and resurfacing the road to make it more durable and resilient during the colder winter months, as well as providing a smoother and safer road for road users.

Plans to complete the works are scheduled as follows:

Council chiefs have given the green light to move polling stations to five schools on Skye.

From May this year Kilmuir, Staffin, Dunvegan, Carbost and Kyleleakin Primary schools will all become the voting place for locals. All other polling stations will continue as before.

The decision comes after a review of Polling Places during which the public, politicians, community groups and those with expertise in access to premises for disabled people were invited to comment on the existing and proposed changes arrangements for Polling Districts and Polling Places.

Nine local high schools, including Portree, Plockton and Mallaig are being targeted as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

The event runs from March 6-10 and the aim of the  annual campaign is to show that apprenticeships work for businesses, individuals and the economy.

Developing the Young Workforce West Highland are teaming up with Skills Development Scotland, to visit each of the schools at Portree, Plockton, Gairloch, Ullapool, Kilchuimen, Mallaig, Ardnamurchan, Lochaber and Kinlochleven, during the Week, to help spread the word about the benefits of apprenticeships with school pupils.

Police Scotland have confirmed that the white camper van driver they were seeking for matters on Skye is currently being held in custody in the Lancashire area of England.

The 31 year-old man has yet to be charged with any offences on Skye but he is said to have been arrested for other road traffic matters and is also wanted on a recall to prison matter.

Inner Sound bring their version of “The Little Sweep” to Sleat on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 February.

A children’s opera in one act for all the family. It lasts for 1 hour with no interval and this is the first production with the cast drawn entirely from younger members.

Inner Sound is a group of enthusiastic and energetic folk who love getting together to indulge in their passion for singing. Most of our members come from Skye and Lochalsh, although there are a few who travel from as far as Inverness to join in the fun.

 

He might be down under but Skye's Kenny Gillies has got his thoughts firmly set on home.

However, it's not so much that he is missing the place but that he makes sure a charity event to be staged in Portree later this month turns out to be a real success.

Speaking from Australia, Kenny said: "Last October I lost my uncle Duncan Mackinnon to Huntington's disease after suffering from it for a number of years.

"Unfortunately since then two of his three daughters, my younger cousins have been diagnosed with the same condition. Last year I also held a charity ceilidh this time for Crohn's disease on behalf of my sister and brother in law and raised the massive amount of £4600.

He might be down under but Skye's Kenny Gillies has got his thoughts firmly set on home.

However, it's not so much that he is missing the place but that he makes sure a charity event to be staged in Portree later this month turns out to be a real success.

Speaking from Australia, Kenny said: "Last October I lost my uncle Duncan Mackinnon to Huntington's disease after suffering from it for a number of years.

"Unfortunately since then two of his three daughters, my younger cousins have been diagnosed with the same condition. Last year I also held a charity ceilidh this time for Crohn's disease on behalf of my sister and brother in law and raised the massive amount of £4600.

A project to stabilise a section of a rock slope opposite Loch Ness on the A82 approximately three miles north of Drumnadrochit is now underway.

The £226,000 investment from Transport Scotland will involve removing sections of the rock face close to the roadside and installing specialist netting and bolts across the rock to secure and stabilise the slope face.

With the spell of recent good weather giving fantastic daytime views on Skye last night (February 14) also brought a spectacular sight for those in the north of the island.

As part of the muirburn the hills around Borve, outside Portree, were aglow with controlled burning on the heather.

It may not look it but work is now well advanced to give Skye's most famous ferry a major facelift.

 

As part of major restoration proect a variety of improvements are being done on MV Glenachulish including replacing the old wheelhouse with a brand new one before she resumes her service from Glenelg to the island.

 

 

 

The highly anticipated awards ceremony for Scotland’s national Gaelic film competition, FilmG, takes place at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on Friday 17 February. 

Following on from the success of last year, which saw the awards streamed online for the very first time, FilmG fans and followers will once again be able to watch the prize-giving event live online. 

This year, FilmG will also have the welcome addition of backstage videos where winners share their thoughts and excitement with FilmG fans online. Among those chatting with our team backstage will be long time FilmG supporter Danny MacAskill, who’s recent ‘Wee Day Out’ video became an internet sensation.

The ninth year of these awards also sees the return of FilmG’s popular Gaelic Instagram competition with the live stream ensuring that attendees and viewers watching at home, will be able to enter on the night. 

Joanne Harris at last year's festival

 

Visitors to the Skye Book Festival this year are in for a special and unusual treat.

Not only will they hear the story of a 17-year-old Highland boy named Roddy Macrae who committed a triple homicide around 1869.  They will also see and hear the author, hosted on stage by his uncle, himself much celebrated in Scottish literary circles.

Graeme Macrae Burnet, the author of Roddy MacRae’s story, His Bloody Project, was born and brought up in Kilmarnock but his mother, Primrose, was from Lochcarron. Her brother, and Graeme’s uncle, is Alasdair MacRae, now retired as Senior Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Stirling where he taught for over thirty years, and the man who became Stirling’s first Makar in 500 years in 2008.

Sergey at work

A new documentary on BBC ALBA, Riches of the Loom / Trusadh - Beairteas na Beairt, combines a fascinating glimpse into the history of Harris Tweed with an insight into the unique imagination of Sharmanka, the Russian art group, as they create a new artwork using a loom from Harris.

In early 2016 a family of Russian artists, Tatyana Jakorskaya, Eduard Bursedsky and their son Sergey, arrived in Lewis to begin a fascinating artistic journey. Together they are Sharmanka, a group which creates art installations comprised of moving sculptures accompanied by sound, music and light. Roddy Murray, Head of Visual Arts and Literature at An Lanntair, commissioned Sharmanka to create one of their famous kinetic theatre pieces using a disused Hattersley loom, to give their unique artistic take on the story of Harris Tweed.

Roddy Murray said: “Harris Tweed has been the most significant industry in the islands apart from fishing. The Hattersley loom was synonymous with Harris Tweed from the 1920’s onwards. I remember hearing the clicks of the Hattersley looms in so many houses on my way home from school. This was a tradition of the islands but it was also an important source of jobs.”

Glasgow Life and Sleat's Sabhal Mòr Ostaig are embarking on a unique collaborative placement to look at Gaelic Arts from urban and rural contexts. 

This will see Glasgow Life’s Gaelic Arts Producer being based at the Gaelic college in Skye for a period of up to 12 weeks in the early part of 2017. 

The placement takes place as both organisations look afresh at their strategic plans for their Gaelic Arts programmes over the coming years.   Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is preparing to develop an Arts & Cultural strategy while simultaneously Glasgow Life, having recently completed an independent review of their work over the last three years, is carrying out consultation within the arts sector on their new Gaelic Arts Strategy [2017-20] for Glasgow. 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the pledge by Scottish Government to put in place an action plan to address the failures highlighted by the governance review of the Crofting Commission.

“The governance review of the Crofting Commission, instigated by Scottish Government at our request, has exposed many weaknesses in basic operating procedures and in how the organisation copes with extraordinary individual behaviours”, said Russell Smith, Chair of the SCF. “The review has made it clear that a robust Commissioner appraisal process is required, to help identify and deliver ongoing training and skills development. We are particularly keen to see a rationalisation of the roles of Commissioners, establishing when they should be delegating to the executive staff or referring to other bodies that have the required expertise. Commissioners should have a strategic and advisory capacity only. It is clear that they got too involved with executive procedures that they did not have the competence or remit for.

Overnight travellers on the A82 pasing through Tyndrum will face a convey system and traffic lights as road improvement works begin later this month.

Resurfacing to a section of the route just under a mile in length is scheduled to take place overnight from Sunday 19 February for up to two weeks, which will create a smoother and safer journey for motorists.

The works will take place each night from 7pm to 7am, Sunday nights to Friday mornings, for two weeks. No works will take place on Friday or Saturday nights to further limit the impact to motorists.

The Granary - set for changes

 

The Granary cafe restaurant in Portree's Somerled Square is planning a few changes for the season ahead.

They are seeking planning permission  for the erection of a retractable canopy and new stone wall to the front outdoor seating area.

Other applications due to go before Highland Council include:

Following on from their recent Housing Open Day, Glendale Trust is moving on with its aim to have more affordable homes in the area

Now, all those with an interest, are being asked to take part in a short online survey.

They say: "The Trust is looking into providing affordable housing opportunities within Glendale and following on from our recent open day we would like to gauge local support for the project and would be grateful if you could please read the information provided and complete this short survey.

In the spirit of fairness, openness and partnership working NHS Highland is calling on Highland councillors to consider their budget allocation very carefully before making a final decision .

David Alston, chair of NHS Highland, said: “I am disappointed in the proposal to reduce funding to NHS Highland for adult social care. While the Highland Council faces difficult decisions, as do NHS Highland. The reality is that their income - the net revenue budget - will increase in 2017/18 by more than £5m, from £555.731m to £560.911m.

“In these circumstances it would be reasonable to expect, in the spirit of previous years' agreements, that adult social care would have been given the same priority as before and that funding would remain the same.”

The question is: "What does A.C.E. Target Sports founder, Matt Harrison, have planned for this piece of land?"  The answer could win you a chance to try the latest activities he plans to add to the target sports experience.

Based on Struan Road, outside Portree, A.C.E. Target Sports already enables people to experience archery, axe throwing, air rifle shooting and paintballing.  

Made in Portree and proud of it. That's the new and now available Misty Isle Gin.

Last year the Skye Times told how brothers Thomas and Alistair Wilson planned to set up  the island's very first gin distillery in the grounds of the family home in Viewfield Road.

Now they have not only produced their first batch but are already finding plenty of interested customers both on-line and through specialist stockists.

Launching the new gin on their website the brothers say: "It's has been a long time in the making. It’s become something of a passion.

The Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat was called out to rescue a fishing boat yesterday (Sunday 12 February.)

At the request of the UK Coastguard, the lifeboat was launched at 3:14pm to aid the broken down vessel.  The boat contained two people and was drifting towards the southern shore of the Applecross peninsula.

Kyle lifeboat in action

 

Kyle lifeboat was involved in a dramatic rescue to bring a stricken fishing vessel safely back to port.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon (February 12) after the alarm was raised by UK Coastguard.

Before the lifeboat arrived a vessel belonging to marine aquaculture company, Johnson Marines,  the "Viking Atlantic" is believed to have been first on the scene and gave shelter to the stricken vessel until the RNLI team were in position.

Police on Skye put out an appeal on social media over the week-end to try and track down a white Fiat camper van said to have been involved in "incident" near Sconser about 1700 hours on Sunday 12th February 2017.

The vehicle, whose registration possibly starts VX56, may still be in the area and possibly has damage to the rear.

The campervan has a cream coloured cab and the word “Swift” marked above the front windshield together with the word “Lifestyle” and two stripes running down both sides of the vehicle. The vehicle is believed to have damage to the rear.

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen this vehicle or who may have information regarding the driver or occupants. The vehicle may be parked up overnight or travelling in the Inverness or Lochaber area.

Police can be contacted on 101 or through Crimestoppers on 0800555111.”

They’ve woven their magic once more and the latest creation from Roger and Andrea Holden, inspired by a scene from their Glendale home, is there for all to see.

For the owners of Skye Weavers have produced the very first sample of their brand new tweed, the Glendale Check and soon it will be available to buy.

It was back in August of last that the couple announce a competition challenging photographers to produce images that portray the colours of Glendale.  The revealing of their favourite seven images coincided with Wool Week, which celebrates the wonder of wool. 

Highland Council's under threat Countryside Ranger and Access Team has been removed from the cuts hit list.

There was widespread concern when the local authority said it was considering axing the popular service. Now though Councillor Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson has confirmed that it will be retained in the council’s budget proposals for 2017/18.

She says the Council has listened to representations from members of the public and organisations about the authority’s Countryside Ranger Service and Access Team.

Skye's "capital", Portree, finds itself in Scotland's top twenty when it comes to high levels of self-employment.

It was ranked 16th in a study carried out by The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who found that such areas were also likely to have higher standards of wealth.

The FSB used census data to analyse self-employment in 479 towns.

It has now released interactive maps detailing differences in self-employment levels across Scotland which can be seen by following the SkyeTimes link.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "The great differences we see in levels of self-employment across Scotland tell a story about the country we live in.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has asked the Crofting Commission to take urgent action to improve performance in crucial areas.

 A full action plan including prioritising work to deliver the necessary improvements in the way regulatory cases and Board proceedings are managed will be delivered in response to the findings of the Governance Review.

 The Crofting Commission Governance Review highlighted a range of areas that need urgent action including:
•Governance standards, procedures and other arrangements, at both executive and non-executive levels, to underpin effective decision-making, particularly in relation to the Bohuntin, Upper Coll and Mangersta Common Grazings cases [Note: The review did not look at the regulatory decisions themselves]
•Arrangements for handling conflicts of interest
•Ensuring that capacity building and development needs of Board members are met and that the necessary training is provided. 

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This review highlights notable and worrying failures in the governance of the crofting commission which must be improved immediately. That is why I have asked the new Chief Executive to urgently prepare an action plan to take this forward.”

A three percent Council Tax rise and job losses are among some of the measures being considered as Highland Council seeks to balance its books.

The Council’s budget gap for 2017/18, the difference between required expenditure and income, is £20.344m. Budget proposals include increasing the rates to generate additional income of £3.510m. Together with savings agreed by Council in December 2014 and February 2016, a budget gap of £10.410m remains.

The Administration Budget Group have been working with officers to develop new proposals to bridge the remaining budget gap.

An estimated 66.6 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) posts will be deleted in order to deliver these proposals along with 55.2 FTE posts associated with the savings from previous years.

Sam

Local fitness guru Sam Crowe has taken the first steps to help others improve her running.

From next month she is set to start up "The Running School" which, in her own words, is for "anyone who wants to get better at running."

The sessions, to be held at Skeabost, are designed to show fun ways you can improve your pace on hills and the flat. Helping you learn how to fuel your training, showing you how to make your body injury supportive of your running and cut your injury risk

Anti-bird flu measures will continue after the end of the month but government officials have announced some easing of restrictions.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing  has confirmed that the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone for all poultry and captive birds will remain in force until the end of April.

However, while the current Prevention Zone remains in place until 28 February, the requirements of the zone will be amended after that point, meaning that keepers will have the option of letting their birds outside, provided that they put in place enhanced biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds.

Long finned pilot whale similar to those that stranded on Skye

 

The tragic beaching of a pod of whales on Skye has been used to help scientists learn how underwater synthetic noises affect marine life.

Staff from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme worked with scientist Maria Morell to study the inner ears of dead whales, including long finned pilot whales that died in a mass stranding on Skye.

Twenty-two whales got into difficulties in shallow water on Brogaig Beach in June 2015.  Despite efforts from volunteers and coastguard personnel, seven of the animals died or had to be euthanized - including a female and her unborn calf.  

Rallying call ignored

Hopes of getting greater community involvement at Edinbane Hall were dashed at its AGM with only five local people turning up and three of those were current members standing down.

Under a “Your Village needs you” rallying call organisers had hoped to attract new blood and put the hall once more right at the heart of the locality.

A spokesperson said: “We really need more people to come and join our hall committee in order for it to continue to run as successfully as it has been in the past."

 

Police have confirmed that the bus vandalised at the Fairy Pools was in fact transporting youngsters taking part in a leadership course.

The incident happened on Monday afternoon (Feb 06) and the cost of the damage, to windows, is thought to run into hundreds of pounds.

Years of planning, preparation and building have culminated in the very first event being staged at Sleat's newest community hall, An Crùbh.

Armadale based Gokul Yoga Skye made history as they staged their inaugural class in the new facility with many more expected to follow.

Great interest from Katharine Worsley from Great Days Travel Group at the launch of CalMac’s Travel Trade Product Planner 2018 with Ian Fox


While Skye's visitor attractions wait to find out how the island's Mallaig -Armadale ferry service operates this year after problems caused in 2016, Calmac is already planning for the future.

After a reports of a significant drop in organised coach tours particuarly to south Skye caused by last summer's far from reliable ferry service, the company are going out of their way to encourage similar visits to the island with the launch of their Travel Trade Product Planner...for 2018!.

According to Calmac the popular planner has been developed over the years and has been widely praised by the travel trade industry as an invaluable and creative reference tool – in some cases better helping them to understand the geography of the area, together with hints and tips about what to see and where to go.

Following on from their planning application to Highland Council Portree and Braes Community Trust are seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified local contractors who wish to provide quotations for the installation of temporary public toilets at Portree Pier.

The works will involve siting the unit, installation of pipeworks, plumbing and electricity. Contractors may submit prices for all the works or for individual trades. It is expected that the facilities will be in place in time for Summer season 2017.

Shinty to be captured in art

 

To some shinty is an art form in its own right but now Skye Camanachd, its players, traditions and culture are to be captured on canvas as part of a celebration of the sport.

For the Camanachd Association and Highland Print Studio have announced that four shinty clubs, including Skye Camanachd, have been selected to take part in a joint project which will see an artist working with each club over the next 18 months to create a series of prints celebrating the contemporary culture and heritage of Scotland’s iconic indigenous sport of shinty.

The successful clubs are Beauly, Fort William, Newtonmore and Skye Camanachd. Each artist will work with their selected shinty club and with the help of players, fans and volunteers, will learn about the club, past and present, and produce artworks that will become a visual legacy for the club.

The new stills on Raasay


The opening of Raasay’s new distillery has moved even closer with the arrival of its bespoke stills from Tuscany.

R&B Distillers, the company behind the new facility, are still expecting the distillery, which will have an adjoining visitor centre, have set themselves an April deadline to begin distilling and hope to be fully operational by this summer.

Meanwhile they have also announced the second batch of their lightly peated single malt whisky, Raasay While We Wait which, in its own way, will pay tribute to one of the island’s most famous characters, Calum Macleod.

The Crofting Commission today welcomed the announcement from the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, of the appointment of James Scott as a Commissioner of the Crofting Commission from 1 February 2017.

Bill Barron, Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission, said: “I would like to welcome James to the Commission and we look forward to working with him.  James’s expertise in conservation and interest in making crofting attractive and accessible to new and young entrants will be extremely valuable to the Board.

Staffin slipway

 

Parts of Staffin’s precious past have been preserved thanks to the involvement of local native Gaelic speakers.

Recordings of several locals recollecting changing times in the north of Skye have now joined a national archive which aims to ensure that generations to come will be able to discover more about not just historic events but the day to day lives of those who came before them.

Staffin Community Trust/Urras an Taobh Sear teamed up with Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o’ Riches to capture the views, memories and thoughts of older members of the community in autumn last year. The result was a range of subjects being discussed in the lively oral recordings which are now available on the SCT’s local history section.

Motorists are being advised that there will be temporary road closures In Inverness on the morning of Saturday 18 February for public safety during the opening ceremony of the Snowman Rally.

The following roads will be closed between 7.30am and 12noon:

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) will hold its 2017 Annual Gathering, with the theme ‘Crofting's Place in Europe’.

The event, to be staged at Applecross on March 10 and 11, aims to set a crofting agenda for the upcoming Brexit negotiations and a post-Brexit agricultural policy that is fit for crofting.

“The importance of the topic is reflected in the attendance of two members of the Scottish Government Cabinet,” said Russell Smith, chair of the SCF. “On Friday the Cabinet Secretary responsible for crofting, Mr Fergus Ewing MSP, will officially open the gathering with an address placing crofting in the context of Scotland’s rural development. On Saturday Dr Michael Russell MSP, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, will open the day and the session on generating priorities for the Brexit agenda.

ATLAS Arts is inviting applications from artists interested in researching and developing a contemporary memorial to acknowledge the crofters’ troubles in Staffin in the 1880s.

The proposals, being worked up in partnership with Staffin Community Trust (Urras An Taobh Searwill ),form a series of temporary pilot commissions that contribute to an awareness and understanding in the local community of the potential positive impacts and benefits that a commissioned public artwork/contemporary memorial can have.

It is seen as a unique opportunity for artists – local, national and international, to develop ideas for a context-specific artwork.

Atlas Arts say: "We are seeking artists who will demonstrate imagination and sensitivity in challenging perceptions of what a contemporary memorial to a historical event can be."


Temporary traffic lights are to be installed at the A9's Slochd Summit bringing short, single file traffic sections for a seven week period.

The Summit is one of the highest points on the trunk road at 401m (1,315ft) above sea level and is one of 12 sections of the A9 being upgraded from single to dual carriageway between Inverness and Perth. The work gets underway on Monday 13 February.

Formal planning permission is being sought which will see the ground floor of Portree's Somerled House  converted into a restaurant together with the erection of side and rear extension, replacement of ground floor windows & doors, installation of gas tanks, access ramp and repainting of building. 
       

Meanwhile on land at The Pier, Quay Street, Portree temporary five year permission is requested for the installation of a pre-fabricated two cubicle unisex public toilets. The application is being made by Portree and Braes Community Council.
     

Other applications are as follows:

Only 13 brave souls ignored the horrible weather conditions to tackle the tough Glenbrittle 10 mile trail race.

As if the route was not hard enough several of the runners also ended up staying out longer than intended after taking a wrong turn and adding around another three miles to their outing.

Patricia at her kiln


Two Sleat artists and a third from Plockton are off to the States to show off their skills.

Aird based Heather McDermott, reknowned for her jewellery, together with potter Patricia Shone of Ardvasar and Gilly Langton, whose jewellery business is based in Plockton, leave later this month to exhibit in the prestigious American Craft Show in Baltimore.

Police are searching for a distintive Black "Hype" bike with red stickers which was stolen from Lochside, Dunvegan earlier this month.

 As they say they "wheelly want to reunite the owner" with it. Any information? Call 101.

 

 

 

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre are running another course on ‘Researching Your World War 1 Ancestors’ as part of High Life Highland’s You Time programme. 

The classes will be held at 10:30-12:30 on Wednesday 22 February and Wednesday 1 March at the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre in Portree.

ORGANIC Sea Harvest, the company which is planning to build four new fish farms at sites off Staffin and Kilmaluag, is to consult with the local community.

On Friday 10 February, from 9am-9pm, a public drop in session is to be staged in Staffin Community Hall. The aim is to allow the company to provide more information about its site plan and overall development.

Organic Sea Harvest wants to grow salmon organically in sites off Tote and Lealt and then process them, including labelling, at a building on a land site in the Staffin area. This could create significant permanent employment for the area.

Highland Council's Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie, has welcomed the news that as a result of the budget deal agreed by Scottish Government, there will be a reduced cut to local authorities

He said: “The deal effectively reduces our budget gap from £26 million to £20 million. This has meant that we have been able to reconsider some of the severe cuts to services and third sector groups which were necessary before.

“We have looked carefully at all the savings and have done our best to reduce savings where we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. This means that we can significantly reduce the savings which were proposed for Childcare and Early Learning. Also, some of the cuts to the £4 million funding which goes to third sector groups which provide valuable children’s services, such as Action for Children and Barnardos, will now not be taken.

If you a woman who wants to know how to bounce back then this workshop is for you.

Representatives from the bird industry this week met Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing to discuss the on-going response to the heightened risk of Avian Influenza.

The current Prevention Zone, which is in place until 28 February 2017, applies to all poultry and captive birds in Scotland, and requires keepers to continue to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds. There is also a GB-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings. While there have been no cases confirmed in captive birds in Scotland, there have been several cases in England and Wales.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Mr Ewing discussed the current risk of Avian Influenza and options beyond 28 February, including the enforcement of biosecurity measures, with representatives of NFUS, free range egg producers, the British Retail Consortium and the Gamebird and Wildlife Conservation Trust.


Young Skye artists are being urged to make their mark and maybe win a cash prize.

The Highland Child Protection Committee (CPC) is a group of people who work together to try and make sure that every child in Highland is safe. This includes the Police, Social Work, Health and Education along with partners who work in our local communities.

Now they are looking for a new logo that helps people understand what the Child Protection Committee does and have set out to find a new logo which they wanted designed by a young person and that other young people would relate to. The winning entry will receive a £50 voucher and a prize for their school or youth group.

The timing of the funeral service for the late Rev Dr Iain D. Campbell has been announced in Stornoway by undertakers Archibald Macrae.

It will take place from the Free Church in Kenneth Street, Stornoway on Friday (February 3) at 2pm for interment in Sandwick Cemetery.

The service will start at 1.15pm and there will be a Thursday evening service, also in the Free Church, Kenneth Street, starting at 9pm.

Collections will be taken at both services in aid of the Samaritans.

A former moderator of the Free Church General Assembly who was originally ordained on Skye has died.

The Reverend Dr Iain D Campbell, who was 53, grew up in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, and studied at the University of Glasgow.

He was ordained on Skye in 1988 and spent seven years on the island before returning to Lewis.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) welcomed the high number of nominations for the Crofting Commission elections citing it as a very positive sign for crofting.

“The number of people willing to stand as candidates for the forthcoming Crofting Commission elections is very heartening,” said Russell Smith, Chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation. It shows that crofters care about the survival of crofting and the Crofting Commission. There is a resilience within the crofting community and the will to move on.

"On the closing of the nominations last Friday, a total of 16 candidates have stood for election. There are 3 contesting East Highlands, 5 contesting South West Highlands, 4 contesting West Highlands - which includes Skye&Lochalsh - and 2 contesting the Western Isles. Caithness & Orkney and Shetland put up one candidate each so there will be no need to hold elections in those constituencies.

Highland Council and Play Highland are urging school groups, charities and community organisations to apply for a £1,000 Play Award before the 17 February deadline.

The Council, in association with Play Highland, are offering the award to the group, organisation or community that has done the most to promote play. The annual award is presented by the Play Improvement Group, which works to promote self-directed free play with daily access to the outdoors.

First of all they recalled Santa now even before Easter has arrived the Co-op want shoppers to bring their Chocolate Bunnies back.

However, as with their edible Father Christmas the recall has a serious side after alleged product tampering.

Site created by Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd © 2017