Beware the dirty mattress from a van

Trading Standards in the Western Isles are warning residents may be targeted by rogue traders selling dodgy mattresses from the backs of vans.

They say “cheap” mattresses sold by doorstep sellers might not comply with safety regulations and may be a possible fire hazard, or you could even be sold a second-hand mattress recovered and labelled with logos to look like new.

 matress1A spokesperson said: “The mattress sold from the back of a van scam has been known to our Trading Standards colleagues throughout the country for several years,  however we believe this is the first time the islands have been targeted.”

 Trading Standards are looking for any information on doorstep sellers operating in the area. Trading Standards can be contacted on 01851 82294 or out of hours on Faire the community Careline on 01851 701702. Doorstep sellers may also be reported to the police on 101 or in an emergency dial 999.

 Trading Standards again advise residents to keep an eye out for elderly neighbours and relatives who the sellers may target for a sale.

 A Youtube video “The rip off van scam”  produced by The National Bed Federation, gives an insight into some of the problems which you could encounter when buying at the doorstep.

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Shawbost Shop crowdfunding bid for a delivery van

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Islanders told to boil water in 230 Lewis homes

People living in 230 homes on Lewis have been told to boil their tap water.

A boil water notice was issued this afternoon (Sat) after Scottish Water consulted NHS Western Isles and said it was issuing advice as a precaution.

That followed a routine sample showing there had been what was said to be “a small deterioration” in the normal quality of the water supply.

The affected areas and post codes are:
Garynahine (HS2 9DS)
Linshader (HS2 9DR)
Breasclete (HS2 9ED, HS2 9EF, HS2 9FF)
Callanish (HS2 9DY)
Tolsta Chaolais (HS2 9DW)

People living in these areas were told to boil their water before using it and continue doing so until further notice.

They have also been advised to wash dishes with hot water and then dry them thoroughly before use. The water can still be used for bathing and washing (including babies), washing clothes and flushing the toilet.

swScottish Water said water that was boiled was safe to use for drinking, preparing food (including ice cubes and salads), preparing babies’ feeds and disinfecting feeding equipment, cleaning teeth, pet food and drink, and washing open wounds provided it has been allowed to cool.

Water which has been boiled and allowed to cool should be stored in clean containers in a fridge or other cold place.

The water authority declined to give details of the cause other than saying further sampling would take place “when the chlorine level has returned to its normal level”.

Further information is available from the website or by phone on 0800 0778 778.

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Maybe it’s social work bosses who need dementia awareness

Another of these you could not make it up stories

Because I am tucked up with the sniffles, I have been rummaging for these wee but very important news items that I didn’t have the time to do earlier. Or maybe I forgot.

The social work department of Comhairle nan Eilean has been busy setting up dementia awareness courses for home carers. The carers have been very interested to sign up and the workshops were heavily subscribed.

CNES_logoHowever, when the carers turned up, there was no one there. It turned out that the courses had been cancelled.

When I asked the council, a spokesman said: “Yes – that is correct. There was a lack of communication which was most unfortunate.”

What caused that awful and time-wasting lack of communication? I am now very reliably advised that no one told the carers the dementia course was cancelled because a manager at the social work department forgot.

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Rhoda Grant says loss of Chief Constable down to under-funding

Rhoda Grant hits out saying Police Scotland is not funded properly


‘down to underfunding’ – Rhoda Grant

Rhoda Grant MSP said there were no winners in the situation in which Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House is having to stand down.

The Highlands and Islands MSP added: “This is a situation which could have been avoided had Nicola Sturgeon’s government ensured the force was adequately funded, instead of imposing swingeing cuts as the service was centralised and merged into one.
“Sir Stephen House is to be commended on his work to eradicate violence against women, making tackling crimes such as domestic abuse and rape a priority. The momentum that he started must be continued to ensure we live in an equal society where everyone is protected by the law enforcement agencies.”

She stressed the importance of whoever succeeds Stephen House being properly supported by the SNP government and allowed to do the job they are paid to do, which is keeping our communities safe, instead of being left to carry the can for the Scottish Government’s failings.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman Graeme Pearson, a former Deputy Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and former Director General of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said stepping down and he thanked Sir Stephen on behalf of Scottish Labour.

Graeme Pearson MSP

Graeme Pearson MSP

“However, we know the problems in Police Scotland extend far beyond the Chief Constable. It was only a few weeks ago that the First Minister gave her full backing to the Chief Constable and now the SNP Government can no longer hide behind him.
“Police Scotland has had to endure months of controversy which has seriously damaged public confidence in the police service. This could have been avoided if Ministers had taken responsibility.

Mr Pearson said even now it isn’t too late for Nicola Sturgeon and her “invisible” Justice Minister to get a grip.

“Police Scotland has been an organisation without proper oversight for too long, and has had to endure cuts from the SNP Government which have left the force under resourced and over worked.

“Officers and staff work round the clock to keep people safe. The controversy of this summer has dragged their reputation unfairly through the mud. The process of reforming Police Scotland can begin now if the SNP Government are willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.”

Posted in police, Scotland | Tagged | 2 Comments

Will the Queen again make Chris Murray toe the line? – column

Freak accidents are hard to predict. I have sat in A&E beside a six-year-old with his head firmly wedged into a pan and I remember when a near-neighbour had to be released from a toilet seat by a squad of burly firefighters. No, these unfortunate incidents were not laughing matters. Not until much later anyway.

The members of One Direction deciding they want to take at least a year off because they are sick and tired of pretending to like each other is not “the freak accident I will not get over”, as one young devotee claimed. What happened to me last week was. We had workmen in and, as usual, the four-legged member of this family would hear the front door and rush down the stairs barking furiously to announce their arrival each and every time. It got a bit much because workmen have to be in and out.

Filling a squeezy washing up bottle with water, I got it ready in my office upstairs. Then, when Hector heard someone come in, he leapt up and headed off down the stairs, barking loudly. I quickly followed and fired the water cannon. Then I realised the workman was already coming up the stairs and the poor cove was suddenly greeted with a jet of water right in the kisser. There just aren’t enough ways to say sorry in that situation.

Chris Murray, with 10 toes intact, at Buckingham Palace

Chris Murray, with 10 toes intact, at Buckingham Palace

Not all freak accidents are painless though. Spare a thought for a friend of mine who suffered a horrific and painful freak accident at the end of last week. You could call it an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction but it had more dire consequences than anything that may have been inadvertently shown to us by famous flashers like Judy Finnegan or Janet Jackson.

The gentleman concerned is now hobbling around in agony after breaking his own wee toe. Ubhag. You probably know that when you head west and cross the Minch the word ouch becomes ubhag. It was how he did it that has raised a few eyebrows. Knowing how sensitive are the sweet readers of this publication, I’ll be brief. That’s a clue, by the way. Well, you see it was like this; he was pulling on a garment and it got caught on the little toe of his right foot.

He must have forgotten he was barefoot and gave it a good old tug to release the undergarment. It’s not for nothing he is known as Balach Mòr or Big Boy. When he gives something a tug it is well and truly yanked. Unfortunately, as he did that he heard a loud crack. Ubhag, ubhag, ubhag.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Mr Chris Murray, holder of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for heroism as a winchman on the coastguard rescue helicopter, managed to break his teensi-weensie pinkie toe with the most fearsome of dangerous implements – a pair of his own underpants.

Should you meet the Dornoch-born winchman, who is nowadays training other novice danglers on the wire, hobbling along and he happens to mumble something about stubbing his toe or going over on his ankle, it is all nonsense. He is too embarrassed about the truth. He was disabled by his drawers. ‘Twas the pants wot done it.

All of which gives Chris a bit of a problem. He spent more than 20 years battling through storms to rescue many people, being flung against the sides of large ships and was even caught by an enormous wave and washed overboard off the deck of a crippled ship himself. Many times he returned after arduous missions and I saw him wincing with a painful leg after a particularly bruising rescue. Just an occupational hazard.

Chris and his colleagues were summoned to Buckingham Palace some years ago to have a rack of medals pinned onto them for saving the lives of some of the crew of a sunken German ship way out in the Atlantic. So, for us islanders, if we see Chris limping along Cromwell Street we expect the injury to have been caused by something that was agonising, something that would make ordinary mortals weep, and perhaps something to make Her Majesty reach in the medal drawers again.

Sorry Chris, didn’t mean to mention drawers again.

As an ex-military man himself, Chris appreciates that underwear can be a challenge in the field. When I was on RAF basic training in Sherwood Forest, problems with transport meant our two-day stay became four. We weren’t prepared. On day three, the Flight Sergeant announced: “Today we’re going to change our underwear.” We all began to clap and cheer. Then he continued: “Smith, you change with Blenkinsop. Maciver, you change with O’Hara …”

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Engineers to fly in from Spain to fix ferry walkway

A new high-tech passenger walkway which cost £1.75 million has been broken for the past week at Stornoway ferry terminal.

Because of the breakdown, all foot passengers currently must walk along the vehicle linkspan to get on and off the £42 million Ullapool-to-Stornoway ferry MV Loch Seaforth.

Stornoway passenger access system

The Stornoway PAS

It has now emerged the fault is so serious that a team of engineers has to fly to Stornoway from Barcelona to carry out the repairs to the walkway, officially called a Passenger Access System (PAS).

Discussions about the faults with the Spanish manufacturers, walkway specialists Adelte in Barcelona, have resulted in agreement that engineers must come to fix the walkway on-site in Stornoway.

The latest annual accounts of Stornoway Port Authority show that the airport-style walkway, which was bought to get easier access to the new MV Loch Seaforth, cost £1.75 million. It has only been in use since February 16 this year when the Loch Seaforth officially started service.

Alex Macleod, the new chief executive of Stornoway Port Authority, confirmed: “The fault on the PAS has now been identified. The Adelte team are due to arrive from Spain over the weekend, and expect to complete the repairs by Monday or Tuesday next week. The PAS will remain out of operation until the repair works are complete.”

Mr Macleod confirmed there was an extensive warranty on the PAS and he did not envisage Stornoway port having to pay any of the repair costs.

Posted in Ferries, Stornoway | Tagged | 3 Comments

Breaking News – Gordon Diesel slashes motor fuel to under £1.10p

Joy as fuel prices fall again at Gordon Diesel

gdWe can expect more traffic on certain roads in the Back . That’s because a fuel price war seems to have broken out on the Isle of Lewis.

Gordon Diesel Ltd has just slashed the price of Unleaded by 3p per litre. It is now 109.9p. He has also cut the price of Diesel to 109.9p.

One rival retailer in Stornoway was said to be “in shock” after the news was broken to him. We are awaiting with interest how he and the other retailers will now respond to the Gordon Diesel move which is long overdue with wholesale prices having fallen significantly recently.

Here are recent prices at other local outlets, as reported by

116.9p – Engebret Ltd Sandwick Road, Stornoway. (Update 24 Aug)
117.9p – Spar, Bayhead, Stornoway. (Update 19 Aug)
119.9p – Campbells Service Station Cannery Road, Stornoway. (Update 21 Aug)

114.9p – Engebret, Sandwick Road, Stornoway. (Update 24 Aug)
115.9p – Campbells Service Station, Cannery Road, Stornoway (Update 24 Aug)
115.9p – Manor Service Station, Bayhead, Stornoway (Update 24 Aug)

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Rosie Sullivan releases song for St Kilda swim

Singer-songwriter Rosie Sullivan releases her song for the St Kilda swim charities

Young Barvas singer-songwriter Rosie Sullivan recently scooped the top prize in her age range in a major UK music competition. Now she has recorded a song she composed for the recent epic efforts of the St Kilda swim team.

Rosie Sullivan


It is already available on iTunes.

All profits from the song are going to the good causes that the record-breaking swim was for. They are Yorkhill Children’s Charity, the cystic fibrosis charity The Leanne Fund, The Fishermen’s Mission and the Aberlour Child Care Trust.

You need to have an iTunes account and it then costs a mere 79p to download it. Click the link above.

Rosie, who is 12, won the seven to 12-year-old category of the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition.


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Loganair apologises and will review operations

Poor punctuality and reliability forces Loganair to apologise

Loganair has apologised and admitted its services have fallen short over recent months. The company has also announced that it is to undergo a ‘top-to-bottom’ review of its entire operation to achieve better punctuality and reliability for all of its passengers.


Loganair trading as Flybe

Shadow transport minister David Stewart was caught up in a four-hour delay himself at Benbecula Airport last month after the plane was removed from the route and redirected to Glasgow. He complained to Loganair and transport minister Derek Mackay after constituents said services had slipped in recent months and delays were becoming commonplace.

Mr Stewart said: “I welcome the acknowledgement from Loganair that services have fallen short over recent times, and I welcome the operational improvement programme which they have launched to address this. Loganair have told me that they appreciate the punctuality and reliability of services have not been good enough. The improvement programme is a ‘top to bottom’ review of their entire operation to achieve better punctuality and reliability for all Loganair passengers.

Mr Stewart continued “I know how frustrating delays and cancellations are for passengers, particularly when onward journeys and overnight stays have to be altered as a result. Island communities need to know they have reliable air and sea services. I welcome the apology from Loganair and I look forward to seeing improvement in the future.”

Posted in aviation, Stornoway, Western Isles | 2 Comments