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Spared or Saved?

A&B Council announced on the 3rd of May that an interim contract had been agreed for Coll, Colonsay and Tiree air services,whilst ‘an update on the four-year contract will be provided in due course, once the outcome of the second procurement process has been fully assessed.’

What does this mean? No cessation, but a reduction in the current service, to Wednesdays-only, till 15 October. We have to remember that there was no award under the original tender (Nov 2018) which meant that with no action/ reappraisal the air service Tiree to/from Oban would cease as of 15th May 2019 . Consequently A&BC decided on a second procurement process ie a re-tender to close on 8th May 2019.

The tender was discussed at the recent joint TCC/TCDT meeting with Fergus Murray Head of Economic Development and Strategic Transport at Argyll and Bute Council. He was reluctant to report the outcome of the tender for commercial reasons, by virtue of this interim contract, TCC feels it is reasonable to assume there may be a positive outcome for services continuing after October 2019.

But what kind of service? We have to assume it will be reduced, but to what extent is an unknown. We discussed opportunities for the service, including the possibility that Friday’s Coll Scholar Service could be extended to Tiree, and marketed as an Air Taxi service comparable to rural services in eg NZ. He advised that was for Tiree to take up with whoever was running the service,assuming there would be a positive outcome to the current procurement process.

Hopefully by the next edition of AnT we will have the outcome of A&BC’s second procurement exercise.

Tiree Skiff Takes To The Waves

The beautiful Tiree St Ayles skiff Gille-Brìghde ‘the oystercatcher’ took to the waters of Loch Bhassapol last weekend for its maiden (freshwater) voyage.

Three crews, after a quick lesson in rowing technique involving broomsticks, were pushed out into deeper water by the expert team of Niall MacDonald and Alasdair MacLachlan from the Tiree Maritime Trust.

It had been a misleadingly warm morning, but a keen southeasterly wind developed, making conditions quite challenging rowing ‘uphill’ and producing a slight chop.

Once or twice, a crewmember toppled backwards gracefully when an oar was left in the water fractionally too long. But you certainly would not have known that this was the first time many of the rowers had had an oar in their hands, as they settled into a good rhythm and produced (occasionally) a good deal of power.

There was a small amount of perspiration, some well-worked muscles, an appreciation of being out on the water in this most glorious island, and a good deal of laughter.

Thanks to Kirsty MacLean for providing safety boat cover. We’ll be back on the water regularly, so if you want to give Tiree’s latest and most fashionable sport a try, get in touch: 220385

Sea, Surfing and Victory

The Scottish National Surfing Championships 2019 took place over Easter Weekend in Caithness, where Ben and Robyn Larg brought victory home.

Ben defended his title from the previous year in the Northcore under-16’s as well as taking first place in the Northcore under-18, while Robyn took second place in the Blackhouse Watersports under-18 Girls and fourth in the mixed Narosa under-14’s.

Ben said “I’m really happy with my wins and stoked to see Robyn do so well,”

Both of the siblings are now a part of the Scottish junior surfing team, making them eligible to compete in the European and World championships.

Marti and Iona said, “We’re delighted to see Ben and Robyn do so well at the Nationals in Thurso – it’s always a great competition.”

Ben is competing in the British Surfing Championships in Jersey next weekend; a competition where adults and juniors from England, the Channel Islands, Wales and Scotland come to compete for the best in each category.

We wish good luck to Ben for his competition in Jersey and to Robyn in future events!

Your Phone Box Needs You!

The project to restore our island telephone boxes is ready to start, and all we need is a little help… Tiree Community Council have coopted John Patience to coordinate the project, and we are now looking for volunteers who are interested in being involved in restoring the telephone box nearest to them, or one which they are particularly fond of.

We hope that if enough people are interested, each community will be able to take charge of their own box. We will need leaders, painters, planners, DIYers, dreamers, teamakers and bakers… in short anyone is welcome!

The Community Council Coordinator will work with each team to coordinate replacement parts and paint, to give professional help with electrics, doors and joinery, and provide general guidance and help as it is needed.

Each team will restore its box using a guide that has been drawn up after an extensive audit of the Tiree telephone boxes. Once the repairs are complete, it gets really fun! It will be up to each team to decide:

• What colour the box is

• How it is decorated

• Whether or not it has a theme, a task or a role

• What it does/offers/represents

What about a beach box, a library, a coffee stop, a museum, a mini gallery… The options are endless!

We really hope that this project will not only showcase the incredible skills and enthusiasm of our community, but also that it will ensure that the telephone boxes remain part of our landscape for the foreseeable future.

How do I get involved? Email johnpatience tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk and tell him which box you would like to be involved in helping with. If there is a group of you ready and willing to get involved, so much the better!

Then what? Once we have enough interest, we will hold a meeting for the teams and go through what needs to be done. What about doors, and glass, and electrics, and…? We have written up an action plan for each box, with guidance, and we will make sure that you have help and advice when you need it. We are planning to get professional help for some of the tasks. We won’t leave you stuck!

Who’s paying for this? We are working on raising the funds needed to pay for the items needed to do the repairs.

I don’t want to do any repair work, but I’d like to contribute financially Fantastic! We need that type of help too! Please feel free to email John with any pledges. We anticipate needing to raise £10,000 to complete this project and every little helps.

Tell me more! Sure thing – check out the Tiree Community Council website for the entire project document: www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

On Being Rescued

letters to editor

I had the doubtful pleasure of being a ‘rescued casualty’ in the Tiree Multi- Agency Emergency Responders Exercice held over Easter Week – end.

On the Sat night, in the 1st incident I was the ‘voice’ to the dummy casualty trapped under a quad bike, on the machair, with a broken femur and pelvis. I became the casualty, after the ‘dummy ‘ had been moved onto a stretcher sledge.

On the Sun morning, in the 2nd incident, my ‘wife’ and I had capsized our kayak in rough seas. We lost the kayak and swam to shore, only to be battered onto the rocks of a headland, to await rescue. My ‘wife’ was semi concious, ‘bleeding’ from her ear with a possible bad head injury. I was a Type 1 diabetic.

In both incidents I was in awe at the professionalism of Tiree’s Rescue services and the resources at their disposal.

Tiree, you are in very safe hands.

Tiree Community Council -April Meeting

A new plan to renovate Tree’s phone boxes; ferry reliability (again); and the effectiveness of the new EE mast at Garraphail were all discussed at length at this month’s Community Council meeting.

John Patience presented a plan that he and Rhoda Meek had developed to do up the eleven K6 telephone boxes that the community council had bought two years ago. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, the project has had a break and the boxes have aged rather ungracefully in the meantime.

John and Rhoda have now re-visited every box, photographed and assessed it, and worked out what repair work is needed and how much it might cost. Their idea is to take the work to the box, rather than uprooting them all to a central workshop. The power supply will be isolated, new hardwood glazing beads fitted and the doors repaired on the island, and the paint stripped and new panelling installed inside. Their central idea is for each township to ‘adopt’ their phone box, providing a local ‘champion’ who will coordinate most of the work locally.

Each township will then decide the box’s colour scheme and what the box then becomes used for: a defibrillator site, (mini) pop-up restaurant or …. Each box will have a panel designed by An Iodhlann with details of the township’s history and culture. The costs? Around £1,000 for each box.

The council thanked John and Rhoda for their impressive report and agreed to continue with the project. Possibly when it is completed, they may be passed to another organisation to look after in the longer term.

There was a detailed discussion about ferry reliability. There has been a good deal of talk about cancellations on the ferry service, and we heard last month from island hauliers what a headache these are causing. Now the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee have produced a report that shows that cancellations on the Oban-Craignure run have risen in the last three winters, and that the Oban-Coll-Tiree route is even worse. They bought weather data from the last twenty years and it appears to show that cancellations were thirty times higher in 2014/5 than they were in the comparably stormy winter of 1999/2000.

The discussion recognised that the ships’ captains and management have a difficult job – none of us take as many risks as we used to, the vessels are older and less reliable, and the same fleet is being asked to do more sailings. We will write our own report for our representative Stewart MacLennan to take to the Calmac Community Board meeting at the end of the month.

The air tender results should be known at the beginning of May. We have been having some useful discussions with Scottish Government politicians and officials to see if we could present a petition to the Scottish Parliament, and we will prepare ourselves in case we get bad news on this front.

Gerard McGoogan has done some interesting research on the new EE mast at Garraphail. We have had conflicting accounts about its effectiveness, and it turns out that it was not working to full capacity yet. Some parts of the island were getting a great signal, but it was still poor in others. There seem to have been issues with relays from the mast on Ben Gott, but some of this may be a simple commercial calculation. We have a new contact with the company and will press to get the very best service for the most number of people before the summer.

The state of the public toilets was yet again brought up. It was felt that Argyll and Bute and the community council needs to get on top of this problem once and for all. We have applied to take them over as community toilets, but our paperwork appears to have gone into a black hole. This will be our number one priority this month.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair, Ian Gillies and Alison Clark were in attendance. Robert Trythall sent his apologies. John Patience has agreed to join the community council under the ‘Skills and Knowledge’ arrangement to supervise the telephone box project.

The next meeting will be on 8 May, both to avoid the bank holiday, but also timed to be after the opening of the Argyll Air Service tender documents.

COMMUNITY COUNCIL BY-ELECTION

Argyll and Bute Council has agreed to hold a by-election for Tiree Community Council now that our numbers have fallen to two elected and two co-opted members. We are not allowed to hold a meeting if there are less than three councillors present. A date has not been set, and the European elections may (or may not!) affect matters. But do get in touch with me if you are interested. It is absolutely crucial that we have a strong council on the island.

Tiree 10k & Half Marathon – Saturday 4th May

Going into the 14th year of this event we look forward to welcoming 250 runners to take part in what is increasingly one of the must do events on the Scottish running calendar.

Entry for this year’s event was in hot demand, so much so that when registration opened in October last year it was full within 24 hours! We’re pleased to see the event’s popularity soar over the years, and are also aware how much of that is due to the friendly and supportive welcome the runners receive from the Tiree community. So thank you everyone who’s helped at these events!

We’ve also had amazing generosity at the raffles which have added to the events fundraising to just short of £10,000 over the years for local groups and charities, particularly the Oban Mountain Rescue Team.

The 2019 Tiree 10k & Half Marathon will take place on Saturday 4th May, with kids races at 12pm and the 10k/HM starting at 2pm. Race HQ is An Talla. Kids can sign up on the day, but all other entry is now closed. The cafe will be open all day at An Talla.

As always we will do our best to minimise disruption, but please be aware of runners on the roads, particularly between 2pm and 4pm around the Heylipol – Balinoe – Hynish – Sandaig – Island House areas. We’ll put signs up in advance to give plenty of warning. Thank you everyone for working with us on this, and for your tolerance and patience. If there is anything we can do to improve any part of the event please do get in touch.

We’re now recruiting for the 2019 Event Team – it’s a fun way to be part of the event, and cheering on the runners is inspiring and something that’s hugely appreciated. If you could help either indoors at registration, or out on the course please do get in touch.

And lastly, running is one of those things that helps people in so many ways. From physical fitness to mental health, and from enjoying the fresh air to socialising with others. There’s been incredible stories over the years, and people taking part for sorts of different reasons, as well as simply to get a bit fitter. So come and help at the event, be inspired, and next year it could be you standing on the start line!

Contact Will at Tiree Fitness on 07867 304640 or email will@tireefitness.co.uk or visit www.tireefitness.co.uk for more info

Campaign Offers Advice For Dog Owners

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is running a national radio and digital campaign, based on advice from the National Access Forum, to help dog owners to explore their local natural areas without disturbing vulnerable young animals during the lambing season.

The campaign was developed alongside Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and The Kennel Club, and complements wider work being undertaken by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime.

The key message is to keep dogs out of fields with young farm animals and on a short lead or close at heel when livestock are around. If cattle react aggressively, release your dog and take the shortest, safest route out of the field.

As part of the campaign, farmers have been sharing their personal stories, highlighting that as well as injury or death, livestock worrying can result in unseen distress and cause pregnant sheep to lose their lambs.

Alister Orr, 41, a farmer from Cumnock, East Ayrshire, said:

“The sheep, especially at this time of year, are heavily pregnant, carrying anything between one and three lambs. “Even the simplest thing, such as a dog running freely, is enough to disturb the ewes and cause them to run. The impact in a few minutes can be devastating. “The countryside is a great place to be, I work in it every day and I love it to bits. It’s good for yourself, it’s good for your dogs, it’s good for your children. My advice for dog owners is that, for your own safety and for the protection of the livestock, be responsible and stick to the guidelines.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code website provides more information, including online video tutorials covering everything from teaching a dog to be relaxed around livestock through to dog walker etiquette and legal responsibilities.

Dog behaviourist and trainer Natalie Light said:

“These videos are packed full of great tips that will give dog owners the information and skills to have fun and safe walks in Scotland’s outdoors as well as understand their rights and responsibilities under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. “I hope they encourage everyone to get involved and have the confidence to enjoy getting out and about with their pets this spring.”

Farmers and other land managers are also encouraged to support responsible access with dogs by following the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, for example by avoiding putting sheep close to lambing in fields with well-used routes, or indicating reasonable alternatives. If necessary, local access officers can also provide advice.

More information can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website

Tiree Community Council

Feelings that the CalMac service to Tiree is getting more unreliable, proposals to create a confederation of community councils of the Inner Hebrides, and falling numbers on our own community council were up for discussion at this month’s meeting of Tiree Community Council.

Catriona and Stewart MacLennan spoke about the problems they have been having with our ferry service. What appear to be office errors have resulted in a delay in supplying petrol to the garage and an almost impossible situation after this summer’s Tiree Music Festival when the Monday ferry has been filled with passenger traffic, resulting in expensive equipment being stranded on the island.

Their compelling testimony was backed up by other regular users. Businesses were losing thousands of pounds, making life in the island’s haulage industry critical.

There was a strong feeling that the culture of company had become more risk averse, with captains cancelling sailings too far ahead. The company also was getting worse rather than better at speaking to their customers.

The loss of the more robust and larger Clansman into dry dock, added to her covering for other vessels’ absence is making the situation more difficult. Supply of lead-free petrol to the island has become a serious issue.

It made depressing hearing, and reinforced the point that we rely utterly on our haulage companies to keep all aspects of life on Tiree going. We are going to prepare a submission to the CalMac Community Board.

We also decided to pursue an idea to form some sort of confederation with the other islands of the Inner Hebrides. The twenty-three inhabited Argyll islands, with a combined population of 7,200 – 14,500 if you add Bute – punch well below their weight on Argyll and Bute Council. By coming together, we might hope to influence the council and the Scottish Government more.

As a tiny example, did you know that there is £45,000 travel fund for young athletes – from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland? This is despite the fact that our ferry crossing is much longer than that between Stornoway and Ullapool or Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

We also discussed the limited access to the EE mast at Garraphail. Only those with pricey, modern phones and people with regular EE subscription packages can use it. We will look into this, as the mast is not benefiting the community in the way we had hoped.

We also held our AGM that evening. Sadly, Willie Angus MacLean has decided that he needs to step down from Tiree Community Council because of his growing business commitments. Willie has been an outstanding councillor and is a local politician to watch in the future! That leaves us with just two elected members – Robert and myself – and the two coopted members Ian and Alison.

We need to recruit some more members, and we are able to appoint other non-voting members for their ‘Skills and Knowledge’. If anyone wants to volunteer for this, we would be extremely grateful. Let me know.

As a reminder of how important the community council has become, this is a brief list of some of the areas we have covered in the last year:

• We successfully lobbied HIE to assist island community groups to bid for the land at Pier View

• We completed the competition for the Tiree community flag and organised the unveiling

• We successfully lobbied HIAL to improve facilities for disabled passengers at Tiree airport and new loading equipment was purchased

• We successfully lobbied the Council to prevent closure of the Customer Services Point in Crossapol

• We organised the centenary War Memorial service on Remembrance Day

• We successfully lobbied against a proposal to harvest kelp around the island from Marine Biopolymers Ltd

• We successfully lobbied Argyll and Bute Council to re-tender for the Argyll Air Service

Not a bad year’s work! Please help us to keep it up.

Dr John Holliday (chair), Robert Trythall, Ian Gillies and Wille Angus MacLean were in attendance. Alison Clark, Roddy McCuish and Jim Lynch sent their apologies.

Dr John Holliday

Anyone wanting more information about the state of play with the Argyll Air Service tender should see our website:

http:// www.tireecommunitycouncil.co. uk/tiree-oban-air-service-retender/

Tiree has been selected to be part of a pilot project aiming to tackle marine plastic pollution on UK islands by implementing innovative, community-based solutions.

The initiative is part of the ‘Cold Water Islands Project’, led by the national marine conservation and campaigning charity Surfers Against Sewage, which has joined forces with Parley for the Oceans to develop a strategy that ten volunteer-led island communities will work to implement throughout 2019.

The plastic pollution crisis can have a disproportionate negative impact on island ecosystems, wildlife and communities from the tropics to the tundra. This new project, targeting small cold water islands around the UK, will explore plastic pollution pathways and promote community-based solutions under the Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) to demonstrate how these microcosms can provide a template for global action towards a plastic-free future.

Tiree joins a selection of islands communities across a broad geographic spread, from the Northern Isles to the Channel Islands, each of which faces unique challenges in respect to addressing plastic pollution pathways. The list of selected islands includes:

  • Orkney, Northern Isles, Scotland
  • Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
  • Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
  • Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli), Wales
  • Hayling Island, England
  • Alderney, Channel Islands
  • Herm, Channel Islands

The selection was based on detailed applications by prospective ‘island community leaders’ – individuals who are instigators of change and ocean activists; passionate individuals who can stimulate positive change and grow a movement within their community.

Catriona Spink, the selected community leader coordinating the project on Tiree said:

“When I first came to Tiree 35 years ago there was no plastic. This plastic tide is a blight to such a beautiful wild rural environment and needs to be urgently addressed, which is why I’ve taken on this project with my community.”

The project aims to demonstrate how these small island microcosms can provide a template for action for transitioning to a plastic-free future on a global-scale. Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects at Surfers Against Sewage says:

“Our island communities are on the front line battling the scourge of plastic pollution and we want to support the groups and individuals working tirelessly to tackle avoidable single-use plastic.”

Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans says:

“Islanders know that plastic has to go. It doesn’t belong on beaches and it has no place in a circular economy. Together with SAS, we’ll continue to grow our Parley AIR Strategy and SAS’s Plastic Free Communities to these new islands by empowering and connecting communities and their leaders, whose local actions can shape both a nationwide and global model for change”

The strategy involves a community-based approach, with local businesses, stakeholders and individuals all encouraged to participate in the project’s positive action through steering groups, events and beach cleans.

The programme incorporates the learnings of both SAS’s community initiatives and Parley’s AIR strategy. Each community leader will be supported with a toolkit resource, that will be crafted to guide the island’s strategy and detail the tactics for achieving change.

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