Tag Archives: policies

Reid & Hay Welcome Fuel Duty Cut

Alan ReidAlison Hay

Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll & Bute, and Alison Hay Scottish Parliamentary Candidate welcomed the announcement by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, that a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty would be piloted in the Inner & Outer Hebrides and the Northern Isles, subject to agreement from the European Union.

Alan Reid said:
“This cut in fuel duty will help the fragile economies of the Argyll Islands. I have long campaigned for a reduction in fuel duty in remote communities. If the pilot is a success, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t, the scheme should be extended to the Clyde Islands and remote communities in mainland Argyll”

Alison Hay said:
“This would be a tremendous boost to the economy in Argyll & BUte. We have so many island communities that depend on the use of private vehicles for travel and this will help keep the cost of living in these communities down. I hope that the scheme could be moved quickly on by the EU and that it could be extended to include remote mainland areas in the future.”

A similar scheme operates in France, Portugal and Greece, so the EU should have no objection to its introduction here. Here on Tiree, the price of a litre of diesel is 142p and petrol 140p compared to the national average of 118p and 115.2p respectively.

Tiree High School :: Staff Cut Update

books

It was an indication of the concern felt by all islanders, that despite the shortness of notice, over 130 people attended the hastily called public meeting to discuss the cuts to the number of teachers at Tiree High School and possible implications this might have.

Head Teacher, Myra MacArthur explained that the cuts have had to be made in the years above Pre 5 and after discussions with the staff they had identified where 2.2 teachers could be lost and the effects of this.

One teacher from the primary department will not be replaced when she leaves and no-one will be taken on to fill in for the French teacher whilst she is on maternity leave. The teacher of Physics will work four days per week, and there will be a newly qualified teacher “in training”. As at the present there will be no Gaelic taught to learners in primary and the teaching of the Upper Gaelic Class will be shared between the teacher in training and existing staff. Next session there will be no French offered as a subject course.

Obviously in a small island school the loss of a member of staff has implications through the whole school;
in this case remaining teachers will all face changes to their roles, the English teacher will spend two days in Primary which means losing 2 days from secondary. There will also be a loss of management time from the Primary & Secondary Depute Heads’ schedules.

the school will do everything possible… with the staff it has

Miss MacArthur stressed “that the school will do everything possible to provide the curriculum and width of learning with the staff it has. Argyll & Bute council need to make these spending cuts, they’re happening everywhere, we have to decide how best to spend the money available and where to make cuts. Although we have expressed our opinion of this we must now make the best of the situation.”

Steve Thomson on behalf of the PTA said this week; “The response from Islanders has been great, councillors are listening to what has been said, we are waiting for a group of Councillors and Officials to come to Tiree to explain their policy. Having such good support will make a difference to meetings with the council. We must maintain the core curriculum – formulas that are applied to mainland schools don’t work on small islands.”

The date of the next meeting will be arranged as soon as conveniently possible, let’s hope as many people will turn up again to continue to show support.

Alan Reid MP’s Flying Visit to Tiree

alan_angela

Mr. Alan Reid MP flew over for the day to Tiree on Wednesday 23rd September to hold a Surgery at the Council Offices.

Despite posters and advertising in the An Tirisdeach, it was a quiet morning and it would have been easy to think Tiree had no issues to raise with their Westminster MP. Also, due to Tiree’s extreme weather at the beginning of the week, the Modern Studies schedule was scuppered and Mr. Reid’s visit to Tiree High School was cancelled.

“The issue on everyone’s lips”

This gave Mr. Reid plenty time to be interviewed by An Tirisdeach before heading off for a late lunch at the Cobbled Cow, and then on to Ruaig to look at the turbine site as well as the two new builds at Caoles which have generated so much verbal indignation.

Our interview began with Mr. Reid stating that the “issue on everyone’s lips” was the camper vans that have increased due to the new RET system introduced this year. Although tourism is important to the economy of island life, it is argued that the camper vans add nothing to the economy and are frequently seen as detrimental to a fragile environment.
Andrew Montgomery, factor of Argyll Estates has had his own negative experiences with some of the drivers of camper vans who are insensitive to island life, and he is not alone as Mr. Reid stated: “the comments I have had from people have been mostly negative.” However, as the summer season is now over this is an issue that will come to the fore again next summer.

“Ill thought out regulations”

Mr. Reid’s opposition to the Draft Crofting Reform Bill has been well documented, he simply stated “ The proposed regulations are ill thought out and it will be extra red tape to no good purpose. The Scottish Government has to agree a sensible way forward with crofters that will give crofting a sustainable future. That is not apparent in the current Draft Bill.”

Inevitably the state of Cal-Mac ferries was discussed and Mr. Reid added to previous comments: “I receive regular and justified complaints that the winter sailings to Tiree & Coll are too few. I cannot stress enough the importance of building a fleet that would be reliable. The money has to be found.”

“It’s a disgrace that the firestation lacks basic facilities”

The plight of our firefighters also came up. “It is a disgrace that the fire station lacks basic facilities. It must be a priority to install them. Firefighters risk their lives to protect the local community, the least one can do is provide them with decent facilities. I will be keeping an eye on how this progresses.” The unregulated shenanigans of the bankers and the thorny subject of MP’s expenses also came up, but lack of space in this issue means these subjects will have to wait until issue 452.

Draft Crofter’s Reform Bill

tractorA public meeting on the Draft Crofting Reform Bill scheduled for June, finally took place on the evening of Monday 13th July at Tiree’s Rural Centre. The meeting was lively and reasonably well attended.
Unavoidable reasons meant Chairman A. Innes and Vice Chair P. Boyd of the Scottish Crofting Foundation were unable to attend. However, An Tirisdeach asked the Honorary Secretary Mary Mackinnon to comment on the meeting which lasted for two and a half hours. “The draft Crofting Reform Bill, currently out for consultation is far from what the crofting communities need. It is a great disappointment to crofters who are already facing anxious times. The Bill just cannot be accepted and must be rejected now. It is so far from what is needed. I could see from the audience it was enough to make one speechless.”she said.
The civil servants who presented the draft document were keen that crofters made their thoughts known so future legislation could take their views into consideration.
Senior Civil servant Richard Frew who presented several aspects of the Bill told An Tirisdeach “ We need to address absenteeism & neglect and we want people to stay positive with the possibility of good changes.”

Alan Reid M.P. Writes for An Tirisdeach

Water is one of life’s essentials which we tend to take for granted. It always comes as a shock when we turn on the tap and find the pipe is empty.
The recent disruption in the supply to 75 houses on Tiree showed that Scottish Water’s procedures for coping with a fault in the island’s water supply were not up to the job. I have written to their Chief Executive asking for an explanation of why the fault occurred and why their contingency plan wasn’t up to the job. I have asked them what their revised plans are should disruption to the island’s supply happen again in the future. I will let your readers know Scottish Water’s response.
My home is on the Cowal peninsula, so when the ferries go off, there is always an alternative route to connect the rest of the world to us. However, for islanders this is not the case and reliable ferry services are essential. The disruption to services at the end of May because of a mechanical failure on the Clansman highlighted the absence of back-up vessels. With an ageing CalMac fleet, there is clearly a risk that mechanical failures will become a more regular occurrence. Since the new agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL for short) took over responsibility from CalMac for commissioning new vessels, the ordering of new vessels seems to have dried up. I have written to Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson about this and urged the Scottish Government to invest in a modern fleet for CalMac.
Following concerns raised with me by fishermen about the siting of the planned offshore windfarms in prime fishing grounds, I wrote to the Crown Estate. I’ve received a reply from Ian Pritchard, their Head of Offshore Operations. In his reply, Mr Pritchard says that there is still to be a great deal of consultation and data gathering before any final decision is take and writes, “I would anticipate site boundary changes and/or mitigation measures to be adopted as a result.”
Two controversial proposals out for consultation are the Draft Crofting Reform Bill and the Council’s proposals for Care of Elderly. I would be interested in hearing people’s views on these or any other subjects.
I will be visiting Tiree later on in the summer as part of my annual constituency tour.
If anyone would like to see me during my visit, please contact my office.
I am always interested in hearing from constituents and can be contacted at my constituency office, 95 Alexandra Parade, Dunoon PA23 8AL, Tel 01369- 704840, Fax 01369-701212, email reida@parliament.uk
Alan Reid MP 20 July 2009

Argyll & Bute have the worst roads in Scotland

g_chalmers

The simple fact is Argyll & Bute have the worst roads in Scotland, and Oban Lorn and the Isles the worst roads in Argyll..
“Councillor, when are you going to do something about our roads”
This is one of the questions I’m asked with alarming frequency. My colleagues and I dread those words. Although, my colleagues and I constantly battle for better roads and will continue to do so on our constituents behalf.

While nothing can fully excuse the chronic underfunding of our roads network, it has to be seen in context. Our biggest spending department is Social Services. As with any council it is wide ranging; from schools, the elderly and the vulnerable. These areas are scrutinised by outside agencies. Any council seen to be failing will face sanctions from the government. However, there is no such direct scrutiny for roads (although public transport is monitored by various bodies). Therefore, year on year underfunding has led to a situation where restrictions and closures loom. We are not the only council in this predicament – we simply have less flexibility than most because of our geography.

Tiree has an extra “streetscene” operative newly recruited to the post. Currently, priorities for ditching work are Balevullin, Cornaigbeg & Cornaigmore. As well as the chicane at Crossapol due to be resurfaced in the next month or so. In my next article for An Tirisdeach I will explain what a “streetscene” operative means.

I am due to be over in June with my team mates from Tobermory Golf Club for our biennial visit, when I hope to meet up with many old friends (and opponents). See you then.

I can be reached on 01688 302 689 or by email on gordon.chalmers@argyll-ukbute.gov.

Gordon Chalmers