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No Decision In Beach Hut Planning Row

On Monday the 28th of November, a public meeting was held in An Talla to decide the fate of the two Beach huts that have been at the centre of a planning row for some months now.

Two beach huts, one at Balevullin and the other at Gott were built by local watersports company Blackhouse Watersports without planning permission and the retrospective planning application which was submitted by Blackhouse Watersports received the recommendation from the planning department that both should be removed.

At the beginning of the meeting we were made aware that the applicants had removed the planning application for the hut at Gott – stating that the structure would be removed by January of 2017, therefore the focus of the meeting would solely be on the application for the remaining Balevullin hut. The meeting was chaired by David Kinniburgh, Helensburgh and Lomond Area Committee and another 6 councillors were present along with representatives from the planning department and the applicant, Iona Larg and her agent Eoghainn MacLean. Both the planning department and the applicant got an opportunity to speak at the meeting.

Tim Williams introduced himself as Area Planning Manager for Oban, Lorn and the Isles and went through a power point of information relating to how they had come to the decision to deny recommend refusal of retrospective planning before the applicant got the opportunity to state their case. Comments were also received from our local Community Council Convener, Dr John Holliday who commented on the recent ballot carried out on the island to determine the community’s view on the planning decision. There was some controversy surrounding the wording of the information sheet and the voting question, which Dr Holliday addressed and acknowledged.

Members of the public were also given the opportunity to speak, as long as they had registered their interest to do so prior to the public meeting and we heard from six supporters and one objector.

The lengthy meeting then went on to hear questions from councillors for both the planning department, applicant and our local community councillor before councillors debated the decision.

After various comments from councillors and an apparent tie in opinions for and against the decision it was decided that the committee should continue consideration of the retrospective planning permission at meeting of the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee on 18 January 2017 to allow Members to seek advice from officers in regard to a competent motion to support approval of the application and to allow for arrangements to be made for any requirement for an Area Capacity Evaluation (ACE).

Tiree’s Own Batman Completes Charity Walk

Local man George Bruce has today completed the 124 mile walk from Oban to Dundee on Tuesday 22nd November to raise money for Oban Mountain Rescue!

George, who has been training for the charity walk for some time now, left Tiree last Thursday to start the challenge and arrived in Dundee on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30pm – well ahead of schedule. He has been dressed as Batman and been accompanied by his companion – ‘Robin’ the family Cockapoo, Strummer!

George took on the walk in order to raise money for Oban Mountain Rescue Team and to date the online donations stand at £3420 with the total still rising! Oban Mountain Rescue Team provide search and rescue cover throughout Argyll. The team consists of 37 unpaid volunteers who dedicate their time to helping people in need and were the group in charge of conducting the search for Margaret Ann and Dave, who lost their lives in an aircraft crash in April 2015. George is Margaret Ann’s brother in-law and he decided to take on this challenge to promote and show his appreciation to the team at Oban Mountain Rescue who conduct some very hard and sensitive work.

The 124 mile trek took George 5 days as he walked through a variety of towns and cities, stopping off in Taynuilt, Tyndrum, Lochearnhead, Crieff, and finishing in Dundee. Conditions were reasonable for November, very cold and a little wet! George will now be taking a few days to recover and give his feet a very well deserved rest! An Tirisdeach would like to congratulate George on his amazing achievement and amount raised for Oban Mountain Rescue. If you would like to donate, then please visit: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/georgebruce1 or look out for donation boxes locally.

Tiree Association Annual Gathering November 2016

Thursday 17th November ushered in the Tiree Association’s Annual Concert and the warm, welcoming atmosphere in the Partick Burgh Halls contrasted sharply with the chilly wet weather outside.

However, despite the poor weather conditions, the audience turned up in droves and the excellent numbers meant that seating in the hall was at a premium! All present were delighted to have Gordon Connell in the chair this year and, after Ian introduced him, made clear their pleasure with an extended round of applause and roars of approval. As Gordon then proceeded to regale us with his impressive stash of jokes and stories howls of laughter emitted from the crowd.

John Campbell got the evening off to a great start with some lively pipe tunes and the electric atmosphere persisted as the delighted audience was treated to a marvellous array of songs from Ellen MacDonald, Arthur Cormack and Calum Ross. A brilliant selection of tunes from the Rowan brothers kept the toes tapping and, when Kathryn Callander invited the crowd to a sing-along they responded with great zest. The interval gave folk time for a good natter and, more importantly, the chance to savour, once again, Susan’s inimitable shortbread and dumpling – fantastic!

The committee would like to thank all those who performed on the night and Susan for her wonderful home baking. Thanks also to all those who attended on this very chilly night – especially those who made the journey from Tiree to be there on the evening. This year was the first that the concert was broadcast as a Facebook Live event and this proved to be a tremendous success – much appreciated by those who couldn’t make it in person! …. and, if Thursday night ushered in the concert, then of course, on the Friday, the dance must follow! And what a dance!

Glasgow University Union Debating Room proved to have a very busy dance floor the whole evening. Trail West started with a Gay Gordon’s and from that point on the dancers hastened to the floor when invited to do so – be it for a St. Bernard’s Waltz or a Hooligans Jig! It was fantastic to see such a huge number – and such a huge range of ages – in attendance. The committee would like to thank all the generous individuals\companies who provided raffle prizes. Thanks also to Trail West for the awesome music which inspired dancers to take to the floor and stay there for most of the evening! To those who travelled out from Tiree – it was great to see you there. As the end of the year rapidly approaches we’d like to wish you all a very merry festive season and hope to see you in January at Celtic Connections: Tiree Songbook on 22nd January and\or the Annual Burns Supper (details to follow) www.tireeassociation.co.uk

30 Years of Tiree Wave Classic

The island was a buzz last week as Tiree hosted the 30th annual ‘Tiree Wave Classic’! The event, which is the oldest running windsurfing event in the world and has been running since 1986, attracted some of the top professional surfers from all over the world!

It was an action packed week of activity as Tiree produced some of the best conditions the event has seen in a number of years. We have been having a fairly calm and pleasant October, and the starting competition on the Saturday had to be postponed. However, Sunday saw the weather pick up and conditions improve immensely allowing all classes the opportunity to take part in the competition held at Balephuil.

Each day’s activity was documented in very lively daily videos which have been posted online at: www.tireewaveclassic.co.uk There is some excellent footage that shows off the dramatics of the sport and perfect conditions for this year’s event! Make sure you check them out!

As the perfect weather continued, there were competitions at Crossapol and again Balephuil as all competitors battled it out for a spot on the podium and by Tuesday evening the winners of each heat were announced. It was a tough and very close battle within each heat as the pro, junior and youth fleet all competed in a double elimination, while the amateurs and masters went to a triple elimination and the ladies finally being confirmed after 5 rounds!

In the professional division, Phill Horricks claimed 1st prize for the second time as he had previously won in 2014, with Andy Chambers coming 2nd and Chris Muzza Murray in 3rd place. Justin Bennington was crowned the masters’ champion, Louie Morris claimed the trophy for the amateurs and Sarah Hilder won the women’s section. The youth and future of the windsurfing world were also highly involved in this year’s competition, as the Royal Yachting Association RYA have gotten very involved in the event over the past few years. This year there was a record number of children entering the competition and Erin Watson was crowned the champion within the youth section! The Youth Camp within the Tiree Wave Classic is an excellent opportunity to motivate and inspire the young people who are interested in windsurfing and water sports in general. This year they were fully submerged in the event, getting the opportunity to meet with the professional riders and hear all about their journey while also getting the chance to compete in a highly regarded competition!

Weather conditions began to tail off during the middle of the week, returning to surprisingly calm winds and beautiful crisp mornings. The last two Tiree Wave Classics have been run and organised by local Tiree business Wild Diamond which is run by William Angus MacLean. William Angus has been highly involved in the event for a number of years now and he and his crew have been working hard to evolve the event and create something special for the 30th anniversary, which they did very well! As the week was coming to a close and the competitions decided, sup/paddle board competitions were put on to entertain the masses, along with a host of evening activities.

The event was finished off in style in The Tiree Lodge Hotel on Friday evening, as the prize giving got underway and celebrating continued – an excellent end to another very successful Tiree Wave Classic – here’s to the next 30! Well done to all competitions, winners and event crew involved in creating a very special event!

 

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Steel Photography

Tiree Music Festival Crowned ‘Best Small Festival in Scotland’ for Fourth Time!

Tiree Music Festival has once again been awarded the ‘Best Small Festival in Scotland’ at the 2016 Scottish Event Awards in Glasgow! Some of the TMF team were in attendance at last week’s award ceremony and were delighted to walk away with the award for the fourth time!

TMF, which has gone from strength to strength over the last 7 years was up against stiff competition in the category for ‘best small festival’ including RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s Penguin Festival and Edinburgh University Innovative Learning Week, among others.

Since its launch in 2010 Tiree Music Festival has continued to grow year in year out, and 2016 was no exception. With the biggest attendance to date, with 2000 people, festival goers were entertained by some of the best musicians around. The festival is a family friendly event and caters for all ages – this year Eden Court were in attendance to entertain the children throughout the weekend. Tiree Music Festival was also up for ‘Best Cultural Award’ at this year’s awards and was given a commendation for their efforts, losing out to Hinterland which was part of ‘Scotland’s Festival of Architecture’. They were also nominated for a third award ‘People’s Choice Event of the Year’ which was a public vote and was won by Highland 2015 – World Orienteering Championships and Scottish 6 Days.

Plans for TMF 2017 are very much under way with the date set as 14th – 16th of July. This year’s strap-line for the event is ‘let there be sun’ – a plea to the weather gods, having suffered some of the worst July weather at the previous two events in 2015 and 2016!

Each year Team TMF work to improve and enhance previous events and are always keen to hear the thoughts of the community and festival goers. This year’s visitor survey was launched at the end of last month and there is still time to fill it out. It can be found through the TMF facebook page or by going to the following address: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TMF16.

The information obtained from this survey is key to the planning of the festival and the team would very much appreciate the feedback. By filling out the survey you will also be in with the chance of winning tickets for TMF 2017! An Tirisdeach would like to congratulate Tiree Music Festival for winning this prestigious award and for all the hard work they put in to creating this fantastic festival! – Well done all!

AirTask Group acquires Hebridean Air Services

Last week it was announced that UK-based AirTask Group have taken over the acquisition of Hebridean Air Services and will now begin delivering the vital air service out of Connell airport to Tiree, Coll and Colonsay on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council.

This service is provided with the help of a £2 million subsidy from the council over a three year term of the public service obligation (PSO) contract. The PSO contract covers Tiree, Coll and Colonsay, and AirTask will also operate commercial service to Islay, which is not included in the PSO, along with various other private charter services.

Councillor Alistair MacDougall said: ‘We very much look forward to working with AirTask, building on the foundations of our successful partnership with Hebridean Air, continuing to provide vital services, keeping our island communities connected to the mainland. We particularly welcome AirTask’s significant experience of delivering similar services across Scotland. ‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank Hebridean for its commitment to the services over the course of the past six years, and to wish it all the best for the future.

‘We as a council are committed to supporting our island communities as much as we can. Despite the challenging financial climate we have dedicated over £2 million to continuing this service. AirTask’s commitment to delivering these services is equal to ours and we are confident of building a successful partnership.’

Managing director of AirTask Julie Simper added: ‘We look forward to working in partnership with the council, continuing to provide the air services for the island communities. ‘We have more than 10 years of experience delivering PSO flights in Scotland for Shetland Islands Council, and we feel that this is a good fit for us.’

Tiree and Coll proposed Special Protection Area (SPA)

proposed_spaWe would like to draw people’s attention to the below proposed SPA around Tiree and Coll and the possible implications for Tiree’s economy.

Having met with four SNH representatives and one from Marine Scotland in Oban at the end of August we have concluded that this is an ill thought, under researched and un-necessary designation that appears to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. There has been no direct consultation with local marine stakeholders other than a token open day after the plans had been drawn up and submitted.

Unfortunately the less information that is given to the public, which is clearly one of their strategies, the easier it is to force designations like this through the back door. The proposal gives no clear indication of what management measures may be brought in should the designation go ahead. Any answers to our questions on this were preceded by the words, “we think”, “maybe”, or “possibly”. Not words which fill you with confidence when planning the future of your business.

Sadly the track record of SPA’s, SAC’s, and MPA’s that have already been designated round Scotland have been forced through with complete disregard for local views and concerns while consistently changing management measures once designated.

Two of the few success stories on the Island in the last twenty years have been Fishing and Watersports/ Marine Tourism. Two industries that this proposal could ultimately have grave implications for by bringing in needless management measures.

We urge people to read through the documents on the SNH website and submit a response at – http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/protected-areas/proposed-marine-spas/coll-and-tiree/ Highlighting their concerns at the lack of local communication, local consultation and disregard for the people and the Islands economy.

The consultation closes on the 26th September 2016.

Neil MacPhail, Coinneach MacKinnon

Tiree Community Council News

TheCouncil (TCC)meeting lastweek was the first since the summer break and covered a huge range of issues, from fishing practices to phone boxes. The chair started off by apologising for the lack of meetings since the start of June. The summer break had grown an extra month after we had failed to meet the agenda deadline for August. This meant a very full agenda and a very long meeting. Rhoda Meek declared an interest from her new position in Tiree Community Broadband.

The joint trip to Westray planned for September with the Trust had been postponed due to a funding delay. Sgudal, the Trust/Council cleanup around the township of Scarinish had been successful, and another is planned for the autumn in Crossapol.We had been asked to look again into what was described to us as the ‘shambolic’ parking at the pier car park.We had raised this with CMAL a year ago and promised action in 2016, but would tackle the matter again. It was proposed that more prominent white lines would help and that long-term parking there should be discouraged as space was so limited. It was not clear who would police this. Another correspondent raised the matter of parking and camping on the machair at Salum. It was also pointed out that a camper van had been seen on the Balephetrish machair, near designated sites. We will ask for a meeting with the Ranger to discuss these apparent violations of the Tiree camper van code. The Community Council had met with the new factor. We had been impressed by his fresh approach, but we were not keen to become involved in the ‘policing’ of the island in controversial matters like gravel and sand extraction from beaches.

There was a long discussion about the new waste collection timetable,with fears expressed from a number of people that overflowing bins, particularly in holiday homes in warm weather,would be very unpleasant and a health hazard. It seemed very unlikely that Argyll and Bute Council would reverse their decision to reduce collections at this stage. Tiree Community Council had conducted a (largely critical) survey about this, and sent it twice to our local District Councillor RoddyMcCuish, but had received no reply.We will try again. It was suggested larger bins outside the dump (for use when it is closed) and some large bins elsewhere on the island might help. TCC will keep a close eye on the situation.

Superfast broadband has arrived on Tiree, and a few were already enjoying its faster internet speeds. However, applicants were now being told of a six week connection delay due to the Tiree exchange being unmanned. It was pointed out that an informal personal approach to the visiting BT engineer could prove helpful. Tiree Community Broadband was now partially using fibre and the speeds for some users had improved. A local transmitter problem was holding up this benefit for the west end, but a new part had been ordered.

The meeting agreed that TCC should buy all the decaying and little-used BT phone boxes for £1 each, except for the one in Baugh that still had quite high usage. We will apply for funding to restore the iconic red boxes after BT had taken out the phones, and then put them to new use. Suggestions include housing defibrillators and emergency phones,mini art galleries,Wi-Fi hotspots or use by community groups for displays. As part of this initiative we agreed that we might approach the Scottish Ambulance Service to see if a group of First Responders could be set up on the island but we will liaise with doctors and ambulance staff on the island first. First Responders are trained to respond to cardiac arrests and other emergencies. If there are enough of them, help can get to casualties faster than the emergency services.

There was much concern about delays in setting up the new Council library in Cornaig. The new library assistant’s job had not been advertised yet, and TCC had not been approached by the Library Service for its views. We will write to them to ask for a meeting. We will also write to Katie England to thank her for the wonderful service she had provided for many years.

We had received a letter about the disruption to an islander’s travel plans caused by TMF. We had written to CalMac to pass on the complaint.

There was a discussion about the proposed marine Special Protection Area around the coast of Tiree and Coll,whose purpose was the protection of two species of sea birds, the Common Eider Duck and the Great Northern Diver. Creel fishing as it is practised at the moment would be allowed, but trawling the seabed and net fishing would not. A member of the public commended it as a “balanced document” which would protect local fishermen. On the other hand, TCC had been lobbied by two island fishermen who believed it would be harder to make a living if these regulations came into force.We had been asked by Argyll and Bute Council to submit our conclusions, and we agreed to do this, while noting the complexity of the proposal and the limited time available.We will also write to the new Islands Minister to suggest he visits Tiree.

A member of the public asked what had happened to our query to Argyll and Bute about re-settling a few refugees on Tiree. We had agreed to write last November, but it was not clear if we had done so. We agreed to write again.

We agreed to take on the project to repair Dr Buchanan’s damaged monument in Baugh, and would seek funding and a contractor for some modest work that would see the present base capped with two small pieces of stone. It was suggested that we write to the Trust asking that the Charrette report about the island’s economy should be presented to the public by the consultants themselves, and we agreed.

TCC was going to Coll for the day this week, where they would meet Coll Community Council and Development Coll.

We had been approached about the ageing equipment at the Crossapol Play Park. We had received a reply from Tiree Community Business who bought the original equipment, although it nowformally belongs to ACHA.One piece had been removed and was awaiting repair, and consultants had been asked to visit to advise on new play equipment.

TCC agreed to continue organising the Remembrance Day service, as this was usually done by the British Legion on the mainland. There was some discussion about moving the service from the Saturday to the Sunday, but the general feeling of those present was that we should keep the service the way it has always been. TCC was alerted to the need for painting the railings at the War Memorial; the Tiree Association used to have a fund for this but we will look into who is responsible for this now.

Dr John Holliday chaired the meeting. Rosemary Omand, Paul Le Roux and Rhoda Meek were in attendance. Apologies were received by Ian Gillies, John MacCaskill and Donnie Campbell. The meeting finished at 9.55pm

Tiree Wind & Surf Club and Coll Children’s Club Joint Water Sports Day

Last week saw the young people of Tiree and Coll get to gather to enjoy a day of water related activities and learn some important information about water safety!

The children from Coll arrived for the day on Wednesday and started the day with a lovely lunch at the Cobbled Cow. After lunch it was down to business and the children got the opportunity to learn about water safety, watching a RNLI video on respecting the water and listening to an interesting talk by Tiree Trust Youth Worker Willie McKinnon, covering the dangers and risks of the open sea, something that is very important for children on islands such as Tiree and Coll.

After the classroom bit was over, the children then got the chance to have some fun down at Balephuil. They played some games on the machair before enjoying a boogie boarding session with Gavin Dunlop and John Isaacson of Wild Diamond, who also gave a safety briefing – reiterating and emphasising many of the points that had already been raised throughout the day! Gavin and John were excellent coaches and their enthusiasm helped the children enjoy their day together!

Pictured are the children along with Gavin and John, Willie Mackinnon and Andy Wright of the Tiree Trust and Jim McDowall of the Tiree Wind and Surf Club.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in Tiree

Despite the fact that many part of the Hebrides are remote and tricky to get to, the Trust does its best to visit as many places as frequently as possible. This past weekend we got the opportunity to visit the isle of Tiree and be a part of their Regatta celebrations.

We organised two days of events for locals and visitors to attend if they were interested, focused around raising awareness of whales and dolphins in the Hebrides and how the Trust was working to study and protect them. Straight off the ferry the team was keen to get started. Friday had a full line-up of talks and workshops including our popular “Bones Box” and finishing up with a headland watch. Over the course of the day attendees learnt how to ID the most common species of cetacean found in the Hebrides and why exactly it was such an important ecosystem for these animals. Finally, participants got to put their newly acquired ID skills into practice in a survey simulator and headland watch.

Although our headland watch didn’t reveal any cetaceans, we did spot 15 basking sharks in Gunna Sound. An amazing sight for everyone involved, especially when reports of basking sharks have only been coming in for about a week before hand. With the arrival of the sharks, many feel summer has well and truly arrived. The next day we set up a stall on Gott Bay, where the Regatta itself was happening. The wind was perfect for the sailing races, although not so helpful at keeping the ID guides on our table! Despite the challenges of a few strong gusts of wind the stall was busy the whole day. Young children (and their parents) were curious about the bones we had on display and many people who visited us let us know about cetaceans or sharks they had seen recently. We talked to as many people as possible about our Community Sightings Network and hopefully the next time they see something of interest in the ocean around Tiree or the Hebrides, they’ll remember to report it to us online.

Friday finished up with an open boat at the ferry pier. Silurian, HWDT’s research vessel, was on her last night of a survey and managed to appear at the agreed time. We were kept busy transporting keen visitors to and from the boat for nearly two hours. Our poor skipper didn’t even have a chance to drink his traditional after dinner cup of tea! It was great to welcome so many people on board Silurian and show them exactly what she did when she was out on surveys. Some people were so inspired by the visit that they decided to start saving for a berth during next year’s survey season!

The next day was as sunny as the previous two, with a slight covering of cloud; perfect spotting conditions. The HWDT were at the front of the ferry as they left Tiree, scanning the sea for anything they might be able to see. Just before Coll their dedication was rewarded with a minke whale off the port bow. Like most minke whales, it was there for an instant and then gone, but some passengers managed to catch a glimpse of it, thanks to the teams excited (but professional) squeals of delight. It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend on Tiree. Many thanks to the Tiree Ranger Service for inviting us over and being so hospitable.

For more info please visit www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk

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