Category Archives: Tiree Community Council

New Tiree Community Council Takes Office

A new-look Community Council for the island formally took over last week at their first meeting, chaired by Tricia O’Neill, Argyll and Bute Council’s Central Governance Officer. Dr John Holliday (the new convenor), Robert Trythall (secretary), William Angus MacLean (vice-convenor),Andy Wright (treasurer) and Donna MacLean take over from the previous council. Sadly, Emma Rossiter has had to hand in her resignation because of family circumstances.

After the council had been set up, discussions moved onto the issues of the day. Chief amongst these was the difficulty resulting from the damage to the Clansman,which had meant a return for the smaller Lord of the Isles. This had been unable to cope with the surge in traffic over Easter and at the May bank holiday, but the biggest problem had been the online booking system, which proved far too inflexible to cope with the disruption.Many people had their travel plans affected. Businesses relying on visitors are likely to have taken a big hit. We have already written to the Cal-Mac management about this, but it must not be allowed to happen again and we will press hard on this issue.

The previous council had been inundated with complaints about the lack of reduced-fare tickets on Loganair flights to Glasgow. Roy Bogle has replied for the company. He effectively said that Loganair was facing big hikes in costs from airports and for fuel. To compensate, no further cut-price fares were being offered during the busier summer months. To be fair, Loganair’s contract with the Scottish Government does not compel them to offer discount fares, but the company has been selling some tickets at a cheaper rate to encourage people to travel. This contract is up for renewal next autumn, but the community council will begin negotiations with Transport Scotland in a few months time, and we will do our best to ensure reduced fares are back on the table.

The other big issue was the future of the Scarinish public toilets. Argyll and Bute Council have, in the past, threatened to close them, and the buildings were getting pretty run-down. As the only public toilets on the island, it is obvious that they are a fundamental part of our infrastructure.

The question is: should the island try to take them over, or should we fight to get the Council to put in some much-needed investment? This is rapidly becoming one of our top priorities, and we will work on this over the next few weeks. We are now down to five members, and we are going to ask two people to join the council. Rules for this have now been relaxed, and co-opted councillors are able to sit for two years.

We want to be as open as we can, and, with several tech-savvy new members, we hope that our website, Facebook and Twitter feeds can be developed. Our next meeting will be at the end of June. Let us know if there are issues you think we can help with (contact our new secretary Robert Trythall on rob@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk).

Dr John Holliday (doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk)

Loganair Respond to Communities Fare Concerns

Over the last few months, Tiree Community Council has received copious amounts of comments and letters from members of the community, concerned about growing fare prices on the Tiree – Glasgow route, introduction of lower weight restrictions and lack of promotional deals available to Tiree customers.

Tiree Community Council have been actively communicating with Loganair representatives to get a response to the above complaints and Roy Bogel has now issued us with an update with regards to the pricing structure:

Thank you for your note. On every Loganair flight throughout our network, pricing relates to the expected levels of demand for the service. We continually adjust pricing in an effort to achieve sustainable route economics.

Although the Tiree service is a PSO, if our revenue falls short of the forecast we have submitted as part of our bid to fly the route over the four-year bid period, it is exclusively Loganair’s issue and we have no recourse to Transport Scotland for any such shortfall. As you may also be aware, the PSO provides for a £1 increase per year in the price of each of the five fare “buckets” we have available. This is wholly insufficient to keep pace with increases like Glasgow Airport and HIAL fees and charges, increases in maintenance costs on the Twin Otter aircraft and ground handling costs, before we even get to considering any cost of living increases for our own employees.

The increase in landing and per-passenger charges this year at Glasgow and Tiree airports amount to £1.43 per passenger before any other issues come into the equation. The result of this is that we are selling slightly fewer seats at the two lowest fares this summer than we did last year. Frankly, to cover the costs of the provision of the service, we can’t avoid it; and it is not something for which we should apologise.

With a limited increase of £1 per fare per year, it’s impossible to keep pace with the inflation of airport maintenance and ground handling costs that are an unavoidable consequence of providing the service. As already mentioned, airport charges amount to a £1.43 increase and the sum of the other costs is broadly similar. The PSO only regulates the maximum fare that can be charged, and it does not oblige any operator to offer a lower fare, let alone the range of lower fares that Loganair continues to provide.

To put this into context, we see a position where average fares paid by customers are around £3 higher than last year as a result of the changes – i.e. recovery of the extra costs but not a penny more. One could be forgiven for thinking that this had morphed into the Great Plane Robbery given the level of contention, but an average increase of £3 is the reality of what the change amounts to. We have kept a number of the cheaper fares available but the seats at those fares have now sold out for the summer ahead, and those seats remaining are at higher prices (but still well within the maximum permitted under the PSO).

I’d like to reiterate that the Saturday night stay requirements have not changed and have been in place on the lower fares for over 25 years, based on our archive of Loganair historic pricing information. It is not, contrary to opinion, a new or indeed recent change and it may well date back to policies in place well before 1992. It’s necessary to keep pace with the increases in cost of provision of the service and I can assure you that we’re only doing what we see as absolutely essential. Indeed, if we over-recover (and we’re not doing!) then any excess generated by Loganair is passed straight back to Transport Scotland under the PSO mechanism, so we have no incentive nor motivation to increase fares unduly as we stand to gain no benefit – and plenty of adverse comment – from doing so.

We remain firmly committed to providing the very best value that we can and firmly believe that we’re doing so this year.

To sum up the letter, Loganair have failed to acknowledge any sympathy towards increased fare prices and have explained that they are operating within their current PSO agreement.

The letter confirms that all cheaper fare brackets have now sold out for the summer ahead, suggesting to us that there are very limited ‘just fly’ tickets allocated to each flight.

Tiree Community Council is currently undertaking its handover period with the new Tiree Community Councillors and it is understood that the PSO document is due to be confirmed later on this year.

TCC will work on ensuring the next PSO agreement is more variable for the Tiree community and includes stipulations such that will address the current issues.

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

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.

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.

Tiree Community Council Report

Ideas about a new housing development in Scarinish, a presentation from the new Ranger Stephanie Cope, and disappointing news about an ATM cash machine: these were some of the topics discussed at the April meeting of Tiree Community Council.

The April meeting was delayed by a week because a combination of travel setbacks had meant that the Council no longer had a quorum. The meeting went ahead a week later with one loyal member of the public in attendance (thank you Robert!). TCC had been notified that unaccompanied young people would no longer be allowed on flights to Glasgow because all airline staff did not have the necessary clearance.We agreed to write to Loganair for clarification.We had received a letter suggesting that the lorry drivers’ rest room on the vessel – a facility required by law – should also be available for disabled travellers, and that the disabled toilet door should bemade easier to open.CalMac had responded positively to these ideas. The suggestion that an afternoon sailing should be part of a future winter timetable was thought by John MacCaskill, chair of the Tiree Transport Forum, to be unlikely: they had been asking for this for years with no success.

TCC had recently met Councillor Roddy McCuish. He showed us draft proposals to build three house/workshops on the triangle of land between Pier View and the road. This provoked some discussion as TCB and the Trust had both had offers to buy this land from HIE turned down. We decided to look into this. After months of pressure, the corner of land cluttered with rubbish left over from the building of Pier View has substantially been cleared. The electrical box and cable, however, are still there, and we would continue to press for this to be removed.

Councillor McCuish also told us about discussions concerning the transference of the West Highland Housing Association Housing stock to the Tiree Trust. He advised us that this might be too large a task for the Trust, but that a management agreement might make more sense. We also discussed taking the Scarinish public toilets under community control, and would see how much interest there was in the island for this. The next day we met with our MSP Mike Russell. TCC has hopes tomeet the Transport and Islands Minister,Humza Yousaf, on Tiree, and have asked Mike Russell to keep the matter in the minister’s diary.

We passed on a number of complaints about the long time some customers on Tiree had to wait for a BT connection.Mike Russell asked us to pass on complaints at an early stage as he had good contacts with the company.

We expressed our disappointment with the decision to keep the proceeds of the Crown Estate – principally rights arising from the coastal seabed – in Edinburgh. Russell said he was sympathetic to the view that Tiree should get its fair share of profits and has written to the minister involved.

Stephanie Cope gave a very interesting talk about how she is developing her job as Ranger. Erosion at beach access points in Crossapol, Balevullin and Balephuil is a concern. She is continuing the programme of guided walks during the summer and is initiating a series of welcome evenings, including talks about the environment, history and culture, during the main summer holiday period. We had asked the Royal Bank of Scotland about the possibility of installing an ATM cash machine at its Scarinish branch. They have now written to us to say that this will not be going ahead. We were disappointed and will pursue this matter. It was suggested that ATMs are often placed in places other than banks, and this may be a way forward.

The Tiree flag subcommittee is making progress in setting up a flag competition, and is currently waiting for a decision from the Windfall Fund.

The meeting closed at 9.30pm. Dr John Holiday, Rhoda Meek, Ian Gillies, John MacCaskill, Jessie Gray and Aisling Milne were in attendance.

March Tiree Community Council Meeting

The March community council meeting took place in An Talla on the first day of the month, with a smaller quorum of councillors than usual, with only 4 in attendance and a much smaller audience than normal.

Doctor Holliday was in attendance to chair the meeting, welcoming everyone and going through the formalities.

The first item on the agenda was to go through the correspondences received over the last month. The Police Scotland Report was circulated and discussed, noting that 5 incidents had been reported in the last month. The Chair also took the opportunity to highlight the newly introduced penalty for using a mobile phone while driving. This now faces a fine of £200 and 6 points on your licence. It is also worth noting that new drivers will lose their licence completely.

Councillor Gillies took the opportunity to discuss the ‘Annual Survey Oblique Review of Scheme’ which relates to general Governance and Law which supports Community Councils. Each Community Council is required to return the survey, which Councillor Gillies is going to complete and submit. It was also discussed that the national elections for Community Councils are due to take place however a timescale has not yet been set for this. Councillor Holliday took the opportunity to ask present councillors if they would be willing to continue in their roles for another 6 months or until the national election date had been set. This would see all Community Councils throughout the country holding their elections on the same day.

An update regarding the Tiree Flag Committee was heard from Doctor Holliday, who mentioned that a meeting has taken place and although no official competition date has been set it was hoped to unveil the finalists at this year’s Agricultural Show. It was also highlighted that the group is welcoming any new members therefore if you are interested in getting involved then please get in touch with Doctor Holiday.

The fourth agenda point, covering issues relating to the housing development at Pier View had initially been brought up at the previous meeting where residents had highlighted hazardous areas which surrounded the development. Councillor Milne was tasked with investigating the issues and gave a written update at the meeting as she wasn’t in attendance. It was noted that at present it has proven difficult to ascertain who the contaminated land at Pier View belongs to and it was decided that councillors would look into this in more detail. A letter will also be sent to Councillor Roddy McCuish to ask for assistance with this matter.

There were positive reports coming from the Islands Communications update, as it was noted that EE have submitted a planning permission application for a mast at Garaphail, which will largely benefit emergency services. Additional masts and upgrades have been proposed by Vodafone and this is currently at planning permission stages too. BT have also been on the island carrying out work, suggesting that an additional Green Box is being installed in the Scarinish area which will benefit residents with access to Fibre Broadband.

An update was given regarding the political strategy in the form of meeting with Humza Yousef, which TCC are actively progressing and continue to communicate with his team to set up a visit. It was also brought to the attention of TCC that Fergus Ewing has arranged to be on Tiree in May. TCC raised concern and disappointment that they had not been made aware of this and agreed to invite him to a public or private meeting to address matters relating to the community.

The last item on the agenda was an update regarding The Crown Estate in Scotland, which was first brought up at the February meeting. Councillor Milne is working on drafting a response to the Crown Estate Consultation, having spoken to Western Isles Council for advice.

Tiree Community Council February Meeting 2017

The first Tiree Community Council meeting of 2017 took place last Wednesday, the 1st of February. The meeting was opened by our chair and convenor, Doctor John Holliday who welcomed all in attendance, including BBC Alba representative Seonaidh MacKenzie. along with Calen MacNeil who was at her first Community Council meeting in her role as the school representative.

The first item on the agenda was to acknowledge that John MacCaskill was standing down as Vice Convenor and Rhoda Meek would be taking up the position. Dr Holiday took the opportunity to thank John for his invaluable contribution as Vice Convenor.

We then moved on to discuss the correspondences from the previous months. TCC received a letter from Coll Community Council, thanking them for this visit last year and it was also noted that there would be another opportunity for a day visit to Coll in September.

The minutes from the previous meeting brought up a few updates on various projects and ongoing issues, including the issue of the dangerous area reported at Pier View. This was brought to the attention of the TCC at the previous meeting in December and it was agreed to investigate the issue and make relevant health and safety bodies aware of it, the TCC are still working on this matter and will also contact Roddy McCuish for some assistance in resolving this matter. We also heard from Rhoda Meek who gave us an update on the Phone Box project, who are continuing to hold regular meetings. The group are going to focus on one box at a time and have chosen to focus their attentions on upgrading the box at Silversands, Vaul, which will be used as an example box to try and secure funding for going forward with the rest of them.

The TCC held a closed meeting in January to discuss ways in which they operate and a few points were discussed from this meeting, one of them being that “AOCB” will now be removed from the meeting agenda. Members of the public will still be encouraged to bring issues and questions to the meetings, but will be required to bring this to the attention of the councillors 14 days before the next meeting so that it can be added to the agenda. The Councillors felt that a removal of the AOCB will help to reduce the length of meetings and allow Councillors adequate time to prepare their response to questions and issues.

The fifth item on the agenda was regarding the recent complaint against Tiree Community Council. This was brought up at the December meeting, when Mr and Mrs Larg sent a formal letter of complaint to the TCC regarding the Ballot which was conducted by TCC in relation to the planning row over the Beach-huts in Balevullin and Gott. At the February meeting Dr Holliday took us through the 8 page reply which will be issued to the Larg’s in response to their original complaint. It was also noted that TCC would ask the Governance Officer for Argyll and Bute to look over the letter before it was sent out. The matter was concluded and thanks were given to The Community Council for their time spent on this matter.

We next moved on to discuss the Pre-5 Provision at Tiree High School and we heard that after a successful consultation conducted by Tiree High School through a dedicated working group that the Pre 5 sessions had now been split into two, with the morning session focusing on English with the promotion of Gaelic and the afternoon being solely Gaelic. It was noted that this structure is so far working well and a good feedback has been received from parents. The successful reintroduction of Gaelic Pre-5 was covered on BBC An Là with coverage filmed here on Tiree featuring Pre-5 leader, Johann MacLean.

It was brought to the attention of the meeting that the Scottish Government were currently running a consultation on behalf of the Crown Estate with regards to the management of the sea bed. The Crown Estate are hoping to pass some of the management aspects of the land to the community. The Crown Estate is currently responsible for such things as leases for moorings, some aspects of crofting and of fishing etc. The TCC would like to encourage all members of the community to comment on this consultation and you can do so by visiting the following link: www.consult.scotland.gov.uk/crown-estate-strategy-unit/long-term-management-of-the-crown-estate The consultation process is open until the 29th of March.

The transport update was provided by John MacCaskill who gave us an overview of transport issues and updates from the last 2 months. It was noted that there have been a number of cancelled flights recently, this was due to weather related issues. A question from a member of the audience was brought up regarding the announcement some time ago that visibility equipment was to be introduced to Tiree flights. John informed us that this is still in the pipeline and aircrafts are due to be fitted with the new equipment but it does cost a considerable amount of money. We heard good news regarding additional capacity for island events such as TMF and the Ultra Marathon and 10K weekends. It was also noted that ferry transportation had been increased during TMF weekend, and organisers of the festival were commended for their negotiations and positive working relationship with Cal Mac.

The 9th item on the agenda was an update on the Chapel of Rest project and John again informed the meeting that TCC had recently met with the directors of Tiree Community Development Trust with the view to them taking on the project. The proposed site for the Chapel of Rest is the old Met Office building at the airport, which has been inspected by both TCC and TCDT. A great deal of ground work has been done by both parties and the TCDT board will be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss how this can be taken forward. There was also discussion surrounding the current mortuary on the island, as it was reported that Police Scotland didn’t plan to renew their current lease. It was agreed that TCC would look into this.

The final item on the agenda was a summary of the recent successful meeting with Humza Yousef MSP, which we reported on in the last edition. Three TCC councillors, John MacCaskill, Rosemary Omand and Ian Gilles, along with Tish MacKinnon from TCDT met with Humza Yousef and Mike Russell last month at Holyrood and all in attendance commented that it was a very successful meeting, discussing several hot topics, including The Islands Bill, transport, and communications. Having only been announced a day before the meeting was taking place, the councillors also took the opportunity to ask the MSP about the removal of security checks at 3 local airports, Tiree being one of them. Mr Yousef acknowledged the concerns from islanders but commented that the decision is ultimately made by the secretary of state. It was noted that all jobs in the airport are currently safe due to the government stating that there will be no compulsory redundancy.

The meeting was closed at 9:30pm and Doctor Holliday thanked all for coming, stating the next meeting would be Wednesday the 1st of March. All minutes, agendas and further information can be found at www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

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.

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

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