Public Meeting of Colonsay Community Council
Tuesday 20th April 2021 at 6pm via Video/Audio Call
Vice Convener Alex Howard
Secretary (interim) Jane Howard
Treasurer (interim Kevin Byrne
All councillors were present.
Councillor Robin Currie (Leader, ABC), Councillor Alastair Redmond (ABC)
There were approximately 18 members of the public in attendance.
2. Declarations of interest
Will be recorded at appropriate points in the meeting.
Recording of minutes was noted.
3. Minutes of public meeting held on Tuesday 9 th March.
The minute was adopted, proposed KB and seconded JH.
4. Matters arising.
Richard Irvine has been proposed publicly by William Joll to be co-opted to the Community Council. At the meeting this was proposed to be accepted by JH and seconded by KB
Person A (from the floor) declared a point of order stating that we could not co-opt with only 3 Councillors as Keith Rutherford had resigned.
AH responded that we were able to proceed with the co-option and that the correct public announcements had been made in the required timeframe. We can co-opt with the existing Councillors and would proceed.
Person A (from the floor) declared a point of order that the meeting was incompetent as the Agenda had the addition of “resignation” since the Agenda was sent out 2 weeks ago.
AH responded that the Agenda was identical apart from that item and had been sent out 2 weeks prior to the meeting.
KB said that if Person A had a problem with the procedure he/she could take it up with ABC but it was important that the CCC proceeded with the business in hand.
AH declared that the meeting would continue.
Keith Rutherford resigned as a councillor.
KB read out his resignation statement whereby he states:
“ Please note that this decision is not in any way a reflection upon any existing councillor or councillors and has no personal implications. I find that the recent difficulties to which the council has been subjected are a source of stress that can easily have a poor effect upon my own health and well-being. I regret that I am having to take this step - with best personal regards, Keith Rutherford ”
All the Councillors thanked Keith, on behalf of the council, for all the work he has done over many years.
The council has, at present, 4 councillors.
A discussion was had by the Councillors regarding the importance, in their view, of the continuation of the CCC to represent the community in matters of day-to-day business.
The current Councillors agreed they have an over-riding moral responsibility to soldier on, in the interests of the community and in spite of contrary winds.
The following motion was proposed by KB: "that the councillors recognise the fragility of the Community Council at this time, and the implications for the community if the council were to be dissolved, and therefore resolve to concentrate upon day-to-day business (such as transport, communications and other vital issues) throughout the remaining life of the Council, on the understanding that all councillors will stand down at the next election, with the option of standing for re-election at that time".
AH said that there were forces at work determined to disrupt the work of the CCC however he agreed it was important to continue to represent the community as Councillors.
KB said that he put himself forward to be elected as a Councillor to represent the community to the relevant authorities when asked to do so.
JH agreed with KB and AH. JH said that Melissa Stewart had responded to the question of a by election stating that it was highly unlikely that ABC would agree to one at this time.
RI joined the Council because he felt it was vitally important that the island had a Community Council. He said it would be better if there was an election now but he accepted that that was not possible. He said the CCC should do the job it is supposed to do until the next election.
A vote was held on the motion proposed and was unanimously passed.
County Councillor Robin Currie had to leave the meeting at this point but made the following statements:
Voluntary free lateral flow tests have been made available for all Scottish residents travelling to the islands.
He is applying pressure to get the Colonsay school house finished.
5. Financial Report
KB, interim Treasurer, reports £648.29 in the current account and £16714.76 in the capital account (MOWI community fund). A member of the community was thanked for his generous work in preparing the Accounts .
Re Capital account (the MOWI community fund), there remains an outstanding award for £2475 for the CTMG for future ceilidhs and £500 for Satellite TV installations. MOWI have been invoiced for £14000 which is their 2021 contribution to the fund. MOWI would like an indication of how the fund is being used and what it may be used for this year. KB and the community volunteer are missing some Minutes of past meetings, details of which are on the CCC website, if anyone can help. A narrative of the awards etc will be put on the CCC website as soon as all the information has been collated.
KB would like to be informed of any proposed applications for grants this year and of any grants that have been awarded that are not listed on our website.
A director of CCDC (from the floor) confirmed that the Covid support money from Scot Gov for the “community hub” is fully accounted for by CCDC.
Councillors agreed to post the draft Accounts (subject to approval) on the website ready to be approved at the next AGM. Action: KB
6. Coronavirus Update
All travel restrictions lifted across the UK on 26 th April. On Colonsay, tourist businesses can open, second home owners can return. Updated Visitor Guidelines are to be made available. Proposal to lift the local requirement to self isolate when returning to the island from 26 th April. Scot Gov has announced the availability of free lateral flow tests for all Scottish residents intending to visit islands. Councillors agreed to strongly encourage visitors to take the lateral flow tests through the CCC and CCDC and Visit Colonsay websites as well.
JH confirmed that the Visitor Guidelines are produced by the CTMG and approved for use by the CCC so that there is a consistent message to visitors.
Action: JH and KB to update VGs and distribute and put on all the websites.
7. Royal Mail service – proposal to bring the Wednesday winter ferry time forward by 30 mins.
RI declared an Interest and withdrew from the discussion.
JH reported that there had been 18 responses to the proposal, 11 households support the change to the timetable, 5 households against the change. 2 households said they used the Wednesday train in the winter. The doctor responded that very few patients, in his view, would use the train as most drive or are driven, and he thought that an earlier Wed ferry time may actually be useful for bloods etc being delivered to Oban earlier.
JH and KB supported exploring the option for bringing the ferry time forward on a Wednesday.
Person A (from the floor) said that the CCC should approach Royal Mail first.
County Councillor Alastair Redmond (from the floor) clarified that we need to contact Royal Mail not the Post Office/Postmaster to change any scheduling.
RI commented that he had been attempting to communicate with Royal Mail for 6 weeks with no response. Keith Rutherford has also tried contacting Royal Mail with no response.
KB suggested liaising with Oban CC re mail delivery times.
Person B (from the floor) reiterated that if we lose our Wednesday connection then the only train that connects with a ferry each week is on a Monday. Suggested we should contact Scotrail too and that we should consult community members by post to ensure those without email are included.
Action: JH to write to Royal Mail and Calmac copying in MSPs, Transport Scotland, Ofcom.
JH reports that we now have a Sunday service. The summer timetable starts on 26 th April.
There is a proposed change to the Saturday single ferry winter service to bring it forward by approx. 5 hours to an 0800 departure from Kennacraig, arriving in Colonsay at 1110, arriving back in Kennacraig at 1530.
Action: JH to consult with the whole community by email asking for any objections to the proposed Calmac change
9. Improvement Process Working Groups
KB and JH have done a certain amount of work on their WGs but KB feels that it is best to leave the improvement process for the next Council after the next election. JH said that she had also done some work on Governance but would like to focus on ensuring that Declarations of Interest and meetings are conducted correctly. AH, JH and RI agreed that it is best to concentrate on the day to day business for the remainder of the term of this Council and not try to introduce any changes.
Action: Improvement process put on hold
The Scalasaig housing planning application is going before the ABC planning committee tomorrow.
11. Other Competent Business
a. Letter re CCDC and Lower Kilchattan croft land
JH read out the letter to the Community Council from Sophie Furze, Rhona Robinson, Flora, Effie, and Margaret McNeill.
KB read out a second letter from Rhona and Les Robinson
(Members of the community wishing sight of these letters should contact JH, interim Secretary CCC)
AH - the CCC would like a formal response from CCDC
JH - the CCC are representing members of the community, we need to gather info, and facilitate a process going forward
KB declared a small interest because one of the signatories is his daughter
RI - said it is incumbent on us to facilitate transparency and engagement between CCDC and the community and the signatories. The CCDC will need some time to respond.
KB made the point that Rhona and Les are concerned about a rumour on the island which is untrue that they will prevent access by crofters to their crofts. They would like to ensure such rumours do not come from the CCDC.
A Director of CCDC (from the floor) – as Chairman of CCDC, it has been stressful for residents in Lower Kilchattan. He said that the CCDC has not contributed to any rumours. The letters are full of errors. He would like the CCDC to have some time to answer all the points raised in the letters. He recommended that everyone read the Gass report and Housing to 2040 report [relevant to CCDC]. There is an intention for the CCDC to work more closely with local people.
Rhona Robinson (from the floor) – the last 6 years have been a nightmare. The CCDC and WHHA have behaved badly over the use of the track. The site for the affordable houses is in the middle of croftland (2 behind, 1 in front). These affordable houses (at Port Mor) are no longer needed now that there is land for 21 houses at Scalasaig.
AH – the CCC needs to see the formal response from the CCDC before we go any further.
Person C (from the floor) – expressing his personal view, not as a Director of CCDC. He has heard it said that there is a conflict of interest for him with needing a house and being a Director of CCDC. Personally he wants a house on the island but he is bottom of the list. The 9 houses (6 affordable, 3 MOWI) to be built at Scalasaig are not enough to house the people on Colonsay who need houses. If the houses are not built at Port Mor then he will have to leave the island again. This is massive for people like him and his sister and anyone living in a caravan. If both housing projects don't go ahead he doesn't know if he or his sister can stay on the island. This would be a personal disaster.
Rhona Robinson (from the floor) – commented that, as a MOWI employee, Person C would be entitled to one of the 3 MOWI houses at Scalasaig. A director of CCDC told her that the houses at Scalasaig and Port Mor are being built at the same time. [Rhona commented:] If anyone can demonstrate that there are 14 households on Colonsay needing houses (aside from the new crofters who are building their own houses) then that would be different but there are not. It is a shame that the crofting area is to be spoilt by affordable houses which are not needed. WHHA will fill them with people from off the island or they will sit empty. Rhona doesn't want young people leaving the island but she doesn't want to spoil a crofting area unnecessarily. Affordable houses should be built according to need, according to the masterplan, and if there is no current need for 21 houses in Scalasaig, there is no need for 5 houses in Port Mhor.
A Director of CCDC (from the floor) – all the questions can be answered, there is a logical explanation, he can give a full response in due course. He asked what the process going forward should be – letters answered, who should be copied in?
KB – does the CCDC still have support for this project at Port Mor?
AH – the CCDC should give the CCC a written response before we attempt to respond [to the letters from constituents].
RI – for the CCDC to respond which should include an engagement process with the community.
A Director of CCDC (from the floor) – the decision to build the houses at Port Mor has been decided, it is very complicated to do things differently, if there is a suggestion that the decision should be reversed, that is very difficult. The CCDC has put that decision behind itself, it was decided a long time ago.
KB – has it [the land in question] been de-crofted?
Director of CCDC (from the floor) – No. The next step is handing the land to WHHA. They will apply to de-croft.
KB – asked if the CCDC still has community support for the houses at Port Mor, since many years have gone by and circumstances are different now?
AH – there is strong feeling on both sides. We are asking for a response and then we can decide what to do next.
There is a suggestion that the CCDC may be pursuing a project which no longer has the support of the community.
Person D (from the floor) – it seems that the CCC is “policing” the CCDC and it should go back to the community, it is not for CCC to tell the CCDC what to do. It is no one's fault that the project has been delayed.
AH – the CCC is not empowered to police anyone. However the CCC has been asked by members of the community for help in resolving this situation. We are not telling the CCDC how to go about their business but we do have a duty to respond to the letter that has been sent to us.
Person D (from the floor) – it is now up to the CCDC to respond and for the CCDC to engage with the community.
Rhona Robinson (from the floor) – WHHA does not own the ground therefore cannot have a right of access, this has been a problem that has not been resolved by the CCDC and WHHA over 5 years. The project has not been held up by us [Rhona and Les] in any way.
Other Competent Business:
b. Pedie has given up being Minute taker. The Councillors would like to thank him for his hard work over the last 3 years.
It is a paid position and if anyone is interested in taking on the role, please get in touch.
12. Next meeting on 25th May 2021.
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