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Tiree Community Council News

It was another long meeting, but there was plenty to talk about: the linkspan closure, an upgrade to the airport embarkation equipment, and a green light to discuss the pros and cons of taking the Scarinish public toilets into community ownership. The month had been full of meetings to report back on.

We had met Kevin Hobbs, the chief executive of CMAL, the company that owns the ferry fleet and the Tiree pier on behalf of the Scottish government. It was a chance to hear from the horse’s mouth about the shipyard delays on the Clyde, which mean the two new ferries are seriously behind schedule.

The Tiree linkspan is being replaced in February/March 2020, and we have to be prepared for the fact that we won’t be able to get cars or lorries on or off the ferry at the Gott Bay pier for four weeks. There is an important meeting on Tuesday 4th December 4-7.30 pm in An Talla, where CalMac and CMAL staff will do their best to answer our questions. The Tiree Transport Forum will make sure the engineers are aware of the big dates in the Tiree calendar so they can work round them.

We also met Michael Bratcher, who oversees air services within Transport Scotland. The contract for the flights between Tiree and Glasgow is up for renewal next year, and airlines will again be bidding. Passenger numbers are reassuringly up, and it looks as though services will continue much the way they are. Something Michael particularly likes is the ‘flight banking’ system that Tiree operates. This means that a few flights can be cut in the winter months and then used at the times of year of our choice when it’s busy. One piece of news is that a new and heavier SAAB is coming into operation, one that the Tiree runways cannot cope with. So the only planes coming to Tiree from next year will be the Twin Otter and the Kingair ambulance plane.

I also met our three local Argyll and Bute councillors last week. They had flown out from Oban to the island for the day, and were delighted with the convenience of the flight. When I pointed out that the Council had agreed to cut the subsidy of this service drastically, they were absolutely sure that the Oban- Tiree flights would be safe. Let’s hope they’re proved right!

While they were there, I took the opportunity to ask them for a bigger grant for Tiree Community Council to allow us to get to mainland meetings. They absolutely supported this. Let’s hope they’re successful!

There has been a problem over the last year with access to the Twin Otter for people who need help to get into the aircraft. The Stairclimber equipment to lift passengers up the steps is not powerful enough. The community council has been lobbying HIAL, who run the Tiree airport, as well as Loganair, to get a more powerful version, and we are delighted that HIAL have now done precisely that.

Another issue we have been chewing away at for over a year is the block of land next to Pier View in Scarinish. This was provisionally sold by HIE to MacLeod Construction, but has now come back on the market.

Finally: toilets. Every year the council cuts come closer. What has sharpened our interest recently has been the closure by Highland Council – apparently the UK’s ‘largest provider of public toilets’ – of most of their councilrun toilets in a bid to save £500,000 a year. Argyll and Bute councillors discuss the same cut every year too. We have taken the view that the Scarinish toilets, which everyone agrees are completely essential, are vulnerable, and we would be better to open a dialogue now to see if the council would consider passing them into community ownership. Community toilets are becoming more common – there are good examples in Biggar, Arisaig and the Kyle of Lochalsh. Things are at an early stage, but we have started the ball rolling. Now we will wait to see what sort of deal the council will make the community.

Councillors Dr John Holliday, Robert Trythall and Ian Gillies attended. Apologies were received from Willie Angus MacLean and Alison Clark.

Tiree Community Development Trust News

Tiree Trust Logo

The Milton Harbour Project has been out to tender. We hope to announce the result in the next edition of An Tirisdeach and the proposed start date for the work is 1st April 2019.

The Trust has been conditionally awarded £131k from Visit Scotland’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund towards upgrading beach access car parks and extending the car park at The Business Centre. This forms around 70% of the costs required and an application to LEADER is ongoing to make up the funding package. Funding has also been secured from SNH, The Windfall Fund and Tiree Community Business.

Youth Worker Willie MacKinnon attended a Duke of Edinburgh training session in Inveraray and Lochgilphead along with Lydia Macajova, in preparation for leading a group of Tiree children to gain a Silver Award.

A visit from Fergus Murray, Head of Economic Development for Argyll & Bute Council, was delayed in early November for the second time and is now likely to be rescheduled in the new year.

At the time of writing a meeting was due to take place on Wednesday 14th November with crofters who participate in the Croft Camping Scheme to review the scheme.

The Trust recently welcomed Ishbel Campbell as the new Gaelic Development Officer. Ishbel will work part time (17.5 hours per week) continuing the fantastic work that Donna MacLean carried out during her time with the Trust including regular Gaelic Bookbug, Stradagan and School Gaelic Club sessions. Ishbel has also started weekly Gaelic classes for adults –if anyone is interested in beginner or intermediate classes please contact Ishbel for more information.

After completing a Gaelic course through Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Ishbel then completed a post graduate diploma (Gaelic Immersion for Teachers) via Strathclyde University and currently works part time as a primary teacher at the school on Tiree.

Tiree Rowers Hold Their Own At National Skiff Sprints

Four rowers from the island attended the end-of-season freshwater sprints held by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association at Loch Tummel, near Pitlochry last weekend.

The four were all part of the team that built the Tiree St Ayles skiff, An Gille-Brìghde, earlier this year: Alasdair MacLachlan, Dr Ute MacGregor, Clare Jones and Dr John Holiday.

The event is held every autumn, attracting 150 rowers from as far afield as Northern Ireland and England. One club alone, Broughty Ferry, brought forty-four competitors. These were grouped into regional teams that battled it out in around twenty categories, from open mens’ teams to the ‘230s’, where the team’s ages had to add up to over 230.

Clare bravely rowed in the novice team for the north-west region. (By ‘novices’, they mean rowers who have never won a race). Dr Holliday told An Tirisdeach:

“The standard was blisteringly high, and, by all accounts, rapidly improving as the bigger clubs invest in winter training, technical improvements and weekly competitions. I made the mistake of agreeing to be part of a so-called ‘Intermediate’ crew. There’s nothing quite like rowing flat out for five minutes with three twenty-somethings from Ullapool to teach one respect and to give thanks at the end that one had lived to tell the tale! There was breath-taking sunshine and bone-numbing cold, but a great atmosphere among the rowers strung out in their teams along the banks of the loch. Several of the clubs had even brought pavilion tents with the club name emblazoned on them. Afterwards they held the AGM of the association. The 2019 Skiffie World Championships will be held in July in Stranraer, with over two thousand skiff rowers expected. We on Tiree have a long way to go, but I am sure we can build a healthy rowing group on the island and – who knows? – we might even get out there and start racing.”

The team had a good snoop around the skiffs on show, bringing a hoard of photographs back for the design team at home to work on.

Tiree Linkspan

On Monday 29th Oct Community Council, and Tiree Transport Forum, met Kevin Hobbs, CEO, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), and Richie Morgan CMAL’s Health, Safety and Environmental Manager.

We had a very constructive meeting addressing many ferry issues,including an over view of CMAL’s role in ferry and port facility provision.

The main discussion concentrated on Tiree’s linkspan replacement. Kevin Hobbs has requested we publish this statement:-

“We are planning a project to replace the linkspans at Tiree and Coll Ferry Terminals. Funding is in place and our engineering team are finalising tender evaluations for the works, with a view to appointing a contractor in the near future. It is our intention to issue a formal update once a contractor is appointed and to consult with the communities in Tiree & Coll at meetings in December 2018, which we are in the process of arranging.

At the meetings CMAL & CalMac will discuss the timing of the construction project, the details of the replacement process and the alternative ferry services to be in place during the works.

While the programme has not been finalised, we anticipate that removal of the existing linkspan at Tiree and installation of a newly fabricated replacement will take place in spring 2020, and that the project will take around three to four weeks to complete. If we can reduce that timescale, we will, but it will depend upon various factors, such as prevailing weather and repair works that may need to be undertaken once the existing linkspan is removed.

We know that timing is critical to minimise disruption to the island and its connectivity. CMAL and CalMac are working together to ensure that the alternative ferry services can be maintained throughout the construction period.”

Maclennan Motors Party raised £10,000 for Tiree Play Park

MacLennan Motors celebrated 40 years of business with a party at An Talla on Saturday 27th.

Family, friends and customers were invited along to join the party and it was nice to see everyone dressed up for the occasion.

Argyll Foods were the caterers for the evening who served up a fine selection of hot dishes. Entertainment was provided by local band Trail West who kicked the party off and followed by Big Vern N the Shoots finishing off the evening with an electric set.

Throughout the evening money was raised for Tiree Play Park with a raffle and an auction. Ian Smith did a fantastic job as auctioneer, pushing people to dig that little bit deeper into their pockets. We are delighted the auctioned to raised £4935 and the raffle bringing in £2700. With a selection of other donations and the bar income total was £10,000.

We would like to thank everyone for coming along and making the evening a memorable occasion. Special thanks for all the donations we received.

Tiree Tech Wave

This will be the last Tiree Tech Wave ‘as we know it’.

However, TTW will continue in spirit as a peripatetic event continuing the theme of technology at the margins (geographic or social), but in a variety of other locations. The first non-Tiree TTW will be in Penparcau in the Spring. If you have a location you believe would be good and are prepared to do a little local organisation, please get in touch wth Alan.

The Atlantic fringe was the haven of scholarship through the Dark Ages and is the haunt of windsurfers today. The Tech Wave tries to capture a little of the spirit of each (see vision); from mashups to breadboards, Arduino to RDF, we will consider the social and philosophical challenges of technology by engaging directly with it.

Come to take time to explore ideas that keep being put on the backburner, to be stimulated by others, or simply to be intellectually refreshed. As always there is no fixed agenda, the issues and activities depend on you! If you want to get an idea for what happens, read about previous Tech Waves or see some of the projects or outcomes.

Tiree Tech Wave offers a time to step out, albeit momentarily, from a target-driven world, to experiment and play with hardware and software, to discuss the issues of our new digital maker culture, what we know and what we seek to understand, and above all to make things together.

This is all about technology and people: the physical device that sits in our hands, the data.gov.uk mashup that tells us about local crime, the new challenges to personal privacy and society and the nation state. It is also a chance to explore the margins and understand what technology means outside the urban digital heartlands.

Important notice: children under 16 must be accompanied at all times by an adult who is responsible for them.

Tiree Wave Classic 2018

The Tiree Wave Classic is the longest running professional windsurfing event in the world. It was founded in 1985 to the present, showcasing the best of the UK’s windsurfing talents from across a number of fleets. It ranges from the Juniors to the World Cup Professional Windsurfers.

The event has been hosted since 2015 by Wild Diamond Watersports, a company based on Tiree who have been involved in the competition since its conception.

This years competition was off to a slow start due to a delay brought on by the weather disruptions with Cal Mac following storm Callum. While a majority of the competitors arrived on the island on the Saturday evening boat, An Talla was transformed into the event headquarters for the week of the competition.

Both the Elephant’s End pop up café and the Windswept Brewing Co. pop up bar returned this year in An Talla, while the Gertrude’s Grub food van and the Windswept Brewing.Co van followed the action outdoors to provide both competitors and spectators with refreshments at the competition sites.

The main hall featured several local run stalls with merchandise, including Tiree Chocolate, Wild Diamond and Hebri Boards. The event HQ at An Talla has been opened up for both the competition spectators and island locals to enjoy.

This years competition brought in the highest number of competitors on record with a total fleet of 86 including Masters, Pros, Amateurs, Womens’ and Youths’ resulting in a 21% growth on last years event which had 71 entrants. Participants have travelled from around the globe, including Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, the Chanel Islands, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain and Australia, to take part in Tiree’s based competition, bringing business and activity to the island, before the wind down to the quieter Winter season.

“This is such a fantastic place – first time on Tiree and lovely weather with great waves and great wind… it’s going to be superb! I can’t wait to come back already!” Tim Lawes, Masters Fleet.

“Amazing vibe, it’s wicked there are so many competitors!” Adam Lewis, Pro fleet winner for Tiree Wave Classic 2017 (Ranked 5th in the World)

Sunday 14th saw An Talla filled to the brim with the competitors for the morning briefing. Breakfasts flew from the cafe’s doors as the sun greeted Tiree with blue skies and light, variable winds which were unsuitable for the competition.

Monday 15th had the Pros at Gott Bay supporting the Future Pro’s youth fleet, which had 19 competitors taking part including three local children. The Future Pro’s initiative established at the Tiree Wave Classic some 15 years ago, is now a national initiative at all the British Wavesailing Association events in the UK. Training camps nationally include tuition from Wild Diamond as well as support and advice from the pros. Participants will have some of their first experiences in the waves while others will receive training for competition.

Tuesday 16th presented the competition with idyllic weather for wind surfers! Contest activities started at the crack of dawn to make the most of Tiree’s wind and waves.

Wednesday 17th further competition was attempted in warmer, sunnier conditions without success while competitors revelled in Crossapol’s picture perfect waves which were great for surfing and paddle boarding. The occassional puff of wind just tantalized competitors.

Competitors representing Tiree included Stewart Cowling and Gavin Dunlop in the Amateur Fleet, Mike Archer in the Pro Fleet and Charlotte Vale, Eddie Maclean and Magnus Robinson in the Youth Fleet.

Other events from the Wave Classic included ‘Meet the Pros’ night, a movie night, a curry night at Ceabhar and the closing prize giving ceremony followed by live music with some fantastic local musicians. The event media outputs include:

? A 28 minute movie covering the 2018 competition for Sky Sports and cable networks.

? Numerous magazine articles, newspaper articles.

? Numerous radio and TV interviews.

All of this assisting Tiree’s visibility worldwide. Event sponsors included:

Argyll & Bute Council, Calmac Ferries, Red Bull, Event Scotland, Windswept Brewing, Scottish Salmon Company, Tiree Community Development Trust, Argyll Estates, Gordon Castle Gin and more! The event will end a day early this year on Thursday 18th due to a lack of Cal Mac capacity with the growth in the Event. Tiree seems to get a bit busier every year and it would appear that the success of the Event, and its growth run hand in hand with Tiree’s popularity as a visitor destination.

Community Council News

Ferries, this year’s Armistice Day service at the War Memorial, and seaweed harvesting were some of the subjects discussed at this month’s community council meeting.

This had been delayed by a week to accommodate an important session of the Tiree Transport Forum with senior CalMac management earlier in the day. There has been a lot of frustration with the company over the last six months, with the prolonged absence of the Clansman and complaints about the booking system, centred around the weekend of the 10k. David Gibson (Director of Service Delivery for the whole company), Robert Morrison (Head of Operations North) and Finlay MacRae (Area Operations Manager North) acknowledged that the DOS-based system running ticketing was over twenty years old. An attempt several years ago to replace it had ended in failure, and a new £20 million request for its replacement was on the desks of ministers in Edinburgh. A new system was at least two years off, and in the meantime, they recommended using the website to get information about sailings.

David has instigated a new integrated control centre, so that ferry disruptions can be handled centrally, and he promised the company would be quicker at getting a work-around for problems in future. Everyone acknowledged that the fleet, with an average age of over twenty years, was struggling to keep pace with demand, particularly after Road Equivalent Tariff boosted numbers of tourists visiting the islands.

The Tiree ferry linkspan is due to be replaced in the autumn of 2019. This will mean a month when no vehicles will be able to access the boat. This will present a serious challenge; fortunately, Coll will be going through the same process six months earlier, giving us a chance to learn from that exercise.

Another issue that came up was the uncertain ownership of the car park at the pier head. There have been issues over long term parking there, but no one seems to know which body has title to the ground, and no one is currently managing it.

Our annual request for a change for the Barra boat in summer from Wednesday back to Thursday is just not possible at the moment, although the launching of the two new ferries currently on the slipway at the moment might free up timetables eventually. These vessels, known as 801 and 802, are seriously behind schedule and over budget; we will be lucky to see them before winter service 2019-2020 and late summer service 2020 respectively.

Another issue, which Alan Millar brought up, was the November 11th service at the War Memorial. Since the 1920s, this has taken place on the Saturday afternoon. This year marks the centenary of Armistice Day, with the 11th falling on the Sunday itself. We discussed whether to change the service to the Sunday afternoon for this year only. Alan will discuss the matter with the leadership of both churches.

Phones boxes came up for discussion, too. An ambitious project by the community council to buy and renovate all but one of the public phone boxes on the island has ground to a halt after an enthusiastic start last year.

By good fortune, one of those attending the meeting had bought and renovated a phone box for his wife’s birthday. He knew from first hand how difficult and expensive it could be. One suggestion was to move all the boxes from their current locations, use the best parts from all of them to repair one or two that could then be positioned in the most useful places, selling some of the spare parts left over to finance the project. A group will meet soon to look at the problem afresh.

I took advantage of a recent visit to the Coll Homecoming to chat to some members of their Community Council. Their issues are the dreadful state of their roads, and the desire of many islanders for a door-to-door recyclables collection. Some of the ferry timetable changes they were seeking were diametrically opposed to ours.

Marine Scotland has sent Marine Bioplolymers, the company seeking permission to trawl for kelp around Tiree, back to the drawing board, to apply again area by area. We will keep a close eye on the situation.

Dr John Holliday, Robert Trythall, Ian Gillies and Alison Clark were in attendance. William Angus MacLean sent his apologies. Sadly, Andy Wright has stepped down from the council.

Brendan O’Hara MP Visit To Tiree

It’s not often that Tiree gets a visit from three of its representatives on the same day but that is what happened on Monday, 25th September when local MP Brendan O’Hara joined SNP colleague Councillor Jim Lynch and Councillor Roddy McCuish on a constituency visit.

Mr O’Hara kicked off the day with a visit to Tiree High School to meet staff and pupils before meeting up with the Tiree Development Trust and finishing off with a constituency surgery.

Mr O’Hara said,

“It’s always good to visit Tiree. My thanks to Tiree High School for their warm welcome and it was good to meet up with the Development Trust to bring me up to date on what is happening and the latest issues on the island”.

Of course if anyone didn’t manage to see me you can always email me directly or call my office.”

The contact details for Mr O’Hara are below:

Tel: 01436 670587

Write: 8 Colquhoun Square, Helensburgh, G84 8AD Email: brendan.ohara.mp@parliament.uk

Tiree Community Council September Meeting

Kelp dredging around the island, a significant reduction in the support given by Argyll and Bute Council for the Tiree- Oban flight, and the state of houses at Pier View came up for discussion at amarathon two-and-a-half-hour session of Tiree Community Council, the first after a two-month summer recess.

A company called Marine Biopolymers has submitted plans to trawl for kelp around Tiree. Kelp beds are breeding grounds for small fish, and the fear is that removing them would cut the catch of the island’s fishing fleet. The beds also cushion the force of Atlantic storms on the coastline, and the worry is that trawling them could make erosion of our sandy beaches, already an issue,worse. There could be less storm-cast seaweed for crofters to use on their fields. The effects on seals, basking sharks and animals like dolphins are also unknown, having a possible knock-on effect on sea life tourism. And large quantities of discarded kelp ‘stems’ might wash up on the island’s shores as an unsightly and smelly mess. We will respond to Marine Scotland in the next week with a list of our concerns, having won an extension.
Argyll and Bute Council have decided to cut the annual subsidy for the Oban-Coll-Tiree air link by a quarter, from £735,000 to £525,000. The service is going out to tender early next year. The worry is that the sum won’t be enough to attract an operator, and the service could be cut to one day a week or even stop completely. The flights are particularly popular with patients going to Oban hospital, allowing them to return the same day. We were concerned that the figures had been hidden deep in the council budget report, and needed a lot of digging to find them. We will lobby hard to preserve this service, one of the achievements of the last community council.We also decided to ask Highlands and islands Airports to see if there was a better way for disabled passengers to access the Glasgow plane than the current Stairmaster.
The poor state of housing at ‘Tank Farm’was also raised. We will try to meet as many residents as we can to get a fuller picture, and then get back to West Highland Housing Association. We also decided to chase up Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who sold a plot of land next to Tank Farm to MacLeod Construction of Lochgilphead, over the heads of two island groups.
The next meeting of the council will be on 10 October. Alison Clark and Ian Gillies were co-opted for a two-year term. The next elections will be in 2020, when two seats will be up for grabs.
Dr John Holliday, William Angus MacLean, Robert Trythall and Andy Wright and twelve members of the public were in attendance.

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