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!

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