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COLONSAY COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Tuesday 10th November 2020 at 6pm via Video/Audio Call

 

Convenor Keith Rutherford

Vice Convener Alex Howard

Treasurer David Hobhouse

Secretary (interim) Jane Howard

Richard Buttrick

Liz McNicholl

Helen Mann

Kevin Byrne

Present: Richard Buttrick, David Hobhouse, Keith Rutherford, Liz McNicholl, Helen Mann, Kevin Byrne. Donald MacNeill (Minute Secretary) and a number of members of the public.

The meeting was chaired by Keith Rutherford and David Hobhouse.

•  Apologies

No apologies were received.

•  Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest at this point.

•  Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held 13/10/2020 were adopted without comment. Proposed by Keith Rutherford and seconded by Richard Buttrick.

•  There were no matters arising from previous minutes not discussed elsewhere.

•  Community Resilience – Coronavirus:

•  Community Hub – Closing Report

LMN Reported that the hub will be closing. There are still some items in stock which will either be distributed or stored. LMN thanked the Scot. Gov for the funds which had made the hub possible and CCDC for managing it. Dannie Onn, from the floor, thanked Colonsay Estate for the use of the building.

LMN asked for volunteers to help with clearing up and an appeal for help will be made to the community. Action LMN

•  Implementation of New Lockdown Level (Depending on SG Decisions)

KB remarked that travel between Colonsay (tier 2) and tier 3 areas was discouraged except for essential purposes.

 

•  Air Service and ferries

KR had received an enquiry from Nurse Reid as to the possibility of having a flight on a Tuesday. This would allow patients from Colonsay to attend outpatient clinics in Oban. Patients attending at present have to be away from Monday to Wednesday.

It was decided to ask AH to investigate with Hebridean Air. Action AH

The council wondered about the possibility of changing the regular air service to Tuesdays on a permanent basis to facilitate attendance.

HM remarked that the winter scholar flights were working normally.

There were no comments about the ferries.

 

•  Colonsay & Oronsay Community Fund – Extension to current round

DH and HM stated that there had been no new applications.

KB asked about the composter and Baptist manse projects. Both supported by the fund and managed by CCDC.

Dannie Onn, Chair of CCDC, responded that the composter will move to a new site on the newly acquired CCDC land and that the purchase of the Baptist Manse has been held up due to drainage issues which are being resolved.

 

•  Broadband – Update on work of subgroup

Callum Hay reported on behalf of the sub-group that a report had been drawn up summarising the present position. The sub-group are keen that individuals do not avail themselves of the funding (voucher scheme) currently available from Scotgov as it may well be better to pool resources for an all inclusive Island project.

The report will be circulated round the community and the sub-group will revisit the project in the new year.

 

•  Waste Collection – Response from ABC

Following an application from CCC for an improved refuse service it was felt that the A & B response was unhelpful and dismissive and did not recognise what is a major problem on Colonsay.

KB stressed that the council did not address points raised in the letter sent to them.

It was decided further clarification should be sought. Action JH

DH suggested we ask for large bins sited at the recycling centre to cope with overspill. This was seen as a possible stop-gap but should not be seen as a permanent solution.

Dannie Onn suggested the public be encouraged to throw less away.

KB said that boxes were not being crushed before being stuffed into the skips thus compromising the capacity for paper recycling.

KR said there was some confusion as to what went into which skip (paper, plastic, tin).

 

•  Royal Mail – Reduction in service quality

Colonsay mail is having to lie for more than 24 hours in Oban before onward travel.

KR will discuss again with Mr Sneddon, and find out who is next up the line to contact as Mr Sneddon claims not to have sufficient seniority to affect the problem . Action KR

KR said there is a morning van leaving Oban so it is unclear why Colonsay mail doesn't go on it? KR will enquire.

RB suggested CCC should liaise with Mull who are facing a similar problem.

 

•  Planning applications

There are no new planning applications.

 

•  Any Other Business

Schoolhouse Renovations

LMN was worried that there seemed to be no progress in the renovation works.

HM said the Head Teacher was pursuing the matter and did not need any help at present.

 

CCDC – Strategic Review

A copy of the review is appended.

Dannie On gave a brief summary of this report which was commissioned by H.I.E with the aim of suggesting a way forward for Colonsay.

Main Points: CCDC must evolve to meet the suggestions in the report.

The report makes 12 recommendations (Page 13) and Dannie picked out 1,3,6 and 7 as being particularly pertinent.

1.  Re-engagement of the community.

3.  Quarterly meetings between main stakeholders.

6. Increased co-operation between CCC and CCDC.

7. CCC and CCDC to define the “community of Colonsay and Oransay and make sure each part of the community is represented.

There followed a brief discussion.

RB felt that businesses tended to be excluded from discussions.

RB stated that A & B council defined “community” in the context of community councils.

Dannie responded that CCDC could define in their own way.

Dannie asked if a member of CCC would be willing to act as liaison with CCDC. HM and RB agreed to share this task.

The report was accepted without further comment by council who agreed to work with the community to fulfil its ambitions.

 

Governance Issues

CCC asked A & B council for advice on various matters pertaining to governance.

It was felt that the response lacked a sufficient level of detail.

RB will write to ask for a more detailed response. Action RB

RB will write an explanatory note for circulation to the community detailing the need for clarification and including the questions and council response. Action RB

KB took issue with the replies regarding ‘financial interest' as almost everyone on Colonsay has a financial interest in most matters, even if it is the freight charges affecting the price of tomatoes in the shop.

EE Mast – In use date

No information.

 

D.O.N.M. 8.12.20 @6pm by zoom.

 

 

Appendix  

Highlands and Islands Enterprise Specialist Advice Commission - 9374889

Colonsay Community Development Company

Strategic Review Report

Report prepared by David Gass

Rural Matters LLP

E-mail: David.gass@ruralmatters.co.uk

Tel: 07831-527959

Friday 16 October 2020

This document is an internal Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) document. This document contains the findings from the Strategic Review for CCDC. This document should not be disclosed to any person or referred to in part or in whole, other than for CCDC's purposes, without prior written consent. The recommendations, conclusions, information and supporting data presented in this document have been developed from a range of sources and have not been audited for accuracy. The recommendation and conclusions presented in this review report are not intended to be, and should not be considered to be, investment advice. Any decision to invoke the recommendations and conclusions in this document shall be a Colonsay Community Development Company decision.

Contents Page

•  Introduction & Context 2

•  Strategic Review Methodology 3

•  Principal Review Findings 4

•  The Ambition for the Island to 2025 5

•  Review of the CCDC Strategy & Business Plan 6

•  The Current Status of CCDC Development Projects 7

•  CCDC Priorities 2020-2022 9

•  A Successful and Sustainable Business Model for CCDC 9

•  Conclusion & Recommendations 11

Appendix A: Documents Reviewed

Appendix B: List of Consultees

Appendix C: A Profile of Colonsay 2020

 

•  Introduction and Context

Rural Matters LLP (David Gass) was commissioned through the HIE Specialist Advice Framework by PA Consulting in August 2020 to undertake a Strategic Review for Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC). The Strategic Review process sought to better understand the ambition for Colonsay, and within this context to consider the current development plans for Colonsay led by CCDC, and to support the CCDC to better understand and articulate the economic and community benefits that such development projects can bring, and also the planning and risks associated with such projects.

Colonsay is one of Argyll's most remote and fragile islands. As with much of Argyll, it is greatly challenged by de-population. With a resident population of c.130, it has a falling school role, an ageing demographic, and a lack of economic opportunity and affordable housing. The CHS Housing and Community Needs Survey Report in 2019 reported that c.42% of housing on Colonsay is either a second home or a holiday home, with buyers paying a premium for the island location, pricing locals out of the market – and more recent informal surveys of the housing profile in Colonsay would suggest the current figure is actually higher, and somewhere between 50-55%. The reducing active population on Colonsay is in turn making public service provision vulnerable, including for example the fire service, and potentially the regularity of transport links to the island, particularly over the winter months where Calmac already offer a reduced ferry timetable from Oban.

Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) was formed in July 2000, and it is a community interest company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, formed to benefit the community of the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay, through the following objectives:

•  The advancement of community development, including rural regeneration.

•  To advance education, particularly for young people and unemployed.

•  To relieve unemployment by the promotion of training & skills, and providing assistance

to find employment

•  To provide or assist in the provision of quality, affordable housing.

•  To protect and/or preserve the natural environment of Colonsay and Oronsay.

The company operates through a group of directors democratically elected by members, and membership is open to all those on the electoral roll on Colonsay & Oronsay. Currently, CCDC has a full membership of 40 of the island residents and a board of six volunteer Directors and Company Secretary, who meet on a monthly basis with two directors having specific project responsibilities. CCDC employs two part-time project officers on a job-share basis, funded by HIE's delivery resource framework, and also currently employ a part-time property coordinator role through SLF funding. CCDC also manages the service point on the island on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council under a service level agreement, which is delivered through two part-time Service Point Officers on a job-share basis.

Over the years CCDC has initiated and delivered a number of projects that have contributed to the development of the island, from the Rhododendron Clearance project and early project with WHHA to create 4 affordable houses and two work units, to securing provision and maintaining supply of affordable fuel to the island, and the creation of five bare-land crofts for the purpose of attracting new families and of giving existing families the opportunity to start a business and build a home. More recent projects include the creation of The Community Garden and a community play park, and investment in a Ridan composter to recycle food and garden waste to produce garden compost.

Over the last two years, through the hard work of the Board and the project officers, and supported by key partners such as Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Land Fund (SLF), Argyll and Bute Council, and MOWI, CCDC is now in a position to develop and deliver a significant and transformational boost to the island, providing a range of new affordable housing and business units, and potentially key worker accommodation for the island.

CCDC has been successful in securing Scottish Land Fund monies, in addition to financial contributions from HIE and Argyll & Bute Council, which has allowed it to acquire two plots of land in Scalasaig South and North for the purpose of developing up to 24 new affordable homes and 2 new business units for let respectively. It has also been awarded further Scottish Land Fund monies, and a contribution from the Community Fund, to purchase the Baptist Manse on Colonsay which is almost completed and in the ownership of CCDC for community use, and which may offer the potential for affordable key worker accommodation, but the intention is to consult the community on its final use. In addition, CCDC has been supported by HIE, MOWI and Colonsay Estate to take forward a new tourism development, creating new visitor moorings at Queens Bay.

Addressing the fundamental issues of more affordable housing for the island and creating economic opportunities and a more diverse economy on the island for existing and potentially new residents has been severely challenging for CCDC over recent years – primarily as CCDC have not had ownership of the land asset, and securing land has been very difficult. Since the creation of the bare-land crofts, which themselves still have servicing issues to be addressed, there has been little substantial progress in addressing the housing needs of islanders and to provide housing for new residents, or new sustainable employment opportunities on the island, which has undermined confidence in the CCDC to deliver effectively for the island. This has been further aggravated by the delays in the delivery of affordable housing at Kilchattan, working with West Highland Housing Association, again due to issues of access from the neighbouring landowner.

Now with the ownership of the necessary land assets at Scalasaig, the purchase of the Baptist Manse property almost concluded, and a marine licence application now submitted for the new moorings, CCDC has the unique opportunity to show significant progress against the primary objectives set out in the CCDC Business Strategy 2018, in terms of addressing the issues of affordable housing and creating economic opportunity and a more diverse and sustainable island economy.

The Strategic Review is intended to support this process by assisting CCDC to set out the way forward for the company, better demonstrate the positive difference the CCDC can make to the economy and community of the island and encourage community support of this, and support the effective implementation process for the current and future developments on the island.

•  Strategic Review Methodology

The Strategic Review for CCDC was undertaken in three stages as follows:

Stage 1 involved initial discussions with the HIE account manager, Kathryn Howell, and Dannie Onn, the current Chair of CCDC, to discuss and agree the proposed remit and scope of the Strategic Review, and how it should best be undertaken given current COVID-19 restrictions – it was agreed that wherever possible the review should be undertaken face to face to fully understand the island community and economy, and to work with the CCDC Board and team directly where possible.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 restrictions and individual circumstances meant that the planned workshops, both internally and externally, were not able to take place, and this was compensated for by additional face to face meetings and two planned visits over to the island which allowed the Review to capture the views of the vast majority of businesses on the island, as well as from Community Council representatives, and the CCDC Board and staff members. A significant number of background documents and information was also provided to inform the review, and the principal documents reviewed are set out in Appendix A to this report.

Stage 2 involved the two planned visits to Colonsay in late September and mid-October to both understand the geography of the island, and to meet with the different parties. The first visit on 21-23 September included an initial meeting with CCDC team to get an overview and better understanding of the organisation and the different development projects, and then a series of individual meetings with business and community representatives across the island, to ensure that the context for the strategic review started with the island and the islanders themselves.

This was then supplemented with individual calls and online meetings through October with a number of the wider stakeholders and delivery partners that are involved on the island, and a further visit to Colonsay 12-14 October 2020, with the majority of this visit spent with the principal CCDC Board members and staff to further test and shape the initial review findings. A full list of the consultees to the Review is attached as Appendix B to the report.

Stage 3 brings together the principal review findings and the recommendations arising from these as set out in this report. A final online project meeting with CCDC and HIE took place on 6 November to discuss and agree the review findings, and how to best take forward the final recommendations and forward actions set out.

David Gass would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the consultees for taking the time to input into the strategic review, and to the staff and directors of CCDC who I met and worked with over the review, and in particular to Dannie Onn, Chair of CCDC, for facilitating the two visits over to Colonsay and the various introductions to the island businesses and community, and key stakeholders, and similarly to Kathryn Howell of HIE, who also funded the Strategic Review.

The report sets out the key findings against each of the Review topic areas considered, and then provides the recommendations for each area. In discussion with both HIE and the Chair of CCDC, the desire was for a concise but comprehensive review that genuinely assisted CCDC to move forward with confidence, and with the full support of the community, and to deliver against its principal objectives through the development projects in place.

 

•  Principal Review Findings

The objectives for the Strategic Review were agreed as follows:

•  Agree the Ambition for Colonsay and Oransay to 2025

•  Review of the CCDC Strategy and Business Plan

•  Review the current status of the CCDC Development Projects

•  The CCDC Priorities to 2025

As stated above, and as can be seen from Appendix A, there is a great deal of information, and different reports, plans, and surveys already in place for Colonsay – so the intention of this review is not to repeat the findings of each document and plan, but ideally build on these to form a current evidence base and profile for the island (Colonsay and Oransay); and seek to review and recommend how CCDC can best move forward to achieve the positive economic and community outcomes it seeks for the island.

3.1 The Ambition for the Island to 2025

One of the most striking features of all the documents reviewed was that there was not an agreed vision set out for the island which all the different stakeholders are signed up to – what success would and could look like for Colonsay and Oransay in 2025, or indeed in 2030 or 2040. More importantly, a vision or ambition that the community themselves are signed up and committed to, and how progress towards this ambition can be measured and communicated with confidence.

Without this, there is significant division in Colonsay, apparent from the many conversations held, over what has been achieved or not, in particular by the CCDC and the public bodies and housing agencies, and a lack of communication and genuine engagement between the principal players in terms of economic and community development – the CCDC, Colonsay Estate, Colonsay Community Council and the Colonsay Tourism Marketing Group. This was brought into even sharper focus by the Community Council survey in June 2020 and the decisions when to re-open the island to non-residents and tourists.

Yet, without exception, what came across from all the conversations with the residents and businesses on the island was their deep passion and commitment to the island now and in the future; their positive individual commitment to the island, and perhaps most encouragingly a consistent response as to what an agreed vision and ambition for the island could begin to look like:

•  A sustainable resident population base of c.200

•  A more balanced population in terms of age, and more young families

•  Whilst tourism will remain the driver of the economy, the need for a more diverse and year-round economy

•  Sustainable public services such as the school, healthcare, and the fire and coastguard services

•  Better digital connectivity

•  A joined-up community that respected all who made up the community of the island.

There was also clear agreement that the critical enablers towards progressing towards this ambition were the creation of affordable housing and a more diverse economic base to the island. This was the case made in the Colonsay Community Plan in 2012 , but there still remains a number of people who are committed to making their future on the island but unable to find suitable housing . It will be a critical factor in the success of the CCDC over the coming year, and the opportunity is there with the development projects underway, to remind and re-engage the community around the wider ambition and outcome that everyone wants to see. A number of those interviewed as part of the review were also slightly surprised to be consulted which in part demonstrates the dis-engagement of some community members who could contribute to the ambition for the island.

There also is a need to establish a consensus around “the community” of Colonsay and Oronsay. This should encompass first and foremost the resident population of the island, but also include the second homeowners who contribute to making the island what it is, and who contribute actively to the economy and community of the island. Many have tremendous loyalty to the island, alongside bringing skills that the CCDC and other island bodies could utilise. Again, an ambition for the island that is inclusive of all and not exclusive to one particular grouping, whether residents or tourists, would bring an added positive momentum to the development projects underway.

Recommendation 1: CCDC, with the support of other bodies such as the CCC, to lead a re- engagement with the community, to develop an agreed and inclusive ambition for the island centred around addressing the re-population of the island, the provision of affordable housing and the creation of a more diverse and sustainable year round economy for the island.

•  Review of the CCDC Strategy & Business Plan

The CCDC Business Plans produced for 2018 and 2019 are primarily focused on the development projects in place and underway – and would benefit as above from a clear statement of the ambition and outcome for the island that the development projects will allow substantial and significant progress towards. A key focus of the plans is the drive for the community to own the necessary buildings and land assets to allow the projects to achieve the sustainability and development of the community aspired to, and also to allow the CCDC to move to a more self-funding and sustainable model.

A brief analysis and commentary on the individual development projects is set out in the section below. Alongside the ambition for the island, an agreed economic and community baseline will also be important to show progress against, and where this has been possible as an original objective of the current strategic review, taking into account the current adverse impact of coronavirus at the current time, this is set out in Appendix C to this report.

Given the current lack of trust and engagement across the different bodies on the island, the development of the island profile and baseline has been challenging, but should continue to be developed from this initial baseline over the Strategy period, and with the engagement of the wider community and it is hoped information from the next Scotland Census which was due in 2021 but has now been postponed to 2022 due to the impact of coronavirus.

Whilst in a typical small island economy, there will always be a somewhat incomplete economic picture, given the number of people with a variety of part-time jobs, and the operation of the informal economy, the baseline as a minimum should be able to show and allow measurement of the progress towards the central ambition for the island – population levels and in particular the population demographic (Census 2022); housing needs (and for example, levels of fuel poverty) (CHS Housing and Community Needs Survey 2019), and employment levels and profile of the island.

These outcomes are all outcomes for island communities that the Scottish Government seeks to achieve through the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 alongside other important outcomes such as health & well-being; environmental wellbeing and improved transport services and digital connectivity – which should help develop the baseline for the island over the Strategy period although many of these statistics for Colonsay and Oronsay are less visible when combined with statistics from Jura and Islay.

However, a case study report of successful island re-population initiatives by the SRUC Rural Policy Centre in 2020, showed that in most cases it was the successful combination of progress across housing, the creation of job opportunities, and support and engagement from across the community, alongside the necessary financial resources, that made the difference and brought about successful re-population of island communities – and these should remain the primary focus of CCDC.

From the review process, there are early and promising signs of progress, whether the increase in younger families and people on the island; the success and growth ambitions of some of the more recent businesses on the island alongside the opportunity of a second Mowi fish farm to the north of the island and proposed new start-ups such as the smokehouse, and the promise of a resolution to the access issues at Kilchattan which would allow the WHHA development of five new affordable houses to go ahead in tandem with the planned affordable housing development at South Scalasaig.

The opportunity for the island to come together behind these developments – whether through the CCDC housing or business site development projects, the WHHA housing development, the new moorings planned or the Estate's conversion of the Scalasaig Farm Steading into the smokehouse and workshop units and plans for market stalls in the Old Waiting Room by the pier – and deliver real and sustained progress against the key issues of availability of affordable housing and diversifying and growing the economy of the island year round is a real one, and requires the whole community to look forward and sustain this momentum; and deliver against each of the opportunities working together, and enabling progress to be maintained.

Recommendation 2: The economic and community baseline to be further developed, and to be updated on a bi-annual basis to provide the evidence base and demonstrate progress against a revised CCDC Strategy for the island.

 

•  The current status of the CCDC Development Projects

The strategic review undertook a desk review and series of interviews around the development projects in place through CCDC. There have been obvious frustrations in the delays to each of the major development projects – specifically the delay in obtaining the final costings for the Scalasaig development from TSL as the approved contractor, which has in turn delayed some of the funding applications to progress the build on each site; and the practical delays brought about by coronavirus, from the ability to hold face to face meetings to site visits and furlough periods for staff. However, CCDC has also played an important role in the community over recent months in keeping open its offices at the Service Point, and as the delivery body for the COVID relief funding to the community.

The individual project business plans themselves do provide a clear project scope and delivery path, with consideration of the key project risks to each – but the risks themselves need to be more actively managed and reviewed regularly by the Board, and the timescales challenged and updated. The projects are very significant in scale for an organisation such as CCDC to take ownership of and implement successfully, and the significant support, advice and funding provided by partners such as the Community Housing Trust (CHT) as the Development Agent acting on behalf of CCDC, and Mowi (in terms of the company's committed contribution to design, feasibility and infrastructure costs), has been key to maintaining the momentum around each development project.

CHT continue to work with TSL, and on behalf of CCDC, to bring the proposed costs to a more sustainable and realistic level against the final design, and to move to final commission – and this is where CHT's experience is invaluable given their experience of other housing and development projects on the islands, and where there is a constant balance between the construction companies ensuring they make the margin needed to justify working off the mainland and the additional costs and management this brings, and the funding available to ensure a sustainable development to the quality and timelines expected.

The masterplan for the housing development at Scalasaig South for all 24 planned houses and plots is sensible in ensuring that the full potential of the site to address the affordable housing needs is not compromised, albeit the site will be built in stages. The provision of different housing options in Phase 1 (affordable rent houses, and low cost housing and discounted and serviced self-build plots for sale with a rural housing burden in place to ensure they are used as primary residencies and will remain protected as affordable housing should the properties be sold on in the future, alongside the 3 planned Mowi staff houses) provides a good variety of affordable housing options based on the community housing needs identified, and there is already a significant waiting list for this housing, and the WHHA housing development at Port Mor. It will be key that the allocation process for the housing is fair and transparent, owned and approved by CCDC and aligned to CCDC's strategy, but ideally delivered by an independent 3 rd party.

The delivery of the business units at Scalsaig North – 134 square metres of business space initially, in the form of a workshop unit and studio space, with the ability to extend in future to 200 square metres if the demand is there, again provides a flexibility and choice of business accommodation to meet the anticipated demand from both existing and ideally new businesses to the island. The opportunity to join up the business unit availability with housing options should be referenced within the housing allocation policy, and a caution that the units are not just used for additional storage space, providing limited economic benefit, and also that they are retained under community ownership will be critical.

The further opportunity to take on ownership of the Baptist Manse has also been realised through SLF and Community funding, and the agreed resolution of the servitude and soakway by the Estate to complete the sale to the CCDC. A welcome addition to the CCDC portfolio of sites and property, this brings another significant project onto the books of CCDC at a critical time for the Scalasaig project.

However, it is complementary and the Manse, with little outlay, is available to provide an option for housing the TSL workers through 2021, and on an on-going basis and subject to the views of the community, the ability to provide affordable rented accommodation for any urgent accommodation requirements of new residents coming to the island, and key worker accommodation through the summer months in particular. The opportunity to put in washing and service facilities in the grounds of the Manse for a camping site or temporary campervan accommodation could also be explored at a later stage.

The moorings project for 10 mooring berths at Queen's Bay is also now progressing with the application for a marine licence submitted despite the objections to the proposed mooring locations from SSE due to the existing power cable to the island. It is hoped the moorings will be in place for the start of the 2021 sailing season and benefit from the additional profile of Scotland's Year of Coast and Water delayed from 2020 – providing additional tourism and spend into the island, and to CCDC in terms of mooring fees.

CCDC is now in the position of delivering against a range of development projects through 2021 and 2022 specifically which have the potential to address many of the critical challenges that have faced Colonsay in terms of de-population and the lack of affordable housing – and bring the potential of new employment and a more diversified economy, while continuing to refresh the tourism sector and make Colonsay an accessible destination for new types of visitors to the island.

More than ever at this time, and to support the delivery of the development projects above, CCDC requires the support and engagement of the key stakeholders to help make this happen. It is critical for both CCDC and the wider community that the Scalasaig development in particular delivers – but also the opportunity through the Baptist Manse and moorings project to generate additional opportunity and income for the island .

Recommendation 3: The opportunity for key stakeholders such as HIE, Argyll & Bute Council, CHT and WHHA, and the Community Council and Colonsay Estate, to come together quarterly with CCDC over the coming year to assess and support progress against each development project collectively. should be actively pursued to help manage the risks, resources and delivery required for each project, and to help ensure the ambition for the island is achieved.

Recommendation 4: CCDC itself, through its Board structure and project management, needs to more actively own the risk management process for each project, and set out clearly an updated project implementation document and risk register for each project, to be reported and monitored by the CCDC Board, and the Stakeholder Group above, as appropriate.

•  CCDC Priorities 2020-2022

As set out above, CCDC is at a critical point in its existence – after a number of years of frustration and continued perseverance by the project officers and individual Board members, it now has the ownership of the land and buildings it needs to begin to deliver against the community ambition for the island. However, there still remains some scepticism within the community that the projects will be successfully and effectively delivered.

A number of challenges remain against each project – not least achieving the funding to take forward the proposed housing units and business site at Scalasaig; securing and commissioning TSL as the building contractor against final costs; and taking over full ownership and management of the Baptist Manse.

It is critical that CCDC prioritise the key delivery projects, and the resource that is available, against these projects, both at Board and project officer level as below. The postponed AGM also provides the opportunity to bring the wider community up to speed with what has been achieved to date, and encourage new Board members onto the Board, and indeed to create a wider support base, to get involved in helping bring the above projects to a successful conclusion. This in itself will be challenging as referenced in the final section below, but there is a need to engage new Board members from across the community, and bring the community together around the opportunities that are presented, with the support of the Community Council and business community on the island in particular.

Future projects and discussions around future business and economic opportunities for the island – whether energy resilience and sustainability, or the potential to address freight charges and transport costs to the island, and longer terms ambitions to bring more active farming back to the island and look at new models for elderly care which may free up future housing provision, all need to go on hold in the coming year – and the full focus of the Board, project officers and wider stakeholders should be focused on the successful delivery of the Scalasaig developments, and the Baptist Manse and Moorings projects.

Recommendation 5: CCDC to use its upcoming AGM, or other alternative means given the current coronavirus situation, to set out the development projects underway, and show how they will contribute within the context of the long terms ambition for the island, and appeal for new Board members with the commitment to support CCDC through a critical delivery year.

Recommendation 6: CCDC to seek a platform over the coming months with the Community Council and resident business community of Colonsay to again set out the development projects underway, and seek the input and support of both groupings to work to bring each of the projects to a successful conclusion.

Recommendation 7: CCDC, again with the support of the CCC, to set out and agree the “community” of Colonsay and Oronsay, and ensure that each part of the community is able to have its views represented and to contribute to the ambition for the island.

 

•  A Successful and Sustainable Business Model for CCDC

This final section of the Report looks at the operation of the CCDC itself. As so often with any Community Development Company within a small island community, CCDC has been dependent on a small core group of voluntary Board members who have committed significant time and effort to ensure a sustainable future for their community through the work of the Community Development Company - often a number of Board Directors will remain as directors over a number of terms, or come back on as directors if no other volunteers are willing to come forward – and this is a significant ask of these individuals in terms of their time and input.

For any Community Development Company, it is also important that:

•  The operational structure of the Company and meetings is shaped to maximise the input and skills/knowledge a Board member can bring – for example, Board members with particular experience or connections may champion a particular priority area

•  Consideration at critical times or pressure points for a Development Company should include the option of appointed and co-opted directors with the necessary skills and experience – often for a specific and timebound period

•  The role of the Board member and what is expected of each Board member is clearly set out, and in so far as possible they are supported to deliver this.

At the current time, CCDC has a small core group of active Directors and is very dependent on the current Chair to not only lead the Board but provide project direction and advice to the project officers – both of whom operate on a shared part-time contract which puts considerable pressure on the staff members in terms of delivery and keeping on top of the progress of significant revenue and delivery projects, alongside seeking other funding streams to fund the delivery of each project. A further director is taking on more responsibility for staffing support and resolving the on-going CCDC crofting issues which is welcome, but again this is a significant time commitment for her.

The capacity of CCDC at Board and project officer level to deliver and oversee £multi-million projects is clearly significantly challenging at the current time, and particularly over the coming year to secure the delivery funding required in the short term – and a major risk to the achievement of the island's ambitions. This is to be further considered in discussion with HIE and other stakeholders, and also developed as part of an active risk register approach at both project, and organisational and governance level, building on recommendation 4.

The options to bring in a graduate placement role or to take advantage of the digital development grant available to address the core communications and marketing of the CCDC should be considered to free up the project officer time to focus on the key project deliverables – and for the marketing role to also consider and develop the opportunity for a crowdfunding campaign out through online and social media. Similarly, the opportunity to proactively approach and bring on new Directors to the Board through promotion of the key delivery stage CCDC has reached should be encouraged with support from the key stakeholders and Community Council.

The SLF funded part-time property coordinator post has been very helpful in looking at a forward sustainable structure for CCDC post 2021/2022 when the priority development projects have been realised and HIE funding of the project officer role is scheduled to finish. This would both compliment the development and articulation of the ambition for Colonsay to 2025, and see income streams coming from each of the project areas to support a Charity Asset Manager or equivalent, with ideally sufficient income also for a project officer or administration resource to support this role.

This may also involve proposing a new community company structure and registration as a private landlord potentially, as well as the re-negotiation of the Service level arrangement for the Service Point in March 2021, creating a further or combined resource for CCDC. An accompanying staffing and resource model for 2022 onwards would provide significant comfort to future Board Directors; and there is the opportunity for the remaining SLF funding for the current project co-ordinator post (5 months) to be used in 2021 to address some of these areas.

In the same vein, good progress has been made by the current Project Officers and Company Secretary to update the company's knowledge management and financial systems on One Drive and through QuickBooks and online BACs payments. This is also critical to ensuring that the company can manage transparently and efficiently the significant income and expenditure streams which will come through the company particularly over the next year as the projects are delivered, and also that each project's stages, actions, risks, and monitoring and reporting are carried out in the most efficient manner at an operational level and in updating and reporting to the Board. This should allow decisions to be taken confidently, timeously and transparently to give clear forward direction to each project officer, and to allow effective communication updates and engagement with stakeholders as appropriate.

The Development Agent role fulfilled by CHT will be increasingly critical over 2021, as latterly will be the role of WHHA as Managing Agent for the Scalasaig properties, to assist CCDC to deliver their flagship housing and business unit projects successfully, and build the confidence and the income streams to move onto Phase 2 development over the strategy period to 2025. There is also the capacity building that should form a part of this process for the medium to longer term and with the appointment of the planned CCDC Asset manager.

Recommendation 8: Whilst plans have been progressed to develop a more sustainable future structure for CCDC from 2022, the focus of the Board and Stakeholder meetings should be primarily on the delivery process and stages for each of the development projects – without a successful delivery of these, the future sustainable model for CCDC does not happen.

Recommendation 9: With reference to the previous recommendation 3, the opportunity to streamline the meetings and reporting required of each project officer should be considered, with one template used consistently across the Board and Stakeholders, and if possible stakeholder meetings combined to provide a collective buy-in and direction to delivery.

Recommendation 10: Co-opted director options and other alternatives to bring the right mix of skills and experience on to the Board, if this is not provided through new Voluntary Directors coming forward, should be considered for 2021/22.

Recommendation 11: An active risk register and process at organisational level as well as at project level should be put in place, and options looked at with key stakeholders to strengthen the resources at director and project officer level to ensure the sufficient capacity of CCDC to deliver each of the key development projects effectively

Recommendation 12: CCDC to discuss with HIE the opportunity to access the digital development grant support to provide short term resource and support to cover the CCDC website and social media marketing and the development of a crowdfunding campaign.

 

•  Conclusion & Recommendations

The Strategic Review process set out to achieve the following objectives:

•  Agree the Ambition for Colonsay and Oransay to 2025

•  Review of the CCDC Strategy and Business Plan

•  Review the current status of the CCDC Development Projects

•  The CCDC Priorities to 2025

From the desk review of documents and interviews undertaken as part of this Strategic Review, it is clear that this is a critical time for CCDC – after many frustrating years of genuine attempts to deliver new affordable housing and a more sustainable year round economy for the island, CCDC is at a point in time where it can genuinely deliver against this agenda. However, this is against a backdrop of a number of CCDC projects and development ideas that have failed to deliver over recent years, often outwith the control of CCDC, but there remains a need to engage and build a stronger community confidence and belief that CCDC can deliver and effect real positive change on the island.

CCDC need to articulate a compelling and inclusive ambition for the island for the future, and to re-engage with the community and work together collectively to deliver this. It needs to work proactively with the different organisations and groups on the island, in particular the Community Council and the business community, alongside and with the support of the external stakeholders and funders in place, to ensure a shared ambition and action plan is delivered, and the wider community work to enable this through the CCDC.

Alongside this, the economic and community baseline for the island set out in summary for 2020, needs to be further developed with genuine community engagement and trust, and used to effectively measure and demonstrate progress towards the ambition for the island through the delivery of the agreed development projects.

The Review looked at each development project, and how they have been developed and progressed to date – and the development process itself has been robust but the projects themselves are of a scale that the CCDC has not attempted or delivered previously. Attention therefore must continue to be given to ensuring the project management processes are in place and robust, transparent and proactively managed for each of the projects, at Board and project officer levels, and this is supported by all of the stakeholders involved.

Finally, the review found that good work has been done to develop a future sustainable operating model for CCDC from 2022 onwards, and current processes and systems improved, and this should give confidence to current and new Board members, and options as to how the CCDC can continue to be self-sustaining and deliver further stages of development for the island. However, the short term and almost singular focus for CCDC has to be, and should remain, on the effective delivery of the central development projects in place, against a unifying ambition for the island.

Together the development projects have the ability, if delivered to plan, to transform Colonsay over the next decade, and lay the foundation for a genuinely sustainable and inclusive island community, with suitable housing for a growing and more balanced population and demographic, and a year round economy able to better sustain and support key public services to the island.

The report contains a number of suggested areas to be addressed, but the key recommendations arising from the Strategic review are as follows:

Recommendation 1: CCDC, with the support of other bodies such as the CCC, to lead a re- engagement with the community, to develop an agreed and inclusive ambition for the island centred around addressing the re-population of the island, the provision of affordable housing and the creation of a more diverse and sustainable year round economy for the island.

Recommendation 2: The economic and community baseline to be further developed, and to be updated on a bi-annual basis to provide the evidence base and demonstrate progress against a revised CCDC Strategy for the island.

Recommendation 3: The opportunity for key stakeholders such as HIE, Argyll & Bute Council, CHT and WHHA, and the Community Council and Colonsay Estate, to come together quarterly with CCDC over the coming year to assess and support progress against each development project collectively. should be actively pursued to help manage the risks, resources and delivery required for each project, and to help ensure the ambition for the island is achieved.

Recommendation 4: CCDC itself, through its Board structure and project management, needs to more actively own the risk management process for each project, and set out clearly an updated project implementation document and risk register for each project, to be reported and monitored by the CCDC Board, and the Stakeholder Group above, as appropriate.

Recommendation 5: CCDC to use its upcoming AGM, or other alternative means given the current coronavirus situation, to set out the development projects underway, and show how they will contribute within the context of the long terms ambition for the island, and appeal for new Board members with the commitment to support CCDC through a critical delivery year.

Recommendation 6: CCDC to seek a platform over the coming months with the Community Council and resident business community of Colonsay to again set out the development projects underway, and seek the input and support of both groupings to work to bring each of the projects to a successful conclusion.

Recommendation 7: CCDC, again with the support of the CCC, to set out and agree the “community” of Colonsay and Oronsay, and ensure that each part of the community is able to have its views represented and to contribute to the ambition for the island.

Recommendation 8: Whilst plans have been progressed to develop a more sustainable future structure for CCDC from 2022, the focus of the Board and Stakeholder meetings should be primarily on the delivery process and stages for each of the development projects – without a successful delivery of these, the future sustainable model for CCDC does not happen.

Recommendation 9: With reference to the previous recommendation 4, the opportunity to streamline the meetings and reporting required of each project officer should be considered, with one template used consistently across the Board and Stakeholders, and if possible stakeholder meetings combined to provide a collective buy-in and direction to delivery.

Recommendation 10: Co-opted director options and other alternatives to bring the right mix of skills and experience on to the Board, if this is not provided through new Voluntary Directors coming forward, should be considered for 2021/22.

Recommendation 11: An active risk register and process at organisational level as well as at project level should be put in place, and options looked at with key stakeholders to strengthen the resources at director and project officer level to ensure the sufficient capacity of CCDC to deliver each of the key development projects effectively

Recommendation 12: CCDC to discuss with HIE the opportunity to access the digital development grant support to provide short term resource and support to cover the CCDC website and social media marketing and the development of a crowdfunding campaign.

 

Appendix A: Documents Reviewed

• Colonsay Community Plan 2012

•  CCDC Memorandum of Association

•  CCDC Informal Housing Census July 2017

•  CCDC Business Strategy Plan 2018

•  CCDC Business Strategy Plan 2019

•  SLF Stage 1 & 2 Applications January 2019

•  CHS Housing and Community Needs Survey Report July 2019

•  CCDC Scalasaig Housing & Business Units Business Plan July 2019

•  SRUC Rural Policy Centre – Case Studies of Island Re-population

•  CCDC Rural Housing Feasibility Fund January 2020

•  CCDC Baptist Manse Business Plan January 2020

•  Colonsay Community Council Consultation Results – COVID re-opening June 2020

•  CCDC Structure presentation June 2020

•  Draft Allocations Policy June 2020

•  CCDC Board Minutes June, July and August 2020

 Appendix B: List of Consultees

•  Dannie Onn, CCDC Chair

•  Andrew Abrahams, CCDC Treasurer; Colonsay Honey & Colonsay Oysters

•  Caitlin McNeill, CCDC Director

•  Tanya Wren, CCDC Company Secretary

•  Carrie Seymour, CCDC Project Coordinator

•  Lizzie Keenaghan, CCDC Project Coordinator

•  Cecilia Bleasdale, CCDC Property Coordinator

•  Gavin Clark, Colonsay Pantry

•  Richard Irvine, Colonsay Smokehouse/Steading Development

•  Richard Buttrick, Colonsay Community Council

•  Grace Johnston, Colonsay Hotel/Shop

•  Kevin Byrne, Colonsay Community Council/Tourism Marketing Group

•  Christa Byrne, Colonsay Bookshop

•  David Hobhouse, Balnahard Farm/Colonsay Community Council

•  Sarah Hobhouse, The Gallery/Colonsay Community Council

•  Chris & Sheena Nisbet, Colonsay Brewery

•  Walter & Gill Ashcroft, Hammer & Thistle

•  Fin Geekie, Wild Thyme Spirits

•  Alex Howard, Colonsay Estate/Colonsay Community Council

•  Jane Howard, Colonsay Community Council/Tourism Marketing Group

•  Ali Geddes, MOWI Manager, Colonsay

•  Andy Knight, RSPB Manager Oransay

•  Helen Bain, HIE and Scottish Land Fund

•  Douglas Whyte, Argyll & Bute Council

•  Allan Brandie, Argyll & Bute Council

•  Ronnie MacCrae, Communities Housing Trust

•  John Forbes, Communities Housing Trust

•  Moira MacVicar, West Highland Housing Association

Appendix C – A Profile of Colonsay 2020

The island of Colonsay lies in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, with its closest neighbouring islands Mull to the north and the islands of Jura and Islay to the east and south. Together with its tidal neighbour Oronsay, it forms an island group roughly ten miles long and two miles wide.

Population Profile

The resident population of Colonsay and Oronsay has a significantly higher age profile compared to the average age profile across Argyll & Bute and Scotland, from the most recent census of 2011 and more recent housing surveys. The lack of young people and young families on the island is a major concern for the island in terms of both the sustainability and vibrancy of the community, and the retention of key services on the island, such as the island primary school and healthcare services.

•  Total Resident Population of 130

•  c.75% of population are aged 45 years and above

•  c. 45% of population are retired

•  c. 50% of population economically active

Housing Profile

There is a severe lack of properties to buy or rent at affordable levels in Colonsay , and the prevalence of second residences and holiday homes is having an adverse effect on the availability of affordable homes, particularly for those on a lower income. There are very few housing opportunities for residents or to encourage new population and young families to move to the island.

•  c.150 Accommodation Units on island

•  Over 50% of homes are second residences or holiday homes

•  Average house prices over recent years have been above £250,000, compared to the Argyll & Bute average of c.£166,000, and a Scottish average of c.£180,000

Employment Profile

In terms of the economy of Colonsay, the primary employment is derived from hospitality and tourism, with other notable employment sectors including fish farming, construction, public sector services, agriculture and transport – many jobs on the island are part-time with residents often having 2-3 part-time jobs. There is normally a significant number of seasonal workers (up to 15) over the main tourism season March to October, with tourism as a whole (accommodation, food and drink, non-food retail and supporting services) estimated to bring in c.£2 million in income to the island, but there is less clarity on the local multiplier effect of this income. Agriculture on the island benefits from significant agri-environment payments, and there is now only the Estate and RSPB farms and one tenant farmer remaining on the island currently. A summary breakdown of the permanent FTE employment on the island from the interviews as at October 2020 is as follows:

Sector

FTE Employment

Tourism & Hospitality - (including accommodation, food and retail)

22

Fish Farming

13

Construction (including self-employed tradespeople)

10

Public Sector Services

8

Agriculture

7

Transport

3

Other

3

 

In case you have stumbled upon this page by accident, Colonsay is a beautiful island in the Hebrides with about 130 inhabitants. Just search online to find out more or use the "Links" facility at the foot of this page.

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