Author Archives: AdminTCC

TCC statement re our handling of the ferry capacity issue

It has been an interesting few weeks for Tiree Community Council. We have seen a bit of discussion within the island, off-island and especially here on our website, concerned with the news about the limited capacity that will be available on the MV Clansman on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route due to necessary social distancing measures being imposed onboard. The exact number talked about eventually settled, for now, on 86 passengers – which of course we share with Coll.

Tiree Community Council have spent a lot of our time between our now monthly online Zoom meetings speaking to people wherever it is safe to do so, getting a feel for what the public wishes us to represent on Tiree’s behalf. We have also spent a lot of energy gathering information, and speaking to key people in CalMac and the Scottish Government.

As you are likely aware we wrote a letter (published on our website) to Michael Matheson MSP, The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, calling on him to listen to the particular problems that Tiree could face if all existing bookings on the ferry were to remain in place, greatly exceeding the expected capacity. We have as yet to receive a formal response from Mr Matheson, however our MSP, Michael Russell, assures us that our letter has been well received, and that he has discussed our letter with the Minister Since then, new changes have been announced, and we immediately saw new potential issues with the policy, and have therefore just met with Michael Russell MSP to discuss how the new policy will work for Tiree – which cannot currently be visited for single day trip by ferry. We maintain regular contact with CalMac officials.

There have been one or two characterisations of our letter as implying “No tourists welcome on Tiree” – this is simply not accurate. Central to our decisions has been our overriding determination to place islanders at the heart of the matter. This means that we are encouraging Transport Scotland to give CalMac the necessary consents to “introduce a managed booking system that will satisfy fairly the competing demands of essential services and goods, islanders, family, visitors, and also the competing demands of Coll and Tiree”. We made it clear in our letter – and copied our request to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance – that the island’s businesses need further financial help to tide them through the year: they simply cannot trade their way out of this crisis in the way mainland companies are now able to.

Notwithstanding these efforts, there has been some recent negative, and in some cases hurtful comments regarding the competence, impartiality, and democratic awareness of the current Community Council – allegations which we totally refute. Each voluntary member of the Community Council is keenly aware of their obligations regarding high standards of selflessness, impartiality, and governance. We believe that we maintain these standards, and that it is not reasonable to expect as some have demanded that we log and account for every phone call, e-mail, message or conversation that each of us has in order to prove it. We have done everything we can, and our role requires us to exercise our sound judgement. Should any member of the public disagree with our conduct that is of course their right, and there is a formal complaints procedure available. Alternatively, there will of course be elections taking place at some point to form the next community council which would allow anybody the opportunity to put their own name forward and work for the Tiree community.

To the many members of the community who have contacted us, or commented, to offer their support to the work that we do and have done here – thank you.

In amongst all the recent focus on the details of whose rights are more important and how to prioritise travel between island residents, their families, second home owners and tourists we should not lose sight of the fact that we are still in the midst of a pandemic which continues to cause illness and death. Keeping the people of our community healthy and safe must surely be the first priority of Tiree Community Council, and we hope that we can all work together to this end.

We will now continue to focus our efforts and energies forward, as the situation continues to develop quickly – a new statement concerning the latest things we have learned including at our recent meeting with Michael Russell will be published shortly, and updated at our next meeting – taking place at 7pm on Wednesday July 1st

Regarding recent staff visits to Tigh a Rhuda

At the request of several concerned members of the local community we sent the following letter to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership for Argyll and Bute:

Good afternoon,

I write on behalf of the Tiree Community Council in connection with concerns expressed to us by a number of residents regarding the fact that two staff (senior social workers, we are told) have on two occasions now travelled from the mainland to the island, spending significant time in the care home over a couple of days, apparently for the purpose of carrying out meetings with other staff, dealing with paperwork and such. There is great concern being expressed at the risk that this poses in terms of possible transmission of COVID-19 to the island, and particularly to the home place of some of our most at-risk residents, and why these staff meetings and paperwork could not be accomplished via electronic means, telephone, web conference and such in order to avoid that risk.

A previous attempt to query this matter following complaints being made to us about it resulted in a response that seemed to rest solely on an assertion that this was a matter for managers to decide, but we were left without any satisfactory explanation as to why the work could not have been delivered in an alternative, remote, way, A new wave of complaints has now come to us following a further visit. We realise there may well be very good reasons why this work absolutely had to be carried out in person, but the people contacting us seem to be firmly of the impression that it wasn’t about providing key worker support to care residents that couldn’t have been provided locally or remotely, but rather about administrative staffing matters.

Many of us here on the island have had to adapt to working fully remotely, unable to travel back and forth, and have done so knowing that this helps keep our community (which faces particular challenges and risks compared to the mainland) safe – so you will understand the concern about this when there is a question of it being truly essential, and given the current climate of well-justified fear for the well-being of our older family members this has led to understandably strong feelings on the subject being expressed to us.

We would be grateful if you could look into this and help either find an explanation that would reassure our community, or prompt a review of the necessity of what seems a risky activity which may be avoidable.

Yours sincerely,

Phyl Meyer, Secretary

Tiree Community Council

 

We have received the following response from Kieron Green, Policy Lead for Health and Social Care:

“Careful consideration is given before mainland based Health and Social Care Partnership staff travel to islands, including Tiree, to conduct essential work. All appropriate precautions are then taken in terms of physical distancing, accommodation and minimising interactions on the island when not working. Additionally for further assurance, and as the individuals involved are entering a care environment, they are being tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19.”

“Travel in this instance has been necessary due to the requirement to maintain the safe operation of Health and Social Care Partnership facilities, ensure high levels of care quality for residents and users of services, and give staff appropriate levels of management supervision and support. It has not been possible to facilitate this on a remote basis due to the nature of the work involved, including the need to directly observe the environment which care is provided in.”

Kind Regards,

Kieron Green

Councillor, Oban North and Lorn

Notice re essential maintenance visits to the island for Scottish Water

We share below the content of a recent update we have received from Scottish Water regarding the ongoing essential maintenance works on the water supply for the island, for your information:

Following on from our previous updates I wanted to confirm that the borehole upgrade works on the Tiree Water supply  have now been successfully completed with the associated resources leaving the Island.

We now progress on to the Work to refurbish the filters, if you can share this information with the community it would be appreciated.

Our approved contractor is Filtec water services and I can confirm our project manager Andy Barnett has been in contact with them to re-emphasise the importance of following guidelines and protocol during this time.

As per our previous discussions I can advise of enabling works which need to be carried out ahead of the filter refurb:

  • Filtec Water Services will have 2 people + 2 vans on the Island Tuesday 16th  – Thursday 18th next week
  • Filtec Water Services will deliver a 20’ container by lorry on Thursday 18th to the WTW to support the filter change outs, leaving Saturday 20th
  • Scottish Water will have 2 Process Scientists on the Island next Saturday – Tuesday (20th – 23rd) to prepare for the filter changes

Regarding ferry capacity and tourism during COVID-19

EDIT NOTE: This post and much of the information in it, and the comments made to the post, have now been overtaken by changing events – and much may be obsolete. Please bear this in mind, and we’d encourage comments to be referred to more recent posts rather than continuing discussion here.

Below follows a copy of a letter (emphasis added here to highlight the key points) that the members of the Tiree Community Council agreed to send regarding the situation with ferry capacity and the implications of a potential resumption of tourism to the island this year and, in particular, the impact this could have on islander travel and family visitation. The letter was based on our most recent understanding of expected ferry capacity and restrictions to date (14th June 2020). Note: these could have seen the maximum safe passenger capacity of the Clansman technically as low as 65 for individual travellers, but the latest figure published by CalMac is 86, allowing for some travelling together. The current discussion is to try to move as close as possible to a Winter timetable, but that it is unlikely to be increased to a full summer timetable due to staffing issues and ongoing restrictions and safeguards.

Michael Matheson, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity
14 June 2020

Dear Cabinet Secretary,

Although Tiree Community Council has been unable to hold a physical public
meeting for two months, our June Zoom public meeting attracted 44 households,
and we believe that, given these constraints, we are able present the views and
feelings of islanders in a broad sense.

It seems clear from the most recent CalMac estimates that there will be severe
capacity constraints on the Oban-Coll-Tiree ferry this summer, even after the
introduction of the winter timetable with four boats a week.
On the one hand social distancing guidelines will reduce the maximum passenger
capacity, while crewing constraints will effectively halve the number of ferries. On
the other hand, there are historic bookings for this summer already accepted by
CalMac – many voided but not cancelled – and a large pent-up demand from
islanders who want to re-unite with their families. While families on the mainland
have been able to see each other to some extent under the Phase 1 easing, this
opportunity has not been extended to Tiree due to the continued emergency travel
restrictions on the ferry.

The most pressing problem we see is that islanders and their families will find it very
difficult to get a ferry booking bookings in the peak season of July and August. This is
due to both historic bookings, and increased demand from new visitors wanting a “staycation”. This could result in islanders and their families effectively being unable
to meet, while having to watch as tourists travel to and from the island.

Our sense is that the large majority of islanders supported the restrictions placed on
ferry travel to date. Indeed, there are many who want to see this continue through
the summer, given that the proportion of elderly in the community is higher than the
Scottish average; that the 653 people on Tiree now welcome over 30,000 visitors a
year; and the fact that infectious disease spreads particularly rapidly in a small
population.

However, tourism is one of the four pillars of the island’s economy, and the likely
reduced ferry capacity must severely impact these businesses’ chance of survival
through the winter. We join others in urgently calling for another round of funding
to support island businesses who are unable to trade their way out of this crisis
because of ferry restrictions that are no fault of their own. We are aware of a letter
to ministers on the same matter from many members of the Tiree business
community.

We recognise that you and other members of the Scottish Government have some
hard choices to make. We would like you to consider cancelling historic CalMac
bookings on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route until demand eases, possibly September. This
would allow everyone to make a fresh start. We also support the temporary
annulment of the contract requirement to honour bookings on a first-come-first-
served basis, and replace this with a managed system to satisfy fairly the competing
demands of essential services and goods, islanders, family and visitors, and also to
adjudicate between the competing demand of Coll and Tiree.

If you live on an island, you live with travel restriction. But what we want to see is a
managed system that is fair to all the competing demands, placing islanders at the
heart of the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr John Holliday, Convenor, on behalf of Tiree Community Council
doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk
cc. Kate Forbes, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Michael Russell, MSP

 

UPDATES:

18/06/2020: We have updated the information for max passenger numbers and expected timetable changes at the top of this page due to further information from CalMac.

On Thursday 11th June a group of tourism business owners contacted 34 tourism related businesses on the island asking them to support an appeal to the Scottish Government for further financial support for their businesses over the winter months should the ferry service and capacities were to be restricted over the remainder of the tourist season.

They received 21 endorsements from businesses in the leisure, accommodation, catering , retail and craft sectors. The letter was sent to Mike Russell (SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute),  Fergus Ewing (Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy) and Paul Wheelhouse (Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands)’

This effort was provided with facilitation support by TCC to ensure the voice of businesses was being heard, but sent out in the name of the businesses involved only – is not therefore our letter to share, and we understand the signatories were not asked if it was OK for it to be published openly.

17/06/2020: Here follows an excerpt from First Ministers Questions at Scottish Parliament on 17th June:

  • 5. Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): 

    To ask the First Minister whether she will provide an update for island residents who wish to book ferry tickets. (S5F-04228)

  • The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): 

    We are working with ferry operators to identify measures to ensure passenger and crew safety when travelling, while observing 2m distancing on vessels. Capacity will obviously be reduced by the measures, but we are putting in place plans to manage that. That work includes consideration of how the booking systems of CalMac Ferries and NorthLink Ferries might be used to help to manage demand. Further details will be available in the transport transition plan and from the operators, as we move through the phases of easing lockdown.

  • Dr Allan: 

    As the First Minister is aware, many islanders have not seen family members on the mainland since March. They have strongly supported the travel restrictions, but are now anxious to know that they will, whenever it is considered safe to change the current travel advice about ferries, have the opportunity to book what will be a very limited supply of ferry tickets, perhaps on a priority basis. Can the Government take steps to avoid new pressures on reduced services and capacity meaning that islanders do not get to see their families until after any tourist season is over?

  • The First Minister: 

    I fully understand how important it is that islanders be able to access the lifeline ferry services on which, of course, they depend for getting to and from the mainland—in particular, to see their families. They rightly want to enjoy the same freedoms that others will be able to start enjoying as we ease out of lockdown. Like all aspects of the situation, that requires careful consideration to make sure that people can move safely and without risk to themselves and others.

    There are practical considerations about safety that mean that capacity will be reduced by the measures that must be in place, which must be managed to ensure that islanders are not disadvantaged. That is a key consideration that CalMac, Transport Scotland and the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, are looking at.

    Crucially, there is, and will continue to be, on-going engagement with island communities to determine the best way forward. The involvement of people who actually live on our islands, including Alasdair Allan and his constituents, is absolutely key.

3rd June 2020 Meeting

We will be holding another public meeting via Zoom video/teleconference on Wednesday 3rd June 2020 starting at 7pm. The agenda and joining instructions follow below:

Agenda:

  1. Welcome
  2. Apologies
  3. Declaration of conflicts of interest
  4. Minutes of last TCC public meeting and matters arising
  5. Correspondence: including new guidance for community councils while social distancing remains in place; co-option of new members; police report; enquiries from people moving to Tiree
  6. Summer ferry timetable: we will be joined from Mull by Elizabeth Ferguson, CalMac Community Board member
  7. Possible priority given to islanders travelling on the ferry during the summer
  8. The role of TCC in planning and managing the phased exit from lockdown on Tiree, including advice to those travelling to Tiree more generally
  9. TCC’s role in planning visits to the island by key workers; those moving to the island
  10. Review of teleconferencing as a tool for public meetings
  11. Date of the next TCC public meeting
  12. AOCB

Word downloadable version: agenda june 2020

The draft minutes of the previous meeting: Tiree Community Council Minutes 6th May 2020

Following the last meeting there was a question about the numbers of passengers and vehicles travelling to and from the island. Don McKillop of Calmac has kindly agreed to share with us the figures for this and agreed to their publication here – please note they are unaudited and may therefore have minor inaccuracies, but they are fairly illustrative of the extremely low number of passengers.

Tiree – Shipped and Landed 28th Mar – 28th May

Zoom meeting joining instructions:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85101356328?pwd=MURUbFBxN1N5VmdlbUJsNmtYZXhPdz09

Dial in number:     0131 460 1196

Meeting ID: 851 0135 6328

Password: 890863

Guidance:

Please note that by default you will join the meeting muted (i.e. you will not be sending sound out to the rest of the participants) – please leave yourself muted unless you need to speak, and when invited to do so by the chair, and remember to re-mute afterwards. This is needed to ensure that the call is not made very difficult to follow by background noise from multiple people, which can be extremely disruptive to the call.

If joining by computer, you can find a button to “Raise your hand” to ask to speak under the “Participants” menu, accessed by pressing the Participants button (looks like a human figure, in the middle of the bottom part of the window).

The mute and unmute button is in the lower left, and looks like a microphone, next to the button for switching your webcam on/off.

If you are using a telephone to dial in, the mute and unmute command can be given by typing:

*6

You can also “raise your hand” to ask to speak using:

*9

As ever if you have questions or if there is anything we can do to help you take part in the meeting accessibly, please let us know by e-mailing phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Scottish Government looking for ideas of how to overcome the challenges of COVID-19

The First Minister announced a website set up by Scottish Government seeking input on a “framework for decision making” in response to COVID-19. Individual members of the public and community groups and organisations can submit ideas.

This includes proposed changes and options about:

  • staying at home
  • visiting other households
  • resuming care and support for those most affected by the current restrictions
  • businesses that have been subject to restrictions or closure
  • allowing pupils to return to school

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon emphasised the need for transparency when she launched the framework and invited the people of Scotland to engage in this conversation to help us take the next steps to navigate to a new normal.

Our first public meeting of the Community Council since this situation began was held on May 6th, and the deadline is on May 11th so there is little time left for TCC to develop a full response to this on behalf of the community – but we are looking at doing what we can. However we’d encourage anyone with thoughts to submit these as an individual:

The site can be found here: https://www.ideas.gov.scot/covid-19-a-framework-for-decision-making

Minutes of our “emergency” meetings in March and April

Normally, official meetings of a Community Council must be held “in public” and no decisions should take place at any other meeting. TCC routinely has what we call “agenda meetings” where the councillors get together ahead of the proper meetings just to go over what needs to be covered – but we don’t take decisions on action at them, any course of action we discuss is presented at a public meeting and formally agreed there.

However due to the unprecedented situation with COVID-19, and the need for pretty immediate action to be taken by TCC to respond, the councillors did have to meet twice via Zoom in mid March, and early April, and those meetings did involve agreeing on some emergency actions, including the eventual organisation of our first public meeting via video conference.

In the interests of transparency, the minutes of these meetings are posted below. Now that we have a means of holding on-line meetings in public, normal service has resumed!

TCC special meeting Minutes 18.3.20

TCC special meeting minutes 3.4.20

Wed 6th May – Our first meeting via video conference – Agenda and papers

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation making in-person meetings impractical, we will be holding our first virtual public meeting via Zoom at 7pm on Wednesday 6th May 2020.

Members of the Tiree public are welcome to attend, and may do so using an internet connected PC, tablet or smartphone using the link below. Alternatively, if this is not an option, you can join via telephone. Please be advised that in order to keep the meeting running smoothly and accessibly for all participants we ask members of the public to wait until appropriate moments to ask questions or offer contributions and using the mute function at other times.

Details to connect to the meeting:

Phyl Meyer is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Tiree Community Council meeting – May
Time: May 6, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting (use this link to connect from your computer or smartphone)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87452114397

Meeting ID: 874 5211 4397
One tap mobile
+441314601196,,87452114397# United Kingdom

Dial in: Use a number below and the Meeting ID to connect by telephone – NOTE: This will incur call charges based on your usual rate for calling landline numbers

0131 460 1196 United Kingdom
0203 051 2874 United Kingdom
0203 481 5237 United Kingdom
Meeting ID: 874 5211 4397

The meeting agenda shall be as follows, any additional papers will be posted below:

AGENDA

  1. Minutes of last meetings
  2. Correspondence
  3. Reports on the island’s response to coronavirus and the lockdown
  4. Report by one of the doctors
  5. Transport links: Including a CalMac update on ferry services
  6. Summer 2020: releasing the lockdown on Tiree?
  7. AOCB

Tiree Community Council Police report 06.05.20