Following recent media coverage, Chair of the Isle of Skye & Raasay Committee, John Gordon has provided the following statement on behalf of the 4 Elected Members:

“I would like to clarify that it is not the principle of a project to develop facilities at the Storr site or reluctance by Highland Council to transfer Assets under the Community Empowerment Act which led to the refusal of the Asset Transfer Request.

"The Council’s Asset Management Board, having used the guidance on the legislation, identified there were key elements relating to the conditions set by the Staffin Community Trust, and of the specific area of land requested, that resulted in the decision to refuse.

"This is now subject to a formal review as requested by the Staffin Community Trust and as such would not be appropriate for the Elected Members to publicly comment on at this point.

“However, Members can confirm that a meeting took place on the 3rd October between Highland Council officers and representatives of Staffin Community Trust and that a further meeting has been scheduled to meet with the Trust’s Board at the end of October.

"An invitation has also been extended to Kate Forbes MSP to meet with her to provide more information on the decision that was made.”

The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism is set to visit the Isle of Skye next month, after accepting an invitation to visit the island by the constituency MSP Kate Forbes.

On Friday 3 November Fiona Hyslop will be the keynote speaker at the second of a series of meetings organised by Ms Forbes as part of an ongoing process to identify and find solutions to the pressures on Skye caused by increased tourism.

It is understood that the Cabinet Secretary will also take questions from the floor, giving Skye residents and businesses the opportunity to raise concerns directly.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “I am delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism to Skye.

“I believe that the tourism industry has even greater potential for the Skye economy, so long as the benefits are distributed fairly and widely.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, has hailed a new £6m Scottish Government fund that aims to ease pressure on creaking infrastructure following the recent tourism boom across the Highlands.

The fund, which is expected to launch next year, is set to be announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP conference in Glasgow today (Tuesday 10 October).

It is understood that the money could assist projects seeking to improve parking, camping facilities, recycling points, roads and footpath access.

Funding will be administered by public sector partners working with councils, communities and the industry to identify projects in need of support.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "Nicola Sturgeon's commitment to fund tourism infrastructure projects is spectacularly good news for Skye.

"It comes off the back of a number of conversations I've had with the Scottish Government since early summer about how we properly fund improvements to parking, campervan parks and basic amenities on the Isle of Skye.

"The First Minister's answer, by earmarking £6 million to be spent in conjunction with communities, is precisely what is required to prepare Skye and the west coast for next summer."

A local police Twitter account has been named as a finalist in the Police Twitter Awards.

The @LochabSkyePol Twitter feed covering the Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber areas of the West Highlands is familiar to locals and visitors for their informative updates and use of humour.

They have been nominated in Category 1 - Laws Communication as one of the Best Tweeting Corporate Police Accounts, along with @ShrewsburyCops and @JerseyPolice.  

 

Trading Standards are looking for young people to take part in test purchasing exercises.

Teenagers aged from 16 to 17 years old would be used to help find out which shops are breaking the law by selling age restricted products to young people under 18.

If you are 16 or 17 years old and your parent or guardian would be happy for you to get involved with this, expenses would be paid and refreshments provided.

Further information on test purchasing and a test purchasing application form can be found at: www.highland.gov.uk/agerestrictedsales or phone 01463 228700



A graduate who completed an honours degree despite suffering from a serious medical condition has been named as the University of the Highlands and Islands' Student of the Year 2017.

Hannah McDiarmid, aged 22, achieved a BA (Hons) in Gaelic language and culture while managing cystic fibrosis - a chronic, life limiting condition which affects the lungs and the digestive systems.

Enrolled as a distance-learning student with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, she completed her degree from her hometown of Torvaig, Portree, on the Isle of Skye.

Hannah was nominated for the award by her programme leader, Mark Wringe. He explained: "As a programme leader and lecturer for some of Hannah's modules, I only saw a capable student who consistently turned in work on time, who always prepared for classes and who achieved good results. She participated in class discussions and answered questions thoughtfully, but didn't draw attention to herself. She just got on with things.

"When she first appeared on a video link from a hospital bed, she carried on in such a matter of fact, nothing to remark on way, I wished her well and didn't ask questions. I took her lead in carrying on as normal, not feeling I should expect her to volunteer information. I have only recently gained an idea of what it must have taken for Hannah to have such a normal, uninterrupted student journey. My respect for her wish to achieve her goal on the same basis as anyone else is enormous. It's ironic that her reliable, regular performance was, in fact, anything but normal."

Lesley Blaikie, a cystic fibrosis nurse specialist with NHS Highlands, is one of the medical team who cares for Hannah. She said: "As an experienced nurse, I have never come across such an inspirational young lady. Despite living a constant battle with severe fatigue and ill health, Hannah always put her study first. Even being admitted to hospital didn't deter her. She would lay books on her bed and have her laptop to hand for dial in sessions. This type of determination did not go unrecognised by medical staff. It has been humbling for us all to see how this young lady has not let her ill health define who she is."

Speaking about her award, Hannah said: "I chose to study Gaelic because I have an interest in languages and, after learning a bit in school, I wanted to carry on and learn more about the culture as well. It's an honour to receive this award, especially as I wasn't brought up speaking Gaelic, and I will always be very thankful to everyone at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, at home and from the cystic fibrosis team for their kind support and encouragement, which has meant so much to me."

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: "Hannah was unanimously selected as our student of the year by all representatives of our judging panel. Her determination and dedication in the face of challenging personal circumstances has been exemplary, showing what can be achieved when you set your mind to it. I am delighted that Hannah has gained an honours degree in a subject she feels passionate about and I wish her every success for the future."

Hannah received a certificate and a cheque for £200 at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI graduation ceremony on Friday 6 October. Now she has completed her academic studies, she hopes to continue to learn about Gaelic and practise it as much as possible.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is running a campaign to collect views on the Scottish bus services.

CAS stated: "Public transport is a priority for the Scottish government with a new transport bill being introduced in 2018."

Those who wish to share their views have until October 22 to do so.

More information can be found here.

Rubha Phoil is more than just the location of a campsite - it's home to a walk way, a permaculture and a vision for the future

Owned by Ludwig Appeltans (pictured below), Earth Ways at Rubha Phoil is based in Armadale, close to the ferry.  

An open day was held today (Saturday 7 October) to allow members of the public to come along and learn more about the young permaculture community.

Parents of 2-5 year olds in the Highlands are encouraged to ensure their children get flu vaccination.

GP practices across the NHS Highland area are providing the free nasal flu vaccine in a bid to ensure young children are protected. Primary school children will receive their vaccination at school.

By reducing transmission of the virus, particularly to at-risk groups like the elderly, the child flu vaccination programme is expected to eventually prevent an estimated additional 200 deaths per year, and 1,100 hospitalisations from flu.

Lorraine McKee, flu immunisation coordinator for NHS Highland, said: “It’s very important that children between the ages of two and five receive the nasal flu vaccine this winter.

“The vaccine is the best defence against flu and not only helps to help protect your children, but also helps to reduce the spread of the virus amongst others.

“Getting the vaccine itself only takes a few minutes; it’s painless and will provide protection for up to a year.”

Portree Harbour now boasts a two-cubicle toilet block.

Portree and Braes Community Trust stated: "It's taken longer than expected, but at last our two cubicle toilet opened at Portree Harbour last week.

"The funding for the toilet came from LEADER, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council Ward Discretionary Fund and Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association.  There was also community contributions from Sea Breezes Restaurant, Brigadoon Boat Trips, Rosedale Hotel, Pier Hotel, Lowerdeck Restaurant and Portree and Braes Community Trust.

"A short term agreement is in place with the Highland Council, who will clean the units on a daily basis.  It's hoped that with further negotiations a long term plan can be put in place.

"We learnt recently that cruise liner bookings are going to rise by 20% next year in Scotland.  It’s unclear if these figures will translate to Portree, or if our harbour has that capacity.  At least for now we've made a start in improving facilities in this busy area of the village.

"Thanks to contractors Craik & Macrae, Jans and Caberfeidh Electrics.

"Also a special mention to Trust member Roger Liley who has worked tirelessly on this project for a considerable amount of time. Without his dedication and perseverance this unit would not be in place today."