Winter ferry timetable extended

Today we received the following update from Calmac:

Further to my email of 26th February, I can now confirm that following further advice received from Transport Scotland, the current Winter timetable will remain in force until Sunday April 25th. Consequently, the Summer timetable for 2021 will now commence on Monday 26th April.

All customers with existing reservations from for the period March 26th through to April 25th will be contacted to advise of these changes and, where necessary, moved to an alternative sailing. This may take a few days to complete.

Wider communication of this information will now follow, with changes to our booking system and website to follow as soon as we can facilitate this.

As a general advisory we would suggest that any residents who will need to make essential travel in the coming months should book as soon as possible to secure the best chances of avoiding disruption due to capacity issues. The TCC will be discussing at our upcoming meeting  how we might engage with Calmac and Transport Scotland to discuss ways we might make some provision to ensure resident essential travel is not unduly impacted by restrictions.

Notice and agenda for March 2021 meeting

Our March 2021 meeting will take place on Wednesday 10th March at 7pm via Zoom

Agenda: (Initials in brackets indicate the member speaking to the item)

1. Welcome and introduction
2. Apologies
3. Declarations of conflicts of interest
4. Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising, including coastal erosion
5. Correspondence: graveyard consultation (JH); cycle repair stands (PM); community council training (PM); banked flights for cattle sale (GM); dentist (JH); bin lorry (JH); phone box in Baugh (GM); road safety leaflet (JH)
6. Argyll and Bute Council budget 2021-22 summary
7. Ferries (GM):  How can the service be made more robust next winter? Recent Transport Scotland query about possible service reduction. Extended winter timetable. Should the community council lobby for protected access to the ferry for islanders during what is expected to be a very busy season?
8. Pier Area working group report (AC and SC): approval for a public survey, and delays in obtaining the pier pedestrian safety report
9. Community Garden beside Pier View: a new proposal (GM)
10. Simultaneous translation into Gaelic for community council public meetings: report on progress (JH)
11. Planning sub-committee report (JP)
12. Is Zoom the way forward after the pandemic, or should we try to go back to in-person public meetings? Setting a date for a Zoom AGM (PM)
13. AOCB: a chance for members of the public to raise new matters of concern

Draft minutes of the previous meeting: DRAFT-COMMUNITY-COUNCIL-MINUTES-FEB

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You can choose how you view the meeting using the app if joining via the internet – “Gallery view” shows you multiple participantsPlease note that by default you will join the meeting muted (i.e. you will not be sending sound out to the rest of the participants) – please leave yourself muted unless you need to speak, and when invited to do so by the chair, and remember to re-mute afterwards. This is needed to ensure that the call is not made very difficult to follow by background noise from multiple people, which can be extremely disruptive to the call.

If joining by computer, you can find a button to “Raise your hand” to ask to speak under the “Participants” menu, accessed by pressing the Participants button (looks like a human figure, in the middle of the bottom part of the window). You can also use the chat function to make a comment or to ask to speak on a point.

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Comments facility re-instated on this site – registration now open

Following discussions at the meetings in January 2021 and then the agreement of a Comments and Moderation Policy in February 2021, a comments facility has now been reinstated on this site.

In order to comment you must register an account on the site, in your own name, and verify an e-mail address associated with it. In addition to the above link, the Registration Page is linked in the menu bar on any page of the site, and the registration form also appears on the log-in or “My Account” page you will be referred to on the comment function itself if not already logged in.

You must include a recognisable form of your actual name as your username – this will appear next to any comment you make, and a valid e-mail address (which will not be shown).

This information will only be used for the purposes of this comment facility – you will only receive email directly related to that function and you may choose to “subscribe” to pages if you wish to be notified of any new comments.

Comments may then be posted by logged in users on most pages and posts. These must be in accordance with the policy, and will be moderated by several members of the TCC.

If you wish to make comment on any post without wishing to register, or without doing so publicly, you can do so directly by e-mailing us.

Proposed ferry reductions and TCC response

TCC was contacted by Calmac on behalf of Transport Scotland on Sunday 21st Feb with the following letter:

Transport Scotland have asked CalMac to seek community views on potential service reductions across the network. This is requested in the context of current overall demand, continuing travel restrictions, and follows other transport operators being asked to reduce services.

Your feedback will help inform Transport Scotland and Ministers in making decisions on any service reductions. Transport Scotland have not yet indicated any potential commencement date nor duration, should reductions proceed. These potential reductions ensure lifeline services are maintained, and reduces unnecessary interactions between customers, vessel crews and port staff, reducing  the risk of community transmission.

Community feedback is requested by Wednesday 24th February, to enable Transport Scotland to discuss proposals and community feedback at a Local Authority engagement session, planned for the 25th February. Following the engagement session, CalMac will make any changes requested by Transport Scotland.

In specific regard to Coll and Tiree, this involves the suspension of the current Monday sailing, with all other services remaining as timetabled.

I would be grateful if you could please email me with your response, copying in the Transport Planning address above, who will collate all feedback and submit to Transport Scotland.

With thanks and regards,

Don McKillop

Area Operations Manager – Argyll & Lochaber

 

Clearly three days was not sufficient time for us to conduct a meaningful consultation with the wider community – we therefore did what we could in a more focussed way to contact key service providers – e.g. the GP surgery, the main shops, hauliers, fisherpeople, etc.

Today we sent the following reply to Transport Scotland (via Calmac):

 

Don,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to give our input to your discussions. However, the Tiree Community Council feels it has not had sufficient time to fully consult with all interested parties on Tiree. We did manage to contact the main hauliers, the local shops, some local shellfish fishermen, our medical staff, many of which live off island and the local school, which you will know share a head teacher and some key staff with Oban. Each group gave eloquent reasons for the retention of sailings on different days.

We did not have enough time to consult with other interested parties such as the building trade, utilities or social services. However, based on previous conversations, the Monday/Tuesday combination allows specialists to come to Tiree while only requiring one overnight stay.

The clear result of pulling together the responses is that any cut would have a significant impact on at least one essential service or already under-pressure industry, and as you might expect the strong general theme from all parties was that they did not wish any sailing to be cut.

We also had many asking if there is likely to be an impact on the resumption of the summer timetable given the current issues facing the fleet, and if so what that might be, and what we should now expect in terms of the summer timetable given both the current issues and the recent announcements by the FM?

Yours Faithfully,

TCC has been engaging with Calmac throughout the recent disruption to service to the island, ensuring that the serious issues facing the island with no food deliveries, etc, were raised in strong terms – with the result being additional sailings to help alleviate the immediate backlog – however there remain significant capacity issues across the fleet with technical problems and of course the weather affecting the fleet, which is depleted as usual for this time of year due to scheduled refits. We will continue to argue for the best possible provision for service to Tiree and Coll, working with our counterpart Community Council there, and to maintain pressure on Government to take action on the wider, longer term issues of fleet capacity and serviceability.

UPDATE:

Just as we were about to publish this post, we became aware that Transport Scotland are apparently now committing to not reduce sailings unless this was supported by communities – which suggests we should not expect to see any further reduction.

A news article relating to this has now been posted: http://www.hebrides-news.com/ferry-row-24221.html

February 10th 2021 meeting

Our February meeting of 2021 will take place on Wednesday 10th Feb at 7pm via Zoom.

Agenda:

1. Welcome
2. Apologies
3. Declarations of interest
4. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising: including pier sub-committee report; encouraging Gaelic use in community council business; fuel poverty; TCC email system
5. Correspondence: Argyll and Bute graveyard consultation; road gritting; fabric of Kirkapol Old Parish Church; driving on the beach; ferry bookings at the end of lockdown; bed and breakfast survey; the cost of community health panic alarm service
6. Erosion risk to the island: do we need to commission a study?
7. Website and social media moderation policy and councillors responsible (Note: Draft proposed comment moderation policy has been posted below)
8. Planning: report on the work of the planning sub-committee
9. Any other business: this is a chance for members of the public to raise matters that are not on the agenda

Draft minutes of last meeting: DRAFT-COMMUNITY-COUNCIL-MINUTES-JAN-2021

Proposed TCC Online Moderation Policy – updated draft 09/02/21

    1. Please be kind, courteous and constructive: No hate speech, or the use of aggressive, offensive or foul language will be tolerated. Respect the views of others and, in the event of disagreement, please do so politely.
    2. Please keep your comment relevant: Stay on topic and keep the conversation productive.
    3. Please don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want shared, or that you wouldn’t want to put your name to: Our website requires you to sign-in using your own name before posting a comment, as does Facebook. Anonymous posting or obvious pseudonyms will not be approved by moderators.
    4. When you participate in a discussion, you are responsible for ensuring that any material you post to the TCC website does not violate or infringe upon the copyright, patent, trademark, or any other personal or proprietary rights of any third party, and is posted with the permission of the owner(s) of such rights.

TCC reserves the right to remove comments that do not comply with these rules. On our website, this will mean that any comments that do not comply with the rules will not be approved and published. On Facebook, any such comments will be deleted if noticed or brought to the attention of a moderator by a member of the community.

Posts on the TCC website and Facebook page will be moderated by the TCC secretary or other nominated councillors. If a comment is thought to be unsuitable for publication on the TCC website or Facebook page, it will be returned to the author with an explanation. More complex cases may be discussed by the whole community council in a private meeting.

TCC reserves the right to share and discuss comments and points that are made publicly online.

 

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Dial in by telephone from UK:
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Guidance on joining the meeting:

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

If joining by computer, you can find a button to “Raise your hand” to ask to speak under the “Participants” menu, accessed by pressing the Participants button (looks like a human figure, in the middle of the bottom part of the window). You can also use the chat function to make a comment or to ask to speak on a point.

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

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

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

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

Note of the Planning sub-group meeting Jan 26th 2021

The first formal meeting of the newly convened planning sub-group of the Tiree Community Council met at 7pm on Tuesday 26th January 2021, via Zoom. The meeting was open to the public having been notified on our website in advance.

Present: Phyl Meyer (Chairing), John Patience, Stewart Carr

Apologies: Louise Reid, Iona Campbell

In attendance from the public: 1 member, by phone

It was noted that Louise had been unable to attend due to a meeting clash, and Iona had given apologies. Phyl also noted that while happy to chair to facilitate he was very busy at work lately and as a result very tired, and would be happy to take more of a backseat in the discussion! Phyl also suggested that it might be useful to consider seeking some volunteers from the community to join the sub-committee as non-councillor members/advisors – this would be selective/targeted rather than just by an open call. John agreed, suggesting a mix of relevant professional expertise and direct lived experience within key elements of the community (e.g. crofting) would be ideal. Further thought to be given to this and ideas for people to suggest brought back.

1. Planning process outline

Stewart presented a paper he had prepared which summarised the planning process as it is relevant to us as a Community Council. Some clarifying points offered by John on one or two points.

2. Statutory Consultee Process

Continuing with his paper Stewart outlined briefly how TCCs role functions as a “statutory consultee” within the planning process of Argyll and Bute Council (and beyond), with further comments added by John. Focus was directed on the importance of understanding how we determine what matters are “material” – meaning legally relevant to a response to an application, and therefore where we should focus our energies.

Further discussion of the document at this point focussed on the zoning that is in place in the Local Development Plan for Tiree and Coll, the key areas on the map that are helpful for this subject are the “Settlement” areas (presumption in favour of housing development), the “countryside” areas (presumption AGAINST housing development and the “Rural opportunity areas” (essentially where it’s a “maybe”). Suggestion that we’d expect not usually to need to get involved in applications for the first of these, always for the second (unless it’s specifically for a croft house, where there is specific provision for this), and usually for the third (except for croft houses).

We could of course be asked to or minded to oppose or to support applications depending on the potential impacts on the community. Also important to be aware of areas of archaeological significance, environmental protection, etc. Not likely to need or want to get involved in such things as domestic alterations (minor extensions, etc) but more likely to get involved with listed building applications, etc. There is guidance available which we should have reference to which helps identify what would be considered to “have an impact” and obviously we take account of the views of community on that as well.

Another key test on if we should get involved is if an application is a “departure from the Local Plan” – again this might then be something we could either be minded to oppose or, in fact, to support if there are good arguments for the community to allow the exception.

Discussion about how we take account of considerations of immediate short term impact/views and balance/reflect this with longer term impacts/precedent setting – (e.g. “OK this one might be OK, but what if 20 more applications like this come along in the next five years). For these issues, feeding into the setting of the Local Development Plan would be key.

General agreement that it would be helpful to develop something of a “checklist” or chart to follow to assess an application in a clear way to determine relevance – akin to a risk assessment. Agreed that the sub-committee should consider further how we assess “impact to the community” in relation to such a process.

ACTION – Stewart to add further details to the paper, Stewart and John to lead on developing further ideas around capturing a draft “process” for consideration at future meetings.

Phyl suggested it would be well worth trying to see if we can find existing material on this developed by other Community Councils. John agreed and stated that he would contact Cumbrae and Mull CCs to ask what they have. Phyl suggested also contacting the Scotland-wide Community Council support service (run by the Improvement Service).

ACTION: John to contact the above three places to see what he can find.

3. Establishing a response mandate from the community

Due to two members not being present who the others felt would have particular contributions to make to this point, it was agreed to postpone this area to the next meeting.

Statement from the estate Factor about use of Tiree beaches

Following discussion of the issue of multiple reports of quantities of material described as “industrial” in some cases being removed from Tiree beaches, and also complaints about potentially dangerous/damaging driving on beaches – it was suggested by TCC at our January 2021 meeting that it would be helpful for everyone to have a clearer sense of what is and is not considered acceptable. There is a general recognition of a need to strike a balance between supporting responsible use for the benefit of traditional industry, tourism and amenity purposes, and potential risks of long-term damage or dangers to the island and people.

The Argyll Estate’s Factor, Hugh Nicol, has subsequently issued the following statement:

Argyll Estates Shorelines on Tiree

 

Argyll Estates has ownership of an extent of shorelines all around Argyllshire including Tiree, Kintyre, Cowal, Lismore, Mull and other parts of Argyll.  This ownership is from the high to the low water mark.

Argyll Estates holds these coasts in trust and welcomes general public use.  No restrictions are imposed by Argyll Estates to responsible access.  As a result, Argyll has remained a county where restrictions on coastline access is virtually nil unless a neighbouring landowner presents a barrier.  This open access is prevalent on Tiree and, together with the beautiful sandy beaches, is one aspect of what makes the Island so special.

A license has been granted on a temporary basis for an operator on Tiree to carry out trials on seaweed fertiliser production.  The fee is nominal.  This has a limit on extraction, is limited to washed up seaweed and the license has specific rules on disturbance to people and nature.  This is necessarily an exclusive commercial license but it does not exclude anyone else on Tiree taking washed up seaweed for their own personal use.

Two local watersports businesses also operate commercially from Argyll Estates shorelines with our approval.  Both operate responsibly and there is no fee.

Should a vehicle park on a beach where there is no safe or appropriate land parking area, if the access route is suitable and no risk is taken to pedestrians or animals, Argyll Estates have no objection to this being exercised responsibly.  Vehicles should not ordinarily use beaches and should travel at crawl speed and no further than necessary.  This includes for launching of boats and the like.  Public safety is always paramount and reckless or dangerous behaviour is always covered by Road Traffic and Careless Driving laws and regulations.  Argyll Estates would expect no motorised vehicle to exceed 5-10 mph at most.

Sand and Gravel custom and practice on Argyll Estates shorelines has permitted farmers and crofters (including common graziers) to take a free ‘de minimus’ amount for their own agricultural use.  To date, in all areas other than Tiree, this has been respected with no issues brought to our attention.  In Tiree it is alleged that large scale extraction, sometimes described as “industrial scale quarrying”, has occurred.  No tangible usable evidence for a prosecution has been presented for this but the number of anonymous voices reporting the matter has given weight to the likelihood that removal by a few has exceeded the de minimus and reasonable personal agricultural use rules.  Without tangible evidence, no action against alleged infringements can be taken.

A good definition of “de minimus” is; “‘too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact’.

On Tiree, there remains many individuals who qualify and the vast majority have always, and still do, stoutly respect the unwritten code permitting responsible use that has existed for centuries.  As an unwritten oral tradition, as was once more common in Gaelic society, the lack of historic written evidence can be an issue.  However, for the avoidance of doubt, Argyll Estates confirms that the permission exists and it has our approval when responsibly exercised.  Argyll Estates recognises the marginal nature of agriculture on Tiree.  We also recognise the benefits it provides which greatly outweighing the collection of and amount of aggregate for legitimate use which is “too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact” on our shorelines.

The permission does not grant carte blanch removal.  Where there is an agricultural requirement for large quantities of aggregates, this should be purchased lawfully.  Tiree has a legitimate licensed source which was specifically created following comment in the past that there was not such a source locally so all sand and gravel had to be taken from the beach.  Off Island sources are of course also available and if demand increases, economies of scale improve.

Nor does the permission allow removal for private use other than directly agricultural.  The road and substructure for a new or refurbished property belonging to a friend or relation of a farmer or crofter is not permitted.  Nor is large scale extraction for bunds or other structural or landscaping use.

Were a resident of Tiree to visit the beach and take a small amount of sand for their private garden use, Argyll Estates, while not expressly granting permission, would be very unlikely to pursue this.

The de minimus allowance is given on trust that it will be used responsibly and should only be used for the crofter or farmers own agricultural use.  Sale of sand and gravel taken without permission would be considered as theft and the purchase of illegally taken goods is also a criminal offence; specifically known in Scots law as “reset”.  Sale or gifting of aggregates removed under this de minimus rule is specifically excluded other than where one farmer or crofter assists another with their de minimus sand and gravel collection for no monetary return.

In the past few years, and with most again this past year, Argyll Estates has engaged with a variety of individuals and we have specifically contacted the following organisations:

  • Argyll & Bute Council
  • Tiree Community Council
  • Tiree Community Development Trust including the Ranger Service
  • Police Scotland
  • Crown Estates Scotland
  • NatureScot (SNH)
  • RSPB
  • Contractors operating in Tiree

While most are sympathetic, it is clear to Argyll Estates that without the people of Tiree assisting and speaking up when necessary, the alleged abuse of the permission by a few can and will continue.  Understandably, no organisation wished to jump in and take on this matter particularly when there is no firm evidence and all individuals reporting an incident wish to remain anonymous.  Most of those in a position to take leadership, while clear and vocal ‘in camera’, in public take a different tack.  Positively however, I do see a stronger confidence forming amongst all involved or interested in this matter.

My hope is that with this matter discussed openly and with “guidelines” set out for this previously unwritten matter relying on responsibility and trust, there is now a better basis to proceed without varying or terminating this ancient tradition.  If there are any who did not understand the gift we share and did not realise that nature itself dictates that it is not an unrestricted and endless entitlement, I hope that this note has helped to clarify matters.  Tiree is an Island community that needs everyone involved to work constructively, respectfully, openly and honestly together.  Without it, more than this valuable tradition may fall apart.

 

Hugh Nicol

Factor, Argyll Estates, 19 January 2021

Downloadable version: Argyll Estates Shorelines on Tiree