Category Archives: Community Announcements

New Tiree Community Council Takes Office

A new-look Community Council for the island formally took over last week at their first meeting, chaired by Tricia O’Neill, Argyll and Bute Council’s Central Governance Officer. Dr John Holliday (the new convenor), Robert Trythall (secretary), William Angus MacLean (vice-convenor),Andy Wright (treasurer) and Donna MacLean take over from the previous council. Sadly, Emma Rossiter has had to hand in her resignation because of family circumstances.

After the council had been set up, discussions moved onto the issues of the day. Chief amongst these was the difficulty resulting from the damage to the Clansman,which had meant a return for the smaller Lord of the Isles. This had been unable to cope with the surge in traffic over Easter and at the May bank holiday, but the biggest problem had been the online booking system, which proved far too inflexible to cope with the disruption.Many people had their travel plans affected. Businesses relying on visitors are likely to have taken a big hit. We have already written to the Cal-Mac management about this, but it must not be allowed to happen again and we will press hard on this issue.

The previous council had been inundated with complaints about the lack of reduced-fare tickets on Loganair flights to Glasgow. Roy Bogle has replied for the company. He effectively said that Loganair was facing big hikes in costs from airports and for fuel. To compensate, no further cut-price fares were being offered during the busier summer months. To be fair, Loganair’s contract with the Scottish Government does not compel them to offer discount fares, but the company has been selling some tickets at a cheaper rate to encourage people to travel. This contract is up for renewal next autumn, but the community council will begin negotiations with Transport Scotland in a few months time, and we will do our best to ensure reduced fares are back on the table.

The other big issue was the future of the Scarinish public toilets. Argyll and Bute Council have, in the past, threatened to close them, and the buildings were getting pretty run-down. As the only public toilets on the island, it is obvious that they are a fundamental part of our infrastructure.

The question is: should the island try to take them over, or should we fight to get the Council to put in some much-needed investment? This is rapidly becoming one of our top priorities, and we will work on this over the next few weeks. We are now down to five members, and we are going to ask two people to join the council. Rules for this have now been relaxed, and co-opted councillors are able to sit for two years.

We want to be as open as we can, and, with several tech-savvy new members, we hope that our website, Facebook and Twitter feeds can be developed. Our next meeting will be at the end of June. Let us know if there are issues you think we can help with (contact our new secretary Robert Trythall on rob@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk).

Dr John Holliday (doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk)

Goodbye and Hello!

Tiree Community Business, the owners of AnTirisdeach, are sorry to have to announce that we are saying goodbye to our An Tirisdeach Editor, Donna MacLean.

Donna is already an extremely busy lady, not only looking after an active, year round portfolio, of cultural events for the Tiree Development Trust, but in addition, she has also recently become a Councillor for Tiree Community Council. Donna has been a wonderful Editor during her time with An Tirisdeach, always producing flawless work to a tight schedule, in her usual calm and unflappable manner. The additional Community Council work will however take a lot of Donna’s time, and she feels that now is the moment to pass on the reins to someone else.

We will miss having Donna working with us, and we hope that readers will join the Directors of Tiree Community Business Ltd in thanking Donna for her time as Editor, wishing her every success for the future, particularly the important task of representing Tiree on the Community Council. However, there is also good news, as this means that it is time to say hello, and to introduce to An Tirisdeach readers our new Editor, Rou Worsely.

Rou will be taking over from Donna over the next few issues, but readers should see a seamless handover. Rou is an experienced illustrator, graphic designer, animator and creative writer, having run her own design and illustration business here on the island, since graduating from the University of Durham in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Visual Communication (Animation).

Rou has many exciting ideas for An Tirisdeach and is eager to get started, and again, we hope that readers will join us in welcoming Rou as Our new An Tirisdeach editor. You can write to Rou with any comments, ideas, articles, or just to say hello at; antirisdeach@btconnect.com

Loganair Respond to Communities Fare Concerns

Over the last few months, Tiree Community Council has received copious amounts of comments and letters from members of the community, concerned about growing fare prices on the Tiree – Glasgow route, introduction of lower weight restrictions and lack of promotional deals available to Tiree customers.

Tiree Community Council have been actively communicating with Loganair representatives to get a response to the above complaints and Roy Bogel has now issued us with an update with regards to the pricing structure:

Thank you for your note. On every Loganair flight throughout our network, pricing relates to the expected levels of demand for the service. We continually adjust pricing in an effort to achieve sustainable route economics.

Although the Tiree service is a PSO, if our revenue falls short of the forecast we have submitted as part of our bid to fly the route over the four-year bid period, it is exclusively Loganair’s issue and we have no recourse to Transport Scotland for any such shortfall. As you may also be aware, the PSO provides for a £1 increase per year in the price of each of the five fare “buckets” we have available. This is wholly insufficient to keep pace with increases like Glasgow Airport and HIAL fees and charges, increases in maintenance costs on the Twin Otter aircraft and ground handling costs, before we even get to considering any cost of living increases for our own employees.

The increase in landing and per-passenger charges this year at Glasgow and Tiree airports amount to £1.43 per passenger before any other issues come into the equation. The result of this is that we are selling slightly fewer seats at the two lowest fares this summer than we did last year. Frankly, to cover the costs of the provision of the service, we can’t avoid it; and it is not something for which we should apologise.

With a limited increase of £1 per fare per year, it’s impossible to keep pace with the inflation of airport maintenance and ground handling costs that are an unavoidable consequence of providing the service. As already mentioned, airport charges amount to a £1.43 increase and the sum of the other costs is broadly similar. The PSO only regulates the maximum fare that can be charged, and it does not oblige any operator to offer a lower fare, let alone the range of lower fares that Loganair continues to provide.

To put this into context, we see a position where average fares paid by customers are around £3 higher than last year as a result of the changes – i.e. recovery of the extra costs but not a penny more. One could be forgiven for thinking that this had morphed into the Great Plane Robbery given the level of contention, but an average increase of £3 is the reality of what the change amounts to. We have kept a number of the cheaper fares available but the seats at those fares have now sold out for the summer ahead, and those seats remaining are at higher prices (but still well within the maximum permitted under the PSO).

I’d like to reiterate that the Saturday night stay requirements have not changed and have been in place on the lower fares for over 25 years, based on our archive of Loganair historic pricing information. It is not, contrary to opinion, a new or indeed recent change and it may well date back to policies in place well before 1992. It’s necessary to keep pace with the increases in cost of provision of the service and I can assure you that we’re only doing what we see as absolutely essential. Indeed, if we over-recover (and we’re not doing!) then any excess generated by Loganair is passed straight back to Transport Scotland under the PSO mechanism, so we have no incentive nor motivation to increase fares unduly as we stand to gain no benefit – and plenty of adverse comment – from doing so.

We remain firmly committed to providing the very best value that we can and firmly believe that we’re doing so this year.

To sum up the letter, Loganair have failed to acknowledge any sympathy towards increased fare prices and have explained that they are operating within their current PSO agreement.

The letter confirms that all cheaper fare brackets have now sold out for the summer ahead, suggesting to us that there are very limited ‘just fly’ tickets allocated to each flight.

Tiree Community Council is currently undertaking its handover period with the new Tiree Community Councillors and it is understood that the PSO document is due to be confirmed later on this year.

TCC will work on ensuring the next PSO agreement is more variable for the Tiree community and includes stipulations such that will address the current issues.

Ferry Disruption Continues to Cause Issues

Tiree continues to be affected by the ongoing ferry situation, despite the island’s dedicated vessel, the MV Clansman now back in operation following an 8 week stay in dry-dock.

Following on from successful sea trials at the beginning of the week, the MV Clansman has now been deployed to the Uig triangle to substitute the MV Hebrides who is due in dry dock, following on from an agreed three-week extension to their operating license issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Finlay MacRae, Cal Mac Area Operations for the north, told Tiree Community Council: “Assuming no unforeseen issues, MV Hebrides should be available again for service week commencing 21st May and that in turn will allow MV Clansman to return to Tiree, Coll and Colonsay service.” However, he then continued: “The current repair to the Clansman is being permitted with a time restriction on the repaired component parts, which will have to be fully replaced by new parts which are currently being manufactured. The removal of the temp parts and installation of the new will require the vessel to attend dry dock again, we expect in June, and will be in touch shortly to discuss.”

Tiree is currently still being serviced by The Lord of the Isles, which to the most part is able to cope with the demand of Tiree traffic, at this time of year. The earlier introduction of an additional Saturday sailing has been hugely beneficial in assisting with capacity issues. However, it is looking like the capacity issues that arose over the Easter weekend, are due to be mirrored this weekend, as Tiree gears up for the annual 10K and Half Marathon event.

As An Tirisdeach goes to press, various issues were developing, however as expected it mostly transpired that the LOTI wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand and the MV Isle of Mull will be deployed to Tiree on Friday (4th) and Monday (7th May). It is still unclear as to whether this redeployment of a slightly bigger vessel will be able to accommodate all current bookings.

With limited vessels available at their disposal, I think it is fair to say that Cal Mac have done the best job possible in deploying their fleet around the various island routes. Tiree has mostly coped being serviced by the LOTI which has 65% less capacity then the Clansman. However, we are still left hugely frustrated when travel over peak weekends and island events is disrupted and affected due to failure of advance planning from Cal Mac. It is fair to say that communication from the company has not been sufficient, with various last-minute decisions being made and complaints from customers who have been given little warning of changes to their bookings.

Finlay MacRae commented on the recent booking system issue that was raised by Tiree residents, stating: “We have also been having some issues with the reservations system, largely caused by a huge volume of ship and timetable changes driven through the system over the last week, and some sailing availability was not replicating to the internet correctly, but was available via port or contact centre. This has now been rectified, but if we can suggest that where sailings online are showing as not available please double check with us at the port or by the contact number in case there are any further system issues. Grateful thanks to those who brought some of the reservations system issues to our attention.”

All issues are being closely monitored by Tiree Community Council and the Tiree Transport forum who are keeping in touch with various representatives from Cal Mac and also continue to lobby island minister Michael Russell and Transport Minister for the islands, Humza Yousaf.

Scarinish Harbour Moorings

As you may have read in earlier editions of An Tirisdeach, Tiree Community Development Trust is in the process of taking over ownership of the newly repaired Scarinish Harbour.

A subsidiary company (Tiree Community Maritime Assets Ltd or ‘TCMAL’) which is 100% owned by The Trust, has been set up to own and manage the harbour on behalf of the Trust. This allows any potential risk to be kept away from the Trust and also allows the Trust to appoint a board of directors to focus on the management of the harbours. A list of TCMAL Directors can be seen at www.tireetrust.org.uk

The overall aim of the project is to make Scarinish Harbour safe to use and fit for purpose for fishermen and leisure users and to ensure that it is now maintained and well managed in the future. To ensure that this can happen TCMAL will be introducing a membership scheme for users with the aim of generating enough funds to allow the pier to be operated in a sustainable manner. Costs which will have to be covered will include insurance, maintenance and administration.

We would ask that if you currently have a mooring in Scarinish Harbour please contact either the Trust Office, David Kerr or Frazer MacInnes as soon as possible to let us know. There will be 15 mooring memberships available and these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. The membership scheme will operate as follows:

  • Mooring rights with full use of the harbour and pier for 12 months (max. 15 boats) £100 per year
  • Use of the pier and harbour to launch (no mooring) for 12 months (unlimited) £50 per year
  • There will also be a ‘day launch’ option for infrequent users at £10 per day for launching and use of the pier and a daily charge of £10 for visiting boats using the pier or the harbour.
  • A commercial rate has also been set for businesses (fishing and sea tours).

If you have any questions about this or the project in general please do get in touch on 220 074 or admin@tireetrust.org.uk

New Playpark Equipment Installed

Thanks to a variety of very generous donations we are pleased to report that Tiree Community Business have now purchased and installed two brand new pieces of equipment in the playpark in Crossapol.

A brand new ‘Flower Twirler’ and a ‘Wheel Roll’ have now been installed and it didn’t take the local children long to master the art of working both pieces of equipment.

TCB are continuing their fundraising efforts to raise over £50,000 which would enable them to replace all of the equipment with new up to date pieces. To date, over £9,290 has already been raised and gone towards the purchase and installation of these new items.

The fundraising is still continuing and it is hoped that a variety of different equipment will be installed and replaced over the next couple of years. TCB are in the process of applying for the Co-op Community Fund, which will hopefully boost the fundraising pot, so stay tuned on information on how to ‘vote’.

Many thanks to Cameron Smith for installing the equipment so quickly and efficiently.

Tiree’s Newest Coastguard Recruits

Four Tiree residents are currently undertaking a training course to become qualified Coastguard Rescue Officers, which will allow them to join our own local Coastguard Team.

Louise Reid, Duncan Urquhart, Tony Bachelor and Laken-Louise Hives have recently finished their 2nd weekend of intense training which has seen them conduct a number of water based rescue exercises, first aid training and various classroom assessments.

They have one more weekend to go before they become fully qualified Rescue Officers and can join our local team which already consists of Lachie Brown (officer in charge), Billy MacLean and Tearlach MacDonald.

The four newest recruits will be a welcomed addition to the local team, who help to provide this life line service. Adrian Kay the Senior Coastal Operations Officer based in Oban has been conducting the training along with a colleague and would welcome contact from any other members of the community who would be interested in getting involved.

More information can be found at: www.gov.uk/coastguard-volunteers

Tiree Trust February News Bites

Apologies, as it has been a while since we have updated our news-bites via An Tirisdeach.

Please see below some snippets of what’s been happening over the last month. More detailed information can be found on our website.

• Lochshell Engineering (based in Wick) has been appointed to undertake the repair works at Scarinish Harbour and an agreement with Argyll Estate to gift the Harbour over to the community is at an advanced stage. A grant has been secured from Marine Scotland and work is due to commence in late February/early March.

• Funding has been awarded from the Scottish Land Fund to cover the costs associated with the Trust taking ownership of the Hynish Buildings from The Hebridean Trust. This includes funding for a 2-year development officer post. This is currently being developed and more information about the post will be announced in due course. The legal process is lengthy, and we are still not at the point of taking on the buildings quite yet.

• We have recently funded a variety of training courses on the island, including ‘health and safety at work’, ‘food hygiene’ and ‘personal license’ which over 25 members of the community have benefitted from.

• We are pleased to welcome Youth Worker Willie MacKinnon back to the office, following a short period of absence due to a leg injury. Willie will be conducting desk duties for the next month or so, we are delighted to report that he is slowly but steadily on the mend!

• You may have noticed that Tilley has not been turning over the last month. This is due to a generator fault and we are working with manufacturers to try and resolve this as part of our maintenance contract.

• The Tiree Ranger Service Guided Walk Programme for 2018 is now available online at: www.isleoftiree.com

We’ve got three new routes for you to enjoy this year, and the programme will commence in April (rather than June as has previously been the case).

• Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative held a Mini Tourism Summit at the end of the month which was attended by various people involved in the tourism industry.

Scarinish Harbour Set for Emergency Repairs

Tiree Trust is pleased to report that following successful discussions with Marine Scotland we have secured emergency funds to make repairs to Scarinish Harbour. The Harbours’ Steering Group has been working with the Trust for the past 2 years to plan improvements for both Scarinish and Milton Harbours and the Trust is now seeking funds to deliver on those plans.

Marine Scotland has approved a grant of up to £200,000 for urgent repairs at Scarinish Harbour but the work must be completed by 31st March 2018. Discussions have already started with a specialist contractor capable of undertaking the work, which includes pressure grouting the end of the pier to stabilise the structure.

A funding package for Milton, which requires a larger investment of around £1.2m, has not yet been secured but discussions are ongoing with HIE and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund to secure the required funds.

Tiree Flag

The long process to create a community flag for Tiree is finally bearing fruit.

Following Barra,whose new flag, a white Nordic cross on a green background, was given the official seal of approval last year, the Tiree flag competition is now in sight. The competition itself, run by Tiree Community Council, opens at the start of April and will last one month. But there’s no harm starting to think about it now.

A similar contest two years ago in Caithness attracted over three hundred entries from as far afield as Australia and Brazil, and there is no reason why Tiree would not attract more. Young and old are all encouraged to enter. Ideas for a flag can be as simple as a scribble on a piece of paper – it’s the idea behind the scribble that is important. Designs can also be submitted fully drawn or in digital form.

Philip Tibbets from the Flag Institute will be holding workshops on the island at the end of February to show budding designers what they need to do. But designing a flag is harder than it looks! The design needs to be inspired by something fundamental to the island: its colours, its shapes, its thatched houses, its history of emigration, its music or its birdlife. The design also needs to be simple, only two or three colours are recommended, and with no lettering or crests.

Cutting the entries down to six finalists will be done on Monday 4 June, by a panel consisting of the Lord Lyon, Philip Tibbetts, Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Lachie Brown, Iain MacKinnon and Donna MacLean. The public vote will be focused at the Agricultural Show on 20 July, and in the week that follows. Formal approval then comes from the Lord Lyon, the ultimate authority on all things to do with Scottish flags.

Start looking at the Tiree landscape in a new way over the next few weeks and think what elements might make a winning design. It could be yours!

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