Author Archives: admin

Cancer Research Fundraiser

cancer walk

On the 21st of June, islanders gathered at the Gym n’ Tonic Studio for a charity walk around the island in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The weather conditions were perfect for the summer solstice; clear skies as the sun sank beyond the Hough, with no more than a light breeze. The cheerful attendees enjoyed a glass of Prosecco and glow-in-the- dark face painting in preparation for the ten mile walk around the island.

Around 20 adults took part, alongside 9 of the island’s children; Lani, Olivia, Calin, Robyn, Keiran, Mathew, Abbey, Aedan, Lewis and Charlie.

Setting off from the Gym n’ Tonic Studio in Scarinish, the group made their way towards Baugh, across the Reef to Crossapol, up through Kenovay and turning left at the ocean towards Balephetrish where they would loop back around to Scarinish, arriving back at the gym around 1am.

The group enjoyed several Prosecco stops along the way, with thanks to Freddie Arnold, Dolina & Alec MacDonald, Janice MacInnes, the Rockvale Guesthouse, Jeanie Fisher, Fiona MacPhail at the Lodge, Beachcomber and Bùth a’ Bhaile.

A total sum of £3254.89 has been raised so far, including a gift aid of £376. Bùth a’ Bhaile will have a bucket to collect further donations over the summer months. Claire would like to thank all the donors and sponsors for their contributions!

For more information on the charity, please visit: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/

Tiree Community Council – June Meeting

Bicycling on Tiree, ferry cancellations and proposals for a new Marine Protected Area around Tiree were three subjects debated at the last meeting of Tiree Community Council before the summer break.

The Community Council recently received a letter from a bicyclist. Tiree’s single-track roads – built for the horse and cart and now used by everyone from crofters hauling seaweed or moving cattle, to joggers, fire engines, cyclists and campervans, including those who are here on holiday and those who call the island their home – usually work pretty well. But we do hear from time to time about incidents, and it seems that some cyclists and some car drivers occasionally rub each other up the wrong way on Tiree roads.

The spotlight fell on the current leaflet about bicycling on Tiree, and the accompanying notice board on the side of the Coop. This advises cyclists to dismount if approached by a car.

This advice was driven by safety: Tiree’s roads look inviting, but they can be hazardous when busy, and in an accident, it’s obvious who is going to come off worse. Councillors felt some guidance was still needed, but that it should be in accordance with the Highway Code.

We will update the material to reflect the fact that all road users on Tiree have an equal right to use the public highway. As a first step, we decided to contact the local policeman and Police Scotland’s Divisional Local Road Safety Partnership Rep to get the most up-to-date advice. In the meantime, we will take down the notice at the Coop. I would be interested in your comments on this issue.

The meeting also discussed the proposal to establish a Marine Protected Area in the Sea of the Hebrides. This extends north to Skye, west to the Uists and south as far as Islay.

This MPA is designed to protect basking sharks, minke whales, productive areas of the sea where two bodies of water meet and mix (so-called ‘fronts’), and something called the Inner Hebrides Carbonate Production Area – in other words, seabed with lots of shells – that generates the shell sand that creates the island’s machair. A proposal to gives the seas around Tiree.

Special status has been in the pipeline since 2014 and is supported by conservation groups such as the Marine Conservation Society. It is not clear at the moment what restrictions this designation might place on island businesses, particularly fishermen. There is a public meeting about this on Tiree on 19 July, and again, I welcome your views.

Earlier in the day, Tiree Transport Forum and members of Community Council had met Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, and Robert Morrison, Head of Service Delivery Operations for the company. This was in response to growing dissatisfaction in island communities who felt that their ferries were getting less reliable, with an increasing number of cancellations due to weather and mechanical breakdowns. An in-depth analysis by the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee showed that the Mull ferry cancellation rate was thirty times greater in the winter of 2014/15 that in the winter of 1999/2000 – despite the weather being comparable. The pair disputed these figures, but did admit that the cancellation rate was higher on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route than on other routes in the network. Part of this was due to the fact that the ferries were getting older – the Clansman is twenty-one years old – because the Scottish Government has invested too little in the fleet and the two latest replacement vessels were now held up by mysterious delays at the Fergusson Marine shipyard on the Clyde. But they made the fair points that health-and safety regulations are now much stricter; that there had been a number of serious berthing incidents such as last year’s damage to the Hebridean Isles at the Gott Bay pier; and that their nonstop schedule now meant that ferry sailings could no longer be put on hold for six hours.

We were told that the old scenario where a skipper would ‘give it a go’ is a thing of the past, and the occasional cancellation was the price we would have to pay for journeys that were safer for passengers, crew and cargo. An idea to reserve some tickets for local passengers is unlikely to come to anything, as CalMac’s contract with the Scottish Government means that every passenger applying to purchase a ticket has to be treated equally. We made the point forcefully that lifeline deliveries on a cancelled sailing should be given absolute priority for the next boat. We also argued that many Tiree passengers would prefer that decisions to cancel sailings were not made too far in advance.

We have been promised a by-election to allow us to recruit more community councillors. When this comes round, do please consider putting your hat into the ring. It’s the island flagship and we badly need more crewmembers! The Community Council has applied to Argyll and Bute Council to lease the public toilets in Scarinish and organise their cleaning at no cost to the council. Despite this seemingly attractive offer, the council has not been able to come to a decision as we go to press. We had also applied to Argyll and Bute for an increase in our grant from £400 to £600 a year to allow community councillors to travel to the mainland to attend meetings. This request has been turned down under pressure from larger community councils on the mainland.

Although there will be no public meetings over the summer, your community council remains alive and well. If you have any issues you would like our help with, please contact me.

No Smoke Without Fire

Several weeks ago a bomb was thought to be discovered on Gott beach.

Steph was notified first, who cordoned off the area before notifying the HM Coastguard Rescue Team of Tiree and bomb disposal.

The coastguard were placed in charge of observing the item until the Navy Bomb Disposal Unit arrived on the island on the 8th of June. Traffic was stopped for twenty minutes in both directions at the bend on the corner near the Lodge Hotel and up towards Ruaig Farm to ensure a safe exclusion zone for the detonation.

The item in question was reported to be a smoke marker from an old ship, but the object was disposed of and made safe.

– Rou Worsley

Remember, if you see an item on the beach that you believe to be suspicious, do not touch it, just make a note of its position, then dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Photo courtesy of John Gunderson

Island Kids Make a Splash on the Mainland

PUPILS from a remote island are swapping a windswept loch which was once the home of ancient Scots for a modern city pool to enhance their swimming skills.

The children from Tiree – the most westerly Isle in the Inner Hebrides – usually train next to 5000 year old settlements in the icy waters of Loch Bhasapol as they don’t have a pool on the island. Loch Bhasapol has two small islands in it which are thought to be crannogs – ancient artificial islands that were built to be defensive homes and represented symbols of power and wealth. But this week the 14 primary six and seven children from Tiree Primary School are ditching wetsuits to make the 180 mile journey to participate in Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim lessons at Glasgow Club Gorbals.

Ruth Budge, their teacher at Tiree Primary School, said: “Trips to the mainland are a big highlight in our school calendar and we always try to fit in a visit to a pool for swimming and water confidence lessons. “Living on an island, swimming becomes an even more important skill to have. We usually hold lessons in Loch Bhasapol but with staff changes at the school, it just hasn’t been a possibility this year. “Some of the children really only get the chance to go swimming when they’re on holiday once a year and because it’s not something they’re doing regularly, it’s really difficult for them to maintain and improve their abilities.”

The island kids will be given the lesson later this week by Glasgow Sport which delivers the national swimming framework to the local area and has helped to coordinate the trip.

Tiree is part of Live Argyll – the local Leisure Trust which is also part of the National Learn to Swim Framework, however a school trip to Glasgow enabled one of the other partner Leisure Trusts – Glasgow Sport to help out on this occasion.

Tiree has a population of just 650 and is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. The school has taken the ferry to Oban before travelling by bus to Glasgow to enjoy their time on the mainland. Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs for Scottish Water, said: “The Hebrides are surrounded by water so it’s so essential that children have the skills to be safe in the water. “We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Learn to Swim Framework and to be giving children the opportunity to develop their swimming skills even when pools aren’t within easy reach.” The Learn to Swim Framework helps to create quality learn to swim environments for children from birth upwards where they can become competent, confident and safe swimmers.

Sharon MacDonald, Director of Development at Scottish Swimming, said: “It’s just fantastic to see how the National Learn to Swim Framework and the strong partnerships formed within it between Leisure Trusts can support children living in the most remote areas like Tiree and give them special opportunities to swim and experience different swimming pools to help them flourish as swimmers.”

Andrena Hammond, Swimming Participation Manager, at Glasgow Sport said: “It’s fantastic having the children here. Seeing their enthusiasm and enjoyment in using our pool has been heartwarming.”

Ruth added: “We’re very grateful that everyone has been so accommodating to us. The kids have been so excited and they even started a countdown leading up to the trip.”

Future Fuel Provision on Tiree

In April The Trust were approached by MacLennan Motors to say that, as part of Catriona and Harry’s retirement plan, they would aim to stop selling Diesel and Unleaded fuel in 2020.

They fully understand the importance of this service to the island and our economy and they wanted to ensure that if another private supplier does not materialise, the Trust might be able to explore the idea of a community owned service.

After an initial discussion with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and given the timescale involved, HIE offered to pay for a feasibility study to explore whether a community owned fuel service could work on Tiree.

We would like to emphasise that this is purely a research exercise at this stage and the Trust would not want to compete with any private local business that may see this as a viable business opportunity.

The feasibility study went out to tender last week and work will commence over July and August. MacLennan Motors are aware of this study taking place.

Scottish Government Islands Plan Consultation Event

This is Tiree’s chance to have our say on what we want included in the Islands’ Plan and Island Communities Impact Assessments. For those who can’t make it there’s a link below to the consultation online.

The Islands’ Plan and Island Communities Impact Assessments are being brought into force as part of the Islands Act 2018 and are due to be in place by the end of 2019. These 2 items are designed to improve outcomes for all islands’. Progress will be reviewed against targets for the next 5 years at least.

These consultation events are designed to provide Scottish Government with details of what works on islands, the issues which islanders want to be addressed and how outcomes can be improved. There will be 4 people coming to run the event on Tiree, 2 from Scottish Government, including the Islands’ Team lead, and 2 from Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) who are helping to frame the Islands’ Plan.

The consultation events are designed to be open to the public and to capture the views of all island residents. The events follow a structure so the results from each can be compared and categorised. For once, it’s not the usual “be talked at” type of consultation. The events are interactive and build on participants’ responses to questions on specific areas. They are held in a world-cafe type format where, after an introduction, people discuss, agree and rank their responses to a number of set questions, the top issues from each table are shared with the whole room, discussed and during the process the major agreed issues, possible solutions and requests come to the fore. This allows a wide range of views to be heard and discussed. The process takes about 2 hours.

The Islands’ team are aware that there has been criticism that there has been a fair bit of consultation in the past, with sometimes no feedback. For that reason, each island’s issues arising from the events will be summarised at the end of the event. A report of each event will be emailed to participants shortly afterwards and each island’s report will form part of the Islands’ Plan documentation. These reports will also form a basis for monitoring the Islands Plan’s progress each year. Pictures and some details from events already held on other islands are on the Islands’ Team Facebook page Scottish Islands Team.

The Scottish Government explain: The Scottish Government is running these sessions because they want to understand what works really well on your island, but also the challenges the island community is facing. They’d like to hear from you because this is an historic moment in Scottish Policy, one in which island communities have the opportunity to shape their own future by feeding into the National Islands’ Plan. Your information will be used to shape the National Islands’ Plan so that it responds truly to the wishes, desires and concerns of island communities. Scottish Government and the team supporting the consultation will organise a session that will allow them to develop a sense of the vision and challenges stemming from your island and will get back in touch after the face to face event to be sure that they captured properly the views of those who participated.

Please contact Ann MacDonald or Tiree Trust if you have any queries about the event or would like more information. Consultation link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/ national-islands-plan-islandscommunities- impact-assessmentguidance- consultation/

Milton Harbour Development Update

Contractor George Leslie Ltd arrived on site to begin a major renovation of Milton harbour in April this year.

The works are scheduled to take around 16 weeks and will include an extension to the north and south, raising the height by 1.2m, a new stub pier to give protection from the swell and a new shed on the pier.

We are grateful to Marine Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and The Windfall Fund for committing funds to the development and to the Duke of Argyll for gifting the pier to the Trust.

In a surprise visit to Oban today, 22 year-old Scots musician Be Charlotte announced live from the town’s iconic McCaig’s Tower that she will play Oban Live music festival in two weeks time.

The Dundee star, who signed to major record label Sony Music last year, is the last act to be added to an impressive line-up at Argyll’s biggest outdoor live music festival.

She joins Skerryvore, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Lucy Spraggan, We Banjo 3, Elephant Sessions and more at the popular west coast Scottish gig.

Since starting to find her voice as a teenager with an acoustic guitar, Charlotte Brimner, performing as Be Charlotte, has been focussed on finding inner strength and inspiring others to do the same, a message that was passed over to a number of Oban’s primary school pupils today.

Touring schools in and around the scenic Argyll town, excited pupils were treated to a surprise visit from the Scots star who performed an acoustic set and talked about her inspiring musical journey. Youngsters were encouraged by Charlotte to believe in themselves, to pick up and learn an instrument and to get involved in music.

Even although she is still at the beginning of her career Be Charlotte has toured around the UK, Europe, North America and Asia as well as sharing the stage with Major Lazer in Africa in 2018.

Her new single Brighter Without You is out now. Be Charlotte plays Oban Live on Friday June 7. The event takes place at Mossfield Stadium on June 7 and 8. Tickets are selling fast and are available at www.obanlive.com.

499 and Counting

Last week Tiree was visited by two ladies attempting to add to their personal challenge of playing all the listed golf courses in Scotland.

Susie Robertson was playing round 499 and her friend Moira Aitken was on her 200th (only). They thoroughly enjoyed their round at Vaul and were not at all deterred by the cows and calves on the first hole.

Susie plays off 17 but did not reveal her score for the nine holes but did say the fences were a bit of a challenge.

It would have been nice for Tiree to be the 500th but that will be played this week at Mar Hall in Erskine.

There are 560 listed courses in Scotland so a wee bit to go yet but well done ladies this is some achievement and Vaul will welcome you back anytime.

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.

1 2 3 61