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Lionel School

Firstly, we would like to publicly thank the following 15 councillors who showed such foresight by voting to save Lionel Secondary School at last week’s Comhairle meeting.

In no particular order: Catherine Macdonald, Charlie Nicolson, Donnie Steele, Kenny Macleod, John Mackay, Iain Morrison, Rae Mackenzie, Gordon Murray, John A Maciver, DJ Macrae, Iain Macaulay, Philip Mclean, Donald Manford, ‘Cudig’ Macleod and Norman Macleod, you all have our collective thanks for trying to do the right thing.

We would also like to thank the new Councillor Alastair Maclennan who publicly supported our fight to save Lionel Secondary School, despite the fact that he was not allowed to vote on this hugely important matter which affected the ward he will represent.

To the other 15 councillors who voted for closure: Angus Campbell, Norman A Macdonald, Catriona Stewart, Angus McCormack, Donald Crichton, Roddy Mackay, Iain Mackenzie, Zena Stewart, David Blaney, Neil Beaton, Ronald Mackinnon, Uisdean Robertson, Alasdair Macleod, Angus Morrison and Archie Campbell (who retired the very next day), we offer our congratulations on completing your task of closing every rural secondary school on the Isle of Lewis. You should all feel very proud.

May we ask, when you were elected to serve your own wards, was it in your own personal mandates to destroy the rural secondary school provision within the island?

In a sustained campaign of Educational vandalism, you 15 councillors have caused more destruction to our schools and education system than any Comhairle before you. And without doubt any Comhairle which is yet to come.

But we fear that you are not finished yet.

A word of warning to other areas. A word of warning to other schools. We have seen how the Comhairle manipulated the running of Lionel School. They removed the post of Head Teacher. They changed the boundaries for the catchment area for the school. They reduced parental confidence in our school to such an extent that some parents last year decided to bypass Lionel and send their children to the Nicolson. Lionel has fought closure for 11 years now.

I now fear for other schools in the Western Isles. For Leverhulme Memorial School, which is in the process of having its catchment area boundaries changed.

For schools like Breasclete and Shawbost which the Comhairle wish to have shared Head Teachers – you can be sure that one of these shared schools will close in the near future.

For schools like Iochdar in South Uist, who are seeing declining school rolls because of new schools offering more services like ‘wraparound’ care. We, in Ness, have seen these tactics used by the Comhairle and the Education department to achieve a means to their own end. There is no ‘fair play’ involved, as was evident in the manipulation of the vote to close Lionel last week.

We would warn these other schools to prepare for the worst and to ask your councillors to fight on your behalf. Do it now, before it’s too late.

Derek O’Connor


(on behalf of the Save Lionel Secondary campaign group)

Transportation dangers

Since October 2014 there have been at least 2 reported groundings, 1 funnel fire and engine shutdown and a sinking of a ship with the loss of eight lives on our north and west coasts These accidents have led to Councillors, MEP’s and MP’s calling for the reinstatement of an Emergency Towing Vessel on the west coast without reference to the proposed 60 shipments of 26 tonnes of nuclear waste and fuel (including plutonium and uranium) from Scrabster to Barrow starting this year Whilst being prepared for accidents is important, Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (HANT) has been campaigning since 2013 to halt both rail and sea transports of nuclear waste from Dounreay and reconsider the option of long term storage at Dounreay. This would create and sustain much needed employment for many years to come It would also avoid the risks inherent in transporting dangerous cargoes over 400 miles which include terrorist attack or accident leading to catastrophic consequences for the fishing industry, tourism and the environment This issue is of concern to all communities on the routes of these transports and HANT is working nationally and internationally with other environmental campaign groups.

It’s time for politicians to think again and HANT will be alerting and lobbying all candidates for the May 2015 UK elections on this issue.

Tor Justad

Vice-Chair : Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (HANT)



Fair representation

Am l alone in being disgusted upon hearing Councillor Campbell’s remarks to fellow councillors to ignore the raised voices of concern over the closure of Lionel secondary?

Is it the case that certain councillors no longer feel the need to represent and reflect the views of those that elected them?

If memory serves, Councillor Campbell hardly enjoyed a ringing endorsement in the last election, and whilst accepting he has a difficult task ahead of him, l do feel his tone could be more conciliatory as opposed to aggressive - not a good position for our council leader to adopt.

David Roberts,

South Galson

Ferry service

As a member of Unite the Union, I fully appreciate the need to protect jobs and services. I’m mystified by the letter (19th Feb) from Calum Mackay the local branch secretary, suggesting support for Alasdair Morrison and the Labour Party regarding the issue on ferry services.

It was only last month that Labour Party MP’s walked through the Westminster lobbies hand in hand with their Conservative brethren to cut £35 billion from the public expenditure budget. The very same budget which pays for the ferry services. Mr Mackay supports the local representative of a party who are committed to reducing the funding for our ferry service

Not only does New Labour support further unfair austerity measures, they couldn’t care less about UK workers. During their 13 years in power, UK employees had the poorest legislative protection in Western Europe, working the longest hours for the least pay. Let’s not forget that it was New Labour who privatised the railways, to the detriment of the workers. Even Thatcher failed to do this.

The reason behind the precarious situation of our lifeline ferry services is down to former first minister Jack McConnell and the New Labour Administration when in power at Holyrood. They ignored legal advice which made our ferry services exempt from the tendering process. Had it not been that CalMac were the only company to submit a tender, it is most likely that the ferry services would have been privatised nine years ago. As New Labour have created the tendering precedent it now has to be maintained. No one was any more supportive of this than Mr Morrison.

There is one thing for sure, the electorate along with Angus Macneill and Alasdair Allan won’t be taken in by Mr Morrison’s desperate attempt to woo votes.

Archie Harper



Isle of Lewis

PICTURE: Natalie Young sent us this stunning shot of the sunset over Cromore.