Letters to the Editor – 3.3.22

Kilninver resident Nigel Mitchell sent us this photograph of the view from the hill behind Barochreal, Kilninver. He said: ‘Now part of the forest has been felled, one looks down on Barochreal land and across the Firth of Lorn to the mountains of Mull, with a good view of The Firth of Lorn. If you have a photograph you would like to share with us, please email a jpeg (1MB) to editor@obantimes.co.uk

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Fearing for their faith

I am grateful to Mark Entwhistle for reporting the story on the amalgamation of six vestries into one in the ancient Diocese of Argyll & The Isles, part of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Not an easy task for all the parties involved and especially as the six churches all have their own unique history, precious artefacts and bequests.

However, what I would like to add to the report, is the manner in which the proposal was carried out by the previous Bishop Kevin Pearson and his diocesan officials.

They were determined to force this through by disallowing a letter from St John’s and St Mary’s vestries to be read, explaining their wishes to remain independent to the voting Synod members. Furthermore, the Bishop claimed, and is minuted, that ALL the vestries had agreed, which was an untruth.

The current Bishop Keith Riglin has declined to meet the appellants after two requests to meet to bring ‘a peaceful resolution’ to the situation.

He is quoted at the end of the article as saying: ‘Episcopalian worship continues in all six churches, all are welcome, none are excluded.’

This is a clever way of avoiding that Scottish Episcopalian worship is being eroded by the Anglican Rector from Liverpool and that the local people, who fear for their faith, worship and culture, should conform.
Julie Christie, Rosemarkie.

Smaller ferries for smaller islands are what we need

Headlines like the recent ‘Colonsay shop running out of supplies’ should not be appearing.

CalMac, as usual, claims ‘safety of passengers and vessel is our Master’s first priority when considering berthing’. No one disagrees with that, but the skippers have to make their judgements with the vessels and berthing arrangements which the company’s policy has provided.

Colonsay is exposed and Scalasaig harbour is tight for manoeuvring a largish ferry. Fair Isle, however, is even more exposed, but it has adapted to its circumstances, its special needs met by special measures, otherwise it would probably now be uninhabited.
I mentioned the ‘weather forecast’ island of Utsira in another publication recently.

Utsira lies in the open North Sea about 10 miles off the SW coast of Norway. A Colonsay respondent replied that he had looked at some pictures and Utsira seemed, unlike Colonsay, to have a fine sheltered harbour for its ferry.

Some photographs certainly suggest that, but an aerial view available on the web of the whole island shows a better overall picture of the place and reveal the approaches are far from unproblematical in bad weather, and the harbour might be considered restricted for a large CalMac-type ferry. Utsira does have the advantage of an alternative landing on the opposite side of the island, but, of course, two harbours also means extra maintenance costs.

The main point is that Utsira has its own (smallish) dedicated ferry, suitable for its own needs and facilities. This normally makes four trips to the mainland each day and if one trip is delayed then the boat is ready to take up service again as soon as the weather moderates.

Colonsay, on the other hand, is appended to the services for its larger neighbouring islands. It gets the large vessels which are designed for these quite different services, and also gets the awkward end of the timetable.

CalMac’s current shortage of relief tonnage doesn’t help, either, since the resulting inflexibility means a missed call can’t always be quickly replaced. Four services a day to the mainland at convenient times remains a dream far out of reach for Colonsay at present, and unless CalMac/CMAL’s policies for their smaller islands are changed will likely remain so for a long time.

There are political and organisational aspects to this, too. Utsira Kommune (local council) has far more powers than Colonsay’s equivalent, and far more say in how their ferry is run. Utsira has, in fact, the same legal powers to organise its affairs as Greater Oslo. A small community council in Scotland has little more powers than those of commenting on already imposed policy.
Arthur Blue, Ardrishaig.

Best value for money?

Having attended a community council meeting on Coll on Wednesday February 16, the public were informed of the forthcoming road repairs. Specific reference was made to why the planned capital investment never took place in previous years. Budget and Covid were the explanation.

Discussion was had on the depth of the hot tar previously laid, which was described as the thickness of a cigarette paper, with the works described as sub-standard at best. Reference was made to the cost of the works and the requirement to get maximum coverage for the money.

This is no more than anyone would expect, however the devil came in the detail when we were informed that in order to spend five days working on Coll, the roads department are arriving on the island on Saturday March 12, leaving on a Sunday March 19, which involves two weekends for five days working. Is it not more expensive to work weekends?

This can’t be blamed on CalMac ferries as some of the staff meet every ferry and know the timetable well. So it has to be asked, who, if anyone, is responsible for ensuring best value when budgets are said to be under serious pressure?
Colin N Kennedy, Isle Of Coll.

Conversion to be welcomed

As a resident of Pulpit Hill, close to the viewpoint, I should like to offer my support to the proposed conversion of the public toilets.

Currently the toilets are closed and have been for several years despite being lit 24/7 at the council’s expense. The disused building has become an eyesore and the immediate surrounding area a mud and litter trap. Two pods and a usable public toilet would be a visual improvement. In addition the council would be earning a rent.

The author of the letter in your edition dated February 17 expresses concerns about the behaviour of potential renters. Will they bring takeaways of food and alcohol and use the benches? Very probably they will sit on the benches and take in the view while enjoying the food from our local establishments, but a local by-law will prevent the consumption of alcohol there. Where will they dump their rubbish? I should imagine in bins provided by and emptied by the council.

Can the council guarantee there will be no noise, littering or antisocial behaviour? No, but neither can they guarantee that of any other letting property in residential areas.

It is my understanding the developers are locals and should be encouraged in their attempts to make use of unused buildings. As an aside, I have no problem with unisex toilets.
Margaret MacEachen, Oban.