Category Archives: News

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.

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

Tiree Transition and Future working group

Tonight the Community Council agreed there is a need to set up a working group that takes a longer term view about the future of the island, in particular issues relating to the changing climate and sea levels, and the impacts that scientists are warning  we should now expect to face.

Tiree, as a particular low-lying island, is likely to be among the most deeply affected parts of Scotland. Recently published estimates for the range of possible change in sea level we could see within the century make for sobering reading, especially when the effects of coastline erosion in light of increasingly stormy weather is taken into account.

Transition away from fossil fuels is likely to need to be greatly accelerated, and it will be vital to our island’s future that our infrastructure is prepared for that, and that local businesses are supported.

If you are interested in taking part in this group and beginning a discussion about these issues and what we might be asking be done in preparation – please get in touch with TCC member Phyl Meyer by e-mail at phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Next Meeting: December 11th 2019, 7:30pm

The next meeting of the Community Council shall be held at An Talla on Wednesday 11th December starting at 7:30pm.

All members of the community are welcome. If there are any accessibility requests which it would be helpful for us to be aware of please let us know at phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

The agenda is as follows:

1. Proposal of Ian Gillies as co-opted councillor
2. Conflicts of Interest
3. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising: including Scarinish public toilets update
4. Correspondence
5. Recent changes to the administration of Highlands and Islands Patient Travel Scheme
6. Streaming of TCC public meetings online
7. Secretarial position
8. Linkspan update and ferry timetables
9. Visit from Joe Reade from Mull and Iona Ferries Group
10. ‘Land Below the Waves’: reception in Scottish Parliament in March: a progress report
11. Report of Scottish land Commission meeting, and possible invitation to Hugh Nicol, factor of Argyll Estates to February’s public meeting
12. Working party on a possible Tiree Food Bank
13. Date of next meeting: possibly February
14. AOCB

<a href=”http://tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Agenda-december2019.docx”>Agenda december2019</a>

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/

Front cover of the Isle of Tiree Sustainable Design Guidance document

Time for an update? – Tiree’s sustainable design planning guidance

At our meeting last night there was discussion about the planning guidance available to local residents seeking to develop their homes or construct new buildings. The meeting agreed it would be helpful to draw to the community’s attention the existing guidance, to which planning decisions must have reference, which was published in 2007.

The document was held to be an excellent and most helpful piece of planning guidance that should be the envy of many other communities, but there was general agreement that there would be benefit in exploring the possibility of it being given an update (the previous consultation on it now being 12 years old) and that in particular it would be useful to develop more detail around the ways in which design of buildings could evolve in future.

Councillors and members of the public suggested that residents keen to explore use of new materials and construction methods might find it useful for the guidance to explore further how a balance could be struck between innovation and having regard for the distinctive look and feel of Tiree.

The TCC agreed to reach out to the Council Planning department to see what options might be available to explore this. The existing guidance can be found on the Argyll and Bute Council website here:

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/planning-and-environment/isle%20of%20tiree%20sustainable%20design%20guidance.pdf

Scottish Land Commission logo

Public Meeting – Scottish Land Commission – community land buyouts

Members of the community may be interested to attend this meeting, discussing a subject very relevant to the future community-led development of Tiree. The event is free to attend and open to any member of the public:

Public Meeting: An Talla, Crossapol, Tiree – Monday 25 November 2019, 7pm

Come along and find out how your community can benefit from:

  • transforming vacant and derelict land
  • community ownership
  • community engagement in decisions relating to land
  • modernising land ownership.

This is a free event, open to all. Tea & coffee will be provided.

For more information please contact us on: info@landcommission.gov.scot or 01463 423 300

Public Meeting – Tiree – 25 November 2019