Do what is best for the environment and the economy – support 600MW link, Isles MP urges Ofgem

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil has been notified by Ofgem that they expect to publish its decision on the Final Needs Case for the Western Isles in Autumn 2019.

In March this year, Ofgem announced that they were minded to reject the proposal by SSEN to build a 600MW transmission link to the Western Isles and favour instead a 450MW link and subsequently launched a consultation seeking the views of stakeholders and the public.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“When Ofgem announced in March that they were minded to favour a 450MW transmission link instead of a 600MW link, I appealed to Ofgem to think again and do what is best for the environment and the economy.

“Approval of a 600MW link is crucial for development in our islands, which have the strongest wind resource in Europe. 

“The UK Government have set an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050, constructing an adequate link to the Hebrides will help that aim.  I have repeatedly raised this matter with Ofgem and the UK Government and I hope Ofgem will listen and make the right decision this Autumn.”

ENDS

Bethesda Hospice – MacNeil adds to calls that Health Secretary mediates in funding issue

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP, Angus B MacNeil has written to Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman MSP regarding the ongoing financial dispute between Bethesda Hospice and the Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB).  

Mr MacNeil is backing the call made by Alasdair Allan MSP, that the Scottish Government mediate between Bethesda Hospice and the Integration Joint Board.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I recently met with management from the Bethesda Hospice and I was able to hear detailed information about the financial situation.  It was also good to hear about the invaluable work being undertaken by all staff, who were highly praised by Manager, Carol Somerville.  The level of care and commitment to their work is in no doubt.

“Bethesda management tell me that the percentage of their budget they receive from the Health Board is 32.36% for the year 2018/2019 compared to 49.45% over 10 years ago – this when the Health Board’s budget has risen.

“They further point out that there is a double subsidy going on around Bethesda – it is not just the community that subsidise the hospice by fundraising but also the staff.  I was also told that the 90 staff at Bethesda work without many of the perks and benefits of other similar workplaces. 

“Hospices deserve a fairer slice of the pie and can’t be as reliant as they have been on fundraising, which is ongoing to make up for the inevitable gap,  Indeed, I recall taking part in a sponsored cycle to Uig to raise funds for Bethesda Hospice when I was a pupil in the Nicolson Institute in the late 80s.   Bethesda Hospice is an important asset to the community and deserves all the support it can get.

“I have written to Jeane Freeman MSP to request that the Scottish Government get involved and facilitate talks between Bethesda Hospice management and the IJB to get a resolution to this funding problem.  I think that Manager, Carol Somerville, makes the case for Bethesda funding to rise and the argument now is really about how much and how soon.”

ENDS

UK Democracy shut down as Parliament is suspended says Isles MP

The Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament is an affront to democracy says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Commenting on the suspension of the UK Parliament, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“It is simply unbelievable that Parliament has been suspended during what is a UK crisis. 

“There is no good Brexit.  Leaving the EU will negatively impact all of us and damage the economy of the islands.

“Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union is crucial for industry in the islands and the rest of Scotland, however this Tory Government continue to threaten a no-deal Brexit.

“Scotland did not vote for this.  In 2014, Scotland was told to vote No to Independence to guarantee our place in the European Union – another broken promise from a broken UK Government.”

ENDS

Outer Hebrides to be included in Seafish Brexit workshops

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP has received confirmation from The Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) that they are interested in holding a workshop in the Outer Hebrides to ensure that seafood businesses are equipped to respond to the changes expected after the UK leaves the European Union on 31st October.

Seafish is a Non-Departmental Public Body and supports the seafood industry to work for a sustainable, profitable future. It offers regulatory guidance and services to all parts of the seafood industry

Seafish is currently holding events to help the fishing industry prepare for Brexit and Mr MacNeil contacted Seafish to request that workshops are held in the Outer Hebrides.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I am pleased to receive confirmation from Seafish that they are interested in holding a workshop on the Outer Hebrides and that they will undertake some preparatory work to scope out the particular issues facing the seafood sector in the islands.

“There remains a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and with potential delays at borders, we must ensure that any delays are not caused due to lack of knowledge or paperwork on our part.

“Seafish are keen to engage with seafood businesses and I would encourage this sector to contact them directly – questions can be sent to regulation@seafish.co.uk.  Further information can also be found at https://www.seafish.org/article/preparing-your-business-for-eu-exit


ENDS

Seafood Brexit workshops – Scottish seafood sector must be included says Isles MP

Public Body, Seafish are running workshops for seafood businesses to help in preparing for Brexit. 

The workshops are due to be held in Plymouth, Newlyn, Grimsby, Scarborough, Fleetwood and London and Isles MP Angus B MacNeil has asked that Seafish also come to the Outer Hebrides to help the Scottish fishing industry prepare for Brexit.

The events will include presentations, face to face discussions, Q&A sessions and practical demonstrations on topics including customs procedures, food labelling requirements, Export Health certificates, catch certificates and EU workers

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I have asked Seafish if they are coming to the Outer Hebrides and wonder whether the plans will include any Scottish ports.

“It is important that our fishing sector is supported in preparing for Brexit and I have contacted Seafish who have confirmed that they are working with the Scottish Government and local authorities on ways to prepare the Scottish Seafood sector for Brexit.

“There might be delays at borders and this will be particularly problematic for perishable foods, people have to be aware, focussed and prepared.

“One thing we must ensure is that any delays are not caused due to lack of knowledge or paperwork on our part.  Once we leave the EU, we must be ready to trade into the large single market on our doorstep. 

“Leaving the EU means that we will not be freely trading anymore, we will be trading with a lot more bureaucracy, red tape and costs but that is preferable to being unable to trade at all.  Of course, the best option of all is to remain in the European Union and not go down the daft route of a red tape Brexit.”

ENDS

Isles MP comments on Prorogation of Parliament

  • Tories playing ‘fast and loose’ with economy of islands

Commenting on the announcement that Parliament will be suspended, Isles MP Angus B MacNeil said:

“The steps taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnston today to suspend Parliament is unbelievable and shocking.  I have received calls from people in other countries asking what is going on in the circus of UK politics.

From an islands perspective, it is very worrying that Boris Johnson is lining up to have a hard Brexit.  A hard Brexit means poor trading relationships with our neighbours in Europe, who we rely on in the shellfish and crofting sector to buy our products.  As we have already heard this week, Stornoway Plastics who sell into the European market are facing problems with customers as close as Ireland.

“Scotland did not vote for this.  Scotland voted in favour of staying in the European Union by 62% – every single local authority area in Scotland voted Remain. 

“In 2014, Scotland was told to vote No to Independence to guarantee our place in the European Union – that promise today is seen as being a hollow joke as we find ourselves in the precarious situation of crashing out of the Single Market.

“Independence would have given us political control in Scotland to avoid Brexit and we really need that at the moment.  However, now the UK is all about walking away from a trade block and ripping up agreements to the detriment of our economy, no other country has done this and only Somalia, South Sudan and East Timor are out of regional trade blocks, according to the House of Commons Library.

“I only hope that this can be stopped now.  I have long advocated the revocation of Article 50, I just hope that other MPs wake up to the imperative need to do this – the stakes are high!

ENDS

Brexit – Further signs of impact on Islands

A local Island businessman is already getting letters from customers as regards his stock and the difficulties with the imposition of tariffs due to Brexit

Gordon Maclennan of Stornoway Plastics, who manufacture equipment for the fishing industry, has received a letter from a customer in the Republic of Ireland about what will happen to goods after 1st November in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Mr Maclennan has been told that Irish companies believe that a No Deal Brexit is the most likely outcome and that they anticipate the need for Customs paperwork and possibly Customs Duties will have to be paid before any imports will be accepted. Irish Companies have already been issued with a Customs reference number for use after Brexit.


Angus MacNeil MP commenting said

‘This is an example of what a hard Brexit will do. 

‘This is the first business that has come to us and said they have difficulties from customers due to the change in the trading regime. No longer will we have open markets and easy trading after Brexit.

‘Stornoway Plastics are, probably unknown to many, in the forefront of innovation in fishing industry tools and apparatus so much so their work has even been copied in China, but a hard Brexit means selling their Stornoway manufactured products to nearby Donegal will be a problem and customers there are already concerned at higher costs.

‘After Brexit, when outside the Single Market and Customs Unions there are going to be problems for businesses and a hard Brexit is going to be the worst of all. This example from Stornoway Plastics is just the tip of the iceberg of what is yet to come.’


ENDS

Iolaire designated as Official War Grave – Designation welcomed by Isles MP

Angus MacNeil MP joined with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Iolaire Working Group and others in welcoming the announcement of the signing of a Statutory Instrument which will designate the Iolaire as a war grave from 2nd September.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

‘ It is indeed good to hear that HMY Iolaire has finally been designated as a War Grave. It is more than a year since I raised this matter in Parliament and it was disappointing to receive a response from the MoD in November saying that while they were sympathetic to the idea no decisions would be made in time for the commemorative events in January 2019.

‘The commemorations were truly magnificent from the work done in schools to the refurbished memorial at Holm and the installation in the Harbour and provided a wonderful memorial to all those who died in this tragic event so close to home. Designation as an Official War Grave within this year is very fitting.’

Ends

TUMBLING WITH SAFETY

Isles MP encourages constituents to check appliances

“With 47 fires caused by tumble dryers in Scottish homes last year and a major, ongoing tumble dryer recall, all of us need to check and use them safely”, explains Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil. 

White goods manufacturer, Whirlpool, is recalling a number of its tumble dryers – but the company estimates that there are still around 500,000 affected machines in UK homes.

Mr MacNeil supports the Electrical Safety First’s campaign to ensure constituents stay safe in their homes and that all recalled tumble dryers are removed from use. 

Currently, recalls have just a 20% effectiveness rate, so checking you don’t have an effected model is a priority. However, Wayne Mackay, Deputy Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, explains that the campaign also has a wider aim.

“We also want to provide a timely reminder on using tumble dryers safely”, reveals Wayne. “And we have devised a range of tools and top tips to help, including our dedicated site –  www.whitegoodsafety.com 

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Over the last couple of years, I have highlighted concerns about tumble dryers.  It is important that we all check our machines. 

“Constituents can check if you have an affected tumble dryer, or other ‘white goods’ by visiting the dedicated site www.whitegoodsafety.com  – it would be good if people also made their friends and relatives aware of this website – even if you are not one of those affected by the recall, it is really important to follow some simple safety tips when using your machine.”

ENDS

For more information, take a look at Electrical Safety First’s top tips, below.

To check if you have a recalled tumble dryer

  • Visit: www.whitegoodsafety.com.
  • Check if you have a Whirlpool owned brand machine, such as Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit or Swan. You can do this by looking at  Whirlpool’s online model checker to see if your product is affected – if it is, call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905 to have it replaced or consult https://safety.hotpoint.eu to check your model.
  • If you’re in any doubt, stop using- and unplug – your machine immediately.

Top tips for tumble dryer safety

  • Never overload the dryer – take large or bulky items like duvets to the dry cleaners.
  • Always allow each drying programme, including the “cool-down cycle”, to completely finish.
  • If you have to stop the dryer before the end of the cycle, remove all items and leave the door open to dissipate heat.
  • Don’t use your tumble dryer to dry clothes that are contaminated with combustible substances like solvents, grease, oils or fats.
  • Don’t leave your tumble dryer running overnight, or when you are out.

Isles MP reiterates call to have children vaccinated against serious diseases

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

This comes following recent media reports that the UK has lost its World Health Organization ‘measles-free’ status.

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.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“In the spring, 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.

“Recent media reports that the UK has lost its World Health Organization ’measles-free’ status is concerning.

“Vaccination is one of the most effective preventative measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our children and again I would urge parents to help maintain high levels of uptake by ensuring children receive the vaccine.”

ENDS