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Consultation on future cemetery needs launched

The council is developing new policies on the best way to manage cemeteries throughout the area in the coming years and we would like to hear your views.

It is really important to take steps now to ensure that options are available for people when they need them in the future. Argyll and Bute has 131 Cemeteries spread throughout its communities, however 67 cemeteries are now closed to the sale of spaces. Community volunteers, in a small number of areas, support council services by maintaining local burial grounds. Similar initiatives would be welcomed elsewhere.

According to statute, local authorities are only required to provide one cemetery per area. Councillor Rory Colville, Policy Lead for Roads and Infrastructure Services, said: “This is a sensitive subject, which touches us all. What we want to do is understand priorities and expectations so we can plan for the future. Any changes are likely to take place over a decade. “I would encourage people to look at our proposals and give us their thoughts.”

The consultation is now on the council website: https:// www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ consultations/consultation-futurecemeteries

Policy Lead welcomes HMIE report on remote learning

Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education has welcomed a report from HM Inspectors of Education (HMIE) which provides a national overview of remote learning across Scotland. This report was developed to learn what is working well, identify challenges, and look at what further assistance is required to continue to improve the delivery of remote learning to young people.

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly said: “The HMI report acknowledges the sheer amount of hard work that local authorities have carried out to ensure that our children and young people can continue their education at home during these difficult times. “It recognises the many different challenges faced by both rural and urban communities, and is a clear endorsement of the plans we have developed to meet the needs of our individual schools and pupils. “Our teachers know their learners best, so it is really encouraging to read about the dedication our staff have shown to doing things differently and creating opportunities for new ways of working. “It’s great to see the council’s digital learning teams acknowledged too. They have worked hard to deliver training to staff in the use of digital learning platforms and, with support of colleagues from corporate IT, have enabled a significant number of devices to be delivered to learners to ensure they can effectively access remote learning.

“We put our children and young people at the heart of everything we do and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our schools staff for their creative thinking and always putting the education of our pupils first.”

Tiree Ranger News

Hiya folks,

How are we all doing? It’s been a steady few weeks sorting things out after the Christmas break.

It was surprising for me to see such a heavy ground frost for almost a week a few weeks back and I’ve been told it doesn’t usually last that long. I’m working away quietly on things that I can hopefully get folk involved in when it is safe to do so.

The Otter walks were really popular last year and I’ve been keeping an eye on my viewing site and the Otters have been very active no matter what the weather. Please keep sending in any signs or sightings of Otters as I’m building up a picture of the different territories on the island. This includes any records of dead ones.

RTA’s are one of the most common causes of Otter deaths in Scotland and I know it may be upsetting if one runs out in front of you but accidents happen and it’s good to be able to get a hold of the Otter for measurements and aging. Likewise keep sending in any cetacean strandings as well. Thank you to all of you who have done so so far.

A wee shout out to parents and teachers:-I know many of you are home schooling at the moment and it’s just to say that if there’s anything I can do to help just drop me an email. I’m chatting to other Ranger services to see what activities that have been offering that can be done from home and I hope to have some of these available next issue.

So just a short update for now. Myself and the rest of the Trust staff are still home working so it’s best to get a hold of me by email ranger@tireetrust.org.u k

Argyll Estates Shorelines on Tiree

Argyll Estates has ownership of an extent of shorelines all around Argyllshire including Tiree, Kintyre, Cowal, Lismore, Mull and other parts of Argyll. This ownership is from the high to the low water mark.

Argyll Estates holds these coasts in trust and welcomes general public use. No restrictions are imposed by Argyll Estates to responsible access. As a result, Argyll has remained a county where restrictions on coastline access is virtually nil unless a neighbouring landowner presents a barrier. This open access is prevalent on Tiree and, together with the beautiful sandy beaches, is one aspect of what makes the Island so special. A license has been granted on a temporary basis for an operator on Tiree to carry out trials on seaweed fertiliser production. The fee is nominal. This has a limit on extraction, is limited to washed up seaweed and the license has specific rules on disturbance to people and nature. This is necessarily an exclusive commercial license but it does not exclude anyone else on Tiree taking washed up seaweed for their own personal use.

Two local watersports businesses also operate commercially from Argyll Estates shorelines with our approval. Both operate responsibly and there is no fee. Should a vehicle park on a beach where there is no safe or appropriate land parking area, if the access route is suitable and no risk is taken to pedestrians or animals, Argyll Estates have no objection to this being exercised responsibly. Vehicles should not ordinarily use beaches and should travel at crawl speed and no further than necessary. This includes for launching of boats and the like. Public safety is always paramount and reckless or dangerous behaviour is always covered by Road Traffic and Careless Driving laws and regulations. Argyll Estates would expect no motorised vehicle to exceed 5-10 mph at most.

Sand and Gravel custom and practice on Argyll Estates shorelines has permitted farmers and crofters (including common graziers) to take a free ‘de minimus’ amount for their own agricultural use. To date, in all areas other than Tiree, this has been respected with no issues brought to our attention. In Tiree it is alleged that large scale extraction, sometimes described as “industrial scale quarrying”, has occurred. No tangible usable evidence for a prosecution has been presented for this but the number of anonymous voices reporting the matter has given weight to the likelihood that removal by a few has exceeded the de minimus and reasonable personal agricultural use rules. Without tangible evidence, no action against alleged infringements can be taken. A good definition of “de minimus” is; “‘too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact’. On Tiree, there remains many individuals who qualify and the vast majority have always, and still do, stoutly respect the unwritten code permitting responsible use that has existed for centuries. As an unwritten oral tradition, as was once more common in Gaelic society, the lack of historic written evidence can be an issue.

However, for the avoidance of doubt, Argyll Estates confirms that the permission exists and it has our approval when responsibly exercised. Argyll Estates recognises the marginal nature of agriculture on Tiree. We also recognise the benefits it provides which greatly outweighing the collection of and amount of aggregate for legitimate use which is “too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact” on our shorelines. The permission does not grant carte blanch removal. Where there is an agricultural requirement for large quantities of aggregates, this should be purchased lawfully. Tiree has a legitimate licensed source which was specifically created following comment in the past that there was not such a source locally so all sand and gravel had to be taken from the beach. Off Island sources are of course also available and if demand increases, economies of scale improve. Nor does the permission allow removal for private use other than directly agricultural. The road and substructure for a new or refurbished property belonging to a friend or relation of a farmer or crofter is not permitted. Nor is large scale extraction for bunds or other structural or landscaping use. Were a resident of Tiree to visit the beach and take a small amount of sand for their private garden use, Argyll Estates, while not expressly granting permission, would be very unlikely to pursue this.

The de minimus allowance is given on trust that it will be used responsibly and should only be used for the crofter or farmers own agricultural use. Sale of sand and gravel taken without permission would be considered as theft and the purchase of illegally taken goods is also a criminal offence; specifically known in Scots law as “reset”.

Sale or gifting of aggregates removed under this de minimus rule is specifically excluded other than where one farmer or crofter assists another with their de minimus sand and gravel collection for no monetary return. In the past few years, and with most again this past year, Argyll Estates has engaged with a variety of individuals and we have specifically contacted the following organisations:

• Argyll & Bute Council

• Tiree Community Council

•Tiree Community Development Trust including the Ranger Service

• Police Scotland

• Crown Estates Scotland

• NatureScot (SNH)

• RSPB

• Contractors operating in Tiree

While most are sympathetic, it is clear to Argyll Estates that without the people of Tiree assisting and speaking up when necessary, the alleged abuse of the permission by a few can and will continue. Understandably, no organisation wished to jump in and take on this matter particularly when there is no firm evidence and all individuals reporting an incident wish to remain anonymous. Most of those in a position to take leadership, while clear and vocal ‘in camera’, in public take a different tack. Positively however, I do see a stronger confidence forming amongst all involved or interested in this matter.

My hope is that with this matter discussed openly and with “guidelines” set out for this previously unwritten matter relying on responsibility and trust, there is now a better basis to proceed without varying or terminating this ancient tradition. If there are any who did not understand the gift we share and did not realise that nature itself dictates that it is not an unrestricted and endless entitlement, I hope that this note has helped to clarify matters.

Tiree is an Island community that needs everyone involved to work constructively, respectfully, openly and honestly together. Without it, more than this valuable tradition may fall apart.

Hugh Nichol, Argyll Estates, 19 January 2021

Tiree Community Council – January Meeting

This month’s meeting was well attended, with over 50 participants.

The meeting was also joined by Argyll and Bute Councillors Mary- Jean Devon and Jim Lynch, in addition to the Factor of Argyll Estates, Hugh Nicol. Mr. Nicol gave feedback on the Estate’s position regarding sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches and was also invited to the upcoming public meeting of the Planning Sub-Committee. Cllrs Devon and Lynch made contributions on a variety of issues, including local fuel poverty and possible changes to the hospitality industry which could have significant impact upon the island economy. Sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches was discussed at length. As it stands, Argyll Estate’s position on the issue is that extraction is permitted on a ‘de minimis’ basis; crofters are entitled to extract small amounts of material from the beaches for their own agricultural use. However, this position is based on an unwritten understanding which predates modern machinery and extraction methods. There are fears that over-extraction could be contributing to coastal erosion – an issue with many tangible impacts on local wildlife and the island landscape. Concerns over profiteering were also mentioned by the Factor, who raised the issue of unauthorised sale of these materials for profit. Mr Nicol also agreed, however, with points that were raised regarding the complex nature of land ownership and use on Tiree stemming from ownership, inheritance and lease of different crofts in various arrangements. Therefore, the issue of who is extracting how much and for what purpose is a difficult one. Mr. Nicol agreed to maintain communication with the community and to work towards clarification of the existing understanding, especially the ‘de minimis’ requirement and what this means in practice. It was also stressed that materials can be purchased in bulk from the local quarry or from private businesses – this is recommended for any large-scale projects such as housing foundations, where materials must comply to certain safety regulations. Tiree Community Council welcomes correspondence on this issue from all members of the community going forward.

Concerns were also raised over the pier marshalling area, both in terms of appearance and safety. At present, the marshalling area does not cater well for pedestrians, with few pavements or footpaths. This is a serious safety concern, an issue which was highlighted by Angus John in relation to the bus service. The lack of a bus stop means that people looking for the Ring ‘n’ Ride bus are often left to wander around. Additionally, the pier is part of the school bus route. The pier is not well suited to turn the buses; an issue which is exacerbated by the Summer ferry timetable when the car lanes are full awaiting sailings. This poses a safety concern for pier users as well as to the bus drivers and children on board. Issues surrounding the appearance of the area due to ongoing works have largely been resolved, however the overall appearance of the area leaves a lot to be desired and concerns over the welcome this presents to visitors were also raised. As a result of these discussions a small working group was formed, consisting of Cllrs Dr. John Holliday, Alison Clark and Stewart Carr to advocate for the community’s concerns over the safety and maintenance of this area going forward.

Positive steps were also taken regarding the Community Council’s online presence; the Councillors resolved to produce a new set of policies for how we facilitate discussion online. The Community Council intends to allow commenting on both our Facebook page – which is public and can be viewed by anyone by searching online – and on our own website. The policies we are working towards aim to make these forums a pleasant and open space for members of the public to discuss issues and raise concerns. To achieve this, we are working towards some guidelines of best conduct, which will allow us to moderate these discussions in a clear and fair way should any issues arise. As always, we will continue to welcome correspondence from members of the community via our e-mail addresses, which are publicly available on our website.

Ongoing issues include upcoming meetings with the Boundaries Commission, community consultation on the Marine Protected Area status affecting Tiree and Coll and the possible introduction of more Gaelic into Council proceedings.

Dr John Holliday, Chair: 220 385
doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Phyl Meyer, Secretary:
phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Tyree Gin Spreads Festive Cheer

A Hebridean distiller is set to spread some festive cheer this December by giving a free miniature bottle of local gin to every islander on their native Tiree.

Tiree residents over the age of 18 will be treated to a free miniature of Tyree Gin or Hebridean Pink Gin in the run up to Christmas as distillery bosses add some unexpected joy to what has been a difficult year.

Rather than coming down locals’ chimneys, owners Ian Smith and Alain Campbell have teamed up with the island’s local shop, Buth a’ Bhaile, so that lucky residents can collect their miniatures from the store in Crossapol on the island. Ian Smith, owner of Tiree Whisky Company, said:

“2020 has been a challenging year for most people so we wanted to inject a bit of festive cheer into the lives of everyone in Tiree and give them a small gift. “We’ll be taking orders and delivering to Buth a’ Bhaile from today until 23rd December. Together, as a community, we can reflect on 2020 and raise a glass to the New Year.”

Islanders over the age of 18 among Tiree’s population of 650 people can apply for their gift by filling out a form on the Tyree Gin website.

The Isle of Tiree has a fascinating distilling heritage which Tiree Whisky Company Ltd has resurrected in recent years. Their distillery is the first on the island in over 217 years.

The company’s first product, Tyree Gin, was launched at Tiree Music Festival 2017. This product reflects the landscape in which it is distilled, incorporating kelp harvested from the icy waters, coastal salty flavours and a range of botanicals from the machair ground inland from the shore. Earlier this year, the small spirits’ producer launched Hebridean Pink Gin, which comes in a striking pink bottle and is distilled using juniper berries, raspberries and sweet peels.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the company also recently invested in new stills and equipment for future production planned for 2021 as they look ahead to a positive year.

Notice of Thanks

Derek Wilson Carrier Services was owned and run for many years by Derek Wilson himself. He has recently sold the business and begun his retirement.

I would like to extend my very sincere thanks to Derek for the excellent service he has given to me over the years, from the day he delivered the new kitchen to Urvaig (twenty years ago) to present day deliveries of vehicle parts.

Derek has always gone beyond a basic service: for example going to Home Base to buy a tin of paint for me so I could get the painting finished; delivering my items in good condition and at a very reasonable cost and taking parts to be returned free of charge.

When I was desperate for a vehicle part and he wasn’t sending a van to Tiree, he would go out of his way to get it to me by taking the package to the pier and finding someone who could bring it over to me.

Derek, I would like to thank you for the fantastic service you have given to me and I wish you a long and happy retirement.

Sandy Macintosh

Tiree Community Council – December Meeting

Even with the allure of Christmas Shopping at the Pier, the December meeting of Tiree Community Council continued to show good a good level of attendance with 32 total participants.

There were many items to be discussed including more from the boundaries commission proposals, a very informative presentation from Scottish Water, and an insight into our Agenda meetings and some of the sub-committee meetings we attend throughout the month.

Correspondence included notification that Tiree and Coll and the Sea of the Hebrides would be awarded Marine Protected Area status. It is thought that this will not impact the fishermen on the island but could cause issues for trawlers and any future sub-sea cable plans.

The Police Scotland Report was also received. An incident of a sheep being struck by a car in Scarinish took place on 9th December. This accident resulted in the death of the sheep. PC Tanner reminded that is an offence to leave such an incident unreported and urged anyone with information to get in touch. Mark Petrie and Brian McCarthy of Scottish Water were then welcomed to the meeting. A very in depth and interesting presentation was given on the current structure of Tiree’s water network and what we can do to reduce waste going forward. Did you know a leaky toilet or dripping tap can see up to 400 litres per day of water wastage? Scottish Water have schemes and financial support available for domestic properties in priority areas such as Tiree to help with water waste on the island, the details of which can be found shortly on the Tiree Community Council website or by visiting www.scottishwater.co.uk

The community council was anticipating a meeting with the Boundaries Commission to discuss what the future of Tiree’s Councilor representation might look like. However, this meeting has not materialised. After a successful consultation period there was found to be an overwhelming mandate to push for a designated single councilor ward for Tiree and Coll. A vote took place at the meeting and it was unanimously decided to pursue this motion.

With the expertise of Iona Campbell, Tiree Community Council stepped into the 21st Century and used an online survey tool called Survey Monkey to carry out aspects of the consultation. There are many positives to such a platform including clear quantitative results, transparency and anonymity. Of course, there will always be the option to have a show of hands or to put pen to paper for those not quite ready to take the technological leap.

A discussion then took place regarding meetings attended by councillors throughout the month. An initial planning sub-committee meeting took place to discuss current planning guidelines and informally chat about what the Tiree Community Council Planning Policy might look like. This subcommittee will be working hard to have a draft planning policy ready for community feedback in February 2021. The notes from this meeting will be made available and anyone with an interest in observing future planning sub-group meetings is welcome to do so.

An agenda meeting also takes place between every public meeting whereby the councillors can discuss any upcoming issues and raise any matters brought to us by the community. Every issue raised to us by the community is discussed, and an agenda is formed. Our Convener is a Community Council enthusiast and also attends various meetings from other islands throughout the month.

The next TCC public meeting is on the 13th January. An invitation of attendance has been sent to Argyll Estates Factor Hugh Nicol to attend. If anyone has any issues they want to raise, then please get in touch.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair. Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan, Louise Reid, Iona Campbell, John Patience, Stewart Carr and Alison Clark were in attendance.

“Seal of Approval” From Local Volunteers

Sunday evening, all cooried in for the night and a call comes through. “We are just heading to check out a seal at Balevullin, meet you there.”

It’s that time of year here on Tiree, the wind that attracts all those who love watersports is pretty constant and it’s been a bit rough all day. By the time I arrive Louise Reid and Margaret Worsley, two Marine Mammal Medics with BDMLR, have already assessed the seal and are on the phone to control.

The seal is a young Common and it looks exhausted. The waves are crashing in at Balevullin and it’s obvious this one has had a bit of a time of it. The decision is made and the wee one is going to head to the vets for the night to get some fluids and rest. However, how to get it there? After a bit of a discussion, the seal is wrapped up in a make shift stretcher, Louise’s Barbour coat, with its head in a sleeve so it doesn’t bite and after struggling across the sand we get it into a holdall to transport it to the vets. However, I hear the zips coming undone as we drive along and sure enough its head is poking out the bag when we arrive.

The next day was full of excitement as the seal decided it wasn’t happy being at the vets after a night’s rest and it was agreed to release it as soon as possible. A couple of fish boxes tied together were used to transport it this time and the seal was off like a rocket when it arrived back on the beach. We were all ecstatic but also discussed how we could improve on our rescues in the future. Being a volunteer team and based on an island it has always been a case of make do. I used to work for a wildlife hospital on the mainland and knew there was equipment we could use but it is expensive. One of the key items was a seal stretcher which would make carrying the seals along the beaches and rocky shoreline a lot easier. Now seal stretchers are specialist bits of kit and hard to come by so I spoke to 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products who make shark carriers for moving animals between aquariums. They were intrigued by our request and offered us one of their carriers at a discounted price. So that evening we put the story out about the seal rescue along with a link to a Just Giving page and a target of £500.

Within an hour of the page being set up I got a message from Frazer MacInnes. Frazer co-runs Tiree Sea Tours which take folk out looking for dolphins, whales, seals and basking sharks. Tiree Sea Tours wanted to pay for the stretcher! In Fraz’s words “Our business relies on the wildlife in our seas around Tiree and it’s important that we also help to look after them”. I let the team know and by the next day we were buzzing as not only had we had this great news, we had exceeded our fundraising target to £695. Our new stretcher arrived last week and the team have had a chance to practice with it and it’s all ready to go. We are also in the process of ordering some other essential pieces of kits such as transport carriers to keep the seals safe on their journeys off the island into rehab. If required.

We are incredibly grateful to Tiree Sea Tours, 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products and all the generous supporters of our appeal which will ensure the safety of rescued seals and cetaceans in the coming years on Tiree.

Community Council By-Election

A recent by-election for the community council was conducted by Argyll and Bute Council.

There were four vacancies, for which six residents put themselves forward. The number of votes cast were as follows below.

There were 302 ballots counted with 6 rejected, a turnout of 58% of those entitled to vote. Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council welcomed the new councillors:

“It’s wonderful,” he said, “to have a full complement on the council again. We had hoped that the new council would be more diverse, and that has certainly happened. Hats off to everyone who stood for election. It’s a nervewracking thing to do, but it makes the council a much stronger body.”

Congratulations to those elected and thanks to all for taking part!

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