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Tiree Community Council news

The Community Council met last week with about ten members of the public and Roddy McCuish, one of four Argyll and Bute Councillors that represent Tiree, who had made the trip out here.

The main topic of discussion was the library service on Tiree. The Council had announced last month during their latest round of cuts that all school librarians were losing their jobs. Tiree Community Council and the Tiree Parent Council had joined forces to fight this, penning an article for the Oban Times and talking to the Mull and Iona Library Action Group. I wrote a personal letter to all District Councillors, saying that we were ‘implacably opposed to this proposed cut’ and calling for talks. Out of thirty five Councillors, fifteen replied (we are still waiting to hear from our MP), nine of whom supported our position. One reply, however, stood out. It was from Rory Colville the lead Councillor for Education. He told us that the library was not closing after all, but was being kept open full-time as a community public library, run by a senior library assistant rather than a Chartered Librarian as present. Opening hours which included evening and Saturday opening for the general public had been suggested, and the facility would be open all year round and not just during term time. This would bring it into line with smaller, single-manned libraries on the mainland. Because of a new security review it was suggested that it might be difficult for members of the public to access the library during school hours. Having faced the complete loss of our library, we welcomed this development in principle, although a lot of work was still needed to get the best out of this service for all the community and the school.

The Community Council had also been involved in negotiations with Argyll and Bute over the future of the Customer Service Point in Crossapol, which, it had been proposed, would be passed over to either the Tiree Community Business or the Trust to run with reduced hours. After some haggling the Service Point will stay as a Council post with slightly reduced hours.  During the meeting a member of the public pointed out that that she had tried to go there that very day and the office had been closed because the staff member was on holiday and cover was no longer being provided. Roddy McCuish said this was ridiculous and he would take this closure up with Council officials.

A draft ferry timetable for next winter had been welcomed by the Tiree Transport Forum and is now on the website for comments. We also received a letter from Brendan Dick, a senior BT manager, saying the break in the fibre optic cable caused by a (non-island) fishing boat had been repaired and that he hoped the first Tiree customers would be connected to the faster broadband service in June. A member of the public said that her Vodafone signal had suddenly deteriorated following an engineer’s visit to the mast, and we will investigate this. We decided to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation about Air Passenger Duty, even though it doesn’t apply to Tiree’s Twin Otter service. There has been mounting frustration over the failure by Argyll and Bute to deal with the abandoned trailers around the island, and Councillor McCuish said he knew which cages to rattle. Rosemary and I had attended some training on planning, where we had been encouraged, as a Community Council, to be more active.

Dr John Holliday, John MacCaskill, Alison Kennedy, Iona Campbell and Ian Gillies were present. Roddy said he would try to get more visits from the other three Argyll and Bute Councillors, or at the very least set up a monthly video conference with us. Councillors’ expenses had been slashed too in the latest budget, and the travel and overnight stay to Tiree ate into his allowance. Finally we thanked Alison Kennedy, who is leaving the island, for serving as our Secretary. It is a time-consuming job, and her ‘furious’ letters will be greatly missed! Do come along to our next meeting, look at our brilliant new website (thanks to Rhoda Meek), email, write or pester us on the street about any issues that are bugging you!

Sign the petition save Argyll & Bute Libraries

Along with Mull and Iona, Tiree is at risk of losing its only library. This is the one situated in Tiree High School. Council Cuts will axe the librarian post at the school. It is a valuable community resource, and Tiree Community Council is supporting the Mull and Iona Library Action Group (MILAG) in their endevours.

Please sign this petition to show your support:


Where will Argyll Council Budget Cuts Hit Tiree?

The first headline indications from Thursday 11th February A&BC 2016/2017 budget meeting are noted below.

  • Tiree Service Point service to be provided through voluntary sector contract in line with Jura and Colonsay
  • Tiree High School will no longer be provided with a librarian
  • School clerical assistant ports will be cut by 5%
  • Scarinish Public convenience will remain open
  • Three weekly refuse bin collection will be introduced
  • reduced level of funding support for events and festivals
  • reduced level of funding for arts development
  • Manage cover for ASN assistants from within current devolved individual school budgets and deliver ASN efficiencies to match resources to greatest assessed need
  • Budgets reduced for pre-five education
  • Primary school supply teacher cover will be at a reduced level
  • Reduce devolved budgets to individual schools
  • Education psychologist budgets reduced by 7%
  • 5% reduction in Tiree High School clerical support budget.

Disappointingly, Tiree Community Council have received just one single response from Councillor Michael Breslin to our letter on the 18th January to all thirty five elected Members of Argyll & Bute Council. We can only but hope that the other thirty four elected Members are hard at work finding a way out of the damage that the Council’s `service choices’ will wreck on Tiree, and throughout Argyll. Tiree Community Council have written again to all A&B Councillors, in a final effort to provoke some change in current thinking. The full text is below.

Tiree Community Council
Dear Councillor,
Argyll & Bute Council, Service Choices Consultation.
Tiree Community Council has considered the content of the consultation paper, Service Choices and Planning Our Future, but has difficulty responding in any positive manner, given both the style and overall presumption within the consultation toward low level service and job cuts. The proposals outlined within the consultation documents also appear to be entirely Officer led and do not reflect any serious input from elected members.
Although as a Community Council we were not specifically invited to attend any of the Council appointed consultants `workshops’, Tiree Community Council’s preference is to encourage elected members of Argyll & Bute Council to urgently consider taking a more fundamental look at the way that A&BC conducts its business, with far greater emphasis and thought around strategic vision, and the longer term future of the Council area than these thoughtless, ill-judged, and punitive proposals suggest to us.
The Council must look at the way that it conducts its business and provides essential services to the population of Argyll & Bute in a much more thoughtful and innovative way. The suggestions and recommendations to Argyll & Bute Council, as contained within the Accounts Commission Best Value Audit 2015, give sound advice and are well worthy of members consideration, certainly in advance of any agreement to the ill-conceived `Service Choices’ scenario. Rather than proposals for piecemeal and highly damaging low level cuts, the Council should seriously consider ways in which it can move away from an existing, and highly expensive centralised service, to a far more devolved range of services, where the Council genuinely, and proactively engages with communities to establish where, and how, services can be more efficiently provided.
Argyll & Bute continues to experience significant population decline, along with a resultant decrease of economically active residents, a lack of entrepreneurs, and a growing propensity towards second home ownership and an increasingly ageing population. Despite investment by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government, in high speed broadband provision, and vastly improved ferry/air links to the island, none of the proposals contained within the `Service Choices’ consultation recognise or take any advantage of these infrastructure investments.
As such, Tiree Community Council is regrettably unable to engage with the online `Service Choices’ consultation. We do however remain committed to working with the Council wherever possible to explore any innovative ways in reducing future year’s budget expenditure.
Yours sincerely,
Dr J. Holliday, Convenor,
Tiree Community Council.
The Island Centre,
Isle of Tiree,
PA77 6UP

All respect and credit is due to our Highlands and Islands Members of The Scottish Parliament, (MSP’s), Jamie McGrigor, Michael Russell, Rhoda Grant, and Mike MacKenzie who unfailingly respond in a positive manner to all correspondence from Tiree Community Council. Our concerns on the A&BC budget cuts have also been swiftly answered. We have also received acknowledgements, with a promise of a more substantive response, from both the Depute and First Ministers. A&B Councillor Bruce Marshall has also responded to give support to Tiree Community Council.

Tiree Community Council Service Choices follow up 8th Feb 2016