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.
- 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.
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.
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
We received the following information to pass on:
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?
- Essential shopping
- 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?
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.
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:
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.
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.”
Councillor, Oban North and Lorn
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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