Letters to the editor – 9.5.19

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Council did not consult before TRO

Your article by David McPhee on April 25, Community Council condemns new Mull parking charges, quotes me, as convenor of Iona Community Council, saying that the council did not consult with people of Iona at all “before charging ahead with their Traffic Regulation Order”. This rash, ill-considered legal action, that has landed on us from nowhere, aims to impose £9 day, 365 days a year, parking charges at car parks on Mull, including those at our lifeline ferry services at Fionnphort and Craignure.

In the article, the council’s response is to claim it’s inaccurate that we weren’t consulted before the TRO. It’s not inaccurate. It’s a fact the council has proudly acknowledged. Worse, they insist they were right to exclude Iona from any pre-TRO consultation because the car parks are on Mull.

This proves the really disturbing lack of understanding by the council of Iona’s position as an ‘island beyond an island’, which can be reached solely via the neighbouring island of Mull, whose community and businesses depend on two lifeline ferry services operating to and from Mull, and for which the car parks are absolutely integral components of those lifeline services. Iona residents (and visitors) as much as Mull residents use the car parks heavily, without any choice and for long-stay purposes.

The council also wrongly claims in this article that it agreed to “look at parking charges on Mull” as part of its budget proposals (February 2018). The council did not agree to “look at” (or consult on a proposal on, or consider impacts of) parking charges, it agreed to bolt straight to introducing the charges, pitching our communities into a formal TRO without any prior warning.

The council’s lack of prior consultation or evidence gathering, and persistent lack of understanding of how the car parks are used, or the communities that use them, is just one more depressing demonstration of its complete failure to understand the island way of life.

We urge all councillors to think carefully before applying these harmful charges at lifeline ferry ports and to listen to the unanimous, evidence-based concerns being raised from these islands.

Shiona Ruhemann,
Convenor, Iona Community Council.

Oban B&B goes above and beyond

My wife and I are on a 19-day travelling holiday covering Arran, Kintyre, the Western Isles and Skye. We are travelling by car and staying in B&Bs.

While crossing from Mallaig to Lochboisdale by ferry, I realised that I had lost my wedding ring of 42 years. I could only think that I had taken it off at our B&B in Oban.

I contacted Edna Payne at Dana Villa in Oban. What a lovely lady. She arranged for the bedroom to be turned upside down, to find the ring. No luck. She said that she would sift through the dust bag from her vacuum cleaner. Still no luck. Two days later Edna emailed again to say that the ring had been found in the sitting room.

I cannot thank Edna and her team enough. We have found this kind of dedication throughout our visit so far. Many thanks to all those lovely B&B personnel.

Ruth and Jim Reeves,
Trefonen, Shropshire.

Skye airport would damage the environment

Last month I was pleased to support community council colleagues in condemning a proposal that Highland Council donates £170,000 towards a project to develop an airport on Skye.

We had been contacted by a group called Skye and Lochalsh Airport Discussion (SALAD), asking us to back their argument that this is not appropriate use of council funds.

Official paperwork shows that subsidies of £1 million per year will be required in order to make the airport viable. It seems highly likely therefore, that Highland Council will be required to provide further financial support if this project goes ahead.

If Highland Council wishes to invest in ‘public transport’, I am sure we can all think of alternatives which would be of greater benefit to the majority of Highland residents.

Our own councillor, Allan Henderson, is chairman of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee which will consider this request on May 16. Acharacle Community Council has written to Councillor Henderson and other relevant parties expressing our disagreement with this proposal.

Quite apart from the fact that this proposal is for an airport the majority of people on Skye don’t appear to want, requiring not just start-up funding support when finances are ridiculously tight, but ongoing subsidies each and every year, our primary reason for objecting to the proposal was environmental.

We all know that flying is one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions, and that short-haul flights – the sort proposed from an airport on Skye – cause proportionally more environmental damage.

If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to be bold. Giving up plastic straws simply won’t be enough. I urge Councillor Henderson to take heed of our objections and dismiss this proposal.

Joanne Matheson,

Acharacle Community Council.

Great to see roads on Islay being resurfaced

It was fantastic to see first-hand the much-needed road resurfacing being done in Ballygrant and Port Askaig.

It was great to hear from our hard-working road staff about the progress being made in improving our infrastructure across Islay.

I also checked in on the work being done to improve the local broadband network in Port Charlotte.

It is good to see these latest improvements to our roads infrastructure and broadband capacity. It also shows that, with active campaigning, and in some cases investment from our council, real results can be achieved.

I will keep campaigning for faster internet speed and roads resurfacing where needed for every corner of the Kintyre and Islands ward.

Councillor Alastair Redman,

Kintyre and Islands ward.