Public Ordinary Meeting of Colonsay Community Council

Tuesday 14th December 2021 at 6 pm via Video/Audio Call


Convener Alex Howard

Secretary Jane Howard

Treasurer Kevin Byrne

Richard Irvine

All councillors were present.

Councillors Robin Currie and Alastair Redman (ABC) present.

There were approximately 10 members of the public in attendance, including FF1,2 and 3 who spoke from the floor.


1. Apologies


2. Declarations of interest

Will be recorded at appropriate points in the meeting.

Recording of meeting was noted.

3. Minutes of public meeting held on Wed 25th Aug.

Minutes proposed to be accepted by KB, seconded by RI.

4. Matters arising

•  Suggestion that AH should explore an independently chaired meeting to resolve the differences between the 2 landowners over the Port Mhor track is no longer necessary as the 2 landowners are dealing with this themselves.

•  JH reported that the University of the Highlands and Islands had responded to JH's enquiry as to whether they may be interested in conducting a community survey on behalf of the community regarding the houses at Port Mhor. FFL1 questioned why this was being pursued as planning had been granted. He asked how this came about and who requested it. JH responded that this has been going on for months, has been minuted previously and it has been led by Rhona Robinson on behalf of a group of constituents. As part of this, the CCC was invited to chair a meeting during the summer. One of the outcomes from that meeting which was attended by Robin Currie and Dannie Onn (CCDC) was that a community survey may be useful. ABC were not prepared to undertake the survey and it was suggested that it might be something that the UHI may do. Rhona and the constituents have been pressing the CCC to continue to try and find an independent party to undertake a survey. JH confirmed that the CCC would have nothing to do with the actual survey, it would be totally independent of the CCC. FF1 asked if some constituents objected to the Planning permission granted at Queens Bay, would the CCC conduct a community survey? AH explained that we are not conducting the survey, we were asked by some constituents to help facilitate the process. AH and JH declared an interest re Queens Bay and withdrew from discussion on that point. AH said that the CCC does not generally comment on planning applications. FF2 said that the difference between Queens Bay and Port Mhor is that the land at Port Mhor is community owned, that much time has passed since the original Planning Permission was granted, that the situation on Colonsay is now different that there is community land owned at Scalasaig for houses and that the community have never been consulted on the housing at Port Mhor in view of all that.

Dannie Onn (DO) agreed that there is a difference between the Queens Bay and Port Mhor situation as RI had pointed out before. He said that the CCDC believes it is too late to conduct a survey as the project is going ahead. DO wanted to confirm that the CCC will not be commissioning or arranging a survey. AH confirmed as did the other Councillors. It is up to other parties to organise the survey if UHI agrees to carry one out. DO asked that the CCDC be informed if the survey is taken forward.

Rhona Robinson (RR) wanted to say that it is 42 people in the community who have asked for a survey and they feel that they have not been heard. She asked that the CCC stay involved as the only group who can help them. RR agrees that the CCDC may take no notice but she feels that the CCDC should listen to the whole community and that if this survey is not carried out the CCDC may never listen to the community and carry on and do what they want for ever more. FF1 responded that this project has been going on for a long period of time and that it is only recently that the grand opposition to the project has appeared. The CCDC feels that the CCC is being used as a way of splitting the community over what is a very important asset for the community. FF1 believes that we have to grow the population and that this project needs to go ahead.

AH asked what FF1 would suggest the CCC do in the face of such a request for help from a group of constituents. FF1 asked if the Councillors have seen the list? AH said he has not but he trusts RR and he believes that other Councillors have made their own enquiries. KB said that there had never been a survey of the community, there was only a "drop in" event for a few days in the hall. DO responded to RR's comment about CCDC consultation with the community and said that the CCDC is committed to consultation going forward which will be evident in the presentation to be given later in the meeting. He said there is no point in having a survey if it cannot affect the outcome.

AH said that he thinks that people should still have an opportunity to express themselves. AH is not aware of any comprehensive community consultation on the Port Mhor housing having been carried out.

RR asked about whether the CCC would remain involved in the survey. JH said that it may be useful to see the list of constituents who would like a survey to be conducted. AH reiterated that independence and anonymity are important in any survey and confirmed that the CCC will not be commissioning a survey, it is up to others to do it.

5. Royal Mail

JH has written to the CEO of Royal Mail re poor winter mail service and cc'ed in both our MSPS. Donald Cameron MSP has already responded to offer support depending on response from Royal Mail.

6. Financial report

Current a/c: £485.31 after liabilities

Capital account (Colonsay Benefit Fund): £27655.92 after liabilities

Next payment of £14000 from MOWI is due in early 2022

7. Covid- 19

KB said that it is recommended that people should take lateral flow tests before socialising. Rhona Robinson (RR) said that there are lateral flow tests available in the surgery.

8. CALMAC carpark/marshalling area

Nothing to report.

9. Roads

The CCC has received a letter from ABC roads dept in response to the CCC's complaint saying that they were happy with the work that had been done, that it was normal for some material to come back out of the repairs and that we had been allocated £30,000.

DO suggested that as major road making machinery is being brought over for the new housing project perhaps it could be utilised in conjunction with the Council's road repairs. JH asked Robin Currie (RC) to comment. RC said that the budgets will be determined at the end of Feb and that we should write to the Council, cc RC, and ask that road repairs/upgrades are carried out at the same time. RC agrees that Colonsay is overdue for a major roads upgrade and will support our request for a much bigger allocation of funds. DO offered to find out the budget for the roads for the CCDC housing project and will let JH have the details of the contact person. This to be included in letter to ABC. Action JH

10. Community Benefit Fund (CBF)

RI reports no further applications.

RI has proposed some minor changes to the application process. The key driver remains “is the application of community benefit”? One change proposed is that as it is quite hard to get committees formed to assess applications, and the proposal is that any recipient should become part of the committee for award assessments going forward for 6 or 12 months. KB made the point that the purpose of the CBF is to distribute funds rather than sitting in the bank. On that basis, if a full committee cannot be formed, then the CCC can decide applications in public with agreement from MOWI on any award. The proposed changes are posted on the CCC website for community comment.

FF3 asked how many awards have been made since the beginning. RI said it is around £50k, it is all listed on the website. Last award was in Sept for the Church of Scotland for IT equipment of just over £1000. Prior to that, the awards were pre pandemic; over £30k to the Village Hall, award to the CCDC's purchase of the Baptist Manse, to the COHT for publishing a book, etc. FF3 said perhaps a more major rethink of the CBF should be considered as it seems to be a committee of one and that it has perhaps been “figure headed” by one of the Community Councillors. FF3 asked whether re-engaging the community in the management and distribution of the CBF should be considered. RI said that can certainly be incorporated in the review process. The CCC is looking for feedback over the next 2 months. KB explained that the committee that decides on awards is not a committee of one but is formed by a lead CC who then forms a committee of community members. The CC then acts as a moderator in the process. FF3 said that their understanding is that it has been quite difficult recently to form a committee and that there haven't been volunteers coming forward. KB and RI agreed and said that was one of the reasons for reconsidering the criteria and the management of the CBF. KB confirmed that the CCC has to manage the CBF. FF3 said that there is also a lack of funding applications so there seems to be a fundamental problem. AH and RI agreed. RI said he would take this all on board in the process going forward and will be seeking feedback over the next 2 months and the CCC is open to all suggestions. AH wanted to thank MOWI for their contributions which the CCC, on behalf of the community, is very grateful for.

(Addendum for clarity: Please see website for detailed summary of every award made to date. For each application round to the CBF, a CC is appointed to form a committee of a minimum of 5, max 8 members of the community, to consider applications to the CBF. Once decided by the committee, the CC reports back to the next CCC meeting and the award decision is ratified at the meeting.)

11. Planning Applications

There are 3 applications since the last meeting: Neil Hutton at Glassard for an extension; superfast broadband cables coming ashore at Kiloran Bay; non material amendments to the CCDC Scalasaig housing project.

12. AOBS

•  AH said that it has come to his attention that private individuals have been contributing to wreaths and poppies. He suggested that a committee should be formed to look after the war memorial and ancillary services for it. KB pointed out that the War memorial is owned by Calmac. ABC have helped in the past e.g. repairing the railings. DO said that he thinks there is a national war memorial group that may be able to help. AH suggested that this community should be capable of looking after its own memorial. RR said that perhaps the CBF could be applied to as it is of community benefit. RI said that the operational costs would be quite small. For bigger requirements, we should first establish who owns it and then get them to apply for repairs etc. Alastair Redman said that the War Memorial is for remembering all lives lost in all wars not just in the World Wars.

•  JH reported that a TV producer had been in touch about doing a fairly gentle documentary showing life on an island perhaps in May next year.

•  DO presented a future Community Plan on behalf of the CCDC. Copy on the CCC website. DO asked if the CCC would endorse such a plan. KB agreed to all except point 3 of “defining the community” as the CCC cannot define the “community” as that is defined by the local authority. Aside from that, all councillors supported the requests in principle.

•  AR brought up the proposed changes by ABC to management of education through the “cluster” management which is currently out for consultation. AR believes it is a cost cutting exercise and that it may be disproportionately affect remote rural communities by reducing the number of Head teachers and effectively sharing the Head role across a number of schools. He would like to draw the attention of anyone involved or affected by education and ask them to respond to the consultation exercise. KB spoke as a member of the Colonsay school Board and said he understood that the Colonsay Head teacher would be relieved of some admin functions but would be freed up to offer expertise in a specific area to other schools in the region. DO said that the CCDC saw the success of the local school as critical for the sustainability of the community. The consultation is limited to a single proposal but the CCDC would like to comment further regarding the provision of education at secondary level to enable families to stay on the island and parents to have contact with their children. The CCDC will be responding to the consultation and is happy to include anyone else's input. JH said that she thought it important that the School Board and parent representatives respond. RC said that the consultation is out until 4 th March. It is possible for groups to have a session with an education person to ask questions. No decisions will be made until the autumn next year. He doesn't see that Colonsay could ever be disadvantaged by the proposal as teachers cannot be moved on and off the island. AR is more pessimistic and believes that it is actually removing decision making from local Head teachers and centralising control. The largest teaching union is opposed to the proposed changes which he thinks is worrying. He asked if we would be interested in having a representative from WISE4ALL to speak at our next CCC meeting. RC said that the most important people to have a discussion with is the education team from ABC. AR said that the most important people to speak to are the educators. AH said that we could look at this. AR to get WISE4all to email info to us. RI said that we should ask the School Board if they would like to be involved, or for the CCC to be involved, and that we should also forward on the info from Wise4all to them. AH asked for input from members of the community. FF2 said that s/he had received a letter regarding the proposal when s/he was a parent at Kilchattan school. The Head teacher said that her post was guaranteed for her tenure but not after that. FF2 said the proposals sounded quite positive. It was agreed that JH would contact the Head teacher and School Board to see how to take this forward.

•  KB brought up his concern that in a power cut the mobile phones do not work. AH suggested that the CCC should write to all the mobile networks asking why the masts do not have an emergence generator. He also raised the point that the “emergency plan” needs updating. AH said that the doctor's surgery managed the process in the last long power cut. KB said that there are gaps in the provision. JH said that the emergency plan is run by ABC and is coordinated by the surgery and Kirsty McAllister (ABC employee) in the service point. RR explained that the surgery drives the management of the emergency plan. Action: KB to advise ABC of these concerns via a letter through the Service Point.  RR to arrange a meeting between KB, KMcA and RR to consider.

•  JH reported that Calmac have responded to her letter of a few months ago to say that the proposal to remove the Colonsay link with Islay in the summer timetable from 2023 has been dropped which is welcome news.

•  RR reported that the new EE mast does not connect to routers or the fire service bleepers. Action: RR to email details to AH and AH to contact EE to ask why this doesn't work.

13. Next meeting Tuesday 15th February 2022

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