A typical day's news bulletin will have 3 or 4 stories of local relevance plus local sporting fixtures/results.

Gairloch Museum has been shortlisted for an award

Gairloch Heritage Museum has been shortlisted for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ inaugural Social Impact Awards. The awards aim to showcase world-class examples of how the built environment can have a direct positive social and environmental impact on society.

The shortlist comprises developments that the judges regard as pioneering initiatives across nine award categories, showcasing excellence in regenerating, enhancing and transforming the built environment. Gairloch Heritage Museum has been shortlisted in two categories, Leisure and Heritage. The final winners will be announced at an event in Edinburgh on April 23rd.

Ferry operating statistics are now available online

Ferry operator CalMac has launched what it claims is the UK's first online tool giving public access to carrying data for individual ferry routes. The simple online system allows anyone to select a time period, route and traffic type to generate a report with full statistics. The data is based on the company's audited statistics, and is displayed in a table that can be viewed on screen or printed.

Current data for the Ullapool to Stornoway route show that it carried 10,529 passengers in January this year, with 4,184 cars, 1,007 commercial vehicles and just four coaches. CalMac’s managing director Robbie Drummond says the company is the first to offer this level of transparency across all routes.

Public toilets on the A832 are to be transferred to community ownership

Councillors on the Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee have approved a community asset transfer request from the Community Out West Trust to take ownership of the Kinlochewe public toilets and adjoining picnic area with parking space for about ten cars. Following the Council’s closure of a number of public toilets in 2018, the Trust took on year-round operation of the toilets under licence from the council, but then sought full ownership to improve local community amenity and to develop tourist facilities.

Councillor Alan Henderson, Chair of the Communities & Place Committee said that the application was strong in its evidence on the proposed benefits to the local community and committee members were very happy to support the application. He added that he was really pleased to hear that other community groups are looking to the example being offered by Community Out West running their local public toilets, and it was also good to see that some community councils are getting involved and showing an interest in such developments. Among these are Gairloch Community Council’s development company’s plans for new public toilets and other amenities at Gairloch Beach car park.

Plans for another tall radio pole in Gairloch have been withdrawn

Radio network operator Arqiva applied last month for planning consent to install a 12-metre tall pole with radio antennas on top at the corner of Pier Road Gairloch and the A832 in Gairloch for connection to smart meters in the locality. The application received more than a dozen public representations objecting to the proposal with none in support, plus objections from two statutory consultees.

Highland Council’s area planning manager Daffyd Jones wrote yesterday to all objectors advising them that Arqiva had withdrawn the application, and that the planning case has been closed. However, Mr Jones also advised that if a similar proposal were submitted in future any continuing concerns would have to be resubmitted as they could not be transferred from the abandoned application.

Council funding cuts could mean increased leisure service charges

Highland Council budget proposals suggest that Highlife Highland, the ‘arms length’ body that operates leisure services, adult learning and libraries, should be asked to plan for a future cut of just over a million pounds from its £16.2 million-pound budget. As well as cutting its costs through efficiency savings, the proposal could mean the organization making a substantial increase in the price of the Highlife Highland membership card in order to meet such a budget reduction. It’s estimated that a 5 per cent increase in card charges would bring in around £400,000 of extra income towards meeting the proposed budget cuts. Other areas thought likely to be targeted are increases in catering and event charges, and cuts to mobile library and adult learning services.

A preferred option has emerged for the Stromeferry bypass

Highland Council has announced its plan for a solution to A890 Stromeferry bypass rockfalls; It proposes a new 14km/ 9mile detour which would bypass the notoriously unstable troublespot where rock falls have been an issue ever since the road opened in 1970 causing significant disruption to road users. In recent years, a series of cliff stabilisation works and ongoing exploration of alternative routes, have raised hopes that a more permanent solution can be found. The proposed new section of road would deviate from the current A890 and follow the route of a forestry track up through Glen Udalain before descending through Glen Attadale and rejoining the current A890 at Attadale. No timeframe for the works has been announced and the local authority has confirmed that "funding and programme still remains an issue for the delivery of any option". A consultation has opened with various stakeholders and meetings are planned with local communities to gather comment and opinion. Details will be made available on Highland Council’s web page.

A local fundraising event was a great success last week

The first Highland Hospice Coffee Morning of 2020 took place last week. Promoted by the Loch Ewe Area Group (LEAG) with Michael and Connie, the Artists formerly known as Bridge Cottage Café, the event raised just under £1,750 pounds for the Highland Hospice. The organisers commented that the weather calmed down on the day of the event and the community, again, came out in numbers to give their support. They thanked those involved with preparation and baking for the event and everyone who made the event such a success. In 2019, the LEAG Fundraisers raised a total of £17,300 for Highland Hospice and are looking to build on that sum in 2020.

A hillwalker died in a fall on the Torridons during the week

A 37-year-old man is understood to have been on a summit of Liathach on Thursday when he had a fatal fall. Police say the alarm was raised at 16:25, and Torridon Mountain Rescue Team assisted at the scene.

The nursery extension to Ullapool Primary School has been officially opened

Highland Council’s Area Care and Learning Manager, Norma Young, attended an official opening day at the school yesterday. The nursery extension includes two new classrooms, one for English medium with a capacity of 15 and the other for Gaelic medium with a capacity of 30. There is also a new reception area, a work area for staff, a new staff room, and a new Additional Support Needs room.

Three new secure outdoor play areas have also been created, with free access from the classrooms, plus a shared play park. The £1 million-pound project’s construction work took six months to complete. Chairman of the Highland Council Education Committee, Councillor John Finlayson, said he was sure everyone in the area will be happy to see the completion of the project, which will be of great benefit to the community. Expansion work is planned for Gairloch Primary this summer to accommodate additional early years provision.

The norovirus-hit ward at Raigmore will remain closed over the weekend

Ward 5C at Raigmore Hospital halted new admissions on Wednesday after an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomit among its patients, and will remain closed over the weekend after an increase in the number of patients suffering with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. The hospital continues to appeal to members of the public that if they, or anyone they live with, has had symptoms in the preceding 48 hours they should refrain from attending any hospital or care home.

Ferry services continue to be disrupted by the weather

The 7 o’clock Stornoway to Ullapool ferry departed early at 6 o’clock this morning to cross before anticipated rough seas, but the 10.30 departing Ullapool and 14.30 departing Stornoway are cancelled due to the adverse weather. This evening's 18.30 scheduled departure from Ullapool is liable to delay or cancellation.