Category Archives: Argyll & Bute

Outcome of our recent survey on Tiree’s timetable out of lockdown

Earlier today we sent the following letter to Argyll and Bute Council following our rapid-response survey announced on Friday:

Choice of Level for Tiree

Dear Robin and Pippa,

Following our useful meeting on Friday, Tiree Community Council wanted to gauge the opinion of the community on this matter as best we could in 36 hours. We therefore set up an online poll using SurveyMonkey.

We laid out our understanding of the situation laid out by the Scottish Government, and asked respondents to choose:

  • For Tiree to remain in Level 3, which would allow travel to and from the island, subject to restrictions on indoor meetings, or
  • For Tiree to move to Level 2, which would keep travel restrictions in place for an additional 3 weeks but allow for indoor meetings amongst island residents

Although we used the labels ‘Level 3’ and ‘Level 2’ for ease of reference, we acknowledge that those labels are not quite accurate, that the new arrangements proposed in the new route map are different. This was noted on the web post promoting the survey.

The survey was put together at great speed and using only our own resources. There are obvious methodological weaknesses: for example, a bias towards those using social media and the possibility that respondents could make inaccurate declarations of their place of residence.

However, we are confident it broadly represents the spread and balance of opinion in our community.

Summary:

  • 322 responses, including 273 residents, approximately 50% of the electoral roll
  • Of the residents, 41% want to remain in Level 3 with travel restrictions lifted, while 59% want to move to Level 2 with travel restrictions maintained
  • Even the majority of resident owners of tourism businesses want to move to Level 2 with travel restrictions maintained, albeit the split is more evenly balanced in this group

Many thanks for asking our opinion,

Dr John Holliday, on behalf of Tiree Community Council

You will note that we refer to the fact that what seems to be the likely options on offer to us do not correspond exactly to the former “Level 2” and “Level 3” – but rather that we used those labels as a way of simplifying the survey for people by using familiar terms – it seems we are now moving away from the previous versions of the Levels/Tiers with this new timetable, so the old versions of those levels/tiers do not really apply and things are still very subject to change.

The web post explaining the survey made this clear, although we understand some may (with the benefit of time and hindsight) feel things could have been worded better. All that can be said is that we did the best we could within the speed we felt we had to act and with which the survey was put together – and felt it best to prioritise a simple, intuitive approach.

We are given to understand that there may be further opportunity for (hopefully more thorough, less rushed) consultation on this soon. The results of this survey may not therefore be the final conclusion reached on this issue and we will continue to do our best to engage the community to ensure a representative position is taken going forward.

On a positive note – for the survey to have achieved 322 responses, of which 273 are from island residents (representing about half of the entire electoral roll on the island) in the space of just over 2 days is a remarkable response, of which we should all be proud. Thank you for participating if you were able to.

Thanks to some excellent work by TCC councillor Iona Campbell, please see below a write-up of the full results of the survey.

Result of Urgent Public Consultation on the Isle of Tiree copy

Latest advice leaflet from Argyll + Bute Council on Shielding and Money Worries

We received the following information to pass on:

Good morning,

Following recent updates, please see the FAQs below which offer some useful information for those in the shielded group.

The shielding information is national guidance, for further information please visit the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance webpage.

Argyll and Bute Council’s website has a range of help and advice for those affected by Coronavirus, this includes information about financial support.  The leaflet attached gives details about help for those who may be worrying about money.

Are people in the shielded group able to get their own shopping or prescriptions?

  • Yes. The guidance for the level 4 restrictions are that those who are in the shielded group can go out to get shopping and / or prescriptions. These are classed as essential purposes to leave the home for.

What are the essential purposes and reasons that those in the shielded group can go out of the house for?

  • Exercise
  • Essential shopping
  • Medicines
  • Education
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Visiting someone you are in an extended household with. (you can only be in an extended household where one of the households is a single person household)

What other restrictions apply to those in the shielding group?

  • You should not use public transport (including taxis) while these additional measures are in place.
  • There are also additional restrictions around work, see below.

If I am part of the shielding group do I have to go to work?

  • You should work from home. Everyone who is able to work from home should do so.
  • If you cannot work from home then you must stay at home. Your letter is a FIT note. This applies to all in level 4 restrictions.

I am in a level 3 restriction area (Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree and Ulva) do I go to work?

  • The advice on not going to work does not apply to areas that are in level 3.
  • If you live or work in a level 3 area, you can continue to go to work if your workplace can be made safe.

Who is eligible for support through the Test and Protect Helpline?

  • If you have to self-isolate due to testing positive and you have no other sources of support for food, medication, or other needs, you can contact the Council’s Test and Protect helpline to request help.
  • If you have been asked to self-isolate by a Test and Protect contact tracer, and you have no other sources of support for food, medication, or other needs, you can contact the council’s Test and Protect helpline to request help

What kind of help can I expect?

  • The Council can put you in touch with local community groups offering support in your local area.
  • The Council may request directly for a volunteer to assist with your needs.
  • The Council can direct you to sources of support to help with money worries
  • The Council can direct you to sources of support to help with other needs that you are worried about due to having to self-isolate.

What are the new rules about meeting outdoors?

  • A maximum of two people are able to meet from up from two households, outside. There is more advice at www.gov.scot/coronavirus.

Will food boxes be introduced again?

We are not currently planning to re-introduce food boxes. This is because we are not asking you to stop going to shops, though we are advising you to limit the number of times you visit shops, consider shopping at quieter times, and where possible shop on-line.

Since the first lockdown last year, supermarkets have put in place a number of measures to make them safer.  They have also increased their capacity to provide a wide range of ways to shop, including on-line delivery, click and collect, home deliveries, phone ordering, grocery boxes, and gift cards so someone else can shop for you.

We have also offered everyone on the shielding list priority access to on-line supermarket delivery slots and this offer will remain open.  As before, it is important to ask family, friends, and neighbours for support.

Can I still attend my usual medical appointments?

Yes

I have been vaccinated against covid-19 – do I still need to follow the advice?

Yes. You should follow all advice for those on the shielding list, even if you have had a coronavirus vaccination. This includes the advice about work. While a full course of the vaccine (two doses) will help prevent you from becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, we do not yet know if it will keep you from catching and spreading the virus.

Many thanks,

Community Development

Download the full leaflet here: Worrying about Money A4 Argyll and Bute 28.07.20

Survey on Tiree’s elected representation in Argyll + Bute

As has been flagged up at our last two meetings and in an article in An Tirisdeach there is a consultation going on about the electoral boundaries in Argyll + Bute for Local Authority councillors.

The areas of Argyll + Bute which elect councillors (called wards) are currently being reviewed by the organisation responsible for this, the Boundary Commission.

Part of the reason for the review taking place now is that the Islands Bill of 2018 instructed the Commission to look again at the way islands were represented in local government.

Why is this important? Argyll and Bute Council spends £2,200 per head on services that include the school, the old people’s home, rubbish collection, looking after the public toilets and various other important services. Decisions on spending are made by Local Authority councillors that are elected every five years.

At present, we are part of a ward called Oban South and the Isles, which elects four members, and covers Tiree, Coll, Mull, Iona, South Oban and a surrounding area to the south of Oban. Since this arrangement began, no councillor has been elected from Tiree or Coll. There is one councillor elected on Mull, the others from the mainland.

The Boundary Commission have produced initial proposals for Argyll and Bute and want the island’s views on their proposals.

They propose a new islands-only ward that combines Mull, Iona Coll and Tiree, represented by two Argyll and Bute councillors.

An alternative proposal has been made by current and ex-councillors that Tiree and Coll should be in a separate ward of our own represented by our own councillor.

There are pros and cons which have been suggested for these two proposals. These include:

Possible arguments for the four-island option:

Tiree and Coll are so small that they may struggle to recruit someone of sufficient calibre to serve as a councillor. However, Tiree and Coll had their own councillor between 1890 and 2007 with no recorded recruitment problems.

Being part of a four-island block might help forge links between the islands that have many issues in common, and would give us twice us much leverage in the Council chamber.

Possible arguments for a separate ward for Tiree and Coll:

Stronger links to the community: a local councillor would better know their constituents, their constituents would know him or her, and the councillor would know the local issues.

Availability: because Tiree is remote from mainland Argyll, because many councillors are part-time and because they have to attend council business in Lochgilphead every week, Argyll and Bute councillors are only able to visit Tiree a few days in the year. Tiree and Coll are relatively disenfranchised within Argyll and Bute. If councillors were both based on Mull, as they would be likely to be under the first proposal (because Mull has a far greater number of voters), they would have to leave home on Sunday afternoon to get to Tiree the next morning, returning home on Tuesday evening. Proportionate to the population, Tiree could expect one councillor to spend one day a week on the island, which would mean this round trip every week on top of attendance at council HQ in Lochgilphead. This is unlikely to happen.

The added benefit to Mull and the other islands of having two councillors on Mull rather than one, as effectively at present, would be small. The added benefit to Tiree and Coll of having a councillor dedicated to Tiree and Coll would be huge.

A single councillor representing Tiree and Coll would be quite busy enough covering the two islands, which have numerous issues in common that are not experienced (or less so) by the other islands.

The absence of an Argyll and Bute councillor based here has meant that Tiree Community Council is carrying a far greater political burden than other community councils – with just £400 a year to support this work.

We have been gathering views and propose to take a position at our meeting on Dec 9th – and are making one further effort to gather opinions from the community. Please complete this short survey to tell us your thoughts:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X3H8J5N

Register of Electors Annual Canvass

Argyll and Bute Council are currently conducting the annual canvass to update the electoral register. There have been some changes due to recent law changes.

Anyone aged 16 or over can now register to vote in all Scottish elections.

If you have recently moved or have any other reason to think you may not be registered, you can do so online via http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

If you have any questions and need further advice, you can contact the Argyll & Bute local office at ero-abc@dab-vjb.gov.uk

Poster contains same information as article above

By-election Notice – nominations open Sept 9th 2020

Argyll and Bute Council have announced that the by-elections to community councils across the local authority area, postponed in the spring due to COVID-19, will now go ahead. The elections themselves will take place on November 5th, with nominations opening on Wednesday 9th September (coincidentally, the same day as our next meeting) and close on the 24th September.

What does this mean?

There are eight elected places on the Tiree Community Council. These are public elected offices, which all persons on the electoral roll for the island of Tiree may nominate to and vote for. At the last election, four people were elected (John Holliday, Phyl Meyer, Alison Clark and Gerard McGoogan).

Elected members are allowed to co-opt to fill vacancies temporarily, as well as invite others to participate on a non-voting “advisory” capacity to bring in needed skills/perspectives. TCC had brought two others in by these methods, and was working towards further co-options – but if a by-election is held any spots filled by co-option are offered up for election again.

For these reasons, this by-election will be for the four places on TCC not already filled by elected members. Previously co-opted members may of course stand for election.

How does it work and how do you put yourself forward?

Because this is a public role, there are formal procedures that have to be followed if you wish to be considered to join the community council.

  1. You must be eligible – meaning you must be (already, before this point) a registered elector on Tiree, 16 years old or above at the point of the election, and not excluded from holding public office (there are some types of job which include a prohibition against this). This effectively means you should be a “permanent resident” of Tiree, and this is the stated intent in the terms of the TCC constitution – anyone ceasing to be such would automatically be deemed to have resigned.
  2. You have to complete a Nomination Form, which two other registered electors from Tiree must sign to put you forward for election. The form is not too complicated, and assistance with completing it can be provided by existing members or by Council staff). The form must be submitted to Council staff by the deadline on September 24th.
  3. If nominated, and the number of nominations is less than or equal to the number of places – there is no actual election. Uncontested, valid candidates are simply deemed to be elected immediately following the close of nominations.
  4. If more candidates come forward than places, a vote will take place on November 5th. Due to COVID-19 this will be a postal ballot – every registered voter on Tiree will be sent a mail-in ballot to complete in advance of the election date where they can say which candidates they wish to be elected – you can vote for as many candidates as there are vacancies – in this case four. These must be returned by post before the election day.

Why should people stand?

Community Council is a vital layer of representation, with responsibility and rights to play a key role on matters such as planning policy and consultation, as well as identifying the needs and wishes of the local community and making representation to other bodies and levels of Government, etc. A strong, healthy community council can make a real difference in raising matters of concern to residents and driving forward positive changes and improvements to services, as well as supporting and promoting local culture, tourism and economy. On Tiree, we are fortunate to have organisations such as the Tiree Community Development Trust to take forward much of the practical development of work to build our community resources – it’s a huge help to them for us to be here to support good communication and representation of what people feel are priorities, and what they need, etc.

The recent pandemic has shone a powerful light on how important this function can be – TCC members played a big role in making representation to Calmac, MSPs, government ministers and others about the effect lockdown restrictions could have on our community and local economy.

Why should I stand? What could I contribute?

Many people don’t tend to think of themselves as being “political” or having the skills or expertise they think is needed to play a useful role on something like a community council – but the truth is that one of the biggest needs is for the community council to have a real breadth of voices on it, with a range of backgrounds and experiences, so that when the rest of the community look at who is supposed to be representing them what they see is reasonable reflective of themselves. The most important thing is that you have a real wish to see good done in your local community for all who call it home, and that you are willing to look at the information, ask questions and work with others to ensure that a fair reflection of the views of the community is heard, and where needed a fair decision reached on what we say or do about something.

As has been mentioned above, we can bring in additional people with expertise, skills, etc if we feel there are gaps in those which would be useful to fill – but don’t underestimate the value of the contribution you could make! A lot of what we deal with is just a matter of looking at the facts, looking at any existing rules or policies and applying a bit of common sense as to what will be good for people here on the island.

How much time does it involve? What work would I need to do?

There isn’t too much of a fixed expectation on this – it does vary. As you can imagine the existing members were all quite a bit busier with TCC business during the last several months with COVID-19 than we expected we would be!

The main expectation is that you be willing to participate in most meetings (it’s fine if you occasionally can’t make some!) – which we currently tend to hold monthly, with a gap usually in the summer and sometimes around Xmas or New Year. Since COVID-19 came along these have all been taking place as online video/phone conference calls, and this has proven to work well and be more convenient and accessible for many of us. At some point physical meetings are likely to resume, but we are keen to keep the digital option going as it is very helpful for some, especially those with care responsibilities or mobility/energy impairments.

Between meetings, there is usually a background level of emails that come in and are circulated to the members, such as the regular planning application lists and other news items and consultation requests from the Council. These can usually be dealt with in a very flexible way, as and when you can find the time, and the members can agree between themselves how tasks are split up. So for example if there was a particular task you didn’t feel able or willing to contribute to, you could say so. There might be something else you were especially keen on, and others might then bow out of that task – and so on. Ultimately this is a volunteer position, and it is always up to you – we are very keen as a group to help each other to not take on too much, and understanding of the occasional need to take a break, etc. If you are concerned about this – please do speak to one or more of the existing members.

What support and training are provided?

Argyll and Bute Council can offer induction training and guidance to newly elected councillors, and the existing members are all very keen to provide any support needed for anyone that joins us. There are often opportunities available to council members to take part in further training sessions, and to attend meetings on particular subjects where we might have a role to contribute. Being an active community councillor can be a great way of gaining transferable skills and knowledge for a current or future career, while doing something useful for your local community.

I’m not sure I could manage / accessibility:

If you are interested but are concerned about taking part in connection with caring responsibilities, or a health condition, physical, mental or sensory impairment – please get in touch to discuss. There are all sorts of things that could be done to make reasonable adjustments to ensure you have the option to be involved and take part fully – elected office should be open to everyone.

Where can I get more information?

The nomination pack is attached below, which contains some information, and there is an excellent website run nationally to support Community Councils which has a set of pages about what a community council is and what it involves for members:

http://www.communitycouncils.scot/what-is-a-community-council.html

We hope to see a good number of candidates come forward – Tiree has been complimented recently for the extent to which our Community Council has been organised and working, and it would be a great endorsement of how active and engaged we are as a community to see a contested election!

Contested election! That sounds scary!

Please don’t be put off by this possibility – it’s not that scary really! Your name goes on the ballot papers that go to everyone and they vote – if you are especially keen to be elected you can choose to campaign if you wish – but this can be as simple as asking for friends to vote for you, maybe doing a social media post – or nothing at all and leave it up to people who already know you if that’s what you prefer. Nobody will be dragging you on stage or putting you on TV or anything like that! The role is a form of public elected office so a democratic process is just part and parcel of that.

Getting in touch to ask questions, or for help with the process:

The current members are also keen to offer any assistance we can – if you would find it helpful to talk to one or more of us informally about what is involved, please contact us either by e-mail (you can reach the Secretary, Phyl Meyer, at phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk), via our Facebook page, or directly.

Nomination Pack 5 November 2020

Nomination Form only 5 Nov 2020 – this is the only bit you need to print if completing a nomination form – or you can ask for one via Rona at the Council office.

There is also a series of documents on the Argyll and Bute Council website, including training resources about being a CC member, and if you’d like to delve into the more technical documentation, you can also find the “Scheme of Establishment” which defines the rules and the default constitution of the TCC here: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/council-and-government/community-councils – it is definitely not necessary to familiarise yourself with all of this to put yourself forward however!

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

Review of Argyll and Bute Integration Scheme (Social Care)

We have received the following communication from Argyll and Bute Council and NHS Highland inviting members of the community to input to a consultation on social care provisions in the area:

*****

You are invited, as one of a range of key stakeholders across Argyll and Bute, to have your say on updating the document that outlines how health and social care functions and services are provided locally.

In 2016, Argyll and Bute Council and NHS Highland brought all health and social care services together to form the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP). The main purpose of integrating these services was to improve the wellbeing of people who use them, particularly those whose needs are complex and involve support from health and social care at the same time.

A Scheme of Integration was subsequently agreed in 2016 which provides information about which health and social care functions and services will be delivered by the HSCP. By law this must be reviewed every five years and submitted to the Scottish Government for approval.

The current scheme has recently been updated by the Council and NHS Highland and it is important that we also jointly consult with the public and our stakeholders to seek their views on any proposed changes and to consider all views expressed.

The consultation will run for a period of six weeks from 9 December 2019 to 17 January 2020. A copy of the revised scheme, together with a summary of the proposed changes can be viewed at https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/consultations/integration-scheme-review. Hard copies are also available in your local Customer Contact Centre, or by calling 01546 604325.

If you have any questions or comments please contact us at: integrationschemereview@argyll-bute.gov.uk by Friday 17 January 2020.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Cleland Sneddon Iain Stewart
Chief Executive Chief Executive
Argyll and Bute Council NHS Highland

Image of a green landscape - caption "consultation"

Transient Visitor Levy consultation – a Tourist Tax for Tiree?

A consultation is currently open on the subject of giving Councils the power to implement a “Transient Visitor Levy” – i.e. a nominal charge/tax to be paid by visitors to an area for the purposes of tourism, etc, which could then be used to supplement finances to pay for local services and/or development of amenities. The measure is, among other things, intended as a possible way to address the fact that short term holiday lets result in additional load to civic services such as rubbish collection, water, sewerage etc while often not directly (or proportionately) contributing towards the funding of those services, but can also be used as a way to fund other development and improvements.

The TCC briefly discussed it at our meeting last night but there was insufficient time for a detailed analysis, although points that were made included the suggestion that provided such a scheme were implemented in a way which was not overly burdensome administratively to those operating holiday lets it could be of particular benefit to island communities such as Tiree by raising very useful additional funds.

The consultation closes on December 2nd – which means we will not be able to discuss it further at a future meeting before the deadline – therefore we are inviting members of the community to either submit their own responses in an individual capacity, or to e-mail our new Secretary with your views, and we will aim to submit a consolidated response on behalf of the Community Council that covers the input we receive.

The consultation can be found here:
https://consult.gov.scot/local-government-and-communities/visitor-levy/