Tag Archives: Tobermory

Tiree triumph over Tobermory

On Saturday 13th June a small fast craft brought 12 members of Tobermory Golf Club to take part in the annual golf matches against Vaul Golf Club.

The weather was fair and dry if a little windy and the north breeze kept it a bit cool. However, after a welcome breakfast of bacon and sausage rolls, things hotted up on the course with the Western Approaches individual competition getting underway at 11am. This competition consisted of 5 ladies and 21 men all setting off from a shotgun start.

The golf was great and the cup winner, Donald Brown from Tobermory came in with 42 points. Second was John Tyrer with 40 points and third with 39 points was Jessie Gray on a count back.

A beautiful lunch was supplied and served by the ladies and wives of the Tiree golfers and there was much to talk about as new and old acquaintances were made. The next rendezvous was Scarinish Hotel at 7pm for a pre-dinner drink in the Upper Deck followed by a fantastic three course dinner which was delicious. A Raffle was held in aid of Club funds and again prizes were donated by local golfers and friends.

On Sunday the big one, The Cadden Cup, is a team event and the four ladies got the match underway at 10am. They were followed by the twenty men in groups of four and it is a friendly but very competitive competition which was started many years ago by Gilbert Cadden and friends. Out on the course you are concentrating very hard on winning each hole in your own match but at the same time trying to gauge how the other matches are going. One of the men’s matches finished first, walking in from the fifth, and we were pretty sure Tiree had won that one. The Tiree ladies won on the 18th green so 2 up to Tiree in the Clubhouse. Tiree needed 3.5 to win and Tobermory would retain the Cup with a 3 – 3 draw. As each match came in the tension rose until we finally knew that Tiree had 3.5 points and the Cup was ours again. Group photos were taken by the Golf Club stone and the Tiree players’ smiles say it all.

It was then off to the Lodge Hotel for a late lunch where we had more tasty food and a pleasant social finish to the weekend. The Tobermory players left on the little boat at 7.30pm with a great send off from their Tiree counterparts and friends. I think we all agree that, as important as the golf is on this annual occasion, the socialising with friends old and new is equally, if not more important and thoroughly enjoyable.

Congratulations and thanks must go to Donald MacKinnon for getting all the greens newly fenced in time, to Neil Connor for the lovely greens that we putted on and to all the helpers who gave of their time to make the course and the clubhouse look so smart and beautiful and the flag flying proudly. One Tobermory golfer, Graham Davidson, has played for 32 consecutive years and perhaps that is a record but as Graham said, ‘If I played darts I would not have had this wonderful experience and made so many long term friends’.

Gilbert, your idea of this competition was a brainwave and long may the event continue. It will be in Tobermory next year which is a major challenge for Tiree golfers who are used to a flat course but we will go with every intention of trying our best to bring both Cups back to Tiree.

Transport Minister Shows Surprising Lack of Knowledge of Island Ferry Services

“This is no way to run a country”

Tobermory, Kerrera, and Tarbert ferry ports are set for new year facelifts thanks to a £2.7 million funding boost.Transport minister Keith Brown said:

“This funding comes as part of a package of £205 million investment in ‘shovel ready’ schemes by the Scottish Government across the country. Our ferry ports play a crucial role in supporting the delivery of ferry services across Scotland and are key economic drivers for some of our key industries like tourism and food and drink. We have already directly committed £26 million to maintaining and improving ports and harbour infrastructure since 2007, and have set out a further £73 million in our recently published ferries plan for improvements to port infrastructure over the next decade.”

He added:

“Vital maintenance work to the port at Tobermory – one of the key ferry hubs serving routes to Coll, Tiree, the Uists and Barra – can start. The £600,000 of work at Tobermory harbour, including new concrete and steelwork installed to the slipway walls as well as re-pointing of the masonry, will support local jobs during construction.”

Now, forgive me if I’ve got this wrong, but didn’t Mr Brown – the man who removed RET from commercial vehicles to Coll, Tiree & the Western Isles; the man who ignored the independent report on the damage that this action could cause to fragile island economies – just say that Tobermory is ‘one of the key ferry hubs serving routes to Coll, Tiree, the Uists and Barra’ ???? It seems unbelievable but true, that the Transport Minister for the Scottish Government does not realise that CalMac ferries from Oban bound for Coll & Tiree, Castlebay & Lochboisdale, used to call in at Tobermory – but have not done so for a long, long time!

In 1999 a Labour / Liberal coalition government was formed on 7th May following the first ever Scottish Parliamentary Election, with Donald Dewar elected as First Minister. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Scottish Parliament on 1st July. Elsewhere in 1999 the Euro was established; the Columbine High School massacre occurred in Colorado; Slobodan Miloševi? agreed to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo; the Khmer Rouge was officially disbanded in Cambodia; and Médecins Sans Frontières won the Nobel Peace Prize. One thing that DID NOT happen in 1999 was the ferry to Tiree calling at Tobermory, which Mr Brown describes as one of the key ferry hubs serving routes to Coll, Tiree, the Uists and Barra.

In 2000 Donald Dewar died and was succeeded as First Minister and Scottish Labour leader by Henry McLeish. Elsewhere in 2000 Dr. Harold Shipman wass found guilty of murdering 15 patients and sentenced to life imprisonment; the billionth living person in India was born; and the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida presidential recount, effectively giving the state, and therefore the Presidency, to George W. Bush. One thing that DID NOT happen in 2000 was the ferry to Tiree calling at Tobermory.

The Tiree ferry did not call at Tobermory in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, or 2005. In 2006 ‘Transport Scotland’ began operation as an agency of the Scottish Executive, but still the Tiree sailing did not stop in Tobermory. When Keith Brown was appointed Minister for Transport in 2010 the ferry to Tiree did not call at Tobermory, nor did it in 2011 when the Draft Ferries Plan was produced. In fact, the last time the ferry from Oban to Coll & Tiree did stop at the ‘key ferry hub of Tobermory’ was 1998, the year that Frank Sinatra died; Google was founded; the Good Friday Agreement was signed; and Bill Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

The Editor contacted Keith Bown for comment, even providing him with a draft of this article. Mr Brown did not reply in person, instead An Tirisdeach received the following statement from the Transport Scotland Press Office:-

“The role that Tobermory has played, and continues to play, as an important port in the network of services in the Clyde and Hebrides should not be lost in all of this. That is why the Scottish Government has provided the significant funds for the maintenance and upgrade of the ferry port at Tobermory. The reference as worded, which was an administrative oversight on the part of the officials has been edited on Transport Scotland’s news page to accurately reflect the ferry port’s current role in serving local communities.”

Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll & Bute, was happy to reply to The Editor. He said:- “While I am always pleased to see work being carried out to improve harbours, it is extremely worrying that the Scottish Transport Minister and his civil servant advisers aren’t aware ferries no longer sail from Tobermory to Coll, Tiree, the Uists and Barra. Sailings now only go to Kilchoan. It’s very concerning that millions of pounds of public money are being spent by a Minister who lacks a basic knowledge of his brief.

“This is no way to run a country. What I think has gone wrong is that the present Scottish Government is putting all its efforts into campaigning in the Independence Referendum and not paying enough attention to the difficult job of running the country.”

Scottish Ferry Services Plan 2013-2022

The recently announced ten-year Ferry Plan was made public in late December with Transport minister Keith Brown saying:

“The long-term future of ferry services in Scotland is vital not only for Scotland’s economic well-being but also for the people in our island and remote communities.Having concluded an extensive consultation which saw over 2000 responses… we are laying out how we will expand and improve ferry services across Scotland. Despite the substantial financial pressures placed on us by Westminster, we are determined to make good on our promise to deliver improved ferry services on a progressive basis and the final ferries plan will be our cornerstone in doing just that.”

The new plan impacts upon Tiree in three ways:- Service; RET; and Fares. The full document is available on-line but An Tirisdeach has included the elements relevant to Tiree here.

Coll & Tiree Service Provision

Assessment of Current Service Provision

Our routes and services needs-based assessment tool allows us to make an evidence-based assessment of current services for Coll & Tiree. The key difference between the current and model service profiles is the number of sailing days during the winter time-table period.The model service profile requires a daily service from Coll & Tiree during the winter period.

Future Service Provision

The Draft Ferries Plan consulted on the requirement to improve the number of sailing days in the winter period, with a commitment to extend the time-table to six operating days per week. The commitment was subsequently welcomed, although very few responses were received from residents of Coll & Tiree. Representation was also made, mainly from Mull residents, about the possibility of a limited number of sailings calling in at Tobermory.

Short term – winter 2013/14

Currently The Clansman provides an all year service for Coll & Tiree. The service is augmented during the summer time-table period with Lord of the Isles (LOTI). The difference in sailing days between the summer and winter time-table periods is because of the availability of these two vessels in the summer, as opposed to one vessel during the winter time-table period, as she is used as a relief vessel when the larger vessels in the fleet are rotated through their annual refit programme. The proposal for the winter of 2013/14 is to deploy the Isle of Arran to ensure a two-vessel service for Coll & Tiree during the winter period. The operational impact of this decision will be to provide an additional sailing day during most of the winter time-table period (the current winter time-table will apply during the annual 4 week refit period for the Isle of Arran).

Longer term – commencing 2016

In the long-term the Isle of Arran will not be available during the winter time-table period for this route (it will be deployed on the Firth of Clyde). The proposal for the new Oban-Craignure service during the summer period will see two vessels operate on this particular route. One of these vessels will be deployed during the winter time-table to Barra, Coll & Tiree to enable the improved level of service to continue to be delivered. At this time we will also consider what services may be offered to improve the level of provision within the new time-table.

Coll & Tiree Road Equivalent Tariff (RET)

Commitment

RET for passengers, cars including small commercial vehicles, and coaches to become a permanent feature on routes to the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree.

Additional RET concessions

Commercial vehicle length – extension of definition of commercial vehicle from 5m to 6m.

Hay & Livestock – Returning lorries carrying hay or livestock travel free when empty, other than a charge to cover pier dues.

Shellfish – an exemption to the weight limit for Light Goods Vehicles less than 6m in length, carrying live shellfish, to allow them to qualify for non-commercial vehicle rate.

Large Commercial Vehicles

At the completion of the RET Pilot Study on the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree, Scottish Ministers were persuaded that there was not a compelling case to retain RET for commercial vehicles. Recognising the financial implications of such a decision for hauliers, a transitional protection scheme is currently in place for commercial vehicles on the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree.

A study on freight fares is currently underway on the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree economies. The findings of this study will be used to inform future fares policy for commercial vehicles. Our intention is to first consider the findings and then set up a working group to take this forward and will consult with key stakeholders as we do this.

Future RET formula

Our Draft Ferries Plan indicated that further work was required around the precise rates for RET. We have now carried out this work and have set an updated RET formula. This formula has been applied to the pilot for Islay, Colonsay & Gigha and steps will now be taken to introduce this to the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree.

EDITOR’S COMMENT

Service

The new plan has committed to providing one extra sailing per week by deploying Isle of Arran to run alongside The Clansman in the short term, and a vessel from the Oban-Craignure route alongside The Clansman in the longer term. However, the plan itself recognises that this only partially meets the Scottish Government’s own Needs-based Assessment, which recognised a need for daily winter sailings! Are people on Tiree happy with an increase to five winter sailings per week or do they believe that there ought to be a daily ferry throughout the year? Alan Reid MP said: “The Ferries Review is disappointing for Tiree and Coll. The draft review had stated that the Scottish Government wanted to move to a service that operates for at least six days per week during the winter period, but the Ferries Review will only give one extra sailing. Tiree & Coll will only get sailings 5 days a week for most of the winter and still only 4 days during a 4-week period. In this day and age six sailings a week is the minimum acceptable service and I will keep supporting the campaign for this.”

RET

The plan details how the Scottish Government has provided an interim protection scheme for Coll & Tiree to reduce the impact of the removal of RET from commercial vehicles. It outlines the ongoing study on this decision on our island economies and commits to the establishment of a working group and consultation process once this study is completed. The Editor believes that it is essential for Tiree to be properly represented during this process. Tiree must have its voice heard so that we do not then suffer the financial implications of hugely increased haulage fares. An Tirisdeach will be reporting on this process on a regular basis and welcomes comments from the community.

Coll & Tiree Fares

The Press and rival politicians have jumped on the announcements of these new fares calculated by the updated RET formula, which links fares to the cost of travelling an equivalent distance on land. The average increase will be 8.2% for passenger, car and small commercial vehicle fares, and there will be a cap of 10.6% across all routes.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: “the update reflects the current costs of driving a car. The additional revenue generated by applying the updated RET formula for passengers, cars and small commercial vehicles will be reinvested in commercial vehicle fares, in order to reduce the impact of the removal of RET for commercial vehicles on services to the Western Isles, Coll & Tiree.”

Labour infrastructure spokesman Richard Baker said: “It has taken over two years to publish this ferries plan, but now it has finally been revealed, Ministers are seeking to alleviate the effect of their regrettable and damaging decision to scrap RET for commercial vehicles on routes to Coll, Tiree and the Western Isles, but are doing so in the context of fare hikes across the routes which will be damaging to the economies of island communities.”

Argyll & Bute MP Alan Reid said, “These inflation busting ferry fare increases of up to 10.6% are daylight robbery. The SNP are robbing islanders with 10% ferry fare rises. The SNP’s excuse – that the price of petrol has risen – is pathetic. According to the AA, the price of petrol has only gone up by just over 1% during the past year.” As one on-line commentator noted: “Whatever the basis used to calculate fares, it is not ‘Road Equivalent Tariff’ – that would be 45p per mile for a passenger vehicle. So, the 63 miles from Oban to Tiree should be £28.35 (£0.45 x 63). In fact, it is £56.75 – double what an RET fare should be. All fare reductions and discounts are welcome, of course, but it is wholly misleading to call the current scheme a ‘road equivalent tariff’ system.” However, if the Scottish Government is true to its word and does indeed reinvest the revenue from increased fares into helping to pay for offsetting the removal of RET for HGVs on Western Isles, Coll and Tiree ferries, then for once Tiree might actually benefit.. Chris MacRae, the Freight Trading Association’s head of policy for Scotland said: “We welcome the announcement of the Ferries Plan, and particularly the recognition that the impact of the removal of RET for HGVs must be mitigated. Freight and HGVs are a vital part of ensuring the viability and economic stability of island communities. The working group that the Scottish Government commissioned is reviewing the study into the impact of the removal of RET for HGVs. This report is due soon, so recognition that the effects of removal of RET for HGVs need to be mitigated is welcome news. What we need to see going forward is evidence-based policy making.”