Tag Archives: 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.

Terra Marique Visits Tiree

Crane Isle of TireeThe barge Terra Marique and tug boat Fortitude arrived at Tiree around the Friday 3rd September, carrying new parts for Tilley the Turbine after she suffered a fault back in September 2020. The upgrade meant transporting equipment and parts from Ayr on the Mainland via the sea-towed barge Terra Marique hired from Robert Wynn and Sons Ltd.

When Tilley was originally built in 2011, CalMac transported the neccessary equipment and parts to the island, but due to the strain caused by the coronavirus the facilities via CalMac were unavailble and thus the sea-going barge was hired.

The barge is built with a combined state-of-the-art technology with traditional marine and heavy transport engineering, developed to maximise the utilisation of UK and European ports, rivers and inland waterways. She has a hydraulic roadway and ballast system that will allow the vessel to offload on varying quay heights and riverbanks as well as a specially strengthened hull to allow the vessel to beach land with minimal need for site preparation. The barge could have been offloaded on the beach closer to Tilley but would have damaged the Machair.

The size of the equipment and parts for Tilley meant that parts of the pier had to be removed such as lamposts, signs and part of the crash barrier to carry it safely up the pier. Thanks to the delivery of the parts, Tilley is on track to recovery.

Thanks to Alan Miller from Life On Tiree for the photos

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

Tiree Community Council Update

Coastal erosion, planning and rubbish were three important issues that came up at this month’s community council meeting.

This was held using Zoom, although a return to face-to face meetings may be on the cards in future depending on a future Argyll and Bute Council consultation. Unfortunately, a slipup meant that there had been little advertising for the meeting and our audience was much smaller than usual.

The Dynamic Coast project is funded by the Scottish Government and involves a wide range of bodies from the University of Glasgow to the Ordnance Survey. Its goal is to pinpoint lengths of the Scottish coastline that are particularly vulnerable to erosion over the next generation. Running since 2015, researchers have compared 1890 and 1970 high water marks marked on old Ordnance Survey maps with modern models of the landscape to make predictions of the what the 2050 coastline might look like. (See www.dynamiccoast.com and go to the map section). For example, while sand has been deposited at the two ends of Gott Bay’s An Tràigh Mhòr, sections in the middle have receded up to 25 m between 1975 and 2006. By 2050, it is predicted that 1.3 km of the road here will be lost. On Cladach a’ Crògain or Balephetrish Beach, both ends of the beach have receded by 26 m over the same time, and lengths of the road here too are likely to disappear by 2050.

The second phase of this research will be published this week. It focusses on the most vulnerable stretches of coastline – and Tiree has several – and seeks to put forward solutions. One researcher keen to take this further is Julian Sartorius, a geographer at the University of Dundee. He is coming to the island in September, and would like to make contact with a representative group of us to help him research what people who live in these at-risk areas think about coastal erosion. He will be advertising for volunteers soon.

There was another discussion of the Community Council’s latest draft of the Planning Policy. Following two public meetings, an online survey and some feedback, we have refined the document. If a planning application generates eleven or more comments from island residents (which can be made in confidence to the community council); departs significantly from Argyll and Bute’s current Local Development Plan; raises important matters of principle for the island; might reasonably be predicted to have an impact on the broader community of Tiree; or impacts on a Listed Building as designated by Historic Environment Scotland, we will discuss in public whether to send a response to Argyll and Bute’s Planning Department. Having gone back over the last one hundred application, we think that this would have been the case four times over the last four years. The latest draft is on our website, and we welcome final comments before the September meeting.

We have had some correspondence about bags of rubbish left beside bins. The final public bin – one at the pier – has been removed by the Council after nondomestic rubbish was left in it. It was pointed out that rubbish is a year-round issue for the island, and that we all have a part to play in keeping the island tidy. Part of the problem is that a number of owners of rented houses do not pay for a weekly commercial uplift. Part of the solution is to make greater use of the dump, open six days a week. We decided that we would write to the Council to ask for more facilities. Finally, concern has been expressed about police cover for the island, particularly at the height of the tourist season. Marlene Baillie, the Area Commander, wrote back promptly to our enquiry to say: ‘I can advise that wherever possible we will continue to provide cover by sending an officer over from the mainland … As I am sure you will appreciate, I cannot guarantee cover on every occasion as sometimes the requirement to cover can be at short notice with insufficient time to identify staff and secure accommodation on the island. However, every effort will be made to send an officer over at the earliest opportunity if required.’

Dr John Holliday, Iona Campbell, Gerard McGoogan, Phyl Meyer, John Patience and Stewart Carr were in attendance. Please send us any comments and questions. Our next meeting will be on the second Wednesday of September.

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!

Bird Hides Revamp

Bird Hide, Isle of Tiree

The public wildlife-viewing hides at Loch a’ Phuill and Loch Bhasapol were both installed as part of Nadairfunded community projects and are now over 13 and 18 years old respectively.

Constantly exposed to Tiree’s weather, they were both in need of a bit of TLC this summer. Much of the woodwork around the windows on the Loch a’ Phuill hide was rotten, and the roof was leaking, whilst the door handles on the Loch Bhasapol hide had rusted off completely, preventing entry! Coupled with broken slat hinges and swollen doors, there was a lot of work to be done.

New materials were obtained using monies donated to the Tiree Community Development Trust from last September’s Yellowbellied Flycatcher twitch and sterling repair work was conducted in July and August by volunteer David Clark, who gave his expert DIY time for free. A pair of Swallows had set up a nest in the Loch Bhasapol hide, as one of the window slats had fallen of, so the work had to be conducted around them and the window kept open to allow the fledglings to be fed and to leave the hide successfully (which they did).

There is still some work to be done to replace some rotting arm-rests in the Loch a’ Phuill hide, once we can get hold of some marine plywood, but both of the hides are now dry, in much better shape and are accessible to all once more. They are both well worth a look, with the bird autumn migration period just around the corner.

Many thanks are due to Tiree Community Development Trust and to David Clark for enabling this work to happen.

Summer Holidays Swim

A chance encounter around a birthday barbeque at Hynish, a chat about achieving seemingly impossible things and 3 days later I was swimming from Tiree to Coll with someone I’d only just met.

Such is Tiree and the friends and people you meet. The next few days were spent planning. I thought I would be able to swim the distance but the sea can be very unforgiving around these islands. People have waited days if not weeks to swim across only for conditions not to be favourable. The water is cold and Tiree is often very windy and the currents can be strong.

We needed to know the tides, the swell and the direction of current and through various Apps and social media realised we might have a chance of making the 2 miles or so. The swell was set to drop later in the week which would help. We needed a support team and a helpful kayaker and the owner of a RIB volunteered; after all we had to return somehow and swimming back would not be an option!

I was staying in the Wee Cottage at Caolas at the eastern end of Tiree and so could check out potential starting points for the swim. The green lateral buoy in the Gunna Sound might be a useful navigation point. The tide and current suggested Tiree to Coll might be easier and we would be closer to a shore towards the end of the swim, but the predicted prevailing wind might cause some difficulty. Wednesday before high tide looked promising but the current direction meant we might still be in the water around the time of the weekly Barra to Tiree ferry, a definite no-go!

As it turned out fog was also a problem on Wednesday which might be a worry for our next opportunity before low tide the following day. However on the day, the Tiree weather did not disappoint: no fog, light winds and glorious sunshine. A trip to the Co-op for some Vaseline, a borrowed swim float, my wet suit, goggles, a swim cap and my new experienced swim buddy and we were ready, sun tan lotion already applied.

Our kayaker had been joined by a double kayak team but our RIB support was nowhere to be seen. It turns out the tides had left the RIB high and dry in Scarinish harbour and some effort was required to refloat the boat. With the team finally assembled and a last check on the various Apps and a visual of the sea conditions, we set off from the north end of the beach at Caolas in the lee of some skerries immediately offshore. Perhaps subconsciously drawn or perhaps pushed by the current we headed closer to the green lateral buoy and the western end of Gunna than expected which was fine from the prevailing northerly wind. However it meant that we were swimming against the current as we turned to swim along the southern shore of Gunna towards Coll. There was a moment when, despite being in the lee of Gunna, the wind picked up and current pushed against us and the seaweed was clearly trailing in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. With help from the support kayaker we were able to find an easier route and be reassured that the conditions were better further ahead. We were also joined by some curious seals whose dark shapes would occasionally loom into view underwater making it obvious who had really mastered open water swimming.

Fortunately, despite seeing several jellyfish, we did not come across any Lion’s mane jellyfish but it was too early this year to see any basking sharks and thankfully the pod of Orcas I subsequently heard about on the ferry home from Tiree were not in the area at the time of our swim.

The owner of Gunna was out in a dinghy and our kayak support team spent some time chatting with him which made negotiating the various skerries towards the south eastern tip of Gunna more of a challenge for us and the RIB. Suddenly we could distinguish between the sandy beaches of Gunna and those on Coll. After almost one and a half hours in the water we could see the finish and realised we had an excellent chance of making the passage.

As we approached the straight between Gunna and Coll we could feel the current pulling us northward and we had to re-calculate our landing point on Coll. At one point the water was so shallow we thought we might be able to walk across but the sand bank rapidly fell away much to the relief of the RIB skipper. We came ashore at the underwater cable markers on Coll 4.141kilometres and 1 hour 54 minutes from our starting point. What an amazing feeling, I had completed my first island to island swim adventure. The return to Tiree and friends and family was certainly quicker and easier.

Thank you to Alastair the Kayaker, Neil the RIB skipper and Meg my experienced swim buddy. Checklist: Wetsuit, goggles and cap. Swim float. Suncream. Currents, tides, wind and weather check. Experienced swim buddy Support team.

~Alex Jones

Tiree Community Toilets

As reported in our previous issues, Tiree Community Business has taken over the maintenance and upkeep of the Scarinish public toilets on a year’s trial basis from Argyll & Bute Council. Our current goal is to fundraise as much as possible in order to pay cleaners and buy materials towards the upkeep of this facility. The Car Treasure Hunt organised by TCB on Wednesday 30th June raised £460. Donations are encouraged by those using the toilets via the money boxes on display at the Scarinish toilets; to date we have raised £160 from them. We have been fortunate to be included in the latest round of Co-op Local Community Funding that will start in October, as well as receive donations direct to our office which are £60 to date. Moving forward we plan to continue approaching other funders for further support and are always happy to accept donations in order to support this worthwhile community facility, as the Scarinish toilets are currently the only public toilets available on the island, so we can’t let them disappear. We would like to thank everyone who has supported and donated our cause so far. On Thursday 5th August we will have run another Car Treasure Hunt with a raffle, which we’ll cover in the next issue of An Tirisdeach.

Thank you again to everyone who has donated. Tiree Community Business are always happy to accept new donations for the upkeep of the toilets; if you wish to donate please contact Norma at the Business Centre via telephone on 01879 220520 or email tireecommunitybusiness@btco nnect.com.

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