Category Archives: Community Announcements

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”.

Your Community’s Council

There was another good turnout for the last meeting of the Community Council on the 4th of November in An Talla.

We welcomed our two new members: Iona Campbell from Baugh, and Sam Bouchnak from Scarinish, who was the only applicant to put himself forward when we put out a public appeal last month.

One of the main topics was a detailed report on the possible ferry timetable for next summer. There has been some hard bargaining between John MacCaskill and Ian Gillies on the one side for the Tiree Transport Forum, with Cal-Mac and Transport Scotland on the other. Tiree’s argument has been that the island was being given less ferry space than other islands, and that we had had no increase in sailings when RET flooded the Tiree route a few years ago. The draft timetable now has all morning boats leaving Oban at 7.15am; the Tuesday sailing restored to 2.45pm; the Barra connection moved to the Wednesday; and for two boats to come out on Saturdays during the summer season, leaving Oban at 7am and 3.30pm. There are some extra fuel costs that will need the approval of the Scottish Government, and it’s by no means a done deal yet. The Council formally voted to back the proposal.

We also talked about the forthcoming Islands Bill, which is up for consultation. We can all see that Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are well organised when it comes to lobbying Edinburgh. Scotland’s other scattered islands are easily forgotten, especially the 23 inhabited islands within Argyll and Bute. During last year’s referendum Edinburgh grew nervous that Shetland would declare independence by itself, and the moment is right for Scotland’s islands to push for more resources. Ian Gillies is leading the fight for the ‘forgotten islands’.

Some members of the Community Council met with Stokes Memorials regarding Dr Buchanan’s monument. We all walked up to the remains of the monument itself and then down to the quarry to inspect the broken pieces. Stokes are now going to price up an amended scheme to use the existing granite to re-build a shorter pillar, as well as a scheme to make a cast-iron structure. We’ll take these plans back to a Council meeting for a decision, in tandem with Professor Donald Meek who has led the project, and then look for funding.

We had a private Councillors’ meeting a fortnight ago to thrash out new procedures. We agreed it had been so useful that we will hold one every month, in-between public Council meetings. These private meetings are closed to the public, but we do have to report back to the next open meeting in general terms what we have been discussing. The public meetings remain the place where all major decisions will be made.

We discussed our planning procedure too. We will only become involved at the stage when the project reaches the public planning list, if we think the project will affect most islanders, or if it’s a really groundbreaking building. Our job then will be to find out what people think, possibly by calling a meeting or having an on-line questionnaire, and then sending these opinions to the Council planning department. Most building projects won’t involve us at all. Our role is to reflect your opinions. We did agree that islanders could write to us with their thoughts and we would keep their identities confidential if they requested this. Enormous projects, like another wind farm, will definitely involve us from the start.

The Council is planning £9 million pounds worth of cuts this year, with the same again next. They have distributed questionnaires (available at the Crossapol office and on-line at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/forms/planning-our-future-public-consultation) to ask where we would like the cuts to fall. Some people thought we should fill these in, to show what services we valued most, but quite a few others said we should have nothing to do with it – Tiree was a community on the edge, and any cuts were completely unacceptable. The Council have agreed in principle to send an official and a Councillor out to hold a public meeting on the island about this, and we will let you know when that is. We will need a huge turnout at that.

We agreed to take over the organising of the War Memorial service from next year. We also agreed that we would write to the local Housing Associations to ask if we could encourage a family of refugees to come and live in one of their unused properties on the island.

Rosemary Omand, Alison Kennedy, Dr John Holliday, Iona Campbell and Donnie Campbell were in attendance.

Tiree Community Business – Update

TCB AGM:

Following the article and appeal in the last issue of An Tirisdeach, the Directors of Tiree Community Business were delighted and encouraged by the turnout at the recent AGM. The office bearers were elected as follows:

Chair – Catriona MacLennan, Vice Chair – Jessie Gray, Secretary – Mabel Macarthur, Treasurer – Myra Brown

The following were elected as new Directors: Alan Millar, Rosaleen Campbell, Louise Reid, Ian Gillies, Fiona Malcolm, Stewart Meikle, John Bottomley and Carole Stoker.

This is an exciting time for TCB and the addition to the board of these new Directors will help to ensure a strong and healthy future for this well established local business.

BUSINESS HOURS:

At present we have one member of staff, Norma Omand, and the hours of business are as follows until further notice: – Monday – Friday 11.00am – 3pm.

AN TIRISDEACH – the way forward:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things:

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax Of cabbages and kings And why the sea is boiling hot And whether pigs have wings.”

Could this be a description of An Tirisdeach – A collection, every fortnight, of interesting, mundane and normal events?

After 25 years at the helm the group in charge of An Tirisdeach feel that the time has come to let a new group, with different ideas and skills, have a go!

We envisage a group of people running all aspects of the paper in the future rather than one editor. It is Tiree’s paper so we would like Tiree people to get behind it and run it. Whoever takes on An Tirisdeach will have the backing of Tiree Community Business and its facilities to enable the group to continue to produce the paper.

TCB Directors have various ideas which we would discuss with the new group – one of them being to perhaps move to a monthly paper rather than fortnightly – and there is also the possibility of some of the work being carried out at home.

There must be several people out there who could bring enthusiasm and new ideas as well as IT skills to the running of An Tirisideach. We are not looking to reinvent the wheel – just to take over the pushing of it. Eg.-

  • Collation of articles
  • Graphics/Layout
  • Finance/Advertising/Marketing
  • Ear to the ground
  • New ideas

 

TCB plan to upgrade the IT hardware and software in the office but this would form part of the discussions with the new group before anything is purchased. At this stage TCB is looking for names of interested persons and then discussions will take place as to the way forward. If you would like to be involved in this exciting new development please contact either Catriona MacLennan – catriona{@}maclennanmotors.com or Jessie Gray – jessiegray49{@}gmail.com before Friday 11th December 2015.

Trust says Good Bye To Sophie

We are sorry to report that after nearly 7 years fantastic service, Sophie is leaving to take up a new job in Oban.

Sophie is the longest serving member of the Trust team, taking up the role of youth worker back in 2009.

Over the years Sophie has supported a variety of different youth groups on the island to develop the youth program into a very successful project including a variety of weekly activities and also some memorable events including the food festival, sailing workshops, graffiti workshop, archery lessons and career days – just a snippet of her achievements.

Visit from Labour MSP

Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP representing Highlands and Islands, paid a visit to Tiree last week.

On her first fact finding trip to the island Rhoda toured the business centre and met members of Tiree Community Development Trust and Tiree Community Council.

Rhoda is interested in health care in rural areas and has a ‘bee in her bonnet’ about the delivery of broadband services to remote locations. She said, ” There is no better way to find out about the issues which affect folk in rural Scotland than paying a visit to talk to people. This is my first time on Tiree but I hope it won’t be the last!”

Rhoda talked at length to Tiree Community Councillors Ian Gillies and Alison Kennedy about air and sea transport and travel problems, about economic development on the island and about broadband issues and mobile phone signal coverage. She was in complete agreement with the argument that development on Tiree, as with other remote locations, was increasingly dependent upon improvements to mobile and internet services. She said, “There is no question that these things are of crucial importance and everywhere I go I am told that the extension of good internet connectivity to rural areas is vital. If these parts of Scotland are left out of the loop they will wither.”

Ian Gillies said, “We had a very productive meeting with Rhoda and hope that she will visit Tiree again soon. We did not hold back in making her aware of the most important issues that affect people here and she took it all on board.”

Tiree Trust Launches New Skills Fund

sheep shearing course on Tiiree

Last month saw the launch of the Windfall Fund’s new Skills, Education and Training (SET) Fund. The first recipients of the fund were Tiree Rural Development who received £1,240 towards running sheep shearing training on Tiree. This training, run by the British Wool Marketing Board was open to all, whether a beginner shearing a sheep for the first time or more advanced crofters, but provided a great opportunity for some of Tiree’s young crofters and farmers to build their skills.

Crofters and Farmers on the island who own sheep have to have them sheared at least once a year, and as there are a limited number of individuals with the relevant skills, off island help needs to be brought in. Now, thanks to this training, there are more locals equipped with the necessary skills to carry out the work, keeping skills and employment local.

‘We were delighted that the Windfall Fund awarded TRD with this money to facilitate the course, because the course was run on the island it meant more locals could attended than if it was on the mainland. The instructor who came along was very impressed by the high standard that was achieved by the end of the course’ Archie John MacLean- TRD Director.

The Tiree Skills, Education and training fund is now open and welcoming enquiries from local groups, businesses and individuals. For more information email admin@tireetrust.org.uk or phone the office on 220 074.

Land Fund Awards Tiree £141k for Crossapol Shop

The Scottish Land Fund, which is Scottish Government money distributed by the Big Lottery Fund for communities to take ownership of land and assets, has awarded Tiree £141,000 towards buying the former I&F MacLeod shop building in Crossapol which closed down in February 2014.

Tiree Community Development Trust had been exploring the feasibility of a community shop, with paid employees but managed by a committee of volunteers but has now had approval from the funders to offer the shop out for lease to a private business at commercial rates, viewing this as a more sustainable model of community ownership with any profit generated from the rent being reinvested in community projects.

The purchase price of £160,000 has been agreed with the owners, however the total project cost is £173,000, including all fees and a full structural survey and the balance of £32,000 will come from community funds generated by Tilley, the community wind turbine. The agreement also includes a plot of land to the east of the shop which will be retained by the community for future development following consultation.

The opportunity to take on the lease has been previously advertised and is still available, subject to successful completion of the purchase. If you are interested please contact admin@tireetrust.org.uk or 01879 220 074 for more details. Preference will be given to a highly valued community service, ideally a shop.

A closing date for noting interest in the lease has been set for Wednesday 17th June at 5pm. Interested parties will be asked to submit a business plan and a covering letter.

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