Category Archives: News

CLANSMAN RETURNS TO SERVICE

MV Clansman is returning to service ahead of schedule.

She will now commence the scheduled service on Oban-Coll-Tiree on Saturday, June 9.

This will allow MV Lord of the Isles to restart the postponed Lochboisdale Mallaig service also on June 9 and service the Mallaig Armadale route as scheduled.

We are fully aware of the impact this period of disruption has had and we appreciate you and your community’s understanding and patience during this time.

Clansman will do a double service to Coll and Tiree tomorrow, 9th June,

Depart Oban 0615 Arrive Coll 0920
Depart Coll 0930 Arrive Tiree 1030
Depart Tiree 1050 Arrive Coll 1150
Depart Coll 1200 Arrive Oban 1505
Depart Oban 1530 Arrive Tiree 1900
Depart Tiree 1920 Arrive Coll 2020
Depart Coll 2030 Arrive Oban 2335

FERRY UPDATE

FERRY UPDATE

23rd May – 31st May inclusive MV Clansman will operate the service on her published timetable.

Note : Weekend 26-28th May MV Clansman will operate normal timetable,
ie  Oban-Coll-Tiree-Coll-Oban one rotation.
 
1st-12th June Tiree will be serviced by MV Lord of the Isles,
which will operate the same timetable as she did in the weeks prior to Clansman return .
Calmac is currently altering the reservations system with the ship change
and the “Lord of the Isles Timetable” which will see all traffic transferred.
If there are any issues with any booked traffic Calmac
advise they will contact those customers directly to investigate
 the best option for that particular issue.
As soon as this is complete Calmac we will open all sailings with available space,
and update all public information regarding  the service.

Email from Robert Morrison Head of Service- CalMac

Tiree CC

Thank you for time earlier to discuss Clansman redocking plans.

As previously publicised MV Clansman needs to return to dry dock for a permanent repair to its propulsion system.

This has now been scheduled for June 1 with her returning to service on June 12.

The vessel will be taken out of service to have a new propeller shaft fitted and these dates were seen as the best option, as work would be completed ahead of the main summer season.  

We realise the impact that her absence will again have on your community and apologise for this, however this is an essential piece of work that we wanted to schedule in before the summer season fully started.

We are putting in place temporary arrangements that will see all lifeline services maintained. The temporary arrangements will see an amended service operating on the Mallaig-Armadale route and suspension of the Mallaig-Lochboisdale route.

Customers seeking to travel on the Mallaig-Lochboisdale service will be directed to Oban-Castlebay or Uig-Lochmaddy services. We have organised extra sailings on the Barra to Eriskay route enabling passengers to travel to South Uist via Oban-Castlebay on the same day. The MV Loch Bhrusda will also be deployed on the Skye route to provide additional sailings for the duration of this maintenance period.

We appreciate that this disruption will also impact on communities on Coll, Tiree and Colonsay, as they will be served by the MV Lord of the Isles for the duration with its smaller capacity.
 
We again apologise for the inconvenience this will cause, but hope you understand that this work is unavoidable and appreciate the difficult fleet management decisions forced upon us by the vessel’s absence.

A full scheduled timetable will run again from June 13.

Regards,

Robert Morrison
Head of Service Delivery North
Calmac Ferries Ltd

Letter from Robbie Drummond Managing Director of CalMac

Your email of 19 April to Finlay MacRae highlighting the concerns of the local community about the impact of the delayed return to service of MV Clansman has been passed to me. My apologies for the delay in replying.

I want to stress at the outset that we deeply regret the inconvenience caused by the disruption due to the implementation of the temporary timetable and can assure you that a great deal of thought and planning went into ensuring that all of our island communities continued to have a scheduled service while we worked through the problem.

The current situation is one of the most complex with which we have had to deal in recent times, and it has been a significant challenge to manage. In addition, the MV Clansman’s technical problems have been changing during the period that she has been in refit meaning that information given openly, in good faith, at different times, has unavoidably changed.

You will have seen the communications that we have been issuing this week and I hope that these address the issues you have raised.

Regarding relief vessels, our brokers have been continually scouring the market for additional vessels suitable for operation on our challenging West Coast routes. We have assessed a number of vessels over the last 12 months but as yet none have been identified. We will continue the search.

Finally, I would categorically refute the claim that we have a ’could not care less’ attitude. A great many people across the company are working very hard to minimise the disruption and part of that is doing the best we can in communicating with customers honestly and timeously about the situation as its unfolds.  We care deeply about our customers and communities of which we are an integral part.

In the meantime we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused and can give you assurance that we are doing everything we can to return MV Clansman to service. We are currently on track to have the normal service resumed by 23 May and we will continue to issue updates on our website until we reach that point.

Regards

Robbie
Lr, CalMac Ferries Ltd
Executive Director, David MacBrayne Ltd
01475 650241 / 07766 021415

Letter to Transport Minister Regarding Ferry Provision

Dear Minister,

Our constituency MSP Michael Russell wrote to you on the 20th April regarding the re-arrangement of vessels and timetables due to the continued absence of The MV Clansman from its normal route pattern, Oban-Coll-Tiree.
Tiree Community Council have additionally lodged a formal complaint with CalMac Ferries Ltd, seeking  clarification and remedial action on a number of issues around the recent CalMac press release. However, in advance of any response from CalMac Ferries management team, the Tiree Community Council would ask you as Transport and Islands Minister to look urgently at the current chaotic, and frankly ineffective booking system.
The current displayed timetables for Oban-Coll-Tiree bear no factual resemblance to the reality of the changed situation. Attempts to book an advance ticket any more than one week ahead are met with dismay and confusion by central head office ticketing staff. Those customers with long held existing reservations are being given erroneous information which does not comply with the booking they made, or with email messages that are being sent. Promised text messages to update passengers most often are simply not sent, or contain inaccurate information. Also, the CalMac press release makes reference to a number of important island cultural events due to take place across the network, but somehow, CalMac management have completely forgotten to acknowledge or deal with the fact that Tiree has similarly important scheduled cultural and business events coming up. Currently, there is no indication, and/or plan of what will be done to meet the expected surge in demand, with the unquestionable chaos and confusion that will result. The dreadful state of confusion that was in evidence of the holiday Easter holiday period, is now set to continue.
The whole matter is having an extremely destabilising and demoralising effect on the travelling public, as well as island residents, island business’ and has already to our certain knowledge led to early cancellations of travel.
Tiree Community Council would have expected that there is a current and up to date risk register for an organisation of the size and stature of the David MacBrayne Group, and if this is indeed the case, then we do question why the corporate, reputational, and commercial risks associated with the breakdown of a major vessel have not been pre-determined and contingency measures already agreed well in advance. This would appear not to be the case, as decisions are seemingly taken on an ad-hoc random basis, with enormous reputational damage to the company, as well as considerable financial loss in terms of foregone revenue to the taxpayer.
Tiree Community Council can provide if you wish, both verbal and written evidence to substantiate the above statements. However, there is no time to lose in sorting out the current booking, availability and scheduling shambles that we face from one week to the next, with no apparent forward plan or stability in sight.
Your intervention Minister is urgently sought!

Letter From Michael Russel to CalMac – Vessel Deployment

I am extremely concerned about the developing situation with particular regard to Islay , Campbeltown , Coll & Tiree  in my constituency.
Postponing the start of the advertised Campbeltown service is a retrograde step and is letting down a community which has worked hard to secure this service and wants to develop it.
The Coll & Tiree Community Council has already been in touch with your company pointing out not only the extreme difficulty the revised timetable will cause but also ( and rightly) complaining about the  manifest failure of the company to deal with the situation in a way which is effective and helpful.
The Islay position is even worse .  There are a number of major events on the island next month but the revised timetable and the on / off nature of the booking process is causing huge uncertainty and leading to a reluctance to travel by many potential visitors as well as some cancellations.  It is fair to say there is fury  on the island today and an explosion of social media criticism of the company .
This is all utterly  unnacrptable and solutions must be found now.  In addition the failures in planning with regard to the refit programme must be addressed with urgency.
The communities I represent need answers but most of all they need actual progress on  these issues today and I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards
Michael

Letter To CalMac In Response to Recent Press Release

Thank you for the update and press release on the MV Clansman continuing dry-dock issues.
While everyone understands the logistical and technical difficulties that CalMac is dealing with, and the limited options available to the operations staff. there are nevertheless a number of questions that the community and travelling public would want Tiree Community Council to ask.
1. It is impossible to imagine that any amount of careful or judicious management of traffic will overcome the capacity issues that will be faced by continued deployment of MV Lord of The Isles during the upcoming peak weeks. Indeed, as you point out in your comments there has already been considerable disruption to the Oban-Coll-Tiree service leading up to Easter and continuing onwards to this day.
2. Despite constant assurances from CalMac that MV Clansman would be returning to the Oban-Coll-Tiree route following dry-dock repairs, the already weeks old rumours that the MV Clansman would in fact be deployed by CalMac management to the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy service are now confirmed as entirely accurate. While Tiree Community Council do not wish to put ourselves in the position of debating the merits or otherwise of ship deployments to other Scottish islands, we do question the logic of deploying the MV Clansman to the Uig triangle route, when the vessel will clearly and most obviously be required on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route to meet expected demand. Are the needs of the travelling public, businesses and communities of Tiree and Coll of less importance than any other island community or route?
3. What options have been explored to schedule additional services to Coll-Tiree utilising existing Oban based vessels?
4. What progress is the Transport Minister and Transport Scotland making in their lengthy search for a suitable relief vessel, which would overcome many of the problems that are now being experienced, not only Oban-Coll-Tiree, but right across the network?
5. Tiree Community Council continue to receive far above average complaints of chaotic CalMac customer relations when dealing with customers regarding cancelled sailings, inaccurate information and a `could not care less’ attitude. Can Tiree Community Council ask that an urgent appraisal of customer relations, both quality and effectiveness is urgently undertaken.
6. I note that the CalMac press release makes mention of “major changes” and goes on to
specify the communities that will be affected. However we are astounded that neither Tiree or Coll are mentioned even one single time in this press release, presumably as senior management are either unaware or simply do not care about the communities of Tiree and Coll who are suffering the greatest loss from the MV Clansman’s absence.
Tiree Community Council would wish that CalMac look far more seriously at putting in place proper mitigation during the enforced absence of MV Clansman, rather than what appears to be a cursory glance at the needs of the communities of Tiree and Coll. There must clearly be fairness and equality, and in this instance it is clear to us that our communities are not receiving fair treatment.
I would be grateful Finlay if you would treat this submission from Tiree Community Council as a formal complaint to the company, and ensure that it reaches the appropriate level of management.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Ian
Ian Gillies,
Secretary,
Tiree Community Council

TIREE COMMUNITY COUNCIL: A LOOK BACK

The vital election for the next Community Council is on 26 April; nominations for the eight places up for grabs have to be in by 22 March. The age limit for councillors is now 16. As most of the current councillors are standing down, we need a good number of new people to stand. It is hard work at times, and you need to be quite thick-skinned. But it can be incredibly satisfying. If more than eight stand, there will be an election, an uncomfortable thing in a small community, but it does make the Council stronger. If less than four people stand, the Council will no longer exist.

The latest version of Tiree Community Council has been operating since September 2014, following an initiative by John MacCaskill. As our four-year-long tour of duty winds down, and with elections for a new Council due, I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at what we have achieved. I think it is quite a lot: a second daily flight to Glasgow; a second Saturday sailing from Oban in the summer; keeping the Oban flights; making sure Tiree got the fire-optic cable when the project was under threat; getting cover for the Tiree policeman when he is away; clearing several abandoned trailers; and setting up a Tiree Flag Competition. Possibly more important is the fact that the Council has fought hard to get the island’s voice heard loud and clear – all the way from Scottish Government ministers to Argyll and Bute Council officials.

Fourteen people have served on the Council at various times: Dr John Holliday (convenor), John MacCaskill (vice-convenor), Alison Kennedy and Ian Gillies (secretaries), Rosemary Omand (treasurer), Donnie Campbell, Jessie Gray, Angus John MacKechnie, Frazer MacInnes, Rhoda Meek, Aisling Milne and Paul le Roux, with Iona Campbell and Calen MacNeil coopted as youth representatives. All these people truly deserve our thanks. We have met in public once a month, with breaks at New Year and in July.

The Tiree Trust has financially supported the Council, to help with basic things like travel and our email system; Trust employees Shari MacKinnon and Louise Reid have taken our minutes. We thank them for that fundamental support. We set up a website and Facebook. We developed a Planning and Complaints procedure. We met the Islands and Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, both in the Edinburgh Parliament and on Tiree; Coll Community Council three times; Michael Russell MSP several times, as well as Rhoda Grant and Jean Urquhart MSPs; Councillors Roddy McCuish and Jamie McGrigor; and Sally Loudon, the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute. We held several meetings with the Tiree Trust and took part in the Charrette process. We have run Tiree Transport Forum as a sub-committee of the Council. We invited Jim Smith, the Council head of Amenities and Roads; the head teacher; the local manager of Scottish and Southern Energy; the ranger Stephanie Cope; and Dr Felicity Brand to talk to public meetings.

We have tackled the following issues, with varying degrees of success:

  • Abandoned trailers in Crossapol and Gott: we lobbied for their removal, being (eventually) successful
  • Phone boxes: we first lobbied for these to be repaired, and then we set up a project to buy them all except one, and renovate them for a variety of uses. This project continues
  • Mobile phone coverage: we lobbied Vodafone to improve their service after a poor spell
  • Pier: we lobbied CMAL and CalMac to ease parking pressure at the pier, caused by insufficient markings and management at the pier car park. We have been involved in plans for the new pier head
  • Ferry timetable: we lobbied for an improved ferry timetable, notably succeeding to get the second sailing on a Saturday afternoon in summer. We lobbied for better facilities for disabled passengers on the ferry
  • Withdrawal of Hebridean Air Services: we acted quickly to lobby against Argyll and Bute Council withdrawing their support for this service
  • Glasgow flights: we lobbied successfully to get an evening flight incorporated into the timetable
  • Airport security: we lobbied unsuccessfully against the removal of this, with all the knock-on effects on travel
  • Roads: we fought hard to get passing places signed, cattle traps drained, and excess grit removed. All we achieved was a handful of passing place signs
  • Scarinish harbour sewage: we lobbied successfully to stop raw sewage leaking into the harbour
  • Council Cuts: we negotiated with Argyll and Bute Council and Tiree Community Business to prevent the loss of the Tiree Service Point
  • Litter around the Tank Farm: we lobbied to get old fencing and an electrical box tidied away from a corner of Pier View
  • Pier View: we lobbied Highlands and Islands Enterprise after they awarded an area of land at Pier View to MacLeod Construction rather than to community groups
  • Toilets: we have an ongoing request with Argyll and Bute to investigate the possibility of a community buy-out of the Scarinish public toilets
  • Beach Hut: we conducted a poll of islanders about the controversial planning application to build a hut on Balevullin beach, and presented this to the Planning Committee
  • Dr Buchanan’s Monument: we spent time attempting to organise repair of this damaged landmark, but eventually handed the project over to the Trust
  • EE mast: we lobbied successfully for EE to include commercial 4G services on the new Garraphail emergency services mast
  • Responded to the crofting grants housing consultation, resulting in a substantial increase in grant aid for new croft houses
  • Responded fully to the Islands Bill consultation, now making its way through parliament.
  • Ran a number of online public surveys to gain an understanding of the public’s wishes on air and sea transportation matters
  • Remembrance Day: we have taken over organising this service. We have lobbied to get the railings about the War Memorial replaced. This is about to happen
  • Tiree Flag Competition: the competition for this will run in April
  • Rubbish: we lobbied without success for the re-instatement of the bins outside the Gott dump
  • Fibre-optic cable: we lobbied for this project to be saved after the Clyde fishermen had complained about the Mull-Tiree cable
  • Chapel of Rest: we set up a study to look into this. We passed the project over to the Trust, which decided not to proceed
  • The Mayor of Vancouver: we wrote to the present Mayor of Vancouver about a celebration of the first Mayor of Vancouver, Malcolm MacLean of Tiree
  • School Library: we lobbied hard against this closure, and then in favour of a public library for the island
  • Bank: we lobbied for an ATM “hole-in-the-wall” machine without success, and have expressed concern about recent unscheduled bank closures
  • Police cover: we met Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, who agreed with our request to provide cover for the Tiree policeman when he goes off the island
  • Kilkenneth Chapel: we successfully lobbied Historic Environment to re-fence the chapel at Kilkenneth
  • Tiree and Coll Councillor: we lobbied Humza Yousaf for a return of our own dedicated Tiree and Coll District Councillor. Coll, however, are less keen on the idea
  • New GP contract and NHS24: we lobbied the Cabinet Secretary for Health about the harm the new contract will do to the Baugh surgery, and have written to the Health and Social Care Partnership about the imposition of NHS24 on the practice. We are still waiting for a reply

 

Nomination forms for the next community council can be obtained from Rona at the Service Point in Crossapol or from the website www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/elections. If you have any problems, phone 01546 604331/4401. You need to be 16 years or older (although some parts of the form mistakenly say 18), and be on the Tiree Electoral Register. You also have to be proposed and seconded by people also on the Register. You can submit the form to Rona or to the Returning Officer, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, PA31 8RT.

 

Good luck! Tiree really needs a strong Community Council.

Dr John Holliday