Category Archives: Community Announcements

Tiree Flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

A seasonal ‘Thank You!’ from Tiree Ranger Service

As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to extend sincere thanks to the following members of our community:

William Welstead very kindly auctioned his compete collection of “Birds of the Western Palearctic” to raise funds for Tiree Ranger Service. These beautiful books are now in the hands of a professional marine surveyor – so they should be put to fine use! This was an incredibly generous gift, and I look forward to finding an exciting project for the resulting funds in 2018. Thank you, Bill.

Earlier in 2017, William Welstead also donated a second telescope to Tiree Ranger Service, for use during my guided walks and events. This second piece of equipment was extremely helpful during a recent visit from the North Argyll Carers Association; all of whom were keen to learn more about Tiree’s bird life, and to see as many of Loch a’ Phuill’s denizens as possible.

Dr John Holliday has been a generous donor of his time (for both our Welcome Evenings and our Hiking through History walks), plus two additional pairs of binoculars. As with Bill’s equipment, these extra sets came in very handy with larger groups; helping each guest to get maximum enjoyment from their experience.

John Bottomley gifted a generous amount to Nàdair Thiriodh with his membership subscription. These funds will be pooled with the book proceeds, and they were gratefully received.

Many local residents have donated their time and energy to support access work (such as the overhaul that has been completed at Balevullin carpark), and to assist with the delivery of Tiree’s Great Yellow Bumblebee Project.

I am delighted to tell you that our Nàdair Thiriodh website now boasts a brand-new project page, and a sumptuously illustrated project brochure. Many thanks to Janet Bowler, Colin Woodcock and Fiona Dix for their outstanding work here.

Finally, I would like to thank the photographers that have kindly waived charges for the use of their images. It would be infinitely harder to attract interest and support for our work without these exceptional pictures: They act to inspire our audience by demonstrating why Tiree is so deserving of protection. Image donors include: Fiona Armstrong, John Bowler, Tony Davison, Christine Hall, Ian Morrison, Steve Nagy, Malcolm Steel, Colin Woodcock and Richard Whitson.

This ‘Thank You’ has been taken from the Nadair Thiriodh blog which can be accessed by becoming a member of Nadair Thiriodh, please go to www.friendsoftiree.org.uk for more information.

Community Bulb Planting

As you may remember from previous An Tirisdeach editions, Tiree was very kindly gifted a selection of planting tulips earlier this year, from a Aad van Ruiten, a bulb expert based in Holland who had links to Tiree through Dr Robert Nisbet.

Mr van Ruiten explained in his letter that he planned to visit Tiree in 2018 having been fascinated by the bulb project (The Hebridean Bulb Growers Ltd.) that took place on Tiree throughout the late 1950s. Along with the letter, Mr van Ruiten had enclosed over 100 tulip bulbs which he had suggested could be planted somewhere on the island as a homage to the project.

Last Saturday a small group got together and planted the bulbs within the grounds of the Business Centre, located in Crossapol. There are two patches just at the entrance to the grounds which will hopefully come into bloom in Spring time.

Well done to all involved, let’s hope they make for a nice display for Mr van Ruiten’s visit next year.

Tiree Ranger Service News

Sun, Sea and… Soil?

I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the community members who volunteered their time, tools and energy to overhaul the Balevullin parking area. The work was completed on a beautifully bright day, with an abundance of biscuits and good humour. The erosion pits have been filled and levelled, and the rope boundary has been moved inward from the steeply sloping section. A number of vehicles rolled down onto the beach this year. Fortunately, no one was injured (and how grateful we are for that) but this is obviously extremely dangerous. For safety reasons, the parking area has been re-marked to reduce the risk of this happening again. The posts to be extracted had the hallmark of Steve Nagy quality; whereby, like icebergs, only 10% is visible at the surface (the other 90% being set in dry cement, and practically scraping Australia). Rob Trythall reigned champion as the fastest post-digger in the west; setting most of our new boundary within the hour. John Bowler then had the opportunity to re-visit his trusty Cub Scout knot, and is likely still fiddling with it as we speak. I’m not 100% clear on whether the ‘rabbit’ goes up the tree or into the pond: Suspect John isn’t either… A huge ‘Thank You’ is also due to Lachie Brown, who very kindly transported the soil into the parking area for us – cutting down some serious wheelbarrow miles. Lachie’s help made an enormous difference to the logistics of completing this job, and allowed us to finish the task in one sitting. As the repairs establish themselves, can I ask that users avoid driving over them where possible. For the winter period, the space on the opposite side of the graveled track within the parking area should be sufficient for most occasions. With kind wishes and thanks again to all those who gave up their time; I am extremely grateful.

Tiree Access Forum

The Tiree Access Forum is made up of individuals from a range of different organisations and backgrounds. Those represented currently include: Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates, Discover Tiree, island business owners, RSPB, SNH, TCDT, TRD, Tiree Ranger Service and local watersports operators/participants.

To ensure that the access forum remains representative of our community (and the cross-section of different viewpoints and interests within it) I would like to reiterate that this group is open to all. Please contact me on: ranger{@}tireetrust.org.uk if:

• You can attend our meetings reasonably regularly

• You are interested in access issues on Tiree

• You would like to find out more about how these issues are discussed

• You would like to share your own thoughts and ideas

• You would like to help steer access outcomes

We meet once a month; normally on a Thursday evening, between 19:30 and 21:30. If you cannot commit to regular meetings, I am happy to discuss access queries by email, telephone (074) or in person. I can then raise these matters for discussion at the next session. Remember: we cannot discuss concerns that aren’t raised. There are also many different viewpoints, interests and considerations to balance between different agencies and users.

With thanks and warm wishes to all, Stephanie.

Tiree Community Council

At our November meeting, we welcomed Jamie McGrigor, one of our new Argyll and Bute councillors. We talked about the cuts that the Council were threatening to make. Sir James said that the Council would not know the exact figure until early December, but the situation was unlikely to be as bad as recent newspaper headlines had suggested. There were unlikely to be any compulsory redundancies. We made the point that Tiree had had more than its fair share of cuts recently, and that we were not going to accept any further ones.

There have been rumours about the Council closing many of its public toilets; toilets are something that Councils do not legally have to provide. We had previously registered an interest in investigating taking the Scarinish toilets into community ownership. We needed to see the fine print, however, in particular whether there would be any funds to renovate them and keep them serviced. We also need to find an organisation on the island that would be happy to run them.

We had been sent a letter from someone concerned that police cover had not been sufficient while our regular policeman was away. We had been very concerned by the description of the incident and had contacted senior police management. We had been impressed that we had been put through straightaway to speak to the Divisional Chief Superintendent. She and her deputy have arranged to come to the island at the beginning of December to discuss the incidents with the Community Council in person.

We have been concerned with the length of time taken by the opening of the new public library. We contacted the organisation that now runs libraries, LiveArgyll. The manager of the service apologised for the delay, telling us that he had been unable to authorise the painting and new shelving for the Old Police Station until the school had reported that they were satisfied with their own move into the room that had housed the school library. Pat McCann, the Business Operations Manager told us that he “was confident that we can have the library operational by the end of [October].”

We have been nagging the Council for twelve months to replace the rusted railings at the War Memorial in Scarinish. After ignoring repeated requests from us, we have now got a reply from a Council officer, who told us he had been let down by a contractor, but that the Council was now going to use its own staff.

There have been a number of further requests to reinstate the recycling and rubbish bins outside the dump, for those occasions when the dump is closed. The bins were removed after asbestos and other unsuitable items were stuffed into them earlier in the year. We still want to talk to the Council officials involved, and Jamie promised that he would put us in touch.

We talked again about the sale of land at Pier View to MacLeod Construction, rather than to the community groups that had put in offers. We had written to HIE, and their Argyll manager had promised to visit the island so that we could put our points in person.

A number of people had contacted us telling us how disappointed they had been in the recent visit by Brendan O’Hara, our MP. His mailing arrived the day before his arrival, and his surgery had only been scheduled to last one hour. We have written to Mr O’Hara, but so far have not received a reply.

We have been trying to get to the bottom of why Loganair is not able to schedule the larger SAAB aircraft if the number of passengers is too high for the Twin Otter. This is still work in progress.

We agreed to appoint a (non-voting) Advisory Member to boost our numbers.

Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Jessie Gray and John MacCaskill were present. Rosemary Omand and Aisling Milne sent their apologies.

If you want to raise any points with us, please get in touch at doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Kirkapol Dig Success

As the last turf was replaced, the team involved in the excavation of Cnoc an Fhoimheir ‘the hillock of the giant’ could reflect on two successful weeks. Dr Colleen Batey from the University of Glasgow came to the site and agreed that there was no sign of a Viking boat burial. The last few days could then be focussed on exploring the cist itself in painstaking detail.

The stone chamber was beautifully constructed using four massive and unusual slabs of stone. As several people remarked, these slabs must have taken some finding amongst the boulders of Tiree gneiss, showing how much effort had gone into making this monument. Removing the sand a trowelful at a time, the archaeologists discovered more bones and a flint thumbnail scraper. We found that the capstone, as it was lying, was not aligned with the structure of the cist. In addition, one of the smaller stones blocking the side of the cist looked very much like a piece of pink granite from the Ross of Mull. This would have come from the Skerryvore workshops in Hynish some time after 1838.

A team on the island, lead by Myra MacArthur, has now started the laborious process of wet sieving the sand found inside the cist, finding fragments of pottery, charcoal, a cowrie shell and fragments of modern slate! All of this suggests that the grave has been opened several times in the last four thousand years, sometimes through the side, but at least once by taking off the capstone – not an easy task without modern machinery!

Two other trenches were opened nearby after magnetic tests suggested structures. In these, we found more pottery and flint tools, as well as buried plough marks from fields lost under the sand. The land we have called Lodge Farm since Lady Victoria Campbell lived next door in The Lodge, near a stream and a medieval mill site as it is, has been home to people for thousands of years.

The response from the island has been fantastic, with around twenty volunteers digging, scraping, cleaning and holding survey poles, and over fifty visitors coming to inspect the dig. Almost all the pupils at the school were given a tour of the site.Several cakeswere donated; they did not last long.The weather, you could say,was “mixed”: a mixture of breeze, gales, soaking showers and wind. The sun did shine one day.

At this early stage, Cnoc an Fhoimheir looks to be a grave dating from the Bronze Age, around four thousand years ago. The bones appear to be fromoneman, presumably one of high status. An analysis of the bones, flints, pottery, and charcoal by experts in Glasgow will give us a lot more information. Carbon dating and isotope analysis will tell us the exact date of the bones, as well as information about where he grew up. This will all be included in the full report, due to come out early next year.

The last day was spent returning all the soil into the holes we had dug days earlier. Apparently, this endless cycle of earth moving is what archaeologists do. The cist itself has been covered over and temporarily turfed. Our aim is to restore the bones carefully back in the grave in a few months time, and then replace the capstone. Forme, as a first-time digger, opening this grave and finding a man’s skeleton was a powerful moment, and I feel I want to respectfully put it all back together again. There is always a debate about the merits of leaving monuments like this alone to sleep their historical sleep. I feel that, in this case, it was important to try to understand something about some of the earliest peoples that settled on Tiree. There has been a lot of interest around the island and beyond, and I have already been asked by some of the volunteers to set up a group to organise the next dig!

We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the major grant that made this possible, and the additional funding from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Windfall Fund.

Dr Darko Maricevic from the University of Bournemouth makes the final archaeological visit of the year in October. He would like to continue his earlier work using geophysics on more of the island’s lumps and bumps

.Centimetre by centimetre,we are starting to discover more about the past of our ‘secret island’.

Dr. John Holliday

Tiree Ranger Service – Autumn Access Update

As we enjoy a slight lull before the competitive watersports season begins, I would like to update you all on some of our ongoing access issues:

At the beginning of this year, I informed you of our aspirations to provide a new, permanent and sustainable parking area for Crossapol Beach. This is still very much our goal. However, progress with our intended project partners has been somewhat glacial.

With support from SNH we are now working to a spring 2018 delivery. Delays such as this are extremely frustrating: Pushing this project has taken up a considerable amount of my time. Nonetheless, with the extra room for planning, we are making progress towards an improved final result. I would like to thank all of the guests, local residents and local business operators who have respected the temporary arrangement at Crossapol. Your cooperation and consideration has been greatly valued and appreciated during this tricky period – there have been no issues to speak of.

At Balephuil, access to Balephuil Bay is shifting. Following a change in apportionment, the current, badly degraded access track will no longer be in use. Recreational access to the beach will follow a new fence line to a fenced parking area. This change has been implemented by graziers through the proper and necessary channels. The beach will still be fully accessible for larger events by prior arrangement. On behalf of the Ranger Service and AccessGroup, I would like to thank the graziers for maintaining and improving access to this site at considerable trouble and expense.

At Balevullin Bay, repair work on the erosion damage commenced at the start of the season – my sincere thanks to those who assisted with this task. This autumn, we plan to continue the patch-repair of the erosion damage in the parking area; in addition to moving the rope boundary back to reduce the likelihood of vehicle rolling. New signage concerning the use of handbrakes will also be installed to this end.

I think it’s fair to say that there was a little controversy last month, with regard to the Croft Camping scheme, my role in managing it and the role of Tiree Ranger Service generally. My job is shaped by the community: I work to directives provided by the residents of Tiree, in addition to some core requirements from SNH. The Ranger Service post is fully transparent. Details of our aims and activities are available to view in the Tiree Ranger Service Development Plan – downloadable from the TDCT website. By joining community boards and committees, those with ideas for the improvement of Tiree Ranger Service and/or the Croft Camping Scheme have the power to influence the direction and remit of this post.

At present my duties include the management of Freedom Camping. I would like to remind those with strong views on the ranger post and what it achieves that I am available to discuss my work by appointment. Indeed, I welcome feedback and fresh insight.

As a professional, I extend courtesy to every person that I deal with; regardless of whether our views are aligned or not. I expect to be treated with the same level of courtesy as I dispense my duties on Tiree.

Stephanie Cope, Tiree Ranger Service

Tiree Community Council Meetings

Following a very short summer recess, the Tiree Community Council Meetings will resume as of September.

The first one will take place on Wednesday the 6th of September, following on from the usual pattern as the first Wednesday of the month. The start time is 7:30pm in An Talla and all are welcome. The agenda for the meeting is detailed below. Please also note the  Tiree Community Council took the decision earlier in the year to remove AOCB from the meeting agenda, this however doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you and would encourage all members of the community to let them know about any issues of concern. You can do so in a number of ways, email, written letter or having a chat with a community councillor. Please visit www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk for more information

MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 6th September 2017 7.30pm @ An Talla ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WELCOME

1. Welcome and Apologies

2. Correspondence

3. Minutes of 7th June 2017 and matters arising

4. Tiree Community Council Elections, co-options and forward planning

5. Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), Pier-head proposals

6. Tiree – Glasgow Air Service, implications following removal of security

7. Scottish Government, meetings during July/August, update.

8. Transportation updates

9. Public Library

10. Tiree Flag, verbal update

Please note. Tiree Community Council holds a monthly pre-agenda private meeting, which normally takes place approximately ten days following the public meeting. The meeting is solely to agree agenda items for inclusion and discussion at the following month’s public meeting. No decisions, other than these, are taken.

Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Visits Tiree

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands visited Tiree on Wednesday the 16th of August.

The visit was arranged by Tiree Community Council who had previously met with the Minister back in January of this year, in Holyrood. At the meeting, they invited the Minister to visit Tiree and were delighted when it came to fruition last week.

Mr Yousaf only had a few hours on Tiree due to an earlier than usual return flight to Glasgow, but managed to jam pack a number of visits and worthwhile conversations into the day, meeting with a variety of local businesses, visiting community projects and Milton Harbour where he was updated on the ambitious refurbishment plans currently being undertaken by the Tiree Trust and the Harbours’ Steering Group.

The Minister didn’t get to see Tiree in its best weather, as the rain and wind battered down most of the day. He was still very complimentary of our island as he posted pictures on Twitter of his arrival on the twin otter with the caption: ‘Arrived on Tiree. Looking forward to day of Ministerial meetings with the local community & businesses. Even wet & windy it looks stunning’.

After a quick tour of the island, the minister was treated to a beautifully prepared buffet lunch, where Tiree’s produce was showcased with a variety of local fresh shellfish and Tiree lamb and beef. The lunch was followed by a meeting, where the minister got the opportunity to hear from members of Tiree Community Council, Tiree Transport Forum, Tiree Community Development Trust, Tiree Rural Development, Tiree Community Business and Tiree Broadband regarding various island issues.

There was a variety of agenda items, the meeting starting off with a viewing of the recently released ‘Tiree Maritime Plan’ video which was created to promote the harbours’ development project. Mr Yousef was very positive about the project, having visited the site in the morning, he got first hand evidence of the type of conditions our fishermen are currently working in. He vowed to investigate what funding, if any, might be available from the Scottish Government to support this project.

The idea of Tiree and Coll having a dedicated councillor was also discussed, with the Minister indicating that he thought this would be a very positive move and something that he might be able to assist with.

The discussion around the Islands Bill was mostly centred on Argyll & Bute Council’s involvement, with Humza informing the group that A&B Council are the only council which has not sent its leader to the working group meetings. Instead, Policy Lead for the Islands, Robin Currie has attended. It was felt that this was not adequate and something that should be raised with Argyll & Bute Council.

The Crown Estate Consultation has been on the agenda of the Tiree Community Council for some time now, with the Crown Estate Scotland coming into operation on 1st of April this year and is tasked with managing Scottish Crown Estate assets on behalf of Scottish Ministers, which includes agricultural and forestry land, most of the seabed and around half of the foreshore, areas that could be crucial to future developments on and around Tiree. Mr Yousef was again very positive about trying to assist communities to investigate the possibility of Crown Estate Revenues going to local communities, at island level, and said he would forward on further information regarding this.

Other items discussed included the current lack of availability of good affordable backhaul (internet source) from BT for community broadband providers, in this instance Tiree Broadband, which currently cover areas on the island that BT cannot reach. A paper explaining the concerns was prepared and given to the Minister in the hope that he will back the case and see the need. It was suggested that a requirement to comply with this request should be included in the contracts for the next round of publicly funded infrastructure upgrades which is most likely to be delivered by BT. It was also discussed that the Transport Forum has expressed the community’s desire to have a consistent Monday, Wednesday, Friday ferry service throughout the winter, this request will be sent in writing to the Minister.

Overall, the visit from Mr Yousef was extremely positive. Although there is no guarantee that anything will come from the points mentioned above, it is very positive that we as an island can communicate at a one to one level with the Minister for Transport and the Islands and he has given us assurances that he will support us where he can. It is extremely encouraging that he took the time to come out to Tiree and mentioned that he feels it is his role and duty to visit and support rural and hard to reach communities such as ours.

We hope, in the near future we will be able to update you with positive developments on some of the points mentioned above.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in the meeting. A special thanks to Fiona Malcolm, Neil and Alison MacPhail and Eileen Tainsh who helped to create and serve a wonderful showcase lunch.

Tiree Community Council

The well-attended June meeting of Tiree Community Council was also its AGM, and I gave a run-down of the campaigns with which we have been involved over the year.

These included facilities for the disabled on the ferry, the withdrawal of security at the airport, proposals for a cash machine for the bank, a scheme to create a Marine Protected Area around the island, organising the Remembrance Day service, the loss of the school library service, abandoned trailers in three locations, an area next to Pier View in Scarinish where builders’ waste was lying, buying the old phone boxes from BT and setting up the project to design a flag for Tiree.

We also set up a ballot concerning the beach huts at Gott and Balevullin, and presented the results to the planning officials of Argyll and Bute Council. It has been a busy year, and it is hard now to imagine life on the island without a community council.

I told the meeting about the resignation of John MacCaskill from TCC. John it was who first had the idea of re-forming the council, and his energy brought together the first group of us to stand for election. Since then he was Vice-Convenor for several years, and has also chaired the Tiree Transport Forum. John’s major success was to persuade the authorities that Tiree needed two planes a day, something long taken for granted by Campbeltown and Barra. He also fought hard to improve signage on the roads. John has now decided that his new job managing the airport has made it impossible to devote enough time to TCC matters, and he is reluctantly standing down for the moment.We would all like to thank him for his considerable political achievements.

We discussed the triangle of land to the west of Pier View,which belongs to Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Both the Tiree Trust and Tiree Community Business had made an offer to buy the land in the past few years for use as a play park and community garden. We have learned recently that the ground is now under offer from MacLeod Construction of Lochgilphead. MacLeod’s, the builders of the original ‘Tank Farm’, have proposed three further houses with workshops attached. The way that this process was handled has raised questions about how HIE negotiates with communities, and we have written to them to ask them to come to the island to explain how this decision was taken. Under Part 4 of the Community Empowerment Act (2015), community bodies have a right to buy land that is “neglected”.

We remain concerned about the pier head, which struggles to cope during peak season. The car park is often full and cars have to find space where they can on the surrounding ground. CMAL, who own and manage the land, have written to the Community Council detailing their investment plans for the pier and surrounding area. These amount to over £8 million pounds between 2013 and 2022, including the replacement of much of the link span deck. While this is extremely welcome, we still feel that congestion and parking at the pier head is not getting the priority it deserves. There have also seen worrying reports about corrosion affecting the columns supporting the pier itself. We have asked for a meeting with CMAL and will persevere with these two important concerns.

Efforts to design a flag for Tiree took an important step forward recently with a visit from an expert from the Flag Institute. Philip Tibbetts told us how to organise a successful competition, how long it would take and how much it would cost. We now know how to proceed, and hope to have the official unveiling next summer.

We discussed the state of the police mortuary at the airport. This has no running water and is powered by a generator. While needing a considerable amount of work, we decided that, as it was used solely by the professionals involved, this was a matter that was outside our remit.

We had also set up an online survey about setting up a cash machine on the island. 96%of those who responded said they would use one, with comments like: “I am often asked if there is an ATM on the island. It would be very handy to access cash without having to make a purchase to get cash back, and I am sure it would benefit local businesses and increase transactions on the island generally.” It was pointed out that post offices were another useful way to access one’s account.

The bins outside the gates of the waste facility in Gott, which had been removed by Argyll and Bute Council because of indiscriminate dumping, have now been reinstated after representations by TCC.

We decided that, due to the hectic Tiree summer-fest, our next public meeting would be in September. The Council would still be working behind the scenes, however, and if there were pressing matters, we could still call a meeting in the next two months.

Dr John Holliday (chair), Rhoda Meek, Ian Gillies, Aisling Milne and Jessie Gray were present.

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