Category Archives: Community Announcements

Gaelic Development Officer Update

Over the Summer I have had some great opportunities to support the language on the island. These have included running Bookbug sessions at Fèis bheag bhiodach each morning, leading Fèis bheag, co-leading some Gaelic themed nature walks and finally I took Bookbug on tour to TMF this year in the story tent.

This new term has started well with Gaelic classes recommencing with a very keen group of learners meeting each week. Bookbug continues to meet weekly on a Thursday for all under 5’s and their parents in the library. Sradagan also meets weekly for GM pupils to have a social setting to use their Gaelic in an immersive setting.

Còisir Bun-sgoil Thiriodh

Tiree Primary Choir

Since April last year, I have been meeting weekly with primary pupils (open to all in primary) at lunch times to learn Gaelic songs in preparation for the National Mòd in Glasgow. We formed a choir and several soloists came forward, keen to take part. This last month has seen our rehearsals increase as we prepared to first of all, attend the local Mòd in Tobermory on Friday 13th September.

This was the first time the choir had fully performed in public and for our youngest soloist, Isla Kennedy (age 5) to perform as well. We had a great trip and all the pupils behaved brilliantly. I was very grateful to the parent volunteers, Kirsty, Andy and Louise who helped in so many ways on this trip.

The youngsters really love singing and on the public bus from Craignure, sang through their whole repertoire, much to the enjoyment of the other passengers.

When it came to compete, the choir sang their hearts out and were up against several other choirs from Mull and nearby. We had to leave before the adjudication to catch our bus, but we were delighted to hear at the end of the day, that we had gained 2nd place in the unison comp. and 3rd in Puirt-a-beul and positioned 2nd overall. A great success!

Adding to this, our soloists all performed fantastically well, and we were delighted that Lucy Kennedy gained 1st place in singing 5-8-year olds and Kieran MacDonald gained 3rd place in 12-13-year-old. The feedback and adjudication for these competitions is so useful as we now go forward to compete in Glasgow at the National Mòd this month.

Since our return from Mull we have been out and about performing some more, as well as raising funds for future trips with the choir. We had a lovely afternoon with the residents and invited guests of Tigh Rudha. The choir and soloists each performed and were greatly encouraged by the response. Last Friday night, we held a premòd ceilidh and were delighted to be joined by the Tiree Pipe Band as well. Mabel Macarthur led the evening for us and ensured that everything flowed together really well. It was very well attended, with not enough chairs to seat everyone!

Once again, the soloists performed so well in front of a big crowd and we all enjoyed some tea and cake to finish off the evening. Thanks to all those who baked and served at this. Our final fundraising effort was to serenade the co-op shoppers on Saturday afternoon. We were very grateful for all the coins dropped into our tins and we all enjoyed this wee ceilidh in a very different location! Although the choir is small in number, they certainly make up for that in their enthusiasm and attitude towards performing. They are a great group of boys and girls and I am looking forward to attending the National Mòd with them this month!

If you would like to find out more about the work I do or would like to be involved to support and encourage Gaelic on Tiree then please do get in touch!

Mòran Taing!

Changes At Medical Practice

We would like to give notice of some changes we will be making at the Medical Practice.

Effective from the start of October, there will no longer be appointments with Cairin on Friday, however there will now be appointments available with her on Wednesday afternoon.

Also from the start of October, we will no longer be holding the urgent GP or Practice Nurse surgery on Saturday morning. If however you feel you need to be seen with an urgent problem over the weekend, the doctor will continue to be available 24 hours per day.

The Saturday morning GP surgery has always been intended for urgent matters only, however we recognise that some have attended on Saturday morning, as they cannot make it to the surgery during normal working hours. From the start of October, we will therefore be offering bookable appointments from 6pm until 7pm on Wednesday evenings. These appointments will be available on request, and we would ask that they are only booked by people who are unable to attend at other times.

If you have an very urgent problem needing to be seen on the day and regular appointments are already fully booked, please explain this to the receptionist and you will be offered an urgent appointment slot during working hours.

Blood taking will still take place twice per week in the same appointment slots, but from from the middle of November, Rhona, who has been working for us in reception for some time now, will be starting work as a phlebotomist (taking blood). Rhona is a qualified nurse of many years experience, so this will be a return to work she knows well. This will free up time for more appointments both with the doctor and with Cairin.

Overall, these changes will give us a few more appointment slots in the ever busier early part of the week and better access to GP appointments for those working full time. There will be no change in the 24 hour per day availability of the doctor for emergencies.

We hope you will find this to be an improved service. Tiree Medical Practice.

Calmac To Host Coll and Tiree Meetings

CalMac will host events in Coll and Tiree to update communities on plans for the forthcoming linkspan replacement project.

Two public drop-in sessions have been arranged to share details of the work and discuss the alternative service arrangements which will be put in place by CalMac throughout the duration of the upgrades.

The Coll meeting will be held at An Cridhe, Coll Community Centre, on Monday 30th September. The Tiree meeting will take place at An Talla community hall on Tuesday 1st October.

Both meetings will be held from 4.00pm to 7.00pm and people can drop-in at any point during those times.

The linkspan closure date for Coll is Monday 28th October and it will re-open on Thursday 21st November 2019. The Tiree linkspan will be out of service from Monday 24th February 2020 and will return to service on Tuesday 17th March 2020.

CalMac will operate a passenger only service during the replacement project, supplemented by a lift on/lift off freight service. Vehicles will not be transported during the linkspan closure periods. Representatives from CalMac will attend the meetings to answer any questions you may have.

CMAL To Host Coll and Tiree Public Meetings

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) will host events in Coll and Tiree to update communities on plans for the forthcoming linkspan replacement project.

Two public drop-in sessions have been arranged to share details of the work and discuss the alternative service arrangements which will be put in place by CalMac throughout the duration of the upgrades.

The Coll meeting will be held at An Cridhe, Coll Community Centre, on Monday 2nd September.

The Tiree meeting will take place at An Talla community hall on Tuesday 3rd September.

Both meetings will be held from 4.00pm to 7.30pm and people can drop-in at any point during those times.

The linkspan closure date for Coll is Monday 28th October and it will re-open on Thursday 21st November 2019. The Tiree linkspan will be out of service from Monday 24th February 2020 and will return to service on Tuesday 17th March 2020.

CalMac will operate a passenger-only service during the replacement project, supplemented by a lift on/lift off freight service. Vehicles will not be transported during the linkspan closure periods.

Representatives from CMAL and CalMac will attend the meetings along with consulting engineer, Mott MacDonald and the appointed contractor, George Leslie Limited. Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said:

“The projects at Coll and Tiree are part of CMAL’s ongoing programme of harbour upgrades and improvements. We understand transport is vital for the islands and our aim is to cause as little disruption to island life as possible. If we can reduce the timescale of closures, we will. “Both islands will essentially remain ‘open for business’ throughout the linkspan replacement period. Alternative passenger and freight services will be put in place throughout the duration of the work. However, there will be no access for vehicles moving to and from the island. “We encourage both communities to attend the events and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with the representatives in attendance. We hope that this will allow locals to prepare for the disruption to services whilst upgrade activities are carried out.”

Robert Morrison, Head of Service Delivery Operations at Calmac Ferries Ltd, said:

“We look forward to taking this opportunity to give more detail of the contingency plans we are putting in place to minimise disruption to our customers.”

Tiree Trust News Bites

• The Trust has recently appointed consultants Delfinity to undertake the Feasibility Study on the Community Owned Fuel Service. Work has started this week and we expect the study to be complete by the middle of September. If any community members would like to join the short-term steering group for this project, please contact andy@tireetrust.org.uk

• The Trust is in the process of trying to secure funds to undertake another feasibility study, this time to assess the viability of a small community owned affordable housing project, possibly at The Camp in Crossapol. Please contact Andy (see above) if you would like to join the steering group for this project.

• Gaelic classes will re-start on Monday 26th August, 7:30pm @ Trust Offices, all welcome to come and learn a song and opportunity to build confidence in speaking Gaelic.

• Bookbug – Gaelic rhyme, song and story time returns, each Thursday 9am in the library. Suitable for under 5’s and parents/guardians.

• Primary Gaelic Choir & soloists will be attending Mull provincial Mod on 13th Sept & National Mod, Glasgow in October. There will be a premod ceilidh in September, and we will confirm the details shortly.

• After school Youth Work activities will be back to normal as of 26th August, with some sessions running from Wed 21st. For more information see the ‘Tiree Trust – Youth Work’ Facebook page or contact willie@tireetrust.org.uk

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.

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.

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 27