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!