Tag Archives: Isle of Tiree

Superfast Broadband At Risk of Sinking in Tiree

Tiree Broadband

Tiree Community Broadband (CIT Ltd) are calling on Openreach to provide them with a Fibre to the Premises connection for their network access point which sits less than 20 metres from the island exchange.

CIT Ltd, with the support of Tiree Community Development Trust and Tiree Community Council are asking for an urgent review of Openreach’s approach to fibre provision in Tiree after being refused the connection.

CIT Ltd are an island based community broadband company who operate not-for-profit. They have been running since 2005 to cover households without suitable internet and ensure the best possible connections for island residents. It became clear very late in the day that the proposed R100 Superfast Broadband scheme for Tiree would have large gaps in provision.

As the R100 is not due to arrive in Tiree until 2024, residents are eligible for a voucher to help them access 30MB speeds. The only possible provider would be the community broadband company. Following a review of their network, which runs at 10MB and is already at capacity, Tiree Broadband have said that offering 30MB speeds is not possible based on the current infrastructure.

The key issue is that Openreach is unwilling to provide Tiree Broadband with direct access to a fibre connection (Fibre to the Premises). Because of this the company is forced to juggle multiple domestic copper lines to provide a service to their customers.

Chair of Tiree Broadband, Rhoda Meek said, “Now that we are aware of the final R100 rollout plans and the gaps in it, we see that we are once again forced to try and upgrade our network to cover the lack of basic provision. Unfortunately, we have reached the end of the road with sticky tape and string solutions. To support additional speeds, we need Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) for Tiree Broadband. Despite multiple pleas over a number of years, Openreach is unwilling to provide that.

“We are currently forced to serve the island using multiple domestic copper lines. To give you an idea of our challenges, our last 3 line installations took 3 months from the point of order. We serve 280 households on the equivalent of 12 domestic lines.”

The island exchange is less than 20 metres away from our network access point, complete with a connecting duct, and yet we are unable to access a full fibre service. It is frustrating to say the least.”

Fibre to the Premises connections already exist in Tiree, having been given to multiple mobile phone companies, the NATs radar service and the school. On one site, the fibre is run to a mobile phone mast less than 90 feet from a Tiree Broadband access point.

Meek concluded, “The fact that the final R100 roll out will not cover all properties in Tiree with fibre is bad enough, but to refuse us access to a commercial fibre connection – when we are the group covering the gaps in provision – is outrageous. We are calling on politicians of all parties to support us in trying to rectify this situation.”

Tiree Association Annual Gathering Events Return In 2021!

The Tiree Association are delighted to announce the line-up of our 121st Annual Gathering events which are set to take place in November.

Having missed last year’s event due to Covid-19 we are very pleased that the relaxation of event restrictions will allow us to host this year’s event. Having said that, we would like to ensure attendees that all precautions are being taken to ensure both events are as safe as can be. This year’s Annual Gathering Concert will take place on Thursday 18th of November in the Kingsborough Garden Sanctuary, which is located at 79 Hyndland Road (G12 9JE).

We have an impressive list of performers including fellow Tiristich Mary Ann Kennedy and Jamie MacDonald, who will be joined by his Eabhal band mate and singer Kaitlin Ross. This year’s male Gold Medal winner, John Joe MacNeil will also perform and accompanist Kathryn Callender who will lead us in a song or two.

The Chairperson for the night is Ian Lamont, who has strong links to Tiree. Friday the 19th of November will see the return of our Annual Gathering Dance, which is always a night not to be missed.

Gunna Sound will be providing the music, with lead accordionist Campbell Brown and singing sensation Johnny Scoular set to entertain us for the night in the usual venue of the Glasgow University Union.

Tickets for each event are priced at £10 each and need to be prebooked prior to each event, which will help us manage capacity and track and trace details. To do so you can contact us via email – thetireeassociation@gmail.com, Facebook messenger or voicemail/text service on the following number 07763126309 and let us know how many tickets you are looking for, names and contact details. As already mentioned, the committee have very much missed hosting events and catching up with all our members and friends and we look forward to welcoming you all back to our Gathering events in November. If you have any further questions, please get in touch using any of the details above.

Tiree Community Council – Oct. Meetings

This was delayed a week because of the school holidays.

There was therefore plenty to talk about, including a discussion about Island Bonds, whether we should get back to face-to-face meetings, future improvements in broadband, and a planning application at Vaul.

But first, the monthly report from our local police station highlighted two significant thefts: in one, a power saw was taken from a site in Crossapol; in another, a substantial amount of cash was taken from a car. Thefts like these are unusual on Tiree, and Steph asked the community to be vigilant over the next few weeks.

The Scottish Government has promised to give out 100 Island Bonds of up to £50,000 to encourage young people to live and set up businesses on islands where population numbers are going down – like Tiree. We have been asked to comment on this idea. While we obviously welcome the idea in general terms, we have some issues with the detail. First, the scheme has to stretch to almost 100 inhabited islands, so it doesn’t go nearly far enough. We also felt that the priority needs to be retaining our own young people.

Argyll and Bute Council is now asking the question: should the community council get back to face-to-face meetings in An Talla? There are a number of people who definitely prefer the old way. There are others who aren’t able to get out in the evenings or who just find it more convenient to watch from their living rooms. We councillors certainly like the new digital democracy. Numbers attending our Zoom meetings have gone up, the chat function allows members of the public to make comments throughout the meeting, while screen sharing allows us to show photographs and plans. Mull Community Council even puts recordings of their meetings online for people to watch later, but there wasn’t much enthusiasm for that idea here. Another big plus of Zoom meetings is that they will allow people to listen in Gaelic (of which, more below). The ‘hybrid meeting’ – where the councillors meet in public in the hall but where people can also join the meeting online – sounds like the best of both worlds but is technically quite tricky. Let us know what you think. We will put out a SurveyMonkey poll, but you can contact us in all the usual ways too. Or you can write direct to Melissa Stewart, Community Council Liaison Officer, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, PA31 8RT or at communitycouncils@argyllbute. gov.uk.

An update to the broadband improvement programmes R100 and gigabyte was given. In their current format, it looks as if they will leave quite a lot of homes and businesses below the promised 30Mbps. There are ongoing discussions with interested parties to see if this can be improved. In the meantime, if anyone is thinking of applying for a voucher under these schemes, could they please contact the community council or Tiree Broadband as one option being considered is the pooling of vouchers.

We also discussed a planning application at Vaul. A number of parties have expressed concerns about how the proposed long access track could affect the grazing above the shoreline. It may be that another shorter track to the site from the south might be better. We also noted that part of the proposed site is in the protected ‘Countryside’ area. We will write to the planner with our views.

Following our letter to the Hebridean Trust, we have had two meetings with their trustees and local organisations about a possible way forward for the Hynish complex. Our hope is to keep these historic buildings – currently providing housing and holiday accommodation – under some sort of community control. It’s early days, but we have made some progress in the last few weeks. A number of experts will be surveying the buildings and asking the question of what businesses could flourish there. Fingers crossed!

We got word that the next community council elections will be in October 2022. And finally, this year’s Remembrance Day service at the Scarinish war memorial will be on Saturday November 13 at 2pm.

Dr John Holliday chaired the meeting, and Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan and John Patience were in attendance. As always, do contact if you think we can help: 220385, doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.c o.uk, via our website or Facebook page. – Dr John Holliday

GAELIC COMMUNITY COUNCIL

The November public meeting of Tiree Community Council will break new ground by becoming the first Scottish council to have its meetings simultaneously translated into Gaelic. Those tuning in to the meeting on Wednesday November 10 will have a choice of buttons: English or Gaelic. Proceedings will be translated by Iain MacIlleChiar. Iain hails from Rannoch in Perthshire, and has spent his life teaching Gaelic in a number of schools and colleges. The three month initiative, funded by Argyll and Bute Council, will suit native speakers and learners who would like to hear the language being used for everyday business. As such, it is expected to attract interest from outside the island as well as from islanders. At the end of the pilot, the project will be evaluated to see how well it has gone. Go to our website nearer the time for details.

Tiree Ranger Updates

cattle grid Isle of Tiree

Hiya folks, How are we all doing?

The seasons are certainly changing and the last few days have had a bit of a winter twinge to them with the light in the morning and evenings. It does also feel like the island is getting a bit quieter and it’s time to start thinking of winter tasks and what needs repaired and replaced over the coming months.

Last weekend I helped marshal at the Tiree ultramarathon. It was great to see events like this starting again on Tiree but there was one activity linked to this event that really stood out for me. I had spoken to Iain MacArthur recently about his track that he put in at Balephuil to allow folk to access the beach here. In the conversation, he mentioned the cattle grid gets filled up with sand and the cows then get out and about. I offered to get a team together to dig it out but our first attempt to do so was called off by the weather.

It was a few weeks before it came to mind again, however the previous volunteers all had work commitments and couldn’t come this time. After having a chat with some friends who were over for the Ultra I put a shout out on the Ultra Facebook group. I headed out to do an Otter Walk and came home to find the broadband had gone down across the island and I had no way of checking the Facebook group to see if anyone had volunteered.

I got up on the Tuesday morning thinking I was going to have a busy day of digging ahead before managing to get onto Facebook on my phone and saw that some folk had offered to help. However, because I hadn’t been able to reply to the comments I was unsure if they would make it.

Off I headed and I needn’t have worried as volunteer after volunteer arrived at Balephuil including three folk staying on one of the Croft Sites who I had jokingly asked to come and help. We also had a delivery of extra spades from Claire Jones. Iain and his team arrived and lifted out the cattle grid and boom the folk all got stuck in. I didn’t even get a chance to grab a spade as they were all taken so resulted in being the photographer. Within an hour it was all done and the grid was put back in place.

I’m very grateful for the volunteers’ time, especially as most of them had ran 35 miles around the island only two days before. Hopefully more work parties like this can happen at future events.

That’s all for now. My contact details are as follows:

email ranger@tireetrust.org.uk or phone on 07391239502 as the Trust staff are still home working

Until next time…

Hayley Douglas – Tiree Ranger Service

Fuel Station Update

Since our last update TCE Ltd are pleased to announce that we have now obtained our planning permission and have instructed the contractor to proceed with the construction works.

The programme is now finalised and the work will commence on 6th September and last for approximately 14 weeks, with handover on 7th December – all going well.

Three local businesses have been successful in securing portions of the work for the contract. We understand that Mr David Gunn is to be appointed to provide quality control consultancy services to Adler & Allen, our main contractor, with I A MacKinnon Haulage Ltd providing logistics, storage and materials while John Mackinnon (Builders) Ltd will be undertaking the civil engineering works.

It has always been our intention to install an electric vehicle charging station. The infrastructure required to achieve this is being installed under the contract and it is hoped that the charging unit will be likewise. However, we have been forced to seek additional funding for this item and await the outcome of the grant application which has already been made. It is possible that the charging unit may have to be fitted after the main contract is completed.

TCE Ltd have decided to run two competitions, the first to name the fuel station and the second to name each of the three pumps and the electric vehicle charger. To this end we will be inviting all children of school age, whether attending the community schools or not and who’s families are resident on the island, to name the pumps. The island community as a whole (children and adults) will be invited to name the station. The local schools have agreed to help in this task. They will promote the idea to all their pupils and collect the entries from that group.

Those school pupils who are not attending the local schools should send their entries to fuel@tireetrust.org.uk. All the received entries will be considered, filtered and anonymised by a panel of the teaching staff at the school and the resulting entries will then be passed to a panel of older pupils, set up by the school, to judge the winning names. Entries for the station name should also be sent to fuel@tireetrust.org.uk. TCE will pass these to the school for inclusion in a second and similar judging process. There are no rules for any of the names as long as they are appropriate. However it has been suggested that at least one name should be Gaelic.

We will have one red diesel pump, two petrol and white diesel pumps and one electric charger. The competition will run from 1st to 30thSeptember, 2021. The winning names will be announced by TCE once the school has picked the winning entries. Good luck!

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.

Tyree Gin Spreads Festive Cheer

A Hebridean distiller is set to spread some festive cheer this December by giving a free miniature bottle of local gin to every islander on their native Tiree.

Tiree residents over the age of 18 will be treated to a free miniature of Tyree Gin or Hebridean Pink Gin in the run up to Christmas as distillery bosses add some unexpected joy to what has been a difficult year.

Rather than coming down locals’ chimneys, owners Ian Smith and Alain Campbell have teamed up with the island’s local shop, Buth a’ Bhaile, so that lucky residents can collect their miniatures from the store in Crossapol on the island. Ian Smith, owner of Tiree Whisky Company, said:

“2020 has been a challenging year for most people so we wanted to inject a bit of festive cheer into the lives of everyone in Tiree and give them a small gift. “We’ll be taking orders and delivering to Buth a’ Bhaile from today until 23rd December. Together, as a community, we can reflect on 2020 and raise a glass to the New Year.”

Islanders over the age of 18 among Tiree’s population of 650 people can apply for their gift by filling out a form on the Tyree Gin website.

The Isle of Tiree has a fascinating distilling heritage which Tiree Whisky Company Ltd has resurrected in recent years. Their distillery is the first on the island in over 217 years.

The company’s first product, Tyree Gin, was launched at Tiree Music Festival 2017. This product reflects the landscape in which it is distilled, incorporating kelp harvested from the icy waters, coastal salty flavours and a range of botanicals from the machair ground inland from the shore. Earlier this year, the small spirits’ producer launched Hebridean Pink Gin, which comes in a striking pink bottle and is distilled using juniper berries, raspberries and sweet peels.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the company also recently invested in new stills and equipment for future production planned for 2021 as they look ahead to a positive year.

Crossapol Playpark Needs Your Help

No matter when you pass the Playpark at Crossapol you will probably see someone in it. Whether you are a child, parent, grandparent, auntie, uncle or friend you will have enjoyed the experience of ‘playing’ there. It is a very well used park by both locals and visitors and the users all make very positive comments about what a great Playpark it is.

Tiree Community Business in partnership with ACHA take care of the Playpark and keep it as safe as possible for all to enjoy. However, most of the equipment has had its day and has outlived its safe lifespan. This means that it needs replacing and this means a large amount of money – about £24,000.

Tiree Community Business have funded some new pieces of equipment over the last few years with the help of many generous donations and these newer pieces will remain. If you feel able to donate towards the replacement of the equipment please contact Norma at Tiree Community Business:

Tel: 01879 220 520 Email: tireecommunitybusiness@btconnect.com

Cheques should be made payable to – Tiree Community Business and sent to Tiree Community Business, The Island Centre, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UP

Remember “Every Little Helps’ and Thank You

Your Views Needed On Amenity Services

Argyll and Bute’s council has to identify options to meet a projected budget gap of £6.7 million in 2021/2022, and as part of that, is asking for your views on amenity services.

Savings can only come from a relatively small proportion of the council’s budget (32%), because of national priorities and other factors outside council control:

• Teacher posts are protected nationally

• Social work costs are managed by the Health and Social Care Partnership

• Utility, loan and other costs depend on external factors.

Some savings have to come from amenity services, which cover everything from bins and grass cutting, to parking, road repairs and public toilets.

The council is therefore asking people to give their views on how best to make savings in amenity services by answering a short consultation. The survey also gives people the chance to give their thoughts on whether local communities would consider stepping in to save a service at risk, and what if any support they would want to be able to do this.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Depute Leader and Policy Lead for Strategic Finance, said:

“Another year and millions more expected to be cut from council services for Argyll and Bute. It’s not enough to say that these are tough times for councils. Years of budget cuts are eroding Argyll and Bute’s council services, and at a time now when they have never been more important – look at how much our communities have depended on council services to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have to focus on the support that is most vital for the area. We have to look again at the work we do that is above and beyond the ‘must-do’ duties of a council. I would encourage anyone who uses our amenity services to give their views.”

You can answer the consultation on the council’s website:

https:// www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ consultations/amenity-servicesconsultation.

If you have difficulty accessing the web version, you are welcome to contact the council at 01436 658 981.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Balephuil

On the morning of Tuesday 15 September 2020, a very rare bird was spotted in the gardens at Balephuil. This proved to be a young Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a colourful migrant that breeds in the northern spruce forests of North America during the summer and winters in the tropical forests of Central America. This species has never been seen before in Europe, let along the UK, and had presumably been blown off course across the Atlantic by the fast-moving depression that hit the island on 13 September.

Knowing that such an exotic vagrant would attract much attention from other birders wishing to see it, and given the current Covid19 situation, we decided not to publicise the sighting. Unfortunately, one of the other birders present on the island at the time let the news slip to a friend of his and by midnight it was clear that the news had been broadcast widely. Together with Hayley Douglas, the Tiree Ranger, we therefore had no option but to manage the ensuing “twitch” following strict ScotGov Covid19 guidelines.

Some 120 people arrived over the following three days, car-parking was organised with help from neighbours, and a strict queuing system was put in place. Fortunately, everyone who came was well behaved and followed the advice given, such that they were all able to see the bird safely. Access to the gardens was closed on the Friday night to give everyone and the bird a rest.

A further 40 people arrived in much smaller groups over the following five days and most were able to view the bird from the adjacent track. After nine days of busily feeding up on insects, including many of our neighbours’ honey-bees, the bird finally departed on the night of 23 September. This was a cold clear night with a light northerly breeze, ideal for the bird to continue its journey south. Quite where it will end up is a mystery. Let’s hope it will refuel again in Spain and end up wintering in the tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa.

As a thank-you gift, the visiting birders (and some who didn’t come) donated generously to the Tiree Community Trust via a bucket on the site and through a just-giving page. To date this has raised at least £1,800 so far for the island.

John Bowler & Hayley

Image courtesy of John Bowler

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