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41 attended Public meeting on Tuesday 20th October

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Tiree Access Steering Group put forward a proposal to the residents of Tiree on a way forward for providing sites
for the increasing number of visiting campervans/motorhomes. The meeting was chaired by Cllr Mary Jean Devon
with an introduction by John Bowler.

We know from Cal Mac that there was a 50% increase in Campervans/motorhomes in October ‘08 – May 09 on the
previous year and a 154% increase in June/July 09 compared with the same period 08.
The key problem is the lack of facilities resulting in vehicles parking illegally off-road on unfenced ground causing
erosion to the machair and dunes, most of which are designated under European law for their wildlife interest and we
have a duty of care to look after these. Disposal of sewage also became an increasing problem in these areas.

The proposal being put forward is that a number of sites for up to 3 campervans/motorhomes will be set up on crofts
and farms in time for next year. Provision will also be made for the disposal of sewage and grey water. The idea is
for sites to be booked centrally and a reference number provided before a ferry ticket can be purchased.

Q: Why is the increasing number of camper vans and motor-homes thought to be an issue?
A:We like to welcome our visitors and give them the best possible experience on Tiree. At present the only facility we
have is the campsite which was full all summer. Damage to the grazing and environmentally designated sites has
meant that campervans, vans etc are being asked to move on which is making visitors feel unwelcome – this situation
needs to be addressed by providing appropriate facilities.

Q:Why does it matter where they park? Restrictions make people feel unwelcome.
A: We need to protect the environment. The Access Officer has had many conversations over the busy season. Most
people would like an authorised site where they are welcomed and would be happy to pay a small nightly fee.
Feedback from visitors is that most are respectful of the fragility of the environment and support responsible parking.

Q: If there are authorised sites provided then why do they have to pre-book?
A: The Pre-booking system will allow numbers of vehicles coming to be limited to number of sites available.

Q: Many van users will sleep on designated sites but what about the daytime?
A: This comes under the broader issue of beach access which applies to all vehicles– the Access Group will continue
to encourage responsible access and work at providing authorised access tracks and car parks.

Q. How many sites will there be?
A. There is strong interest from several crofters to provide sites. We would like to provide as many sites as vehicles
requiring them. There is not thought to be a need at present to limit the number of sites.

Q: What happens if you’re coming with a campervan to reside with family or friends?
A: You would be allocated a special reference number.

Q: Who will the money go to?
A: The person providing the site with a small percentage going to the run the booking system.

Q: What about panel vans? Why are campervans and motor-homes being singled out?
A: They will not be ignored. If they park in unauthorized areas they will be moved on to authorised sites

Q: What will be done if people continue to park in unauthorised areas after being asked to move?
A: It is an offence to drive off the public road unless using designated tracks and sites and if people refuse to move to
authorised sites then the police would have to become involved.

Team 15 Success

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The Tiree Team 15 Junior Racing Event was a great success at Loch Bhasapol on Wednesday 14th. 17 rounds of racing were completed with the junior racers prior to finally announcing the winners of the event.

A big thank you to everyone who came along on the day and contributed in some shape or form.
Additionally a special thanks to George Shillito and Chris Murray from Tushingham/Starboard who were kind enough to come along with demo equipment from their sponsors.

The boys also got in the water and completed the final race of the day with the kids prior to teaching the children how to perform some pretty sporty freestyle moves!

Overall the day turned out to be a great success, even with the light winds that we had over the course of the day. This is an event which we hope to grow for next year to involve more young windsurfers in racing and give them the opportunity to interact with the top stars in the sport. Watch this space for 2010!

-Wild Diamond

Tiree Wave Classic and Coll Challenge

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In endurance sports, they say that if you’re not living on the edge then you’re taking up too much room. The annual invasion of the tiny Hebridean island of Tiree by windsurfers from all over the world (including many top-ranking professionals) brings with it some of the most focussed, single-minded athletes you could ever wish to meet. But even though these surfers (or should it be sailors?) come to compete against each other they do it in a spirit of camaraderie and community.

They also like a bit of fun, which is as well because after the first day of the Tiree Wave Classic, sanctioned as a World Cup event since 2007, the Isle of Tiree decided not to live up to its reputation as one of the windiest places in the country.

For most of the week the little island, 14 miles long, 6 miles wide, was well and truly becalmed. Nice if you live here. Nice if you’ve come on holiday with the family. Not so nice if you’ve travelled, say, thousands of miles to get to the Tiree Wave Classic only to find there is not so much as a breeze and very little in the way of waves.

Timo Mullen (Ireland) effectively won the Wave Classic on day one of the competition. But these bare facts don’t paint the whole picture. The Tiree Wave Classic is so much more than a competition. Many ancillary events play an important part in making this 23-year-old competition a hit with islanders and competitors alike. For instance, the Tiree Team 15 Junior Racing Event, held at Loch Bhasapol, was a great success. 17 rounds of racing were completed with the junior racers prior to finally announcing the winners of the event. William Angus MacLean, of Wild Diamond Windsurfing, said ‘Overall the day turned out to be a great success, even with the light winds that we had over the course of the day. This is an event which we hope to grow for next year to involve more young windsurfers in racing and give them the opportunity to interact with the top stars in the sport.’

The highly anticipated Coll Adventure Challenge had to be ‘tweaked’ in view of the lack of wind. However the brave souls who took part were enthusiastic and the large crowd of spectators did their utmost to cheer them on. After a 6k run on the beach the competitors raced paddle boards in Gott Bay (instead of windsurfing to Coll). After the paddle board heats were over everyone piled into a Rigid Inflatable Boat to be ferried to Coll for the mountain bike stage. This was the second year in which this very special triathlon has featured at the Wave Classic and hopefully it is now a permanent feature. George Shilitto won the C.A.C. in spite of falling off his bike while going round the half-marathon course on Coll.

A host of peripheral events and activities ensured noone would be stuck for anything to do. This included a community drinks reception in which the public were extended a warm welcome to come along and find out more about the Tiree Wave Classic. In addition, the Tiree Lodge Hotel ensured there was something different on every night including two full to capacity gigs by local bands Trail West and The Defenders. And this is where the bit about ‘surfers liking fun’ comes in. There’s no doubt about it: if you want to be in the middle of a great party you had to be at The Tiree Lodge Hotel in the evening during the Classic! And whether you approve or not there’s no denying the fact that the photo-shoot at Gott Bay of three naked windsurfers certainly got the island into the news. There’s something about the combination of the words ‘nude’ and ‘windsurfer’ which causes internet search engines to go into overdrive. My own blog – Isle of Tiree Diary – had hundreds of hits within hours of my featuring a link to an internet report on the subject.

And so, the Tiree Wave Classic is over for another year. Undeterred by the unseasonably good weather here’s hoping these good natured, dedicated sailors – or is that surfers? – will come back next year. We’re looking forward to it already. And some wind to go with it, hopefully!

-Gordon Scott

Tiree attends Oban mod

Tiree pupils attend the 2009 Mòd in Oban

Tiree pupils attend the 2009 Mòd in Oban

21 pupils and 5 members of staff from Tiree High School attended the Royal National Mòd in Oban last week.

Ian Smith and Eilidh MacFadyen started the ball rolling when they competed in the Accordion competition on Saturday. This was a popular spectator event and the venue proved to be too small for all those wanting to get in to hear the competitors. Gordon Connell, the pupils’ tutor said the standard of playing was very high but he was very pleased with Eilidh & Ian’s performances.
Ian came away with a silver medal and although not in the top three, Eilidh gave a very creditable performance. This was her first experience of competing at the Mòd and will be better armed to compete next year.

The rest of the group competed over Monday & Tuesday in Solo singing, Conversation, Poetry recitation, Choral, Action Song and Folk group competition and although none were placed in the top three, the youngsters performed extremely well and did themselves proud.
It was a great experience for them and interesting for them to see how other competitors interpreted the pieces.

Some parents and friends came to Oban to support and this was much appreciated by the young people and the staff. Siusaidh NicNeill, who had been the driving force behind fundraising for the trip, said she was pleased and delighted with the performances and as she leaves Tiree to take up a new teaching post in Plockton she goes with very happy memories of the Oban Mòd.

Tiree adult choir – Oban Mod 199?

Are you in this photo?

Are you in this photo?

Are you in this photograph? Do you recognise someone in the photo?

If you can supply any information about who, where and when, please contact An Tirisdeach and we will be happy to print the relevant details in a future issue.

Camper Van Public Meeting

Camper van drivers were accused of living in “Never, Never land” when they arrive off the ferry taking them to a Scottish island.

they end up in a Never, Never land

Andrew Montgomery, the Duke of Argyll’s estate factor, claimed the owners of the vans and other types of motor homes, break the law by selflessly driving over valuable grazing land. He told a public meeting on the Isle of Tiree:
“When the drivers arrive here they end up in a Never, Never land and think they can do what they like. They will have to be educated that Tiree is part of the rest of Britain and they should respect the same laws as they do back home.”

The meeting, attended by about 80 local crofters and other residents, heard how the van owners damage the land and shoreline dunes by driving over unfenced areas to get to the beaches. John Bowler, chairman of the local Access group set up to protect the fabric of the island, accused the van drivers of emptying their toilets on open ground. He said:
“We don’t want to ban the vans, but we must find a balance to stop the damage being done to the island. To allow unlimited access to the island is unsustainable as the increased traffic has already impacted on natural environment, water, sewage, waste and transport systems.”
He said there had been a 154 per cent increase in the number of vans to the islands, including Barra, Coll and the Uists, this summer because the ferry fares had been halved by the introduction of the Road Equivalent Scheme.

The small camp sites had been full along with two local parking areas. The meeting voted overwhelmingly, with only three people against, to introduce a scheme to restrict the vans arriving to those that prebooked an overnight parking site. The scheme would allow locals to provide parking for a small fee and enable the van drivers to empty their toilets in their sceptic tanks. The drivers would not be allowed to travel on the ferries when booking with Caledonian MacBrayne unless they had prebooked a site.

Councillor Mary Jean Devon, of Argyll and Bute Council, told the meeting that other islands, Colonsay and Iona, had schemes to restrict vehicle numbers to safeguard the fabric there. Alison Spence, Tiree’s full time Access officer, told the meeting that she counted 20 camper vans parked at one of the island’s beaches that day, but could not say how many more were elsewhere on the 12-mile-long by five-mile-broad island.

The meeting also agreed to hold a postal vote of local residents on the scheme to “manage” the flow of camper vans to the island – population 800 – and which is owned by the Argyll Estates.

-Ian Sharp

Tiree Wind Turbine Update

Many thanks to all the Tiree Community who have been supportive and understanding during the recent road
works from Scarinish to the turbine site at Ruaig. Agrimarine are working well and hope to complete all works
by the 30th. They also hope to carry out some of the more disruptive works during the hours of darkness when there should be less traffic on the road. This is likely to be the areas between the Pier Road end and Tullymet and the Salum road end to the site at Ruaig. Once we know specific times of the works we will ensure that this information is prominently displayed in the usual shops and business premises.
We can now confirm that the turbine components and crane will arrive by Calmac chartered ferry on Saturday
7th November. It is likely that the longest delays will be caused to Caolis bound traffic moving in the same direction as the crane trailer en route to the site. Once we have the travel schedule from the haulier we will again ensure that this information is prominently displayed as before in order that you can plan your journey accordingly.
If you require any further information regarding the project, please get in touch with Liz at the Trust Office:
01879 220074.

Skerryvore Rock China

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And named Argyll’s Award Winning Entrepeneurs

Celtic Rock group Skerryvore made their furthest venture yet , travelling to the Far East to perform in Beijing, China.

The band were performing at the International Routes Event that was held in Beijing from the 12th to 15th September, attracting over 4,500 people from all over the world. The band also managed to fit in two other performances at music venue Ginko and went down a storm with locals and tourists alike.

Piper Martin Gillespie said “Beijing was an incredible experience for all of us, however, coming from Tiree which has a population of around 700 to then being in a city with a population of 14 million really did take my breath away. The locals were really friendly, and we received a fantastic reception at all three of our performances. We met the head of the Beijing Caledonian Society regarding performing at one of their annual events so hope to return to China again in the near future.”

Upon their return to Scotland, Skerryvore were then announced winners of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) Young Entrepeneur of the Year for Argyll & Bute and received their award at a ceremony at the A & B Council headquarters in Lochgilphead. The band now go through to the National Final with the chance of winning Young Business of the Year for Scotland and £2,000 towards their company. PSYBT regional manager Mags Watson said “They have demonstrated ambition and enthusiasm for taking good ideas and transforming them into a successful, thriving business. We wish them every success in the future.”

Skerryvore’s second album, On the Road, released in 2007 was re-pressed within a week of its release. They are currently working on a new album.

Alan Reid MP’s Flying Visit to Tiree

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Mr. Alan Reid MP flew over for the day to Tiree on Wednesday 23rd September to hold a Surgery at the Council Offices.

Despite posters and advertising in the An Tirisdeach, it was a quiet morning and it would have been easy to think Tiree had no issues to raise with their Westminster MP. Also, due to Tiree’s extreme weather at the beginning of the week, the Modern Studies schedule was scuppered and Mr. Reid’s visit to Tiree High School was cancelled.

“The issue on everyone’s lips”

This gave Mr. Reid plenty time to be interviewed by An Tirisdeach before heading off for a late lunch at the Cobbled Cow, and then on to Ruaig to look at the turbine site as well as the two new builds at Caoles which have generated so much verbal indignation.

Our interview began with Mr. Reid stating that the “issue on everyone’s lips” was the camper vans that have increased due to the new RET system introduced this year. Although tourism is important to the economy of island life, it is argued that the camper vans add nothing to the economy and are frequently seen as detrimental to a fragile environment.
Andrew Montgomery, factor of Argyll Estates has had his own negative experiences with some of the drivers of camper vans who are insensitive to island life, and he is not alone as Mr. Reid stated: “the comments I have had from people have been mostly negative.” However, as the summer season is now over this is an issue that will come to the fore again next summer.

“Ill thought out regulations”

Mr. Reid’s opposition to the Draft Crofting Reform Bill has been well documented, he simply stated “ The proposed regulations are ill thought out and it will be extra red tape to no good purpose. The Scottish Government has to agree a sensible way forward with crofters that will give crofting a sustainable future. That is not apparent in the current Draft Bill.”

Inevitably the state of Cal-Mac ferries was discussed and Mr. Reid added to previous comments: “I receive regular and justified complaints that the winter sailings to Tiree & Coll are too few. I cannot stress enough the importance of building a fleet that would be reliable. The money has to be found.”

“It’s a disgrace that the firestation lacks basic facilities”

The plight of our firefighters also came up. “It is a disgrace that the fire station lacks basic facilities. It must be a priority to install them. Firefighters risk their lives to protect the local community, the least one can do is provide them with decent facilities. I will be keeping an eye on how this progresses.” The unregulated shenanigans of the bankers and the thorny subject of MP’s expenses also came up, but lack of space in this issue means these subjects will have to wait until issue 452.

Fire Chief Visit to Tiree Promises Results

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Due to the fundamental necessity of a Firefighting service on Tiree, issue 443 carried a front page story of our quietly heroic volunteers.

During the course of the interview it became apparent that all was far from well in terms of facilities, travel and training. Enquiries as to funding , and keeping the Tiree firefighters’ situation on the agenda of the relevant councillors and firefighting management , eventually led to a long overdue visit to Tiree on 25th August by the Chief Fire Officer Brian Sweeney for Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, the Argyll & Bute Commander Paul Connelly, the Convener and two Vice- Conveners of the Board as well as, amongst others, Councillor Donald MacDonald.

“The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site”

The visit was an excellent opportunity for the fire-fighters to air their concerns about a number of issues as well as clearly expressing their views on the need to improve the current facilities on Tiree.
The Chief Officer took note of the suggestions made as did the Board members who were fully supportive. Paul Connelly told An Tirisdeach “The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site if at all possible to include an extension that can be used to house toilet, shower and training facilities.”.

A commitment to explore and develop these ideas further was given with a view to putting something in place during the course of next financial year.

Tiree’s Margaret Worsley, Deputy Crew Commander was very positive about the visit and is optimistic that the guarantees they were given will bear fruit next year.

Vital Day Service Continues

councillors_mary_roddyCouncillors Mary-Jean Devon (Oban South & The Isles) and Roddy McCuish (Vice-Chair of Oban, Lorne & The Isles Area Committee) show their delight at the letter sent by Ann Austen Service Manager of the Social Work Departmment in response to the Day Service / Lunch Club’s letter to her Department.

Councillors Roddy McCuish and Mary Jean Devon held a surgery at Tiree Business Centre on Monday 7th Sept. Top of their agenda was our much cherished Lunch Club which is known as the Tiree Day Service.
Councillor Devon showed An Tirisdeach the letter which said “Sincere apologies for the manner in which people were notified of the intended closure of the Day Service. We will re-assess the situation over the next four months.” The Lunch Club were given assurances that the Club would be up and running by the 11th of September.

“We will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service”

Councillor Devon confirmed that this crucial service will run as normal until a consultation takes place. Councillor McCuish added ” Coming over here today can only endorse what Ann Austen said. It was handled poorly and having seen the facility for myself along with my colleague we will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service.”
Both councillors were unanimious in their unequivocal support of the Day Service, aware that the Lunch Club and Craft Class helps, amongst others, the elderly and the vulnerable. “We would encourage islanders to contact their councillors with any concerns regarding the island. We knew nothing about the situation until Mrs. MacCallum contacted us and we are thankful that she did.

“Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us”

We will be more than happy to help continue this crucial service. Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us, and we are committed in our support of islanders for these essential services.” The councillors pointed out that they can only act on information they receive and are keen that islanders keep them informed of issues that affect our community. Both councillors are aware that the problems islanders face are often unique to island life and do not always have a mainland equivalent.

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