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.