Tiree Community Council

Feelings that the CalMac service to Tiree is getting more unreliable, proposals to create a confederation of community councils of the Inner Hebrides, and falling numbers on our own community council were up for discussion at this month’s meeting of Tiree Community Council.

Catriona and Stewart MacLennan spoke about the problems they have been having with our ferry service. What appear to be office errors have resulted in a delay in supplying petrol to the garage and an almost impossible situation after this summer’s Tiree Music Festival when the Monday ferry has been filled with passenger traffic, resulting in expensive equipment being stranded on the island.

Their compelling testimony was backed up by other regular users. Businesses were losing thousands of pounds, making life in the island’s haulage industry critical.

There was a strong feeling that the culture of company had become more risk averse, with captains cancelling sailings too far ahead. The company also was getting worse rather than better at speaking to their customers.

The loss of the more robust and larger Clansman into dry dock, added to her covering for other vessels’ absence is making the situation more difficult. Supply of lead-free petrol to the island has become a serious issue.

It made depressing hearing, and reinforced the point that we rely utterly on our haulage companies to keep all aspects of life on Tiree going. We are going to prepare a submission to the CalMac Community Board.

We also decided to pursue an idea to form some sort of confederation with the other islands of the Inner Hebrides. The twenty-three inhabited Argyll islands, with a combined population of 7,200 – 14,500 if you add Bute – punch well below their weight on Argyll and Bute Council. By coming together, we might hope to influence the council and the Scottish Government more.

As a tiny example, did you know that there is £45,000 travel fund for young athletes – from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland? This is despite the fact that our ferry crossing is much longer than that between Stornoway and Ullapool or Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

We also discussed the limited access to the EE mast at Garraphail. Only those with pricey, modern phones and people with regular EE subscription packages can use it. We will look into this, as the mast is not benefiting the community in the way we had hoped.

We also held our AGM that evening. Sadly, Willie Angus MacLean has decided that he needs to step down from Tiree Community Council because of his growing business commitments. Willie has been an outstanding councillor and is a local politician to watch in the future! That leaves us with just two elected members – Robert and myself – and the two coopted members Ian and Alison.

We need to recruit some more members, and we are able to appoint other non-voting members for their ‘Skills and Knowledge’. If anyone wants to volunteer for this, we would be extremely grateful. Let me know.

As a reminder of how important the community council has become, this is a brief list of some of the areas we have covered in the last year:

• We successfully lobbied HIE to assist island community groups to bid for the land at Pier View

• We completed the competition for the Tiree community flag and organised the unveiling

• We successfully lobbied HIAL to improve facilities for disabled passengers at Tiree airport and new loading equipment was purchased

• We successfully lobbied the Council to prevent closure of the Customer Services Point in Crossapol

• We organised the centenary War Memorial service on Remembrance Day

• We successfully lobbied against a proposal to harvest kelp around the island from Marine Biopolymers Ltd

• We successfully lobbied Argyll and Bute Council to re-tender for the Argyll Air Service

Not a bad year’s work! Please help us to keep it up.

Dr John Holliday (chair), Robert Trythall, Ian Gillies and Wille Angus MacLean were in attendance. Alison Clark, Roddy McCuish and Jim Lynch sent their apologies.

Dr John Holliday

Anyone wanting more information about the state of play with the Argyll Air Service tender should see our website:

http:// www.tireecommunitycouncil.co. uk/tiree-oban-air-service-retender/

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