The National Islands Plan published by the Scottish Government at the end of 2019 is intended to be a useable, practical document, according to its authors.

Scotland’s Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said as the plan was launched on December 27th that it was an historic milestone created with the input of many islanders and containing their priorities for the future.

He added: “The plan is a key milestone, but it cannot be allowed to just sit on a shelf - I now look forward to working with colleagues and partner organisations to put the plan into action. Through the plan’s development, Scotland is showing our island communities that they are very important to our nation, we care about their futures and that their voices are strong and being heard.”

Stornoway Port Authority is on course to open a new and much-needed marina in the town’s harbour in 2020.

The marina will create 75 new berths at Newton Basin for leisure craft - increasing capacity to 155 – to tackle a shortage of facilities which is constraining potential growth in marine tourism.

It will open, appropriately, as Scotland marks the Year of Coasts and Waters in 2020 and will also herald the completion of the initial stage of the Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year Masterplan.

Artizan Jewellery and Café, on Church Street, Stornoway, is now an accredited Scottish Living Wage Employer.

Artizon joins Car Hire Hebrides, both owned by John and Alison Cunningham, in becoming accredited.

Claire Clydesdale of Artizan says: “Becoming accredited is a very straightforward process – it takes about ten minutes to register as an accredited Living Wage Employer.

"At Artizan, we have nine employees. As a family business, we have paid staff a living wage for a while now but decided to have it recognised and be accredited to coincide with Living Wage Week."

Three Western Isles community publications have been shortlisted in the Highlands and Islands media award shortlist, published on Monday December 30th.

Point’s monthly magazine, The Rudhach, and the bi-weekly Ness local newsletter Fios sit alongside Uist’s Am Paipear in the shortlist for the best community newspaper of the year award.

Shona Macmillan of Fios is also shortlisted for an award for the best use of Gaelic, an award category sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

As 2019 drew to an end, the staff and volunteers at HI-Scot credit union were reflecting on a successful year for the organisation.

“We are pleased to report that 2019 was another 12 months of growth for HI-Scot,” said Margaret Ann MacLeod, Chair of the Board of Directors. “This is good news not only for the credit union, but for our members and the communities we serve across the Highlands and Islands.”

At the recent HI-Scot AGM, the members attending approved a 0.5% dividend. The AGM took place in six venues across the Highlands and Islands, using tele-conferencing to allow members from different areas to participate.