Let the kids visit Granny, says Isles MP

  • Home Office passport failings must be resolved quickly

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is maintaining pressure on the Home Office to resolve a passport renewal issue for a 6-year-old island girl whose parents are EU Nationals.

Owing to Home Office issues, the 6-year-old girl is being refused a passport renewal and requires to register as a British citizen. 

Mr MacNeil said:

“The parents – one an NHS Worker, have been living and working in Scotland for 13 years and it is incredible that people paying their taxes and contributing to society are finding that they cannot travel with their children to visit granny during the school holidays in July.

“The parents have been left with no other option but to register their 6-year-old girl as a British citizen before a passport will be issued. 

“The Home Office must treat this registration as a priority and I am continuing to maintain pressure on them to sort this issue quickly and help this family visit their Granny, only the most hard-hearted would get in the way of that.”

ENDS

MP invites Home Secretary to Isles to see economic emergency facing fishing industry

  • Tories must stop hammering fishing – Home Office must act or pay compensation

Isles MP Angus MacNeil has invited Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP to visit the Islands to see for himself the ‘economic emergency’ facing the fishing industry due to crew shortages.

With backing from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and colleagues in the Scottish Government, Mr MacNeil is calling on Mr Javid to urgently intervene and to support skippers by allowing them to source non-EEA labour – as he has done for the UK horticultural industry.

Mr MacNeil said: “We must be in no doubt that we are facing an economic emergency.

“But it can be resolved quickly and easily by the Home Office if they want to support the industry.

“I am being contacted regularly by skippers who are tying up boats in the harbour because they cannot get a crew together.

“Work Visas for non-EEA workers have been given in farming, they have also been given to offshore wind construction even though they didn’t seem to want them; but fishing, that has shouted the longest and the loudest has been ignored. 

“Any economic damage the Home Office causes to fishing boats, fish processing and communities should result in the UK Government paying compensation if they will not lift the pen and sort this issue now. 

“If Sajid Javid wants to be Prime Minster he must show he can lead and take the correct decisions. 

“I have spoken to seven Immigration Ministers on this issue over the past few years and enough is enough.”

Roddie Mackay, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “For us in the Western Isles, these are vital jobs in small, economically fragile communities.

“To have fishing curtailed will do untold, and potentially irreversible damage, and it is vital that we get a speedy and positive decision from the UK government.

“A political fix is required and is do-able so we urge the Home Secretary to protect a key industry which is crucial across our in country and particularly in these islands.”

Photo by Angela Quail.

MP urges parents to have children vaccinated against serious diseases

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is urging island parents to ensure their children receive lifesaving vaccinations.

Vaccinations such as the MMR are the biggest health successes of the last century and are the only way to protect your child against some serious diseases.

Mr MacNeil asked NHS Western Isles for statistics on the uptake of the MMR vaccine locally with reports of reduced uptake worldwide.

He said: “I was pleased to hear from NHS Western Isles that uptake of the MMR first dose in the Western Isles is back above the target of 95% despite a drop in uptake in 2017.

“Overall 98.1% of Western Isles children have received at least one MMR vaccination by the age of 6, compared to 96.3% for Scotland.

“The development of effective vaccines has led to a huge decrease in childhood deaths and I would urge parents to help maintain high levels of uptake by ensuring children receive the vaccine.”

When your child is immunised they’re helping to protect the health of the whole community.

When enough people are immunised against an infection, it’s more difficult for it to be spread to those who are not immunised. This is called ‘herd immunity’ or ‘population protection’.

This is important because children with some severe medical conditions and allergies can’t have certain vaccines.

http://www.healthscotland.com/documents/6016.aspx

MP notes 75th anniversary of Catalina air crash

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons to mark the 75th anniversary of the Catalina Air crash on Vatersay.

The RAF plane crashed at Heisheaval Beag on Vatersay on the night of May 12th 1944 with the loss of three lives.

The plane took off from Oban for a training exercise with nine crew on board and were due to fly over the nearby point of Barra Head.

The wreckage of the plane remains scattered at the site and a memorial stands to those who died and survived the accident.

Mr MacNeil’s EDM is entitled ‘Remembering the Catalina 75th Anniversary’ and reads:

“That this House notes the 75th anniversary of The Catalina aircraft tragedy of 12 May 1944 which set off from Oban on a training exercise set for Barra Head but tragically crashed near the summit of Heisheaval Beag on the Island of Vatersay; remembers the bravery and sacrifice of the Catalina crews which hunted U-boats off the coast to save the lives of merchant seamen bringing food to nations under rations; marks the anniversary of the deaths of Flight Sergeant David Clyne, Sergeant Fred Basset and rigger Sergeant Patrick Hines; recalls the courage of the other six crew members on board who survived while sadly losing their colleagues; and also notes in civilian life Dennistoun born Flight Sergeant David Clyne had a successful football career by playing for Queens Park FC and being twice capped at Scottish amateur level.”

https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52904/remembering-the-vatersay-catalina-75th-anniversary

Isles MP quizzes Environment Secretary on Interconnector

Speaking in today’s Climate Change debate in the House of Commons, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil asked Environment Secretary Michael Gove MP to push Ofgem to approve a 600MW interconnector for the Western Isles.

Mr MacNeil said: “A major help in reducing the UK’s Carbon footprint is the inclusion of a 600MW interconnector to the mainland – from the best wind resource in Europe.

“At the moment Ofgem are talking about a 450MW link, for just 4p more for the billpayer, we could do a lot more.

“Will he stamp on Ofgem and when they talk about concerns for the consumer, will they talk about concerns for the consumer’s environment and not a tawdry 4p on people’s bill.”

Mr Gove said it was a ‘fair point well made’ although adding it was a decision for Ofgem.

Mr MacNeil was contacted by many constituents asking him to take part in today’s Opposition Day Climate Change debate.

MP calls for more access to lifeline air services for local community

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government is again tendering for the PSO route from Barra to Glasgow but is asking for more action to ensure the community can access lifeline flights at short notice.

Mr MacNeil said: “It is ironic that on the day of this announcement, there were no seats available between Glasgow and Barra for the next fortnight.

“This is impacting on the local community and businesses, both local and off island, who are having to deal with shorter windows of need and find that bookings are taken by tourists who have booked long in advance, sometimes just doing day returns.”

He added: “I would ask Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport to accept that all the seats have booking windows typically of 9-12 months but that they do need to keep some seats with shorter booking windows of 2-4 weeks for the summer period.

“During the summer, the lifeline air service is very often closed to islanders because of the length of booking windows.”

The Invitation To Tender for the contract, which will run for four years from 25 October 2019 includes new measures which will see little used services from Barra and Tiree removed from schedules to create a bank of rotations which can be deployed at the discretion of local communities.

A trial on the Barra service, which sees seats reserved for passengers travelling for medical purposes, will also be formalised in the new contract.

Isles Interconnector crucial in Climate Emergency

Approval of a 600MW interconnector to maximise renewables potential in the Western Isles is vital in the face of the climate emergency facing us all, says SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil says UK Government agency Ofgem must ‘do the right thing’ to support Scotland’s vision for action on climate change, as outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP Conference at the weekend.

Mr MacNeil said: “Nicola Sturgeon has declared a climate emergency.

“One of the best ways to combat climate change is clean energy and in the Hebrides we have the best wind resource in Europe.

“All that is holding us back is the go-ahead from Ofgem for a 600MW interconnector.  We need an interconnector which is of a size that will allow development to take place.

“Ofgem complain the 600MW option would cost bill payers 4p more per year than the 450MW option. In light of a climate emergency, this is a very small price to pay.

Ofgem shouldn’t be standing in the way.

“Wind energy will replace the use of fossil fuels and add to a green clean future.”

Mr MacNeil has responded to the consultation currently being held by Ofgem who will make their decision on the Final Needs Case for the Western Isles link this summer.

Mr MacNeil also pointed out several significant announcements made by the First Minister which will benefit many of his constituents:

These include:

  • A new £150m scheme to assist first time buyers. First-time buyers will be offered loans of up to £25,000 to help them pay the deposits on their first properties. Buyers will be required to fund a minimum of 5% of the deposits in exchange. This scheme will open later this year.

 Additional Best Start grants for low income families – £250 when their child starts nursery and the same again when they start school. Applications are now open https://www.gov.scot/policies/social-security/best-start-grant/

MP has tunnel vision for the Islands

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has written to Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP to suggest the Scottish Government visit the Faroe Islands to see the new 11.2 km subsea tunnel.

Mr MacNeil has hailed the success of the Faroes in creating a highly advanced transportation infrastructure which includes 17 land tunnels and two subsea tunnels with another almost complete and construction on a further tunnel due to start soon.

The system, which will include the world’s first subsea roundabout, will virtually eradicate the need for ferry services.

Mr MacNeil said: “The transport network in the Faroes is the kind of system we should aspire to follow in the Scottish islands.

“Infrastructure of this kind would have huge economic and social benefits to all parts of the islands and would remove travel disruption due to weather conditions or issues associated with capacity.”

He has suggested to Transport Minister Michael Matheson that Transport Scotland should visit the nearly complete Faroese tunnel and learn from the Faroese experience of creating a seamless travel system.

The new Faroes tunnel will shorten the travel distance from the capital of Tórshavn to Runavík/Strendur from 55 kilometres to 17 kilometres. The 64 minute drive will be shortened to 16 minutes. The drive from Tórshavn to Klaksvík will be shortened from 68 minutes to 36 minutes.

The tunnel will connect both sides of the bay of Skálafjørður using two tunnels that connect to a roundabout under the seabed at mid-bay. The tunnel will be 2.2 kilometers long from the main road at Rókini in Saltnes to the roundabout, and the distance from Sjógv at Strendur to the roundabout will be 1.7 kilometers.

The main tunnel from Tórshavn to the roundabout will be 7.5 kilometers and will resurface by the village of Hvítanes. In order to increase safety, no inclination in the tunnel is steeper than 5 per cent and the lowest point is 187 meters below the water’s surface.
http://local.fo/93-of-the-torshavn-eysturoy-subsea-tunnel-has-now-been-bored/?fbclid=IwAR00IlqmqHZ8Q8Ufp2gq2sUZkmnCbUHmWEkqzKI8eM5hBkSvAUHam8mg59k

Extra 4p for interconnector is worth it for economic boost to Isles, says MP

Constructing a 600MW interconnector to the Western Isles would cost consumers just 4p more per household per year than the 450MW option.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil continues to engage with Ofgem who recently announced their minded-to position of favouring a 450MW link over a 600MW.

As part of that engagement Mr MacNeil asked Ofgem for figures on what the two options would mean for household bills and learned that the 600MW would mean just 4p per household per year more than the 450MW option.

Mr MacNeil says favouring the smaller link would prevent the islands reaching their full renewables potential.

He said: “The figures I obtained from Ofgem show a 600MW link would add 43p to annual household bills and a 450MW would add 39p.

“It is clear that the 600MW option is much better value for money as it could boost the economy in a way the 450MW link could not.

“An extra 4p would allow a link which had room for current proposals and future development; the potential to create more jobs; and capacity for the islands to grow this sector. It would allow the islands to meet their full renewables potential in an area with the best wind resource in Europe.

“Ofgem’s figures do not take account of the fact that extra supply on the network would also lower prices for the consumer.

“Energy consumers have to pay for the cost of investment in new capacity and it is Ofgem’s role to ensure it obtains the best deal possible for them.

“In this case it seems obvious that the best possible deal is the one which will bring the greatest long term positive economic impact at minimal additional cost – and that is the 600MW option.”

Ofgem are carrying out a consultation prior to a final decision and visited Lewis last week to meet developers and local agencies.

Fire-risk tumble dryers still in use, says MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is supporting calls from consumer group Which? for the Tory Government to put people’s safety first and ensure all fire-risk tumble dryers are removed from UK homes.

Which? UK estimate there could be up to 500,000 unmodified fire-risk tumble dryers still being used, more than three years after the first safety notice was issued.

Mr MacNeil appealed to island residents to check if their machines were affected when the first safety notice was issued in 2017.

He was subsequently involved in supporting several constituents in ensuring the relevant modifications were carried out or the machine was replaced.

Which? UK are campaigning for the UK Government to do more to protect consumers from unsafe products.

The UK Government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) finally published their review on Whirlpool’s modification programme last week and concluded that modified machines are safe to use.

Which? UK have however received reports that some modified machines are continuing to have safety issues. They are now urging the Government to take urgent action to keep unsafe products out of people’s homes and for manufacturers and retailers to remove unsafe products from the market without delay.

Mr MacNeil said: “Which? UK believe there are half a million unmodified fire-risk tumble dryers still being used across the UK and so I would urge constituents to check again if their machine is affected.

“I am supporting Which’s campaign for the UK Government to do more to deal with this matter and to make sure that unsafe products are not being sold and used.

“It is just not enough to make soft recommendations to the firms responsible.”

OPSS has published specific requirements for Whirlpool to act on and issued a Decision Letter telling Whirlpool that the company must improve its management of risk; set up a more rigorous system of quality assurance to ensure modifications are correctly installed; and reach affected consumers in more creative ways to minimise the risk of faulty machines still being in people’s homes.

While this stage of the review is now complete, OPSS say they will continue to scrutinise Whirlpool’s actions against these requirements.

https://campaigns.which.co.uk/product-safety/

  • You can call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905 to find out whether your dryer needs a repair and arrange for it to be fixed or replaced.
  • Visit safety.hotpoint.eu or safety.indesit.eu where you can input your model number and, if your model is affected, you can register it for a service and modification. Creda dryers can also be checked on the Hotpoint site.
  • Before you contact Whirlpool, check whether your dryer has a green dot sticker on the inside of the door towards the top, either on the door itself or the door rim. If there’s no green dot in these two areas, check the back panel of the machine in the middle and towards the top. If your dryer has a green sticker positioned in these areas, it is not part of the safety alert or has been repaired already.  
  • If your dryer is one of those affected by the fault, you must contact Whirlpool to arrange a repair or replacement, unplug it immediately and do not use it until it’s been fixed.