Category Archives: Community Announcements

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!

A Tiree Flag?

Barra flagBarra has one (green with a white Nordic cross).

South Uist also has one (green with a white and blue Nordic cross). The Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Angus all have one. The Scottish saltire was everywhere during the independence referendum. But should Tiree get its own flag?

 

 

South Uist flagWhen I go to Shetland, I am always struck by the number of houses that fly the Shetland flag. They send the message: we are proud of this part of the country, and we belong here.

I wondered at the last Community Council meeting whether it was time to think about a Tiree flag again. Designing a flag might look easy, but it’s tricky to find something new, something simple, and something beautiful. We would need a competition where designers here and all over the world could submit their thoughts, and then an island-wide vote to choose a favourite.

But first we need to decide if we want a flag at all! Some people love flags. Others think they are a waste of time and money. So Tiree Community Council is launching a consultation: let us know by the end of June what you think, yes or no. Write to the Community Council in Crossapol, post a vote in Bùth a’ Bhaile or the surgery, or go to our website and vote there. Have your say and take part in the Great Tiree Flag Vote!

Scottish Hydro Store Closing

Scottish Hydro closing

Two weeks ago Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) announced that they planned to close their 37 remaining Hydro Electric stores, including ours in Tiree.

The Hydro store has been operating from their premises in Scarinish for many years and will be a big loss to our community, including the loss of a job. The press release from SSE stated that all shops were expected to close by the 15th of May and we received confirmation that the Tiree branch will be closed as of the 2nd of May.

SSE director of domestic retail Stephen Forbes said changing shopping habits and more customer choice meant the shops have been loss-making for a number of years. He said: “Customers’ shopping habits have changed considerably since these shops were first opened with more and more people shopping online, especially for larger electrical items. We know some of these shops have been on local high streets for a long time so we did not take this decision lightly but footfall and sales have reduced considerably and there is, unfortunately, no realistic prospect of that long-term trend reversing.”

Island Communities Take Action Against Council Library Cuts

The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away

 

Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council have issued a press release in response to the proposed cuts to the library service, which will result in the loss of library facilities in Tiree.

Tiree High School Parent Council, Tiree Community Council, and local residents of Tiree are furious over the Council cut to their library service, joining the community of Mull who are also up in arms about the proposal. Argyll and Bute Councillors decided, as part of their budget for next year, that Tiree, along with Mull and Iona, should lose their secondary school libraries. This decision has sent shock waves through the community, as the librarian on Tiree also serves the thriving primary school and the wider community. Paul le Roux, Vice-Chair of the Tiree Parent Council told the Oban Times, “We are appalled by this short-sighted decision. The Scottish Government has made the improvement of literacy and numeracy a priority, yet Argyll and Bute want to take our only public access to books away from this island community by removing our librarian at a time when use of our library by the community and children is growing year by year.”

A Tiree resident, who has children at the school but asked not to be named, said, “Tiree High School library caters not only for the High School, but also for the island generally, including Bookbug for under 5s. This is a community that cannot head down the road to another public library – it is our only library. Buying books online is not a replacement for a public library service. Not only does it cost money, but on the one hand we are encouraging children to reduce their screen time, while taking away the opportunity to be able to offer them a good old-fashioned book in its place. Tiree will be losing our library while Argyll and Bute Council reassures us that their hanging baskets will be protected – although I haven’t seen many of those on Tiree.”

Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council, said, “The Community Council is outraged by this decision by Argyll and Bute, which is possibly in breach of their statutory obligations. If this cut goes ahead our nearest public library will be a four hour ferry ride and an overnight stay away. Our librarian, as part of our community school, provides a wonderful service for older members of the community, for many of whom their day out to the library is one of the high points of their week. It works both ways; the school pupils benefit from the books that the Library Service sends out to Tiree. The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away.”

The two bodies are calling upon Argyll and Bute council to engage with the Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council and to rethink their decision to deny their community this valuable resource. A petition has already been set up to gather support for all libraries affected in Argyll and Bute. You can sign it here:

www.change.org/p/shout-out-for-school-librarians-in-argyll-and-bute

Tiree Mentioned In Holyrood

Mr Michael Russell MSP was speaking in the Scottish Parliament last week about ferry services and Argyll & Bute Council budget cuts. During his speech, Mr Russell specifically made reference to Tiree Community Council’s letter to Argyll Council, which An Tirisdeach has previously featured. Here is part of what Mr Russell had to say about the recent Council cuts. The full text of the Parliament debate can be found online at this link; https://shar.es/1CWoek

“Argyll and Bute faces many challenges: depopulation, poor digital infrastructure, distance, remoteness and a history of lack of central investment. Argyll and Bute Council has not reformed to meet those challenges. The issue is that it needs to change, as Audit Scotland has pointed out.

Those challenges led the Deputy First Minister to agree to meet me, the council chief executive and the council leader just two weeks ago to discuss how Argyll and Bute can be helped to change, given that it receives neither islands funding nor the city deal, although its depopulation problems are the worst in Scotland. I hope that those discussions will lead to some new thinking, because that is what is needed.

It is not just the Scottish Government that is saying that reform is vital if our local authorities are to deliver for their areas; my constituents are saying that loud and clear about their local authority. The council’s recent consultation on the budget invited responses from communities—and it got them. I wish that I had time to quote from more than two of those responses, but two will suffice. On the extreme west of the constituency, Tiree community council said”: “The Council must look at the way that it conducts its business and provide essential services to the population of Argyll & Bute in a much more thoughtful and innovative way … where the Council genuinely, and proactively engages with communities”. That is the view from Tiree.

Gaelic Promotion Day

On Saturday the 6th of February, the Comann nam Pàrant Committee organised and ran ‘Latha na Gàidhlig’ – a fundraising café and Gaelic promotion day.

The day started at 12 o’clock when the café was open for business. There was a lovely selection of sandwiches and rolls, a variety of soups, numerous cups of tea and coffee and two tables full of beautiful baking. All prepared and donated by the committee and their family and friends. There was plenty on offer at the café and we are very glad that a lot of people stopped in and had their lunch and spoke and listened to some Gaelic at the same time. The menus were printed in Gaelic and we had a variety of flash cards around the room to encourage the use of the language.

Through in the big hall, there was even more activity! There was a small area set aside for children to enjoy colouring in, arts and crafts, storybooks and a variety of different things to keep them entertained. We also enjoyed a Gaelic ‘Bookbug’ session led by Ishbel, which went down very well with the children, there was a lot of singing and fun had with the parachute and teddies. Ishbel has been running Bookbug for some time now and it takes place in the school library each Monday from 9am, the next session is on Monday the 22nd of February. All under 3s are welcome at this session.

As well as Bookbug, we also had an Ùlpan taster led by Donna, which demonstrated in a condensed 30 minute session the structure of the course and gave people an insight into how it is run. We are pleased to say that the taster went very well and we had a lot of interest from the public. It is very encouraging to hear that people are interested in learning Gaelic, and if you would like some more information on the course and opportunities to learn then please contact donna{@}tireetrust.org.uk

Within the big hall we also had a lot of information relating to the Gaelic language and education, from pre-school to further education and everything in between. It was also a good opportunity for parents to speak to other parents about their experiences and look at the support that is available through various channels such as online support. Anyone who was lucky enough to be in the café at around half one also got the opportunity to listen to the Choir, who entertained us with a few lovely Gaelic songs.

The Tiree Choir have been practising for some time now and also attended the Mod in Oban last year. Their singing was excellent and enjoyed by all. We finished the day off with a massive raffle, and would like to thank all who donated prizes and also bought tickets – well done to all the winners. Overall, the day was a huge success. We hope we have managed to raise the profile of the Comann nam Pàrant committee and encourage the use and promotion of the Gaelic language throughout the community. We also managed to raise a very impressive £515.60 which will be put back into Gaelic activities such as Sradagan Club, Gaelic resources and funding towards Gaelic activities at Fèis Thiriodh.

We would like to say a very big thank you to all who helped make the day a great success, all who made soup, food and baking, who helped out in the kitchen, setting up and tidying up, those involved in activities throughout the day, all who donated and bought raffle tickets and also to all who came along and enjoyed the day!

 

Mòran taing. Comann nam Pàrant Committee

An Exciting Transformation

In a little over a year the Baptist Church premises at Baugh have been transformed from a state of disrepair to a facility fit for the 21st Century.

In April 2014, with a sense of vision and excitement, the congregation of the Baptist Church unanimously agreed to go ahead with refurbishing and equipping their premises as a worship and community space. Thanks to the efforts of Bruce Kemp and his team of local craftsmen and the hands on approach of project manager Ian Tainsh, the refurbishment is almost complete.

Whether or not you know the inside of the building from the past, the moment you step inside now, you will be amazed. Modern lighting and heating, excellent insulation, new flooring, bright cloakroom facilities and a well equipped kitchen are some of the features that catch your attention. Some minor finishing touches need to be attended to and the sound system installed. Finally, when calmer conditions prevail, the exterior will be painted.

Baugh church has one main room, which has been designed to be a flexible space suitable for a range of purposes. The Lunch Club will be moving there in the New Year, and the building proved to be a warm and comfortable venue for the well attended Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services. Most Sunday morning services, however, will continue at An Talla, where the additional space enables separate activities and groups for children.

Plans are in place to hold official opening events in February, giving the congregation an opportunity to thank all involved, and enabling everyone to see the building for themselves. More details nearer the time!

Improved Ferry Service For Tiree

As An Tirisdeach goes to press this week, news is emerging of significant changes to the previously published CalMac draft timetable that was proposed for Oban-Coll-Tiree in 2016.

 

An Tirisdeach has spoken exclusively this morning to Community Councillor’s John MacCaskill, and Ian Gillies, who jointly look after transportation issues on Tiree Community Council. AnTirisdeach have also obtained a copy of the finalised summer 2016 timetable. Here is what John and Ian had to say to An Tirisdeach.

Q. Does the 2016 timetable make any improvements to the capacity problems that we have during the summer?

A. “Yes it certainly does. The timetable will have a peak period 25th June – 27th August and also an off-peak period. During the peak summer season period an additional MV Clansman sailing will operate on Saturdays, leaving Oban at 15.30 hrs and sailing directly to Tiree with an arrival time of 18.40. This will be a massive boost to clearing the weekend congestion that we have been seeing over the peak summer weekends. Also the Clansman will operate on Sundays and Mondays, rather than the LOTI, and this gives us additional capacity on those days”.

Q. There was a lot of anger on Tiree & Coll that the `Barra Link’ on a Thursday was proposed to be cancelled?

A. “We most certainly understood the public’s frustration with the loss of the Barra link, and we have managed to negotiate reinstatement. It will now operate on a Wednesday rather than a Thursday”.

Q. What about an early Friday departure from Oban to allow people to get away for the weekend? This was previously cancelled.

A. “Again, we have managed to convince Transport Scotland of the importance of this to Tiree. The early Oban Friday departure at 06.15 hrs will now operate during the off-peak period, and will leave Oban at 07.15 hrs during the peak summer period”.

Q. This looks like an excellent outcome for Tiree, but did the public have any say in the negotiations you had with Transport Scotland?

A. “We have both spoken about our strategy at every Community Council meeting, but most importantly, the public helped us by giving us their views in writing, on our online survey, and at Community Council meetings. The Tiree Transport Forum also gave us strong support and guidance on our key objectives. This all provided a compelling and coherent community backed set of proposals to take to Transport Scotland and the Transport Minister, and we are more than delighted that the Minister agreed with our arguments”.

Q. So what next? Does this achieve everything that we want for Tiree?

A. “Along with the improved Glasgow-Tiree air service, and the Oban-Tiree air service, we believe that these improvements to our ferry service in 2016 are more in line with what we expect for a modern transport infrastructure. Longer term, we will face problems of an ageing fleet and so vessel replacement will move up our agenda. In the meantime, this is truly a big day for the Tiree Community and for those who travel to our island, particularly with regards to the known travel restrictions we’ve all had to endure for many a year over the peak summer period. We should all look forward to the social and economic benefits that will come our way from next summer, following these important improvements and the sound judgement of the Transport Minister”.

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