Category Archives: Communications and infrastructure

Charrette Outcomes Public Meeting: Wed 22 March 7.30 @An Talla

Most of you will remember the Island Futures Charrette workshops that took place last year, facilitated by Ironside Farrar Ltd. A variety of public meetings and workshops were carried out and attended by the community who were encouraged to input into the process.
The results from the Charrette were presented to The Trust in the form of a Socio-Economic Baseline Study and a Strategy Report.  In October of 2016, Tiree Trust held a public meeting to present the key information collated from the reports. Unfortunately, this meeting wasn’t well attended and it was felt that we should re arrange the meeting in order to give the community another chance to learn about the key results from the Charrette process and what the ‘next steps’ would be in relation to the recommendations.

The second public meeting will be taking place on Wednesday the 22nd of March at 7:30pm in An Talla and we would urge as many people as possible to come along.

You can find out more at http://www.tireetrust.org.uk/charrette-outcomes-public-meeting/

Adopt a kiosk?

Tiree Community Council is proposing to try to “adopt” the majority of telephone boxes in Tiree.

Why?

  • Very few calls are made from these boxes. BT has already offered some boxes to the Community Heartbeat Trust, to avoid them being removed entirely. The reality is that these boxes will all disappear within the next few years if someone doesn’t take responsibility for them.
  • The boxes are suffering from wear and tear.
  • We know we can turn them into some brilliant things!
  • We don’t want to lose our iconic red phone boxes.

What do we intend to do with them?

  • We will ensure they are painted, fixed and maintained.
  • BT has already offered some boxes to the Community Heartbeat Trust. We are talking with the Community Heartbeat Trust about installing defibrillators in some boxes, as well as 999 emergency phones.
  • We are talking with Tiree Broadband about the possibility of turning them into wifi hotspots, although this will be entirely dependent on network capacity, which is not currently available.

Other proposals include:

  • A history trail. People can travel round the boxes, see parts of the island that they may not otherwise see, and find out about the history of each village or area where a box is located
  • A scavenger hunt for young visitors. They would need to find answers in all the boxes to get a prize.
  • Art exhibitions
  • Book swaps
  • Offering boxes to community groups or businesses to decorate or advertise in, sell from and take ownership of.

Pros

  • A great tourist attraction
  • Defibrillators within communities
  • 999 phones
  • Wifi for visitors, distributed around the island
  • Fun, quirky and guaranteed smiles
  • We get free paint for them, and BT will leave the power on AND pay the bill.
  • The boxes will cost the Community Council £1 each

Cons

The telephones would be removed by BT. It is likely, however, that these boxes will be decommissioned anyway over time.

Fundraising would be required for defibrillators and SOS phones if we wish to go down that route for some of the boxes.

Next steps

The public meeting thought that this was a good thing to explore further. No decisions have yet been made.

However, we have been in touch with BT and applied to be considered. All 10 phone boxes we are interested in now have a notice advising people of a 42 day consultation period. There are details on the poster of how to object.

Heanish was not included as it is regularly used.

Cornaig was originally included, but after an objection we have withdrawn that application.

The 42 consultation period is part of a wider 90 day Council consultation period. Once that is over Rhoda will report back to the public meeting and we can figure what if any next steps will be taken.

Notes:

http://www.communityheartbeat.org.uk/

http://www.coatings.org.uk/adopt-a-telephone-kiosk.aspx

https://business.bt.com/solutions/small-business/communities/adopt-a-kiosk/

 Tiree phone boxes under consideration

  • 01879 220 444 (Mannel)
  • 01879 220 389 (Baile Mhullinn)
  • 01879 220 350 (Heylipol)
  • 01879 220 313 (Kenovay)
  • 01879 220 320 (Silversands)
  • 01879 220 310 (Caolas)
  • 01879 220 441 (Baile Phuil)
  • 01879 220 328 (Crossapol)
  • 01879 220 331 (Scarinish)
  • 01879 220 477 (Middleton)

Reduced Times of Opening, Scarinish Branch

It was recently suggested that we write to the Royal Bank of Scotland in relation to the reduced branch opening hours which will begin later in the summer. It was noted that the letter received by customers mentioned an ATM. We thought it would be a good opportunity to see if one might be installed. There are no promises, but the initial communication has been positive.

Dear Mr Crawford,

Thank you for your recent letter advising RBS customers on Tiree of reduced hours of opening at the above branch. The matter was discussed at last evenings Tiree Community Council meeting, following representations by RBS customers to Tiree Community Council.

In particular, RBS customers are puzzled to learn from your recent letter that, “cash machine availability will remain the same”. As the Scarinish branch does not currently have a cash dispensing machine, there will be no obvious advantage to RBS Scarinish customers. May we suggest that RBS investigates the installation of a cash dispensing machine, which would in fact go a long way toward balancing the additional days that the branch will be closed. This simple act of providing a cash machine would put Tiree on a level playing field with larger, (and not so large), city branches, and all at minimal cost to RBS. I might add that currently, non RBS customers are turned away from the Tiree branch as it is only RBS customers who can receive card based cash.

I do hope that you might seriously consider the above proposal as overcoming some of the obvious reputational damage to your company when visitor numbers on Tiree swell to over 2,500 during the summer months, many of these will of course be existing RBS customers, with an expectation that they can withdraw cash at any time.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should I be able to provide any further information to you.

Best regards,

Ian

Ian Gillies,
Secretary,
Tiree Community Council.

And the response:

Mr Gillies

Many thanks for the email and for taking the time to reply to the letter that I had sent and also for discussing the hours change at your recent Council Meeting. I have also copied Craig Smith from the branch into my response so he is aware of our communications.

Firstly let me apologies for the wording of the letter around the cash line. Upon reading the wording back it could’ve been either removed or worded in a different way as you are quite correct that there is no current ATM facility.

The subject of the cash machine came up on my last visit to the Island and after discussions with the Tiree Music Festival organisers and it is something that we investigated last year. At that point we had decided that the current set up of full time branch hours and a mobile cash machine visiting the festival was discussed and we felt this was the correct way forward. Now with the branch hours changing that may lead us to a different conclusion. I have today went away and requested a business case to be looked at within the company for the feasibility of a ATM machine to be installed in the branch. What I would say though is there wont be a quick answer but I will start the communications within the bank to see what can be done.

I will work with Craig to get all the supporting information including local events and visitor numbers to help the case.

While I cant promise it will be successful I can promise that I will try and get a successful outcome for you and the community.

Thanks

Gary

Gary Crawford | Local Chief Executive Officer

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!

Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS)

18 months ago Tiree Community Council applied to be considered for the Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) project. It was designed to provide a 3G signal of limited reach in rural areas where a mobile signal can be hard to find. The Community Council’s application was successful and since then they have been liasing with Vodafone and ROSS to get the signal boosters installed.
A number of sites were planned in the early stages, but due to technical constraints and concerns about the suitability of phone cabling on Tiree, 3 sites were chosen. These were picked for their proximity to the exchange at Scarinish, and their lack of reliable mobile signal.
The sites are MacLennan Motors, Tiree Scarinish Hotel and the dental surgery.
Vodafone onfirmed that they have completed their installation works at MacLennan Motors and Tiree Scarinish Hotel. They are still waiting on BT to carry out their installation work at the dental surgery at Baugh but Vodafone have pre-installed their equipment so when BT complete their job the unit will go live. The ROSS system will allow a 3g signal within 500 metres of the equipment, and whilst these 3 units will not solve the issue with mobile signal on the island, the Community Council hopes that it will alleviate the problem in the areas chosen.