Category Archives: Community Announcements

Tiree Community Council News

Your community council had their ‘December’ meeting on 30th November, as a number of Councillors were going to be away this month. It was a long and passionate meeting, with about forty members of the public attending.

Perhaps the most significant issue discussed, was a complaint brought by Iona and Marti Larg that Tiree Community Council (TCC) had not been neutral in the recent ballot re the Balevullin beach hut. Mr & Mrs Larg have complained that the ballot paper and covering letter produced by TCC are confusing and biased in favour of planning permission being refused.

In particular, the question on the ballot paper was framed by the view of the planning officer, who had recommended refusal. Mr & Mrs Larg also complained that no information about the beach hut was included with the ballot paper, and that the ballot papers were not numbered, which could have allowed fraudulent ballot papers to be copied and returned. When the Community Council published the results, no discussion had been added.

Donnie Campbell proposed that Tiree Community Council should immediately apologise to Mr & Mrs Larg, as he felt that the wording had not been agreed by all, and the ballot papers were not individually numbered, but the majority of TCC felt that this was not appropriate, and that it would be better that the Convenor give the Larg’s a considered written response in the first instance, and if they were still unhappy, they could ask for an independent island arbiter to rule on the matter. Donnie Campbell asked that his dissent to this decision be recorded in the formal minutes. The full complaint will be posted on the TCC website, where the TCC complaints procedure is also available.

TCC have been invited to go to talk to the young people in the school to encourage one or two to join the community council for a year. And we hope to take up this invitation. The subject of the language used in the pre-school unit was raised. Gaelic was used until last year, but it has largely been replaced by English. Some parents would like to see more Gaelic reintroduced, and the school has set up a new group of parents to survey the families involved to find out what the current intake would like and also to help shape future developments.

Areas of responsibility for our three new community councillors was discussed, and Rhoda Meek will lead on crofting and fishing, Jessie Gray was asked to help Donnie in the area of education and Aisling Milne will take on environmental matters.

We discussed how we best deal with matters raised by the public. At the moment we usually take up issues with the mainland body responsible. Sometimes, however there is is a perfectly good mechanism to allow people to raise their own issues, for example the Parent-Teacher Council, and we were keen not to undermine these local committees. We are still very happy to take up your problems, but if you can, have a pop yourself first!

It was brought to our attention that there were problems, including a leaking sewage inspection hatch, a derelict electrical board and a considerable amount of construction waste on the triangle of land to the west of Pier View. Enquiries to West Highland Housing Association had proved fruitless, and it became apparent that this construction debris was on ‘orphan’ land, ownership of which was unclear. We will write to Environmental Health in the first instance. It had been pointed out that the pavements along Sruthan Terrace in Crossapol were heavily overgrown with grass, and we promised to ask the Council to look at this.

The danger of driving too fast over The Reef in winter was reported to us after a ‘near miss’. Black cattle can be difficult to see in the dark. We had asked the Roads Department to comment, but appropriate warning signs are already displayed at both ends of the stretch of road. The police have reinforced the fact that it is the motorists’ responsibility to drive carefully when there are known hazards like this. We were advised by the vet that there was no current way of attaching reflective material to large animals, although research into the subject is occurring. We decided that the best way forward was more driver education at the beginning of every winter.

We heard a report about the Transport Forum meeting in November. Members of the Forum are Ian Gillies, John MacCaskill, Colin Woodcock, Susan Lamont, Stewart MacLennan, Catriona MacLennan, Tish MacKinnon and Andy Wright. Barra have asked for a third flight during the summer, and members were worried this might put pressure on the planes servicing Tiree. The Forum has also asked for extra flights to Tiree during the pressure points of TMF or the 10 k. Loganair have started ‘Tiree Tasters’, day flights to Tiree with windsurfing lessons or cycle hire thrown in. It was suggested ‘Glasgow Tasters’ might also be popular!

Tiree flights from Glasgow Airport often leave from Gate 3, which has no lift. This will be looked into. Numbers for the Tiree bus tours have fallen dramatically this year with the change from Thursday to Wednesday for the Barra run. Numbers to Coll have similarly fallen, and CalMac believe this has been caused by the new cheap RET tickets to Mull, which are encouraging visitors to take their own cars to that island.

TCC also had their quarterly meeting with the Trust. A second public meeting about the Charrette Report will take place at the end of January as efforts to bring the main island committees under one ‘Team Tiree’ umbrella continue. The Trust is set to take a lease of the old Met Office building at the airport to develop it into a Chapel of Rest.

TCC heard about plans to improve harbour facilities for the fishing fleet. The next stage is another marine engineering report. Scarinish Pier has been closed by the Estate; although two fishing boats have been allowed to use it for the time being as there is no alternative. The Trust has agreed to take over the repair of Dr Buchanan’s memorial in Baugh. Argyll and Bute Council have responsibility for the replacement of railings at the War Memorial.

The Minister for Islands and Transport, Humza Yousaf MSP, has agreed to visit Tiree in the New Year and the Trust and TCC have set up a joint group to get the most for Tiree out of his visit. The main focus with the Minister will be on what the Islands Bill might mean for Tiree, meeting with crofters and farmers,. Demonstrating ‘Team Tiree’ and the problems faced by the fishing fleet at Milton Harbour.

The meeting finished at 10.15.

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 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

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

The Sun Comes Out For Show Day

The very successful Tiree Agricultural Society Show took place on Friday the 22nd of July at the Rural Centre.

One of the busiest events on the Tiree calendar, The Show has been running on the island since 1877! Once again the sun came out for the event, which was well attended by locals and visitors alike – with just under 1000 people through the gate!

The committee have been hard at work preparing for the show for many months now, along with all of the competitors who enter into the home industries and livestock sections. There was an excellent number of competitors at this year’s event, with the home industries tent stocked with a range of locally grown produce, homemade baking, crafts, knitting and much more and the livestock pens were just as busy, with cattle, sheep, horses, hens and of course a variety of dogs on show! Judging within the livestock sections started early in the morning with all 5 of the judges, David Wright, Kyle Campbell, Raymond Kennedy, Robert Wright and Julie Donn having a good look around the animals. A suffolk ewe, bred by Fraser MacLean of Heylipol Farm was crowned the Supreme Champion in the sheep section and the supreme champion in the cattle class was won by Archie John MacLean also of Heylipol Farm with his Charolais-cross bullock calf, which also went on to win Champion of Champions.

The Champion Horse or Pony which was judged by Julie Donn was won by Jan Patterson from Balinoe with Tallina. The overall pet section, which is always very popular with interesting categories such as ‘the dog with the waggiest tail’ and ‘best 6 legs’, was won by Claire Kennedy of Ruaig with her border Collie, Coll. The pet section was judged by local residents Donald and Annine MacLean from Mannal. The poultry section, which was a welcome edition to the show schedule in 2013 was won by Rhoda Meek, Caoles with her rooster, Rodney. The livestock sections were well represented and a special mention must go to the young people of Tiree who performed very well in each of the Young Stockperson’s section, with Jenna MacArthur, Lochside winning the horse and pony section, Kirsteen MacKinnon, Parkhouse winning the cattle section and Ruairidh MacDonald, Roadside winning the sheep section.

The Home Industry competitions were very well attended with a variety of winners for each sections. Most points in the Pre- School section was won by, Blythe Wright, Anna Campbell, Josh Milne, Ailish MacKechnie and Niamh MacLean. Anya Wright won the section for 5 – 7 year olds, Kathleen Munn for 8 – 11 year olds and Lewis McDowall for 12 – 16 year olds. A list of all of the prize winners can be found on website: www.tireeshow.co.uk – The Home Industry sections were judged by 4 very enthusiastic judges, Margaret Agnew for handcrafts, Elizabeth Brown for Produce, Horticulture was judged by Ian MacLeod and the children’s section was judged by Fiona MacLeod.

Also new for 2016, was the very fitting ‘Scarecrow Competition’, which was well entered and won by Ailish, Jarleth and Katie Jane MacKechnie. Throughout the day there was various going-ons to keep everyone entertained, with the Tiree Young Farmers running the main ring events with an action packed roll a bale competition which involved rolling a hay bale from one end of the ring to the other, which was won by Duncan MacLean and Sheena MacKinnon. ‘Pie, a Pint and a sheep’ was another new addition to this year’s show which allowed local crofter, Colin McKinnon to show off his shearing skills by giving us a demonstration of the task.

There was also an opportunity to browse the well stocked ‘craft tent’ where a variety of local, visiting businesses and organisations took advantage of the crowds and had various items on sale, or information to promote their group. Tiree Renewable Energy were also in attendance and promoting the recent achievement of a ‘1 million pound donation’ to Tiree Trust. The Tiree Baptist Church were also busy in the tea tent, offering a variety of wonderful homebaked goods, teas and coffees which kept everyone going. Thankfully the weather stayed dry, which allowed for Tiree Tot’s newly purchased bouncy castle to be erected which kept a majority of the children occupied throughout the day!

To bring the event to a close, Chairperson Lynne MacKinnon thanked all involved in making the event so successful and to all those who attended and took part in competitions. The prizes were presented by Mary Morrison, who also took charge of handing out the raffle prizes, which is always very kindly donated to! The top prize of £150 was won by Evan Omand, 2 FlyBe/Loganair Tickets were won by Nella Munn and £50 of CalMac vouchers were won by Ewan Malcolm – Well done all!

Having become a show tradition, Donald Morrison also ran a bidding auction for a variety of items. First was a a prime lamb, which had been donated by Heylipol Farm with United Auctions paying for the slaughter and butchery, this went for the excellent sum of £350 which is being donated to cancer charity CLIC Sargent. Another two items, a lovely painting by Annine MacLean was auctioned for £160 and a shepherd’s crook donated by Archie Cameron made £130 which will go towards Show funds. A second painting, also donated by Annine was auctioned at the dance and made another £160! As the day drew to a close, there was only one event still to take place – the iconic ‘tossing the sheaf’ which was well entered and eventually won by Gavin Omand.

As the Show grounds began to empty, the committee were still at work tidying up the grounds and preparing for the evening dance, which was very well attended. Music was provided by the talented Argyll Ceilidh Trail, who have been travelling and performing throughout Argyll over the last few weeks. Well done to all involved in organising and running another very successful Tiree Agricultural Society Show!

Nàdair Thiriodh – Tiree Ranger Service

My Ranger news article hasn’t appeared for quite a while but this is somewhat due to others reporting what the Ranger Service has been up to in their own articles (Beaver Scouts, Ian Sharp, Tiree SWI, etc.).

Officially the three year project “Conserving Tiree’s Natural Heritage” for which the Ranger Service was established comes to a conclusion at the end of July, however we have been fortunate enough to gain additional funds to keep going until the end of October which will see out this year’s tourist season and there is the potential for further funding for next year.

Several ventures we have been working on are now coming to fruition:

• The campers’ new chemical waste disposal facility has just been installed at Scarinish. This has taken four years of negotiations with SEPA, to get planning permission and another year to get all the funding in place. Funding has come from the Windfall Fund and donations via sales of the Tiree Sticker. Needless to say we are “Flushed with Success”.

• With the help of Discover Tiree and John Bowler we have a new book “Tiree Walks” in final draft which should be going to the printers in the next few weeks. The book features twelve walks with wildlife and flora information and a fantastic selection of photos. I must also thank Malcolm Steel who has stepped in a short notice and provided a number of photos for the book.

• The Natural Heritage brochure has been re-vamped and is about to go to the printers. Thanks again to all Discover Tiree, John Bowler and Malcolm Steel for all their help on this. Tiree 2016 stickers are now available and selling fast. Get yours now. The new design courtesy of Peter Ling features a basking shark. Due to the success of the Tiree Ultra, half marathon and 10K running seems to have become more popular and a lot of people are out training for the next event. Unfortunately this has brought a few complaints of livestock and ground nesting birds being disturbed. A plea therefore to all runners to take care where you are running. Avoid running through flocks of birds on beaches, be aware that some areas of beach and machair will have areas of nesting birds, so avoid these and try not to disturb cattle and sheep.

I have also had reports of a reoccurrence of a past problem. That is children digging caves into the dune front at Balevullin and unfortunately disturbing the nesting sand martins. If you see anybody doing this please politely ask them to stop. The wear and tear on car parks and tracks to them is taking its toll. We are now investigating how this can be halted and sensitive repairs made. The Tiree Trust, Argyll Estates and Ranger Service are all involved in this and will be meeting to progress how this can be solved.

On a more positive note our weekly guided walks have been ongoing since Easter and continue to be popular. They take place on Tuesday mornings starting at 10.00 a.m. and we have a three week rotation covering Ceann a’Mhara, The Ringing Stone and Ben Hough/The Maze. The programme of walks is posted on the isleoftiree.com website and on posters at various locations. If you would like to come along just turn up and enjoy a few hours relaxing walk.

News From Tiree High School

From Tiree To Kaoya

Last year we were delighted to be able to purchase new reading schemes for pupils in the English primary classes. Since then, several hundred ‘old’ reading books have been taking up space in various corners while we searched for a suitable home for them. Although the books were no longer meeting our needs, we knew that somebody somewhere could make good use of them. We were put in touch with the charity Free 2 Be which is based in South Yorkshire and which supports Khaoya School in rural Kenya.

Having contacted the charity which said they would be delighted to make use of our books, the next challenge was to find a way of transporting them to Rotherham by the middle of June! An appeal on FaceBay solved this problem and we are extremely grateful to Mr Adrian Pope who kindly offered to transport the books for us. He is delivering around eight boxes of books to Free 2 Be on Sunday 12th June and these will be added to a container of clothing, tools and other goods being shipped to Kenya later this month. We are delighted that our books are going to benefit children in another part of the world.

Playground Working Bee

Last Saturday a group of parents and teachers spent the morning tidying up the primary playground. We were able to put up the climbing wall again, strim around the play equipment, tidy the courtyard and remove grass and weeds from inside the play equipment. We also brightened up the Gaelic primary toilets with stickers. The weather did not defeat us, even though it got drizzly towards the end and the donated tea and cake kept our spirits and energy up. A big thank you to all who took part – we hope to make this a more regular activity.

Quiz Night For Cancer Research

An enterprising group of pupils from P.5, 6 and 7 recently decided that they would like to raise some money for Cancer Research UK. Roxanne le Roux, Emily Armstrong, Gabrielle le Roux, Skye Gunn, Kathleen Munn and Ruth MacIntosh put their heads together and planned a Quiz Night with raffle and refreshments which was held on Friday 10th June in the school.

The girls worked extremely hard on the run-up to the event, making decorations, creating questions, ensuring a good supply of baking and gathering prizes for the raffle. On the Friday afternoon they set up tables and chairs and ensured that everyone knew their particular responsibility for the evening ahead. A good number of families and friends came along to participate and showed tremendous generosity in purchasing raffle tickets and home baking. Gaby and Emily welcomed everyone and spoke about the importance of Cancer Research and how cancer affects so many families. The questions which had been put together by Kathleen and Ruth provided lots of challenge and there were several groans as participants endeavoured to answer such puzzlers as, ‘What is the life expectancy of a wild mouse?’ and ‘How high is the crossbar in rugby?’! At the end of the evening the Hillcrest team comprising Elspeth MacKinnon, Finlay MacKinnon, Innes MacKinnon and Rhoda Meek emerged victorious, largely due (they claim) to Finlay’s superb knowledge of countries and their flags. Roxy made an excellent closing speech where they thanked everyone who had contributed towards the success of the evening.

The total amount raised for Cancer Research UK was £407.11. This was a fantastic result and the girls’ efforts were recognised at Monday’s school assembly.

Tiree Community Council News

The Tiree Community Council met on the 1st of June in An Talla. The first part of the evening was made up of the AGM. The chair ran through a list of the areas where progress had been made: securing two flights a day all year round; a summer double ferry sailing on Saturday and taking our place on the Argyll Ferry Users’ Group; lobbying to keep the laying of the fibre-optic broadband cable to the island on programme; putting the Tiree case for the upcoming Islands Bill; and fighting for the library service and the Crossapol office in the face of Council cuts.

We have had less success convincing the roads department that the island’s roads were in need of significant investment, and moving some derelict vehicles. The Treasurer reported that we had £1,826 in the bank, much of that a Windfall Fund grant of £1,000 which we have not had to call upon this past year.

Angus John MacKechnie, Frazer MacInnes and Alison Kennedy had resigned as Councillors during the year, while Iona Campbell, Paul Le Roux and Rhoda Meek had been coopted in their place until the next elections in November. We had a new website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and had met in public eleven months of the year. Dr Holliday was re-elected Convenor, Ian Gillies took on the post of Secretary and Rosemary Omand was re-elected Treasurer. We then went on to a Business meeting.

We had asked for the holiday closure of the Council Service Point office in Crossapol to be advertised in advance, as far as was possible. The management had agreed to this in principle.

We had met with the Tiree Trust and it had been agreed to set up a monthly litter tidy, township by township. We agreed this should be called Sgudal.

We discussed changes to the Pre-5 schooling, where Gaelic medium was being re-placed with a bi-lingual programme after a consultation with the parents. This would be looked into by the Parent- Teacher Council.

Tiree Community Council has a proposal to buy some of the rotting phone boxes on the island, restore them, and put them to community use. There is a public consultation about this at the moment, so if you have any ideas or objections, do get in touch with us.

The Community Council and the Trust were looking into setting up a Chapel of Rest in an unused building near the airport.

We agreed to set up a group of interested people to oversee the Tiree flag project, and we had been asked to commission a Tiree tartan at the same time. If anyone is interested in joining this group, please let me know.

We agreed to write to the committee who had run A’ Bhuain, thanking them for the wonderful week they had organised.

We had had an estimate from Stokes Memorials to refurbish Dr Buchanan’s monument in Baugh, and we will consult on this.

We had been approached by the estate to join a group of island organisations to develop policies about sand extraction from the beaches and beach access. We agreed to write to the new factor, welcoming a meeting.

We had been approached by a resident of the new houses at Pier View,who told us how expensive the houses were to heat. We agreed to write to West Highland Housing Association to hear what could be done about this.We hope to visit the Orkney island of Westray in September to see how other, similar, islands are managing.

The meeting lasted over two and a half hours, for which apologies!

We gave a lunch for Alison Kennedy, who is leaving Tiree, to thank her for years of hard work at the Secretary’s coalface. We are really missing her!

Dr John Holliday, Rosemary Omand, Ian Gillies, Rhoda Meek and Paul Le Roux were in attendance. John MacCaskill sent his apologies. The Council has no meeting in July due to the busy summer schedule, so we meet again in August. However, the behind-the- scenes work will go on, and if you have any issues you would like to bring up, do get in touch.

Dr. John Holliday

Help Monitor The Whales and Dolphins of Scotland

wdc_shorewatchA community-led citizen science project is seeking dedicated volunteers to monitor the whales and dolphins of Scotland.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) runs the Shorewatch project, a network of volunteers watching out for cetacean species at designated sites across Scotland. WDC uses sighting information from volunteers to aid in the protection of whales and dolphins across the country.

There is a great variety of marine wildlife around Scotland, and the Shorewatch programme recorded more than 1,000 sightings last year alone – and have had further fantastic sightings this year. The Moray Firth is home to a population of around 190 bottlenose dolphins that travel throughout the firth and as far down the east coast as Scarborough in England. From the visitor centre at the Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay, Whale and Dolphin Conservation have been recording sightings of these dolphins, as well as other cetacean species in the area, for over ten years, and are now seeking passionate volunteers to support this work in coastal areas across the country.

Along with the resident bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise populations off the Scottish coasts, Shorewatch volunteers have also recorded sightings of Minke whale, Humpback whale and even Orca, among others. Katie Dyke, Scottish Conservation officer at WDC, says ‘Scotland is an amazing place to see whales and dolphins. WDC Shorewatch works in 23 coastal communities across Scotland, training local volunteers to record their whale and dolphin sightings’. She added, ‘It is so important to have eyes on the sea to protect and monitor the species’. The data provided through Shorewatch will help to better understand where the animals are going, and in turn help in their protection. All gathered data is distributed to national organisations to form plans to protect these magnificent animals.

The Shorewatch project currently has over 150 active volunteers, stretching around the northeast and north-west coasts from Aberdeen to the Outer Hebrides, and saw twelve different species of cetacean last year alone. These volunteers are vital to the continued running of the project, and WDC Shorewatch seeks further volunteers to aid in this initiative. WDC Shorewatch runs training days for anyone that is interested in becoming a volunteer and joining the Shorewatch project. Following their training, in which attendees are trained to identify the variety of cetacean species around Scotland and record their sightings data, volunteers are provided with watching equipment, including binoculars, and begin to record their Shorewatch efforts from designated coastal sites.

The Shorewatch team will be visiting Tiree on the 15th and 16th of June (more info in the poster within this article) and would love to meet keen volunteers; we will also be offering Shorewatch training sessions. Anyone interested in attending or learning more information can contact the Spey Bay centre on 01343 829065, or email the Shorewatch team at shorewatch@whales.org.

Tiree Community Council News

Fone boxes, flags and ferries (if you excuse the spelling!) were on the agenda of your Community Council when we met last week. Rhoda Meek unveiled her ideas to take over some of the BT phone boxes on the island for community use. These boxes have become increasingly derelict, with few of the phones actually working now. Some, those nearest the beaches, could become bases for heartstart defibrillators, while others could find new roles as libraries, art galleries or wi-fi hotspots. If you want inspiration, look up what the community has done with the amazing Unst bus shelter in Shetland. The kiosk at Baugh is by far the busiest, and would be kept as a public phone.

On another matter, there was unhappiness expressed at the way flights to Tiree were continually being altered, whereas flights to Barra and Campbeltown remain on schedule, and we resolved to track down the reason for this. Likewise, our ferry is being increasingly cancelled the night before sailing. While this is undoubtedly convenient for those making the long overnight journey, the weather has sometimes moderated by the next day. We are writing to CalMac to ask them how they make these difficult decisions.

The Service Point in Crossapol has been kept open as a Council post, albeit with reduced hours. However, there is now no money for holiday cover when Rona is away. Having discussed this with the service manager, we agreed that this decision was unlikely to be overturned by Councillors. It was suggested at the meeting that, at least, it would be good to have warning of when the office was going to be closed, and we will write to see if this is possible.

John MacCaskill has been working on a project to look into setting up a community chapel of rest, and we agreed to take this on. First job is to find premises. The state of the police mortuary at the airport was also discussed. The building is in urgent need of a face-lift, but this is complicated by having the Council, Police Scotland and Highlands and Islands Airports involved.

We had been asked to write to the mayor of Vancouver about a famous ‘son’ of Tiree. Members of the Tiree ‘family’ in that city want Malcolm Maclean’s place as the first mayor of that city officially recognised. The text of the letter is as follows:

‘A’ charaid, as Convenor of Tiree Community Council, I send greetings to yourself and the people of Vancouver from the island of Tiree. This Hebridean island was the birthplace of Malcolm MacLean, the first Mayor of Vancouver. His picture now occupies a central place in the island’s historical centre An Iodhlann as one of the most famous members of Clann an Eòrna ‘descendants of the barley’, the emigrants who left the island in their thousands over the last few centuries and their descendants around the world. We are delighted that his place in the history of your illustrious city is being celebrated. Beannachd leibh, with best wishes, Dr John Holliday’

Never mind the Holyrood elections, the last month had seen a flurry of excitement as the Great Tiree Flag Vote got underway. The results were announced to the meeting. 142 votes were cast (14% of which were online), with 82% in favour of designing a Tiree flag. TCC are meeting with the Trust next week, and one of the things to talk about will be this project. Following the recent example of New Zealand’s flag referendum, we will probably appoint a representative panel to oversee the project. The first thing is to distill what Tiree means to people (this exercise has already been done in numerous surveys by the Trust, so we maybe able to shortcut this part) and then announce an international competition over the summer. Once we have all the designs in, we will probably whittle them down to a reasonable number and then put a selection to a public vote. If you are interested in being involved, let me know.

Coll had asked for a contribution towards running their phone mast, seeing as the east end of Tiree was benefitting. However, another mobile phone provider is now interested in using the Coll mast, so our contribution may no longer be necessary. We also heard the latest news about the broadband rollout from Mark Vale. There seems to be some extra money in the pot, and we will lobby to have some of it spent on Tiree to hook up more subscribers to super-fast speeds.

Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Iona Campbell, Paul le Roux and Rhoda Meek were in attendance. If you have any ideas or queries, do look at our website, email us or just stop us in the street. We’re here to help!

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