Friday, 25 April 2014

Lews Castle accommodation

It is reported that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have awarded the lease for the provision of accommodation at Lews Castle to the company Natural Retreats. It is worth noting that this accommodation will not just comprise of self-catering units, but also of serviced accommodation (read: hotel rooms), a fact that continues to be omitted from local news reports.

A couple of years ago, the Comhairle finally managed to secure funding for the refurbishment of the Castle, which has lain in disrepair for years. This work is now nearing completion, meaning that the Castle can be put to use for the benefit of the whole of the Western Isles. Natural Retreats will be paying a commercial rent until at least 2044, and contribute towards the cost of the refurbishment.

Local providers of self-catering accommodation are opposed to this move on the grounds that the Castle development will stand in direct competition to their businesses.
The Council is obliged to obtain best value for money from the use of its assets, in this case Lews Castle. It is my conviction that they will have weighed up pros and cons. There will also have been a tendering exercise, as they are obliged to do under European laws, as a result of which Natural Retreats has been awarded the lease.

Further details are to be worked out in the next few weeks and months.
The Castle will open to the public next year. Apart from accommodation, it will host a cafeteria and a museum and archives section.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Harbour works

On 8 September this year, the new ferry MV Loch Seaforth will arrive in Stornoway. She is due to take over from the current vessel, MV Isle of Lewis at a later stage.  As the new ferry is larger, and has a greater capacity for vehicles, the marshalling and carparking areas around the ferry terminal have to be enlarged. Works will commence, and those involved in the construction (like the contractors, Calmac and police) ask the public for patience. This article on the Stornoway Gazette website will outline the impact in the interim.
The main points for the next few weeks:
  • Staff and long-stay carpark has closed
  • Carpark at pier no 1 will be closed from 18 April
  • Ferry will dock at pier no 1 from 5 May
Detailed plans are on display in Stornoway ferry terminal, in the bay to the left of the entrance from the carpark.