The blog formerly known as "Angus Nicolson - an incredulous eye on the isles" this was the blog of an ordinary, boring, former Councillor in the Western Isles of Scotland.
Angus is taking a sabbatical to be with his young family
Debate strengthens democracy, except inside the SNP, as he has discovered.
If you want balance then get some scales. This is opinion - our opinion.
However, Mr Stevenson said the Western Isles needed the road equivalent tariff (RET) scheme due to lower wages and a falling population.
His comments coincided with the end of a ferries review consultation.
Mr Stevenson told BBC Radio Scotland that Shetland residents had weekly earnings that were on average £70 higher than in the Western Isles and in Orkney it was some £50 higher.So is eligibility for RET now to be determined on the basis of household income in the island group?
It is absolutely clear that investment in the Western Isles is investment to support the economy and the future of these islands.Now, no-one can argue with that. Especially the corollary of that which is that the remove of RET would undermine the future of the islands. Which begs the question of why that might even be on the agenda as part of the fares review. If the Government were serious about supporting the islands, we wouldn't have a hand-to-mouth year-by-year policy for RET, as that doesn't encourage investment or long-term planning.
What has clearly happened is that the public relations horror and electoral disaster that the RET pilot has stored up for the Government has finally dawned on someone in Edinburgh.
The RET pilot was due to end Spring next year. The penny finally dropped that Calmac will introduce their Summer timetables around end of March and that as things stood the end of the RET pilot would mean the Summer timetables would have to show a doubling of many of the current fares back up to their pre-RET levels – just weeks before the Holyrood election in May.
Of course there may be reasons other than defering electoral trauma as to why the Government is spending an extra £6.5mill on Western Isles to extend the RET pilot there by another year. If anyone has any other rational explanations it would be good to hear them.With a flagship policy causing your friends to have a go, the competency levels are demonstrably low.
Mr Black said he regretted that people across Scottish society failed to start planning for tighter spending several years agoBut the Comhairle have some plans to bridge the estimated cuts of £5m pa. Lets look at this list:
Tony Robson said it was important that the council look for savings from within itself when it was asking islanders to bear cuts in public services.The absence of any detail about the internal plans of the Council is understandable given the processes that have to be followed, but only emphasise why the consultation should have followed after these were discussed by the Council and recommendations laid.
You just couldn't make it up
New Philippines ro-pax catamaransDennise Trajano, Chairman of Archipelago Philippine Ferry Corporation, announced that the finance has been approved for the ordering of 10 medium speed ro-pax catamarans of the Australian Sea Transport Solutions (STS) design, heralding the arrival of the countries very first brand new ro-pax ferries, and a new safety standard in local ferries. 'This is the first time an international classed ro-ro catamaran to operate in domestic waters ' according to Mr. Trajano.
The new designs will be 50 x 17m x 1.8m draft, quadruple screw 16 knot ropax catamarans for trucks, buses, cars and up to 500 passengers. The catamarans will comply to the latest standards of damaged stability criteria , life saving and firefighting equipment. Most importantly the fuel efficiency of these vessels is well ahead of the existing old ferries, as the country faces up to its emissions obligations.
All of the new fleet will have standard machinery, electronics and equipment so that the vessels and crew will be totally interchangeable on each of the routes.
This has never been possible with any operator in the country previously as the ferries came from different places with vastly different machinery.
The routes planned for the new fleet will fully service the eastern and western hi-way, in conjunction with bus and cargo routes.
This proposal is aimed at improving tourism around the Philippines said Mr Trajano, as well as addressing the overdue action on ferry safety by the Philippines Government and ferry industry. This project will impact a more effecient transportation system that will translate to reduction of price of agricultural and commercial products.
The Jam Group , a bus company partner of the ferries has recently acquired brand new 100 x 50 seater airconditioned units for use in all connecting ports of the new ferries
The vessels are expected to commence construction shortly and the first will be in service by the middle of 2011 with the following vessels arriving at two monthly intervals behind the first.
I think George Lyons has a valid point, but I am not quite sure what the Commission can do, except instruct the removal of the RET pilot or its extension to all routes.An MEP has asked the European Commission to investigate the Scottish government's decision to extend a discount ferry fares scheme pilot.
Hebrides Missile Range
Mr MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many pairs of fibre-optic cables his Department has between Hebrides Range and the mainland of Scotland. 
Peter Luff: The Ministry of Defence has no fibre optic cables running between the Hebrides Range and the mainland of Scotland.
Scottish sports minister Shona Robison is to meet senior Westminster politicians in an attempt to gain a tax exemption for Commonwealth Games competitors.Get a grip, FFS.
“I’m going to ask for an exemption for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and Ryder Cup the same year, along with a number of events.
“A number of English sporting events are exempted, but none of the major sporting events in Scotland.
“We expect parity for major international sporting events.”
Trade unions chief Brendan Barber has warned that big spending cuts will make Britain a "dark, brutish and more frightening place".
Executive bonuses are close to their level before the financial crisis, a survey by business advisory firm Deloitte says.It looks like the big earners are back on track with OTE back to their six and seven figure sums, whilst everyone else - and Unions please note that this includes most of the rest of the private sector - facing the pain.
Wipe me down wwith a damp cloth. I can barely contain my excitement.
Scottish government legislative programme - key details
- Budget Bill
- End double jeopardy
- Scottish Water Bill
- Long Leases Bill
- Local Electoral Administration Bill
- Public Records Bill
- Health (certification of Death) Bill
- Forced Marriage Bill
- Private Rented Housing Bill
- Reservoir Safety
So how many pupils in the Western Isles benefit from swimming lessons?
The Scottish Government has announced £800,000 will be invested in free swimming lessons for primary pupils.
The money is aimed at ensuring all children have the opportunity to learn to swim before leaving primary school.
Sports Minister Shona Robison made the announcement at an event in Stirling and the funding will top up free lessons already available in Scotland.
at 10:32 am
Any proven errors of fact made will be corrected in the original article, or by publishing a correction at the same degree of prominence, or both. As far as practical, others who have quoted the article will be requested to make a note in their article - this would include, for example pinging back with the correction those who had linked to the original piece.
If articles are ever removed, a statement of why that has been done will be left in situ.
The rest is entirely at my discretion.