Comhairle Leader's Statement

The last couple of weeks has seen a lot of development work in preparation for growing activity as lockdown eases. The work being undertaken by the team in the education department and all staff across the islands in getting ready to receive pupils back to school in as safe a manner as possible is very detailed and onerous but they are working away together to sort buildings, access, teaching, travel and support.

The change of focus to recovery as a theme is now taking shape in the council and plans are in place around a number of different services which we provide including transport, waste, care, education and business restart.

Throughout this past couple of months the COVID- 19 Group which was set up in the Comhairle in response to the pandemic has held twice weekly meetings which involved Heads of Service across the Comhairle, and this has helped ensure we have had a coordinated and joined up approach throughout this period. Staff have done really well in all areas as they respond to the needs of the community they serve and in particular the Care for People Group has been very effective in delivering a terrific service for our vulnerable, our cared for and our shielded people and this has been complemented by the huge volunteer effort which we’ve referred to previously.

The press and communications team have done an excellent job in keeping us all well informed and up to date along the way,  and this will continue as government update their guidance, and activity across a range of areas increases nationally and locally.

I have to say it was really good to hear some ‘new sounds’ around town this week including the contractors plant at the rebuilding of the wall at Lews Castle, the mowers cutting the grass on the castle green, grounds maintenance teams out and about with strimmers and of course the sound of a golf ball being struck. It really is good to see things opening up a bit and it will be good for our local contractors, who are getting their sites ready at the minute, to get up and running again. They, like all of us, remain aware of the risks involved and have detailed plans in place to ensure that they continue to observe government guidelines as they return to work.

Of course there are other sounds which we are becoming very used to and which we might well miss when we have passed this difficult period and these are the fantastic sounds we get each weekend via e ceilidh and individual performers. What talent we have on our islands! I won’t  list them all and you will have your favourites but on every occasion that I’ve tuned in it has been really enjoyable and should give us all a wee lift and a reason to smile. Well done to everyone involved in organising these events and well done to all the performers who have given their time, we really appreciate your talents.

If we all, as we have done throughout the lockdown period so far, keep acting responsibly as a community, follow the guidance as it is laid out by government and use common sense and sound judgement as activity increases, then I am sure we can keep our islands safe so that we can continue to enjoy all the benefits which many of us are thankful that we have, here in the Western Isles.