The Isle of Iona Scotland

Iona Today

Community Council Minutes
Share |

Iona Community Council

Minute of public meeting held in Iona Library on 5.9.16


Present: Jane Martin, Mark Jardine, Toben Lewis, Rob MacManaway (convening), Shiona Ruhemann, John MacInnes and 18 members of the public.

Apologies: Chris Cassells, Emily Wilkins (NTS)


Minutes: for the two previous meetings were signed off.


John MacLean gave a short speech as he signed off as convenor eight years after agreeing to fill the gap on a year’s trial basis! He was thanked by the Community Council for his significant commitment and contribution.


Interim Elections: there are now two vacancies on the council and forms are available for anyone who would like to be put forward as members to serve on ICC. Please contact JM for details


Car Permits: At the last meeting it was agreed to form a group to look into the rising numbers of vehicles on the island and whether the Permit system was still fulfilling its purpose.

The group comprising Mhairi Killin, Shiona and Phil Ruhemann, Fiona Kyle and Joanne MacInnes had engaged with A&B and gained some statistics as well as discussing how the system is currently being operated and applied.

In general the problem of increased numbers of vehicles lies not with island residents or commercial users but more with short duration visitors. As an indication of the increase in permit numbers granted:- comparing 2009  when 363 permits were issued to 2015 when 316 were issued to 2016 when by August 324 had already been issued. visitors accounted for 105 of these 324 so 30%. Mhairi’s discussions with Louise Hyde (A&B) revealed that in recent times permits have been issued on trust without documentation being required, as well as to vehicles not eligible under the policy, and there was no monitoring once the vehicles were on the island. Three options were put forward for consideration and discussion.

1)   Do nothing

2)   Enforce existing policy

3)   Form a new policy

Discussion followed. Stretching of rules in recent times by some permit issued car users had become not unusual.

It was observed that it was important those holding permits should display them clearly. The increasing introduction of charges for parking in Argyll and Bute including Fionnphort threatened the advantages of having infrequently used but necessary vehicles stationed on the Mull side (eg Iona Community staff cars). There was interest in the idea of permit displaying cars being exempt from parking charges in Fionnphort. If the minimal areas for car parking on Iona was not already under such pressure then there would be more opportunity for temporary holders to park up for the duration of their stay after unloading, however there was a resistance to the idea of Iona being turned into a parking lot by building additional capacity. Between bins and parking the village area was already much less attractive than optimum.

Staff at A&B had been subjected to intimidation in recent times when turning down applicants on perfectly legitimate grounds which had not helped staff members to enforce the rules, this was clearly unacceptable so changes needed to be made to make it easier for them to make decisions and to feel they had the backing of the system.

The current rules were the outcome of co-operation between A&B and ICC originally and these were revisited in 2006.  Discussion affirmed that the rules were clear and appropriate and still relevant to today. A unanimous vote agreed option 2 as the way forward. To improve implementation of the permit policy, suggestions included a return to checking of supporting documentation, A&B and ICC to communicate policy proactively supported by accommodation providers publicising links to policy for visitors renting homes, the possibility of fines for non-compliance (which as a by-product could open up a potential minor revenue which might help offset the administration costs, though challenges with enforcement), and the introduction of ‘automatic renewal’ for resident permit holders. 

Action Point: Group to take this forward based on option 2 decision, including consulting Iona residents/ home owners on suggested actions to support enforcement of existing policy.


Health Service:

SR reported that since the last Iona Community Council meeting, ICC has sent a letter to the NHS Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).  Mike Russell got involved and the letter ended up at Cabinet Secretary for health.  The letter addressed:

In hours: we don’t support HSCP’s proposed hub and spokes model, we need a doctor based at Bunessan with responsibility for ROM and Iona, rather than working across the whole of Mull.  HSCP agreed to drop the ‘hub and spokes’ model for ROM and Iona, instead having a ‘cog and wheel’ model with a Doctor based 80% at the ‘cog’ in Bunessan, allowing some rotation of Doctors (e.g., 20% female Dr etc)

Out of hours: we have serious concerns about HSCP’s proposal for a single doctor being on call for the whole of Mull and Iona, based at Craignure: still under discussion

SAS emergency response model: SAS carried out an options appraisal out last year – 78% of the public supported the ‘community option’ proposed by Mull Community Council (paramedic response unit in addition to existing ambulance team), but SAS imposed the status quo with some ‘enhancement’ (i.e., a 4x4 for the on-call doctor, of dubious value).  ICC challenged whether the appraisal is fit for purpose (Value for Money, affordability arguments etc): agreed by SAS and NHS Highland that it’s not fit for purpose; back to drawing board

ICC also raised a number of specific cases on Iona to HSCP – these illustrate a perception that healthcare standards and services are in decline, and responsibilities being shifted to islanders and informal systems: SAS and surgery to respond on specifics (need to chase response)

Locality Planning Group aiming to address these issues, meeting monthly at Craignure – three job sharing reps from Iona (SR, TL, Katie Gordon)

Interim arrangements: the 2 Tobermory GPs resigned in July, leaving doctor crisis on Mull and Iona – recognizing we’ve had locums for a long time, instead of a ‘salaried GP on General Medical Services contract’, an agreement had been reached that Ross of Mull and Iona would retain a stand alone GP for interim (standard model)

PPG restarting (tomorrow)

Dean is also part of the team, addressing prescriptions.  Working with surgery to find a way of Iona people accessing prescriptions without costly journey to surgery – has been suggested this is officially patients’ responsibility but that is still under debate.  Proposal for Iona centre to stock more prescriptions. 

Iona Renewables: SR reported on the ‘mosaic of options’ becoming apparent in the feasibility study, which is on track – now at end of stage 2 and about to start final stage.

One part of this, discussed at the community consultation in May, was the reappraisal of the marine source heating system for the Abbey, a closed loop system was now being considered and it had been agreed to pursue this with HES, IC and IRG, and funding has been secured to develop it to ‘investment ready business plan’ by end March 2017 (agreed in principle to pursue this as joint venture between the island community and HES – the first HES-community partnership on renewables – with Iona Community as heat customer).

Brian Barker from Home Energy Scotland had carried out surveys of island homes – householders are being asked to agree to share the data with IRG for project processes, including potential detailed feasibility of a district heat network in the village. Anyone who has missed out on home surveys who wishes to be included can still be seen when BB return (due October – contact TL).

A second community consultation is planned, likely in October. 


Iona Abbey Library:  JM Reported on the conservation project being run by Sue Clutterbuck on behalf of the Iona Cathedral Trust. A presentation then launch was due on the 21st September in the (Abbey) Library at 2pm.

Job adverts and interviews would also be posted around this time.


Orthodox Church presence on Iona: Ignatius Bacon spoke to the meeting about the increasing numbers of people from the Orthodox Church who were interested in, and were visiting, Iona. Where in the past it had been possible for them to make arrangements to stay on the island at Clachanach as this was not now available they were interested in having a small base on the island; they had an open mind on how this might be achieved and would consider share, rent, buy or build options. This therefore was an informative courtesy visit to explain their desire. An appeal would be launched to raise funds. Anyone who wished to contact them could do so at

SR asked was it not possible to share existing facilities with other ecumenically minded religious organisations on the island eg the Iona Community or at Bishop’s House? IB replied that that they were pursuing the idea of a totally Orthodox environment but was keen to stress that they were not trying to convert others to their belief.


News items


Iona Village Hall: £6k had been secured towards the costs of Land provision.

A bonfire fundraiser evening event would be held around 5th November.


IHP: Action point ICC to send a letter of thanks to all partnership members to be sent to Carol Kirkpatrick.

Fiona Menzies commented that the partnership was still keen for new members as there was still a housing need on the island.


NTS:  A successful Thistle Camp had been held in August.

Arnish one of their houses in the village had been re-let.

In October work was scheduled on Glebe site walls.

Chris Cassells was meeting with The Village Hall Committee re the Hall site.


Ferry Committee: The new Cal Mac eight year contract for the network would begin on October 1st.

A bookable 09.00 ferry (ex Iona) will be available on this winter’s service on Sundays.

Next meeting 22nd September, any input to Finlay MacDonald.


Islands Bill: Mull Community Council were writing to Humza Yousaf to make sure A&B would be included.

Action Point:- ICC to do likewise.


Songs of Praise: Joyce Watson drew attention to the television coverage which had usefully publicised the vacancy in the Parish, though there were one or two inaccuracies in the portrayal of the island situation (despite it including words from both herself and Sharon (Bishops house)).


Iona Community: Rosie Magee reported latest plans including the closing of the MacLeod Centre on 30th September, postponement of the refurbishment work at the Welcome Centre by a year to the following winter. Fundraising was continuing.

On the 2nd October a joint Harvest Thanksgiving would be held with the Parish church.

Thanks were expressed for the ‘amazing and professional’ response from the emergency services during the search and rescue operation triggered for a woman who had gone missing from the Macleod Centre. Thankfully there was a positive outcome when the woman was found unhurt after Police, Coastguard, Fire Service and S&R Helicopter involvement and this was fortunately achieved just as the weather deteriorated.

Danus Skene: RM intimated that Danus had died 10 days before.


Recent Archaeological finds at the School extension site:

Disappointment was expressed that there was no formal opportunity made to island residents to see what had been discovered before the site was again covered over after recording. The only information had been coverage in the Oban Times and the Herald.


Ross of Mull and Iona Community Transport Scheme:

An AGM would be held at the Coast Guard building at Fionnphort on Saturday 1st October at 2pm.


Roads: Dean was hoping for more information to report by next meeting. A visit from the Tarring lorry to the island had taken place about a week after the last letter sent.


Bin collections: A new schedule was being introduced by the council whereby the frequency of green bins (landfill) uplift was to be reduced to every three weeks. Blue (recycling) bins would continue to be collected from on a two weekly schedule. There was general collective(!) moans at this news.


Date of the next meeting: would be earlier than normal pattern on 28th November.





Follow us:

  • Facebook_32
  • Twitter_32
  • Flickr_32

Quick Gallery: