Category Archives: Communications and infrastructure

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

Urgent consultation survey – Tiree route out of lockdown

We have been asked on very short notice for our views in relation to the announcement First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made regarding the planned timetable for easing of restrictions out of lockdown for Scotland – specifically regarding the mention of there being options for islands like ours which have been under slightly more eased restrictions.

We have not been given much clarity on what possible range of options may be available but as best we can determine it seems likely to be a straight choice between two main options.

Background:

According to the timetable for easing restrictions, there is an expectation that we will be allowed to travel freely within Local Authority areas for non-essential purposes (rather than the “stay at home” restrictions operating on the mainland). There will then be a general shift on April 26th which can broadly be thought of as the mainland of Scotland returning to what was called “level 3” – for the most part. At that point up to 6 people from up to 3 households will be allowed to meet outdoors, and up to 4 people from 2 households can socialise indoors in a public place such as a café or restaurant. These are similar to the restrictions Tiree is currently under . However the key difference is that travel will from that point be allowed across mainland Scotland, not just within your Local Authority area – and tourist accommodation will be allowed to resume general operation – i.e. people will be allowed to travel and stay overnight, as long as it is using tourist accommodation.

Because island communities like Tiree have been relatively safer with lower or zero case levels, there is an option (we assume from April 26th) for islands like ours to drop from current restriction level (level 3) to what will be the new level 2 equivalent. We assume this to mean something similar to the restrictions which are expected to come in no earlier than May 17th – at which point up to 4 people from 2 households can socialise indoors in a private home.

However: The Scottish Government concern is that if people were able to travel freely to and from islands like ours, we would be under disproportionate risk if we were to be operating under greater easing of restrictions from the earlier date. They are therefore considering that if islands like ours were to continue to be treated separately from the mainland, and move to lower restrictions on April 26th, it would need to be accompanied by a continuation of travel restrictions to and from those islands until the later May 17th date. Note: we are unclear if this would also imply us not being able to travel within the local authority area from April 2nd

We are therefore being consulted about a choice on how we would prefer to be treated.

Again we must emphasise that this has been a fast moving issue and there is not a lot of clarity on exactly what options would be considered, there may be some sort of middle ground possible – but as best we can tell this boils down to choosing between two options:

Option A: Tiree would remain in “Level 3”, and would align with the new eased restrictions for mainland Scotland as of April 2nd, and then on April 26th. Tourists would be allowed to travel to and from the island as of the 26th, and residents would be allowed to travel off the island within Scotland (Note: not necessarily cross border travel to England or elsewhere)  and return, but all under level 3 restrictions – e.g. no indoor visits, accommodation only in hotels/tourist accommodation instead of staying with family, etc.

Option B: Tiree would move to the new “Level 2” equivalent earlier – possibly from April 26th, or possibly even April 2nd (we aren’t sure on this point!) – meaning lesser restrictions within the island community (indoor visits would be allowed, etc) – however travel to and from mainland Scotland would NOT be allowed for visitors or residents until the later easing of restrictions on May 17th – i.e. these further eased restrictions would only be available to us within Tiree itself until that later date.

Short-term Survey consultation:

We have set up a simple short survey poll to canvass opinion from the community, in addition to reaching out directly to consult with Tiree based business owners and operators. We have been asked to feed in a view by Monday 22nd – three days from the posting of this survey – so please respond quickly! You can complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PGWG6PD

If you have only one device but multiple people wishing to express a vote, drop us an e-mail or comment on the page instead as the survey only lets you vote once per device.

Some factors that the TCC members have considered in our own discussion of this:

  • Option A allows an earlier resumption of tourism visits and therefore trade for island based tourism business – with resulting economic benefit
  • Option A allows earlier travel off island for residents – albeit with pretty high restrictions still in effect – which could allow for some family contact (outdoors or limited in public places such as cafés etc). Alternatively family could come here, but they would need to stay in tourist accommodation, and the same restrictions would apply.
  • Option A allows for earlier access to things like travel off-island for shopping for things not available on-island – although note that this will not be practical for most people on Tiree from April 2nd as tourist accommodation for non-essential use does not resume until April 26th.
  • We are only talking about a period expected to be 3-5 weeks. Is it worth adding another layer of restrictions/complexity for the island compared to the mainland for such a short time rather than just being treated the same as the mainland?
  • Option A would have a greater/earlier risk impact on staff who work in service/retail that will be in contact with visitors coming here from the mainland.
  • Option B allows greater freedoms within the island community – but not for travel to and from the island. So those with family and friends here could see more of each other under that option, but not for family elsewhere.
  • Option B is technically the safer option for those who live here with regards to the pandemic – but vaccination levels are increasing steadily, and with the retention of higher restriction level for longer under Option A this safety factor as not as dominant as it was earlier in the pandemic
  • However – if the planned easing of restrictions does not go well and there is a resurgence in cases, or new variants of the virus, etc, remaining more secluded may mean the island could avoid as severe a return to lockdown and some of that risk.

What do you think?

Feel free to register and comment on this post below with your view as well as completing the survey on the two expected options. Please be mindful of our policy on comments

Opinion survey on Gott Bay Pier, marshalling area, car park

As discussed at recent meetings there have been a number of communications to TCC about the Gott Bay Pier, marshalling area and the road and car park areas there. Caledonian Marine Assets Limited (CMAL) are considering some works there, and there have been suggestions that wider work could be done to improve safety, appearance and functionality of the area.

We would like to invite members of the community as well as regular visitors to Tiree to respond to a survey we are running on this issue, which can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YN2QBNJ

Scottish Water – Tiree’s supply and network, and water saving

At our December 9th 2020 meeting we had a presentation (click here to download the PowerPoint slides used) from Scottish Water, in which a great deal of helpful information was provided about the Tiree water works and pipe network and how it has been performing in terms of leakage rates (actually very well) and how the peak demand in summer compares to the supply capacity (currently coping but without very much to spare – but efficiency savings could address this for some time to come).

Of particular interest to residents may be the following we were sent afterwards:

There was a query regarding how to report a leak. This can be done by calling the contact centre on 0800 0778 778. The number is on the front page of our web-site https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/. A leak can also be reported through the website by accessing https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/your-home/your-water/leakage and clicking on the “report” button and answering some questions.

There was also a query around leaks on (customer, household) supply pipes. I’ve attached a booklet from our web-site that notes that in certain situations we may be able to offer a subsidised leak repair or pipe replacement if certain conditions are met.

Your Guide To Water Pipework

Scottish Water have a new water use calculator and are keen for as many households on Tiree as possible to try it out. It only takes a few minutes but gives great insight into how much water is used within the home throughout the day and an idea of some of the carbon savings you can make through reduced energy related to hot water. The process follows on to provide water efficiency advice and because Tiree is seen as a priority area free water efficiency devices are also available. Scottish Water have committed to provide a report on the findings from the “Get Water Fit” platform in the new year, so the more people we have responding the better the results.

The link to the water use calculator https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/your-home/save-water/how-much-water-do-you-use

While the link https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/your-home/save-water takes you to more general water saving advice. The presenters said that based on Tiree’s water use data, an improvement in water efficiency could free up enough capacity for a further 30 homes on Tiree. Small changes can make a big difference.

A particular example that was discussed and may be of particular note for Tiree are leaky toilet cisterns. The push button type, although supposed to be more efficient in terms of water use, are very prone to build-up of sediment or scale causing the internal seal to leak. This results in a steady trickle of water into the bowl, and so can go unnoticed or be ignored by the user for a long time – however because it is a constant loss of water it can result in a huge increase in water usage by a household.

Given that Tiree’s water is extremely “hard”, we are particularly prone to build-up of limescale in our plumbing, which may make this issue more common – residents are encouraged to check to see if their cisterns have this issue and address it if so – https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+clean+a+push-button+cistern+seal

Recent correspondence re Tiree air service vehicle replacement

On behalf of both the Community Council and the independent Tiree Transport Forum our Convenor recently sent the following letter:

Dear Michael,
Tiree Community Council and Tiree Transport Forum have asked me to write to you.
Both bodies are concerned about the consequences of Loganair’s pivot away from
their SAAB 340 fleet to the ATR 42 as the airline sought to develop scale and a wider
footprint before Covid-19 struck. The ATR is unable to land at Tiree airport.
As you know, pre-pandemic, the Scottish Government’s two Twin Otter DHC6-400s
occasionally struggled to maintain the busy Glasgow, Barra, Tiree and Campeltown
rotations. The availability of the SAABs allowed Loganair to task these planes on an
emergency basis if one of the Twin Otters were taken out of the schedule. This has
not been infrequent on the Tiree run.
Obviously, passenger numbers have been heavily impacted by Covid and you must
have more pressing matters in your in-tray at the moment.
However, adding or replacing plane capacity is an expensive and complex task with a
long lead time. We wondered if the programme to phase out the SAABs has slipped
because of the pandemic, and how Transport Scotland intends to replace the
capacity that the SAAB fleet has given Loganair in the past.

Yours sincerely,
Dr John Holliday, Convenor, Tiree Community Council on behalf of the community
council and the Tiree Transport Forum

 

We have now received the following reply:

Dear John

Thank you for your e-mail of 18 November 2020 about Loganair’s fleet replacement plans. I hope you are keeping well in these difficult times.

My understanding is that, while Loganair’s plan to phase out their Saab 340s and replace them with ATRs has been delayed due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still their intention to complete their fleet replacement programme. As you note, the Saab 340 is sometimes used on the Tiree-Glasgow service and the ATR cannot be used due to its weight. Two of the assessment criteria as part of the tender process for the PSO contract are relevant here – ‘maintenance and back-up arrangements’ and ‘proposals for non-availability of aircraft’. The ‘maintenance and back-up arrangements’ criteria recognises that the aircraft normally used on the routes will be out of service at various times in order for routine maintenance to be undertaken. This includes each aircraft’s annual heavy maintenance check which takes several weeks. Loganair confirmed as part of their bid that they own a Twin Otter aircraft, in addition to the two they lease from HIAL, that will be used in the delivery of services from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

In relation to ‘proposals for non-availability of aircraft’, Loganair’s bid set out a clear, multi-layered approach offering a high degree of resilience which provided us with assurance that they could continue to provide the services even if the normal aircraft used on them were unavailable. This included use of their own Twin Otter aircraft as well calling on other aircraft in their fleet should that be necessary. At the extreme, the leasing in of further aircraft would be considered.

There is no requirement within our contract for Loganair to use specific aircraft types for the provision of services. This is deliberate so that it gives an airline the maximum flexibility to ensure that services are provided. Loganair is, however, contractually required to provide the services as per the specification. Should they fail to do so then we would take action under the contract to address the situation.

You will be aware that Covid-19 has led to a significant drop in passenger numbers across the air network and including the Glasgow-Tiree service. As a result of this, the number of weekly rotations has been reduced to take account of this lower demand. It is neither economically nor environmentally desirable for an airline to be flying empty planes. We expect, however, that this reduction in frequency will be a short term measure. We expect demand to pick up again next year as the Covid-19 situation is resolved and travel restrictions are lifted. In the longer term, we are committed to the provision of the current specification during this contract period and I look forward to continuing to engage with you and your colleagues on the Community Council and Transport Forum, both in terms of ensuring that services are currently operating as they should in meeting the needs of the community as well as considering further refinements to the specification for the next contract period.

Should you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely

Michael Bratcher
Aviation Policy
Transport Scotland

 

Royal Mail post to Tiree

Following the matter being raised by a constituent we have been making enquiries into additional (i.e. not the usual weather related) delays to the mail service reaching the island over the last months.
We made enquiries with Loganair, who confirmed the issue to be due to the increase in volume of postal deliveries to the island since the start of COVID-19 restrictions. The increase was such that the maximum carrying capacity allowed for on the regular plane service was being reached quite frequently, and this caused delays to post that then couldn’t be loaded until a following flight. They referred us to the appropriate contact at Royal Mail who determine the service provided.
We have since been in dialogue over the past month or two with Distribution Manager for the area, Paul, who went away and looked into the options possible to address this for Tiree.
We are delighted to have just heard that additional capacity on the flights has now been agreed and put in place which should resolve the capacity issue. Welcome news indeed ahead of the Xmas period!
We are grateful to Royal Mail for their response and commitment to serving all customers in the UK regardless of where we live – and of course to the staff locally and further afield whose efforts all mean that Tiree residents (many of us not making trips to the mainland to shop for less common items because of COVID-19) have access to much of the things we all rely on and/or which provide welcome comfort during trying times.

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

Paid work role to support TCC meetings and communications

TIREE COMMUNITY COUNCIL – ADMINISTRATOR CONTRACT

Applications are invited for a new contractor role as Administrator of Tiree Community Council (TCC). The work includes advertising TCC meetings, booking the hall and opening this up; taking minutes of the public meetings, writing them up and circulating them to councillors; liaising with TCC councillors and helping to maintain the TCC website and Facebook page; and other support that might be necessary to help the smooth running of the council It is expected that this work will involve 8-10 hours a month (subject to negotiation). The post will be self-employed and the rate offered is £15 an hour, paid monthly. TCC public meetings are usually held in the first week of every month, with no public meetings in January, July and August.

To apply, please send a brief account detailing your relevant experience, and how you see yourself in the role. Applications by 1700 24 January 2020 to the Tiree Community Council Secretary, Phyl Meyer: phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

An Update From EE

An Update from EE

‘We are in the process of getting the backhaul delivered to the site at Scarinish. As the second site south of Kilmaluaig will link into Scarinish by microwave backhaul, that too cannot go online until the Scarinish site is up and running. Looking at timelines for similar processes at other sites, I would expect we can start turning on the 4G in April, or shortly after’

Cash Machine Survey

When the Royal Bank of Scotland announced revised hours of opening last year, Tiree Community Council were asked by members of the public at that time to request further clarification from RBS. As it was apparent from correspondence with RBS that the decision to introduce shorter opening hours would not be reversed, Tiree Community Council felt that the provision by RBS of 24 hour cash dispensing and balance enquiry by the installation of a ‘hole in the wall’ cash dispenser, or ATM, at RBS Scarinish would provide additional convenience for the public.

Further enquiries to RBS by Tiree Community Council asking that consideration of 24 hour cash dispensing be looked at has not at this time met with success. However, in order to build a suitable business case, the local RBS branch manager has requested that Tiree Community Council provide RBS with some evidence of the numbers that would potentially make use of 24 hour cash dispensing at RBS Scarinish.

To help Tiree Community Council provide some factual evidence to RBS, we would be most grateful if you would take the time to complete a very short and simple survey. We will then pass this additional information to RBS to allow them to make an evidence based decision.
You can answer the survey in the box below, or you can do so at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/M23GZMP

 

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