Category Archives: Tiree Community Council

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

Tiree Community Council News

The Tiree Community Council met on the 1st of June in An Talla. The first part of the evening was made up of the AGM. The chair ran through a list of the areas where progress had been made: securing two flights a day all year round; a summer double ferry sailing on Saturday and taking our place on the Argyll Ferry Users’ Group; lobbying to keep the laying of the fibre-optic broadband cable to the island on programme; putting the Tiree case for the upcoming Islands Bill; and fighting for the library service and the Crossapol office in the face of Council cuts.

We have had less success convincing the roads department that the island’s roads were in need of significant investment, and moving some derelict vehicles. The Treasurer reported that we had £1,826 in the bank, much of that a Windfall Fund grant of £1,000 which we have not had to call upon this past year.

Angus John MacKechnie, Frazer MacInnes and Alison Kennedy had resigned as Councillors during the year, while Iona Campbell, Paul Le Roux and Rhoda Meek had been coopted in their place until the next elections in November. We had a new website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and had met in public eleven months of the year. Dr Holliday was re-elected Convenor, Ian Gillies took on the post of Secretary and Rosemary Omand was re-elected Treasurer. We then went on to a Business meeting.

We had asked for the holiday closure of the Council Service Point office in Crossapol to be advertised in advance, as far as was possible. The management had agreed to this in principle.

We had met with the Tiree Trust and it had been agreed to set up a monthly litter tidy, township by township. We agreed this should be called Sgudal.

We discussed changes to the Pre-5 schooling, where Gaelic medium was being re-placed with a bi-lingual programme after a consultation with the parents. This would be looked into by the Parent- Teacher Council.

Tiree Community Council has a proposal to buy some of the rotting phone boxes on the island, restore them, and put them to community use. There is a public consultation about this at the moment, so if you have any ideas or objections, do get in touch with us.

The Community Council and the Trust were looking into setting up a Chapel of Rest in an unused building near the airport.

We agreed to set up a group of interested people to oversee the Tiree flag project, and we had been asked to commission a Tiree tartan at the same time. If anyone is interested in joining this group, please let me know.

We agreed to write to the committee who had run A’ Bhuain, thanking them for the wonderful week they had organised.

We had had an estimate from Stokes Memorials to refurbish Dr Buchanan’s monument in Baugh, and we will consult on this.

We had been approached by the estate to join a group of island organisations to develop policies about sand extraction from the beaches and beach access. We agreed to write to the new factor, welcoming a meeting.

We had been approached by a resident of the new houses at Pier View,who told us how expensive the houses were to heat. We agreed to write to West Highland Housing Association to hear what could be done about this.We hope to visit the Orkney island of Westray in September to see how other, similar, islands are managing.

The meeting lasted over two and a half hours, for which apologies!

We gave a lunch for Alison Kennedy, who is leaving Tiree, to thank her for years of hard work at the Secretary’s coalface. We are really missing her!

Dr John Holliday, Rosemary Omand, Ian Gillies, Rhoda Meek and Paul Le Roux were in attendance. John MacCaskill sent his apologies. The Council has no meeting in July due to the busy summer schedule, so we meet again in August. However, the behind-the- scenes work will go on, and if you have any issues you would like to bring up, do get in touch.

Dr. John Holliday

Tiree Community Council News

Fone boxes, flags and ferries (if you excuse the spelling!) were on the agenda of your Community Council when we met last week. Rhoda Meek unveiled her ideas to take over some of the BT phone boxes on the island for community use. These boxes have become increasingly derelict, with few of the phones actually working now. Some, those nearest the beaches, could become bases for heartstart defibrillators, while others could find new roles as libraries, art galleries or wi-fi hotspots. If you want inspiration, look up what the community has done with the amazing Unst bus shelter in Shetland. The kiosk at Baugh is by far the busiest, and would be kept as a public phone.

On another matter, there was unhappiness expressed at the way flights to Tiree were continually being altered, whereas flights to Barra and Campbeltown remain on schedule, and we resolved to track down the reason for this. Likewise, our ferry is being increasingly cancelled the night before sailing. While this is undoubtedly convenient for those making the long overnight journey, the weather has sometimes moderated by the next day. We are writing to CalMac to ask them how they make these difficult decisions.

The Service Point in Crossapol has been kept open as a Council post, albeit with reduced hours. However, there is now no money for holiday cover when Rona is away. Having discussed this with the service manager, we agreed that this decision was unlikely to be overturned by Councillors. It was suggested at the meeting that, at least, it would be good to have warning of when the office was going to be closed, and we will write to see if this is possible.

John MacCaskill has been working on a project to look into setting up a community chapel of rest, and we agreed to take this on. First job is to find premises. The state of the police mortuary at the airport was also discussed. The building is in urgent need of a face-lift, but this is complicated by having the Council, Police Scotland and Highlands and Islands Airports involved.

We had been asked to write to the mayor of Vancouver about a famous ‘son’ of Tiree. Members of the Tiree ‘family’ in that city want Malcolm Maclean’s place as the first mayor of that city officially recognised. The text of the letter is as follows:

‘A’ charaid, as Convenor of Tiree Community Council, I send greetings to yourself and the people of Vancouver from the island of Tiree. This Hebridean island was the birthplace of Malcolm MacLean, the first Mayor of Vancouver. His picture now occupies a central place in the island’s historical centre An Iodhlann as one of the most famous members of Clann an Eòrna ‘descendants of the barley’, the emigrants who left the island in their thousands over the last few centuries and their descendants around the world. We are delighted that his place in the history of your illustrious city is being celebrated. Beannachd leibh, with best wishes, Dr John Holliday’

Never mind the Holyrood elections, the last month had seen a flurry of excitement as the Great Tiree Flag Vote got underway. The results were announced to the meeting. 142 votes were cast (14% of which were online), with 82% in favour of designing a Tiree flag. TCC are meeting with the Trust next week, and one of the things to talk about will be this project. Following the recent example of New Zealand’s flag referendum, we will probably appoint a representative panel to oversee the project. The first thing is to distill what Tiree means to people (this exercise has already been done in numerous surveys by the Trust, so we maybe able to shortcut this part) and then announce an international competition over the summer. Once we have all the designs in, we will probably whittle them down to a reasonable number and then put a selection to a public vote. If you are interested in being involved, let me know.

Coll had asked for a contribution towards running their phone mast, seeing as the east end of Tiree was benefitting. However, another mobile phone provider is now interested in using the Coll mast, so our contribution may no longer be necessary. We also heard the latest news about the broadband rollout from Mark Vale. There seems to be some extra money in the pot, and we will lobby to have some of it spent on Tiree to hook up more subscribers to super-fast speeds.

Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Iona Campbell, Paul le Roux and Rhoda Meek were in attendance. If you have any ideas or queries, do look at our website, email us or just stop us in the street. We’re here to help!

Island Communities Take Action Against Council Library Cuts

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Have Your Say On The Tiree Public Roads Network

On a recent visit to inspect the Tiree Public Roads Network, Mr. Jim Smith, Argyll and Bute District Council’s Head of Roads and Amenities advised a Tiree Community Council representative, I quote

“ There are no identified safety issues with the Tiree Public Roads Network that warrant any significant road repairs on the island”.

Do you agree with Mr. Smith’s rather shocking assessment of the Tiree roads?

Mr. Smith is willing to defend this statement by attending the next Tiree Community Council Meeting at An Talla on the evening of Wednesday 03rd June 2015 (8.00pm).

The Tiree Community Council urges the public to show up in numbers at our June Meeting to firstly listen to Mr. Smith’s assessment on the Tiree roads and then have your say on what you consider to be the condition of the islands Public Roads Network.

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