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.