Your community council had their ‘December’ meeting on 30th November, as a number of Councillors were going to be away this month. It was a long and passionate meeting, with about forty members of the public attending.
Perhaps the most significant issue discussed, was a complaint brought by Iona and Marti Larg that Tiree Community Council (TCC) had not been neutral in the recent ballot re the Balevullin beach hut. Mr & Mrs Larg have complained that the ballot paper and covering letter produced by TCC are confusing and biased in favour of planning permission being refused. In particular, the question on the ballot paper was framed by the view of the planning officer, who had recommended refusal. Mr & Mrs Larg also complained that no information about the beach hut was included with the ballot paper, and that the ballot papers were not numbered, which could have allowed fraudulent ballot papers to be copied and returned. When the Community Council published the results, no discussion had been added.
Donnie Campbell proposed that Tiree Community Council should immediately apologise to Mr & Mrs Larg, as he felt that the wording had not been agreed by all, and the ballot papers were not individually numbered, but the majority of TCC felt that this was not appropriate, and that it would be better that the Convenor give the Larg’s a considered written response in the first instance, and if they were still unhappy, they could ask for an independent island arbiter to rule on the matter. Donnie Campbell asked that his dissent to this decision be recorded in the formal minutes. The full complaint is below, and the TCC complaints procedure is available here.
TCC have been invited to go to talk to the young people in the school to encourage one or two to join the community council for a year. And we hope to take up this invitation.
The subject of the language used in the pre-school unit was raised. Gaelic was used until last year, but it has largely been replaced by English. Some parents would like to see more Gaelic reintroduced, and the school has set up a new group of parents to survey the families involved to find out what the current intake would like and also to help shape future developments.
Areas of responsibility for our three new community councillors was discussed, and Rhoda Meek will lead on crofting and fishing, Jessie Gray was asked to help Donnie in the area of education and Aisling Milne will take on environmental matters.
We discussed how we best deal with matters raised by the public. At the moment we usually take up issues with the mainland body responsible. Sometimes, however there is is a perfectly good mechanism to allow people to raise their own issues, for example the Parent-Teacher Council, and we were keen not to undermine these local committees. We are still very happy to take up your problems, but if you can, have a pop yourself first!
It was brought to our attention that there were problems, including a leaking sewage inspection hatch, a derelict electrical board and a considerable amount of construction waste on the triangle of land to the west of Pier View. Enquiries to West Highland Housing Association had proved fruitless, and it became apparent that this construction debris was on ‘orphan’ land, ownership of which was unclear. We will write to Environmental Health in the first instance. It had been pointed out that the pavements along Sruthan Terrace in Crossapol were heavily overgrown with grass, and we promised to ask the Council to look at this.
The danger of driving too fast over The Reef in winter was reported to us after a ‘near miss’. Black cattle can be difficult to see in the dark. We had asked the Roads Department to comment, but appropriate warning signs are already displayed at both ends of the stretch of road. The police have reinforced the fact that it is the motorists’ responsibility to drive carefully when there are known hazards like this. We were advised by the vet that there was no current way of attaching reflective material to large animals, although research into the subject is occurring. We decided that the best way forward was more driver education at the beginning of every winter.
We heard a report about the Transport Forum meeting in November. Members of the Forum are Ian Gillies, John MacCaskill, Colin Woodcock, Susan Lamont, Stewart MacLennan, Catriona MacLennan, Tish MacKinnon and Andy Wright. Barra have asked for a third flight during the summer, and members were worried this might put pressure on the planes servicing Tiree. The Forum has also asked for extra flights to Tiree during the pressure points of TMF or the 10 k. Loganair have started ‘Tiree Tasters’, day flights to Tiree with windsurfing lessons or cycle hire thrown in. It was suggested ‘Glasgow Tasters’ might also be popular! Tiree flights from Glasgow Airport often leave from Gate 3, which has no lift. This will be looked into. Numbers for the Tiree bus tours have fallen dramatically this year with the change from Thursday to Wednesday for the Barra run. Numbers to Coll have similarly fallen, and CalMac believe this has been caused by the new cheap RET tickets to Mull, which are encouraging visitors to take their own cars to that island.
TCC also had their quarterly meeting with the Trust. A second public meeting about the Charrette Report will take place at the end of January as efforts to bring the main island committees under one ‘Team Tiree’ umbrella continue. The Trust is set to take a lease of the old Met Office building at the airport to develop it into a Chapel of Rest. TCC heard about plans to improve harbour facilities for the fishing fleet. The next stage is another marine engineering report. Scarinish Pier has been closed by the Estate; although two fishing boats have been allowed to use it for the time being as there is no alternative. The Trust has agreed to take over the repair of Dr Buchanan’s memorial in Baugh. Argyll and Bute Council have responsibility for the replacement of railings at the War Memorial.
The Minister for Islands and Transport, Humza Yousaf MSP, has agreed to visit Tiree in the New Year and the Trust and TCC have set up a joint group to get the most for Tiree out of his visit. The main focus with the Minister will be on what the Islands Bill might mean for Tiree, meeting with crofters and farmers,. Demonstrating ‘Team Tiree’ and the problems faced by the fishing fleet at Milton Harbour. The meeting finished at 10.15.
Dr John Holliday,
Convenor, Tiree Community Council