Category Archives: Tiree Community Council

May Meeting of Tiree Community Council

Working our way towards a new planning policy for the community council, a debate on water saving measures, news on the redevelopment of the pier marshalling area and a reduction in the number of same-day ferry tickets were some of the subjects that came up at the May community council meeting.

John Patience and a subcommittee of councillors has been working on a new planning policy for the community council for a few months. A draft is finally ready. The Scottish Government recommends that community councils have ‘a special role [in the planning process], representing a broader yet still local view which can be set alongside the comments of those with a more individual interest’. Our proposal is that if a local planning application has the potential to impact on a significant number of people in the community, raises important matters of principle for Tiree, departs from the Local Development Plan, or concerns a Listed Building, we will consider it. These are likely to make up a small proportion of the total planning applications.

John explained that the community council’s status as a ‘statutory consultee’ simply meant that Argyll and Bute Council had a statutory duty to inform us about planning applications; it does not mean that we had to comment on every application. We agreed the draft presented by John. This is now out for consultation on our website, following which there will be a public meeting to allow us to collect feedback.

Scottish Water came to one of our public meetings a few months ago after several new house builds had been knocked back because the company could not guarantee supply during times of peak demand. They rowed back on this decision – for the time being. Now they have become keen on water saving measures for the island. Leaks in the network, according to company figures, are surprisingly low. But Scottish Water are now proposing a trial of shower timers for part of the island. These are designed to nudge us away from long showers. Their effectiveness would be monitored by the company, comparing water usage in the area being studied with the rest of the island. This sparked quite a debate. There was a school of thought that this was a good ‘green’ measure and we should be doing this anyway to save the planet. Others felt that this was a cheap way for the company to wriggle out of building expensive new boreholes and pumphouses that would really solve the capacity problem. We agreed to support the proposal, but keep the pressure on the company to provide us with robust supplies for the years ahead.

We have been in dialogue with CMAL – who own the Gott Bay pier and marshalling area – and CalMac – who operate them – about their plans for redevelopment, now that work at the business end of the pier has finished. We know that significant safety concerns around the marshalling area were logged in a 2019 consultant’s report. But try as we might – and we have tried at the highest level – CalMac have refused to give us access to the findings. Our own survey about the pier, which attracted 99 replies, brought together a lot of useful suggestions from those who live around, work in and travel through, the pier. We have passed these on to CMAL. It is a complicated patch of land, with ten landowners to consider. We are looking for better-managed parking, a safer separation between pedestrians and cars, a dedicated bus stop, a separate marshalling area for cyclists, good refuse facilities, clearer signage and a waiting room at the end of the pier. We know the budget for the work is £350,000, which pays for less tarmac than you think. We will do our best.

We also heard just before the meeting that the turn-up-and-go ferry passenger tickets are being restricted to just four – for Tiree and Coll. These tickets were introduced last year as a way to allow islanders to get to and from the mainland at the height of the tourist season. This seems too few, and will keep a close eye on the situation.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair. Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan (who joined us from the Oban ferry), Alison Clark, Stewart, John Patience and Louise Reid were present.

Tiree Community Council – January Meeting

This month’s meeting was well attended, with over 50 participants.

The meeting was also joined by Argyll and Bute Councillors Mary- Jean Devon and Jim Lynch, in addition to the Factor of Argyll Estates, Hugh Nicol. Mr. Nicol gave feedback on the Estate’s position regarding sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches and was also invited to the upcoming public meeting of the Planning Sub-Committee. Cllrs Devon and Lynch made contributions on a variety of issues, including local fuel poverty and possible changes to the hospitality industry which could have significant impact upon the island economy. Sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches was discussed at length. As it stands, Argyll Estate’s position on the issue is that extraction is permitted on a ‘de minimis’ basis; crofters are entitled to extract small amounts of material from the beaches for their own agricultural use. However, this position is based on an unwritten understanding which predates modern machinery and extraction methods. There are fears that over-extraction could be contributing to coastal erosion – an issue with many tangible impacts on local wildlife and the island landscape. Concerns over profiteering were also mentioned by the Factor, who raised the issue of unauthorised sale of these materials for profit. Mr Nicol also agreed, however, with points that were raised regarding the complex nature of land ownership and use on Tiree stemming from ownership, inheritance and lease of different crofts in various arrangements. Therefore, the issue of who is extracting how much and for what purpose is a difficult one. Mr. Nicol agreed to maintain communication with the community and to work towards clarification of the existing understanding, especially the ‘de minimis’ requirement and what this means in practice. It was also stressed that materials can be purchased in bulk from the local quarry or from private businesses – this is recommended for any large-scale projects such as housing foundations, where materials must comply to certain safety regulations. Tiree Community Council welcomes correspondence on this issue from all members of the community going forward.

Concerns were also raised over the pier marshalling area, both in terms of appearance and safety. At present, the marshalling area does not cater well for pedestrians, with few pavements or footpaths. This is a serious safety concern, an issue which was highlighted by Angus John in relation to the bus service. The lack of a bus stop means that people looking for the Ring ‘n’ Ride bus are often left to wander around. Additionally, the pier is part of the school bus route. The pier is not well suited to turn the buses; an issue which is exacerbated by the Summer ferry timetable when the car lanes are full awaiting sailings. This poses a safety concern for pier users as well as to the bus drivers and children on board. Issues surrounding the appearance of the area due to ongoing works have largely been resolved, however the overall appearance of the area leaves a lot to be desired and concerns over the welcome this presents to visitors were also raised. As a result of these discussions a small working group was formed, consisting of Cllrs Dr. John Holliday, Alison Clark and Stewart Carr to advocate for the community’s concerns over the safety and maintenance of this area going forward.

Positive steps were also taken regarding the Community Council’s online presence; the Councillors resolved to produce a new set of policies for how we facilitate discussion online. The Community Council intends to allow commenting on both our Facebook page – which is public and can be viewed by anyone by searching online – and on our own website. The policies we are working towards aim to make these forums a pleasant and open space for members of the public to discuss issues and raise concerns. To achieve this, we are working towards some guidelines of best conduct, which will allow us to moderate these discussions in a clear and fair way should any issues arise. As always, we will continue to welcome correspondence from members of the community via our e-mail addresses, which are publicly available on our website.

Ongoing issues include upcoming meetings with the Boundaries Commission, community consultation on the Marine Protected Area status affecting Tiree and Coll and the possible introduction of more Gaelic into Council proceedings.

Dr John Holliday, Chair: 220 385
doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Phyl Meyer, Secretary:
phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Tiree Community Council – December Meeting

Even with the allure of Christmas Shopping at the Pier, the December meeting of Tiree Community Council continued to show good a good level of attendance with 32 total participants.

There were many items to be discussed including more from the boundaries commission proposals, a very informative presentation from Scottish Water, and an insight into our Agenda meetings and some of the sub-committee meetings we attend throughout the month.

Correspondence included notification that Tiree and Coll and the Sea of the Hebrides would be awarded Marine Protected Area status. It is thought that this will not impact the fishermen on the island but could cause issues for trawlers and any future sub-sea cable plans.

The Police Scotland Report was also received. An incident of a sheep being struck by a car in Scarinish took place on 9th December. This accident resulted in the death of the sheep. PC Tanner reminded that is an offence to leave such an incident unreported and urged anyone with information to get in touch. Mark Petrie and Brian McCarthy of Scottish Water were then welcomed to the meeting. A very in depth and interesting presentation was given on the current structure of Tiree’s water network and what we can do to reduce waste going forward. Did you know a leaky toilet or dripping tap can see up to 400 litres per day of water wastage? Scottish Water have schemes and financial support available for domestic properties in priority areas such as Tiree to help with water waste on the island, the details of which can be found shortly on the Tiree Community Council website or by visiting www.scottishwater.co.uk

The community council was anticipating a meeting with the Boundaries Commission to discuss what the future of Tiree’s Councilor representation might look like. However, this meeting has not materialised. After a successful consultation period there was found to be an overwhelming mandate to push for a designated single councilor ward for Tiree and Coll. A vote took place at the meeting and it was unanimously decided to pursue this motion.

With the expertise of Iona Campbell, Tiree Community Council stepped into the 21st Century and used an online survey tool called Survey Monkey to carry out aspects of the consultation. There are many positives to such a platform including clear quantitative results, transparency and anonymity. Of course, there will always be the option to have a show of hands or to put pen to paper for those not quite ready to take the technological leap.

A discussion then took place regarding meetings attended by councillors throughout the month. An initial planning sub-committee meeting took place to discuss current planning guidelines and informally chat about what the Tiree Community Council Planning Policy might look like. This subcommittee will be working hard to have a draft planning policy ready for community feedback in February 2021. The notes from this meeting will be made available and anyone with an interest in observing future planning sub-group meetings is welcome to do so.

An agenda meeting also takes place between every public meeting whereby the councillors can discuss any upcoming issues and raise any matters brought to us by the community. Every issue raised to us by the community is discussed, and an agenda is formed. Our Convener is a Community Council enthusiast and also attends various meetings from other islands throughout the month.

The next TCC public meeting is on the 13th January. An invitation of attendance has been sent to Argyll Estates Factor Hugh Nicol to attend. If anyone has any issues they want to raise, then please get in touch.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair. Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan, Louise Reid, Iona Campbell, John Patience, Stewart Carr and Alison Clark were in attendance.

Community Council By-Election

A recent by-election for the community council was conducted by Argyll and Bute Council.

There were four vacancies, for which six residents put themselves forward. The number of votes cast were as follows below.

There were 302 ballots counted with 6 rejected, a turnout of 58% of those entitled to vote. Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council welcomed the new councillors:

“It’s wonderful,” he said, “to have a full complement on the council again. We had hoped that the new council would be more diverse, and that has certainly happened. Hats off to everyone who stood for election. It’s a nervewracking thing to do, but it makes the council a much stronger body.”

Congratulations to those elected and thanks to all for taking part!

Community Council Set For November Poll

Tiree will see an autumn byelection for its Community Council as six candidates put themselves forward for election.

The poll was called by Argyll and Bute Council after a spring date for community council elections throughout the authority was pulled due to coronavirus.

Four vacancies in the island’s community council were declared. With nominations now in, six candidates have put themselves forward:

• Jacqueline Bennett, Schoolhouse, Balemartine

• Iona Campbell, 4 Baugh

• Stewart Carr, Sanderling, Balephetrish

• Iona Larg, The Two Harvests, No. 2, Balemartine

• John Patience, Taigh an Altire, Caolis

• Louise Reid J, 11 Sruthan Terrace, Crossapol

On Thursday 15 October, Argyll and Bute Council will send out postal ballots to everyone whose name was on the Electoral Roll on 1 September 2020. These have to be returned by 4 pm on Thursday 5 November 2020.

The ballots will contain the candidates’ statements, and we are looking to see if there might be other ways for candidates to set out their stall before votes have to be in. One way might be for them to introduce themselves at the Community Council public meeting on 14 October. We will post details with the agenda of the next meeting.

Dr John Holliday, Convener,

Tiree Community Council

Tiree Community Council July Meeting

Space on the ferry, or the lack of it, took up most of the time at July’s meeting, but there was also a mention for the Scarinish phone box and a virtual open day later in the year.

The island’s community council usually takes a long summer holiday, but events this year have been moving so quickly, we decided we had to keep going. Once again the videoconferencing platform Zoom brought in a large crowd, with almost fifty devices and around sixty people listening in. These large numbers can make it difficult to see everyone who has logged in, so forgive me if you were raising your hand and were ignored.

The ferry – or, more exactly, getting hold of one of the 86 reservations on the ferry – was the main topic. In response to widespread pressure from islands up and down the west coast, including from Tiree Community Council, CalMac is keeping 20% of tickets out of the usual booking system for purchase on the day of travel.

The idea behind this is that local people will stand more of a chance of securing one of these. Certainly, the experience so far has shown that if you are able to go in person to the Gott Bay office you should be able to get a place on board, and we really thank the local staff for going above and beyond the line of duty. Returning to Tiree might be more of a challenge if you don’t have a booking, with the Oban office opening at 0615.

If you are having a real problem, please get in touch with me. CalMac are looking to add a Friday boat to the schedule from 15 July. Cloth facial coverings are now compulsory, and passengers will be expected to provide their own.

Flights will combine with Barra until 15 July, when the Islander will revert to the rotation through Campbeltown. As travelling numbers pick up – and several recent flights have been full – a return to the usual timetable of two flights a day seems likely on 3 August, provided the public health situation on Tiree does not deteriorate.

The Community Council phone box in Scarinish has been renovated beautifully, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers. It has been put to good use as the Solar community cupboard containing food and toiletries to help families through the crisis.

A proposal for a Virtual Doors Open Day caught our eye recently. Put on by Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Civic Trust, this allows the public access to buildings that are usually closed. We thought a video tour of some Tiree landmarks that many of us have not seen, such as the new fish handling unit at Milton pier, might be an interesting project, and we will discuss this with other key island bodies such as the Trust and Discover Tiree.

We have considered the issues raised by a few members of the public in respect to governance and our letter issued to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport. We agreed that the criticism did not require, or warrant, any further response and completely refuted the allegations of incompetence or self interest.

The procedure for complaints had also been confirmed at the meeting. It was also recognized that, as illustrated by the significant volume of comments of support we have received, the Council has acted in the best interests of the community and as part of the democratic process will continue to seek public opinion and take the appropriate action in similar matters.

Finally we are looking to co-opt two new members, with a particular view to increasing our diversity to better represent the community.

If you have any issues where you think we can help, do contact us at doc.holliday@tireecommunitycou ncil.co.uk | 220385 or phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Dr John Holliday, Convenor, Tiree Community Council

Put the Community in Tiree Community Council

The lockdown has seen a boom in volunteering and in participating in the Community Council public meetings, with around sixty people joining in by Zoom. We now want to appoint another two community councillors to take us up to full strength. It is no secret that the council has plenty of men of a certain vintage. We have recently been strongly encouraged to become more diverse, to bring in a younger generation, particularly women, as well as crofters and members of the fishing community. We would particularly, therefore, welcome expressions of interest from these groups. However, if you feel that you have skills that you can bring to the council, we would of course also be interested in hearing from you. Please contact us within the next week. If you want to chat this through, contact myself, Phyl or any of the other community councillors.

Tiree Community Council Makes History

First Public Meeting On Island by Teleconference

The screen was a mosaic of faces, taking turns to raise their hands to speak. This was the new face of democracy on Tiree.

Unable to hold public meetings due to coronavirus, Tiree Community Council held its May public meeting using the Zoom videoconferencing tool.

First reactions were positive. Twenty two devices tuned in from the public, some with a number of people huddled around the screen or phone; this is actually more than we get in An Talla.

One of the councillors, Ian Gillies, joined us from his lockdown in Ayrshire, while members of the public logged on from as far afield as Hampshire and Yorkshire. It had been two months since our March meeting, and they had been long months. The council had met over Zoom twice in that time to confront the threat of the coronavirus crisis, and the minutes of these private meetings are now up on our website.

Tiree Community Council had been one of the founders (along with Argyll and Bute Council, the Trust and Cùram) of the island’s volunteer group, TAIC, which is so ably led by Rona Campbell. We had set up the new Tiree food project Solar. We had helped Tiree Medical Practice in their preparations for the epidemic. And we had been part of the Trust’s ‘No One Left Behind’ project to make sure everyone can be connected to the new digital age.

Doctors Mike and Lindsay spoke about huge changes in the island’s medical practice. Numbers of coronavirus cases on Tiree have fallen to very low levels over the past three weeks, but they asked people to be patient with the lockdown as we were not out the woods yet.

The practice is starting to use Near Me, an NHS video consulting service, which allows doctors to connect to patients at home. This is proving very successful; one obvious challenge is making sure every household has a suitable smart phone, tablet or computer – and the skills to use them. They emphasised that the problem now was that some patients were worried about bothering the doctor or going to hospital at the moment, and therefore people were not getting the treatment they needed in time. Their message: we’re open for business as usual, but we’re just doing things slightly differently.

Don McKillop, CalMac’s local Area Operations Manager also joined us. He told us about the new Emergency Lifeline Timetable, giving the island three boats a week. This number of vessels was the bare minimum to cope with current levels of shop supplies, fuel, animal feed, fertiliser, and the increased volume of parcels. Cars travelling to Tiree were now stopped at ‘Box 1′ outside the marshalling area and asked for documents to show that the occupants had a valid reason for travel. This is proof of residence on the island and photo ID. Foot passengers have to do the same at the ticket desk. The staff had turned some cars away when the measures first came in, but there had been no disallowed visits over the last few weeks, and Don thought travellers were getting the message. The system wasn’t perfect; the Calmac staff had no civil powers to back up their position. But passenger numbers on the Tiree route were down 97%. The ELT is set to last until 31 May when it will be reviewed. This is a crucial question for the summer. We received a letter from a constituent who emphasised how important it was to safeguard the residents of our old peoples’ home, and asking us to endorse the Scottish Government’s advice to wear cloth facial coverings in shops where the two-metre distance might be breached. We were happy to do this.

We had also been sent a letter asking us to support an island Hardship Fund at this time. We agreed with this idea, and will take it up, in the first instance, with the Trust, which has the necessary funds. We had been asked if the Tiree waste disposal site could re-open in a limited way. On enquiry, closure was a national policy decision, and the local council staff have no discretion in the matter.

If you have any issues you want us to address, please contact me. The next public TCC meeting will be in June. You can join us with a computer, tablet, or any phone from the comfort of your living room!

Tiree Community Council – June Meeting

Bicycling on Tiree, ferry cancellations and proposals for a new Marine Protected Area around Tiree were three subjects debated at the last meeting of Tiree Community Council before the summer break.

The Community Council recently received a letter from a bicyclist. Tiree’s single-track roads – built for the horse and cart and now used by everyone from crofters hauling seaweed or moving cattle, to joggers, fire engines, cyclists and campervans, including those who are here on holiday and those who call the island their home – usually work pretty well. But we do hear from time to time about incidents, and it seems that some cyclists and some car drivers occasionally rub each other up the wrong way on Tiree roads.

The spotlight fell on the current leaflet about bicycling on Tiree, and the accompanying notice board on the side of the Coop. This advises cyclists to dismount if approached by a car.

This advice was driven by safety: Tiree’s roads look inviting, but they can be hazardous when busy, and in an accident, it’s obvious who is going to come off worse. Councillors felt some guidance was still needed, but that it should be in accordance with the Highway Code.

We will update the material to reflect the fact that all road users on Tiree have an equal right to use the public highway. As a first step, we decided to contact the local policeman and Police Scotland’s Divisional Local Road Safety Partnership Rep to get the most up-to-date advice. In the meantime, we will take down the notice at the Coop. I would be interested in your comments on this issue.

The meeting also discussed the proposal to establish a Marine Protected Area in the Sea of the Hebrides. This extends north to Skye, west to the Uists and south as far as Islay.

This MPA is designed to protect basking sharks, minke whales, productive areas of the sea where two bodies of water meet and mix (so-called ‘fronts’), and something called the Inner Hebrides Carbonate Production Area – in other words, seabed with lots of shells – that generates the shell sand that creates the island’s machair. A proposal to gives the seas around Tiree.

Special status has been in the pipeline since 2014 and is supported by conservation groups such as the Marine Conservation Society. It is not clear at the moment what restrictions this designation might place on island businesses, particularly fishermen. There is a public meeting about this on Tiree on 19 July, and again, I welcome your views.

Earlier in the day, Tiree Transport Forum and members of Community Council had met Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, and Robert Morrison, Head of Service Delivery Operations for the company. This was in response to growing dissatisfaction in island communities who felt that their ferries were getting less reliable, with an increasing number of cancellations due to weather and mechanical breakdowns. An in-depth analysis by the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee showed that the Mull ferry cancellation rate was thirty times greater in the winter of 2014/15 that in the winter of 1999/2000 – despite the weather being comparable. The pair disputed these figures, but did admit that the cancellation rate was higher on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route than on other routes in the network. Part of this was due to the fact that the ferries were getting older – the Clansman is twenty-one years old – because the Scottish Government has invested too little in the fleet and the two latest replacement vessels were now held up by mysterious delays at the Fergusson Marine shipyard on the Clyde. But they made the fair points that health-and safety regulations are now much stricter; that there had been a number of serious berthing incidents such as last year’s damage to the Hebridean Isles at the Gott Bay pier; and that their nonstop schedule now meant that ferry sailings could no longer be put on hold for six hours.

We were told that the old scenario where a skipper would ‘give it a go’ is a thing of the past, and the occasional cancellation was the price we would have to pay for journeys that were safer for passengers, crew and cargo. An idea to reserve some tickets for local passengers is unlikely to come to anything, as CalMac’s contract with the Scottish Government means that every passenger applying to purchase a ticket has to be treated equally. We made the point forcefully that lifeline deliveries on a cancelled sailing should be given absolute priority for the next boat. We also argued that many Tiree passengers would prefer that decisions to cancel sailings were not made too far in advance.

We have been promised a by-election to allow us to recruit more community councillors. When this comes round, do please consider putting your hat into the ring. It’s the island flagship and we badly need more crewmembers! The Community Council has applied to Argyll and Bute Council to lease the public toilets in Scarinish and organise their cleaning at no cost to the council. Despite this seemingly attractive offer, the council has not been able to come to a decision as we go to press. We had also applied to Argyll and Bute for an increase in our grant from £400 to £600 a year to allow community councillors to travel to the mainland to attend meetings. This request has been turned down under pressure from larger community councils on the mainland.

Although there will be no public meetings over the summer, your community council remains alive and well. If you have any issues you would like our help with, please contact me.

Tiree Community Council -April Meeting

A new plan to renovate Tree’s phone boxes; ferry reliability (again); and the effectiveness of the new EE mast at Garraphail were all discussed at length at this month’s Community Council meeting.

John Patience presented a plan that he and Rhoda Meek had developed to do up the eleven K6 telephone boxes that the community council had bought two years ago. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, the project has had a break and the boxes have aged rather ungracefully in the meantime.

John and Rhoda have now re-visited every box, photographed and assessed it, and worked out what repair work is needed and how much it might cost. Their idea is to take the work to the box, rather than uprooting them all to a central workshop. The power supply will be isolated, new hardwood glazing beads fitted and the doors repaired on the island, and the paint stripped and new panelling installed inside. Their central idea is for each township to ‘adopt’ their phone box, providing a local ‘champion’ who will coordinate most of the work locally.

Each township will then decide the box’s colour scheme and what the box then becomes used for: a defibrillator site, (mini) pop-up restaurant or …. Each box will have a panel designed by An Iodhlann with details of the township’s history and culture. The costs? Around £1,000 for each box.

The council thanked John and Rhoda for their impressive report and agreed to continue with the project. Possibly when it is completed, they may be passed to another organisation to look after in the longer term.

There was a detailed discussion about ferry reliability. There has been a good deal of talk about cancellations on the ferry service, and we heard last month from island hauliers what a headache these are causing. Now the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee have produced a report that shows that cancellations on the Oban-Craignure run have risen in the last three winters, and that the Oban-Coll-Tiree route is even worse. They bought weather data from the last twenty years and it appears to show that cancellations were thirty times higher in 2014/5 than they were in the comparably stormy winter of 1999/2000.

The discussion recognised that the ships’ captains and management have a difficult job – none of us take as many risks as we used to, the vessels are older and less reliable, and the same fleet is being asked to do more sailings. We will write our own report for our representative Stewart MacLennan to take to the Calmac Community Board meeting at the end of the month.

The air tender results should be known at the beginning of May. We have been having some useful discussions with Scottish Government politicians and officials to see if we could present a petition to the Scottish Parliament, and we will prepare ourselves in case we get bad news on this front.

Gerard McGoogan has done some interesting research on the new EE mast at Garraphail. We have had conflicting accounts about its effectiveness, and it turns out that it was not working to full capacity yet. Some parts of the island were getting a great signal, but it was still poor in others. There seem to have been issues with relays from the mast on Ben Gott, but some of this may be a simple commercial calculation. We have a new contact with the company and will press to get the very best service for the most number of people before the summer.

The state of the public toilets was yet again brought up. It was felt that Argyll and Bute and the community council needs to get on top of this problem once and for all. We have applied to take them over as community toilets, but our paperwork appears to have gone into a black hole. This will be our number one priority this month.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair, Ian Gillies and Alison Clark were in attendance. Robert Trythall sent his apologies. John Patience has agreed to join the community council under the ‘Skills and Knowledge’ arrangement to supervise the telephone box project.

The next meeting will be on 8 May, both to avoid the bank holiday, but also timed to be after the opening of the Argyll Air Service tender documents.

COMMUNITY COUNCIL BY-ELECTION

Argyll and Bute Council has agreed to hold a by-election for Tiree Community Council now that our numbers have fallen to two elected and two co-opted members. We are not allowed to hold a meeting if there are less than three councillors present. A date has not been set, and the European elections may (or may not!) affect matters. But do get in touch with me if you are interested. It is absolutely crucial that we have a strong council on the island.

Tiree May Lose It

Cast your memory back to the summer, and the August Consultation regarding Argyll Air Services from Oban to Coll, Tiree ,and Colonsay which are subsidised by Argyll and Bute Council (A&BC)

A&BC decided in Feb 2018 to reduce its subsidy to £512,207pa for the new tender period ie 2019-2022. This was a reduction from £720,756 pa from the previous tender period.

Argyll Air Services were put out to tender in Sept 2018. When the tender closed two months later (Nov), only one submission was received. It was rejected, being deemed non-compliant. This sole bid was from the current service provider, HebAIR.

TCC /TTF has not been informed as to the reason(s) HebAIR bid was rejected ,but can only assume the reduced subsidy was a significant factor. In the interim period A&BC has considered options to move forward. After intense lobbying, jointly from Coll,Colonsay and Tiree Community Councils, the Policy and Resources Committee(PAR), at its most recent meeting decided to retender the tender, but under EU tender rules, any resulting positive tender award can only re-commence services from 28 June 2019.

It is unclear, at this stage, what the re-tender will specify , but Tiree has to anticipate that air services to Oban may cease as of 15 May 2019. TCC/TTF has submitted the letter below to all parties ,including Mike Russell MSP ,and hopes for a positive outcome from this re- tender to ensure a prompt re-commencement of Oban air services.

To all parties: Argyll Air Services. We were obviously relieved to hear last week that the Policy and Resources Committee (PAR)decided to re-tender for the Argyll Air Service. We do appreciate the considerable sums that Argyll and Bute Council have spent over the last decade, both on the PSO itself and the running of three airports. We on Tiree place an extremely high value on this service for the reasons set out in our joint letter to the PAR Committee. Clearly, it would be a major step backwards if an island group such as the Inner Hebrides did not have an air service connecting it to its regional hub. We are committed to restoring the service as soon as possible after it lapses on 15 May 2019. Our concern now, however, is that simply sending out exactly the same tender documents to the same airlines will result in the same answer: no compliant submissions to the tender.

Our feeling now is that Argyll and Bute Council should introduce additional flexibility into the second tender document to allow any potential operator to make a value for money bid, based upon their own operating and cost centre criteria. This would maximise the chances of retaining a renewed Argyll Air Service within the financial constraints agreed by the Council for the next three years. As part of this flexibility, one proposal that you might want to consider is switching the Oban-Tiree service to a commercial basis route. On this basis, Oban-Tiree would come out of the PSO and operate in much the same way that Hebridean Air Services currently operates the Oban-Islay route. Our understanding is that passenger figures and profiles are broadly similar on the Tiree and Islay routes.

We have to say that we have been disappointed over the last two weeks by the lack of information and consultation that our community’s representatives have received from elected Council members and officials. We do understand the principles of commercial confidentiality, but we do not think we should be receiving almost all of our news from the media. We would certainly be interested to see a copy of the new tender document. Please come back to us if you would like to discuss this further

Thank you for your work on this project,

Yours sincerely, John MacCaskill, Chair, Tiree Transport Forum Dr John Holliday, Convenor

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