Thursday, 21 February 2008

Local notes

This afternoon, a house in the village of Laxay, 12 miles south of Stornoway, was destroyed by fire. The blaze was spotted by one of its occupants, as she visited a neighbour. Although the fire brigade was called immediately, the fire had by that time already taken a strong hold. By the time the fire appliance arrived, the property had been destroyed. Its residents are now staying with relatives in Laxay.

Only a few weeks ago, a similar house (a so-called kit house) burned down in the next village, Balallan, 3 miles down the road. In that incident, nobody was hurt, except the family dog, which perished in the flames. Kit houses are delivered in readily assembled components, and can be built in a relatively short period of time.

Ferry travel to the Western Isles should get a lot cheaper by next October, when Road-Equivalent Tarriff is introduced on all ferry routes to the islands. Under RET, passengers and vehicles are to be charged a fare of 60p per mile plus a £5 surcharge. Its economic benefits have been quoted as good for tourism and a fairer deal for the islanders.

In my opinion, RET is a hot-air balloon. The ferry operations by Calmac run at an annual loss of £32 million ($64m), which is wholly covered by Government subsidies. As fare revenues decrease, these operating losses will increase, leading to an increase in subsidies. Those subsidies are of course ultimately funded by the taxpayers and, you guessed it, that includes island dwellers.


  1. We've had a housefire in our town this week -- and a dog perished in it as well.  Extensive damage to the house but the homeowner was a work at the time.  Tough for all concerned.

  2. Sorry to hear of these losses and loss of family pet.
    Makes one cherrish their own comforts of home all the more.
    Have a good day yourself our online friend...

  3. Fires upset me so much ~ having been through a fire at a former residence I think I obsess on it now.  I feel horrible for people who lose thier homes & belongings to fire and it is just heartbreaking when the pets perish.  How sad.

  4. heartbreaking to lose your home...and to lose your pet...i just hope pet died from shock...extraordinary that 2 such houses should perish in the space of a month. I hope there's no common the firm that installed the electrics...or the heating system.....I see houses on your travels via pics that look as though they could do with new they ever come up for sale or, like Ireland, the house and it's land can languish for decades but owners won't give up "the family land"

  5. How terrible to lose everything including your family pet.  Is there a connection between the two.???

  6. I got all excited reading about the lowering of the Ferry fares Guido as last year, had it not been for the windy and rainy weather, we were looking at a lot of money to bring our car across from Ullapool to Stornoway.
    It would have been so much cheaper to come on foot.
    But as you say...its the islanders who will eventually subsidise the cheaper fares.

    How dreadful for the owners of the homes devastated by the fires.  I hope they were well insured.  
    As for the dog...poor creature.  What a panic it must have been in home alone.  Bless it!

  7. How sad to lose their home in a fire. I can't imagine that. I hope they had insurance to cover them. What a nightmare!
    And that poor dog...awful.