Iona Community Council Minutes

Iona Community Council

Draft minutes of the quarterly meeting held in Iona Village Hall on Wednesday 6 March 2024 at 7.30pm

Present: Shiona Ruhemann (chair), Jane Martin, Dot Stewart, Toben Lewis (minutes), 15 members of the public, and 3 guests.

Apologies: Katy Russon, Rob MacManaway, Harrie Burney, Jane Kindlen

Minutes of the previous meeting: signed off without amendments

Iona Community Council Report

Jane Martin—

Community Council byelection on 2 May, there will be poster on noticeboard and nomination pack on A+BC website by 21 March at 16.00. There are two vacancies on ICC right now.

Still looking for volunteers to represent Iona on SWMID and MICT boards, do not need to join ICC in order to do this. Please come and have a chat with one of us if interested.

Reports from organisations:

Iona Village Hall Community Trust

Jane read report from Anja Jardine –

At our recent AGM all Trustees were re-elected onto the board: Mairi MacDonald, David Allaway, Rebecca Knight and Jana McLellan as ordinary members, while Joanne MacInnes was re-elected for treasurer, Katie Gordon for Minute Secretary, Gordon Bruce for Vice Chair, and Anja Jardine for chair.

Fiona Kyle will continue to support the Trustees as Hall Development Manager, and Morag Snell will continue as an excellent hall cleaner.

We are currently dealing with a few maintenance issues, like heating and hot water not working dependably, minor leaks, a broken fridge. These will hopefully be sorted by the beginning of the main season.

We are really sorry if your rentals were affected by those issues.

While winter is almost over, we are still hoping to have a few activities.

There was another community cafe today – we are very grateful to Jann and the Rookery Cafe for hosting this and the past events. A big thank you also to all the people who helped clearing away and washing up.

Dates will be announced online for any upcoming movies in March and April.
The St Columba Hotel is organising another fundraising Golf Weekend. Iona Hall is open on Saturday, 16th March from the afternoon onwards with a licensed bar. There will be live Rugby in the afternoon, and music and dancing in the evening.

Trustees are in the process of scoping our options for an update of our community research, to include an evaluation of the village hall build project and updated community needs & priorities. It is timely now post-COVID, with a couple of years operation under our belt and given the various external pressures on our community (ferries, housing, etc) along with quite big developments on the horizon (pier development, mull campus) so we can make sure IVHCT strives to meet needs sustainably and effectively.

At the moment, the proposal we have is for a pretty comprehensive research, taking place during the summer of 2024, and costing around £8k. This will form the updated evidence that IVHCT relies on in order to attract funding of around £7-13k per year so it’s a good return on investment, if we can find/free up the funds. Joanne is exploring funding but there are very few obvious options.

We have had a really good discussion with Community Enterprise who undertook the pre-build research in 2012, whom have provided an initial proposal, and we would ideally collaborate with Iona Community Council and possibly other island stakeholders, to make this a body of evidence which is as useful and flexible as it can be.

Meeting with ICC pending, subject to a confirmed date.

Iona Renewables

Shiona Ruhemann –

We’ve involved our MSP due to concerns with pace and handling. Through the MSP, who’s engaged with the Minister, Scottish Government has assured that the Heat Network is being progressed as a priority.

Iona Broadband Committee

Gordon MacCormick –

Scotland R100

According to the Digital Scotland Database, the scheduled completion date for the R100 network, in Pennyghael, remains the end of March 2024, and on the Ross of Mull and Iona, the end of September 2024.

However, given that the end of March is only three weeks away and there has been no sign of any network building in the Pennyghael area, it is clear that the current delivery schedule is not going to be met.

Openreach were asked for an updated engineering schedule and they replied that they are currently unable to communicate a specific schedule of build across Mull and Iona, as those plans remain in discussion, given Local Authority roads and planning requirements, as well as logistics and planning, which they assure us is well progressed. They are hopeful, that it will not be long, before we see work begin in our area.

The R100 Delivery Team say that the delivery schedule, in the Digital Scotland Database, will be updated within the next couple of weeks.

They also said that they are planning an island engagement session in the Spring, which is set to include a range of local stakeholders, and will provide positive information about the R100 build, Island wide, over the next 12 to 18 months.

In short, the current delivery schedule is not going to be achieved, but, we should know the new schedule, within the next few weeks.

When I have that information, I will communicate it to the Community Council and our wider community.

Discussion –

Phil Ruhemann: will cancelled landlines have to pay a reconnection fee once R-100 comes live? GM: fibre optic has nothing to do with the landlines, so they shouldn’t. Finlay MacDonald: will every house be connected by default? GM: every pole / connector block will be connected, houses will be connected from the nearest block if they sign up. On Lismore they held a meeting for people to express interest so they knew where to connect, that seemed to work well. FM: will they run the cable to the house or will we have to do it? GM: that will be a discussion between you and your provider, but hopefully that work will already be done when the engineers are on the island. Go to the island engagement meeting to express interest. Dot Stewart: did you say the island engagement event will be looking at the next 12-18 months, and does that mean that’s the current timeline we’re looking at? GM: there are properties at the North end of Mull that have a delivery date of 12-18 months, that timeline refers to the whole of Mull and Iona with the longer timeline probably referring to them.


Finlay MacDonald –

Summer timetable starts end of the month. Currently no change for us despite Caledonian Isles forecasted being off until June or so. Next winter looks to be much the same with some tweaks for public transport connections.

The bus should meet the ferry next winter, avoiding the long waits in Craignure and Fionnphort being experienced during the days this year and last.

Meeting with CMAL, CalMac, and Transport Scotland about the Isle of Mull replacement next week. Very positive to have all organisations in the same room.

Had a meeting with the RMT (union on the big vessels) to discuss some of the issues being experienced. Also very positive.

Joe Reade (chair of Mull and Iona Ferry Committee) was on Radio Scotland this morning discussing unbundling of the ferry network. ScotGov has recently made decision to grant the contract for all ferries to CalMac again without going to tender, potentially for 10 years. Unbundling does not mean privatisation, it means a private company running a public service with certain restrictions such as schedule, vessel, tariff being contractually agreed.

New vessels will be coming into fleet soon. 801 has undergone sea trials but is not yet scheduled to enter service. Turkish boat also on the way.

CMAL adamant that small vessel replacement service still on schedule and budget.

Current booking system has a lot of issues. Feel free to get in touch with Finlay if you have an issue, CalMac is listening and is going back to the company that built the system when presented with problems. Slowly being fixed but they need to know what the issues are.

If ferries are cancelled and other ferries showing as all full online that can mean that they are just on hold while people are being re-booked. Call them.

Highly recommend that unless there is an impending time constraint, you email Craignure and request call back. Then you will get the staff that know the system and local area and they will call you back when they aren’t busy and are able to focus on your booking.

If calling, and you are connected to Gourock, can also just request they patch you through to Craignure.


Finlay MacDonald –

A+BC say “news will be available imminently”. Still no further forward on the wee pier.

Council has committed to replacing the public toilet but within the same footprint as current toilet. They will not dig out the south side of the pier to make that area more usable. Not asking for a huge amount of digging there, so may be worth pushing back on this one. At the very least asking what the costs attached were found to be.

Discussion –

Mark Jardine: there may be a third way of removing rock on the south side of the pier (other than blasting or pecking). FM: if they’re bringing equipment over to do the adjacent area, it should be possible to do this bit we’re asking. Shiona Ruhemann: the explanation provided eventually by the Council for not pursuing a mooring area was not compelling – e.g. that the option had been raised too late; we’ll follow up for a more solid response.

Iona Stuff

Finlay MacDonald –

When telling staff to sign up, please tell them to specify where they are working when they fill in the questionnaire. Also if you notice there are people on the list that have moved away please let him know.

Iona Community

Caro Penney –

Gearing up first guests on Saturday for Work Week. First season volunteers have arrived.

Mhairi Killin and Kerstin Felleiter will be leading a week in April.

Islander’s tea a week tomorrow in the afternoon, all very welcome. Also an opportunity to say goodbye to Lyn who will be leaving soon.


Jane Martin –

Patient participation group no longer exists. If you have an issue you now need to speak to the surgery direct. Details on how to do this are on their website.

The historic issue of non-connectivity in the surgery appears to be no longer a problem.

Discussion –

Finlay MacDonald: how many appointments are available on a weekly basis? Almost always being directed to go to Bunessan. Discussion: unknown, wonderings if there were a shorter surgery in the winters. ICC will ask surgery.


Shiona Ruhemann read report sent in from Rob MacManaway –

Shore facilities building (washing, wifi, etc) at Ulva Ferry now open, so may draw more yachts to stop in the area, including visiting here. Improved paths and composting toilet at Ardura Forest for anyone wanting to stop there.


Mull Campus and Argyll and Bute Councils Policy and Resources Committee

Shiona Ruhemann –

Council had won an LEIP funding for a new school; good news, with a particularly sensitive issue about where it would be located geographically. The choice to attend Oban High School has been central to Iona’s requests for engagement in this process. A+BC is now asking Councillors to choose between two options. EITHER accept the LEIP funding and commit more capital than already budgeted to building a new campus (which will involve cuts elsewhere in the budget) OR reject the LEIP award and refurbish the existing campus. This decision has been deferred to their meeting in April to try and gather more exact figures.

New campus estimated at £40 million, the LEIP would only cover 35-50%, and pay it all up front. There are genuine budget pressures.

Council has been challenged as to why there was no discussion with the public about this decision being raised, response has been lack of time, which is not an adequate response.

There is a big movement on Mull that refurbishment is not a good enough alternative to a rebuild – ICC has supported that contention. Katy has just been sent a link to a petition and will make this available locally.

Discussion –

Neil Jardine: what is the petition for? SR: that the school needs to be rebuilt, not refurbished.

Public toilets

Jane Martin –

The replacement of the public toilets during pier works has been agreed by A+BC as a like for like rebuild, which does not address current usage requirements. Asked for assistance from Councillor Amanda Hampsey numerous times on this issue and have not heard back.

Public bins and bulk uplift

Shiona Ruhemann read report sent in from Rob MacManaway –

The intention and promise is for another collection next week and then we can see what's left and what the council will do. Reiterated that nothing more should be added.

Discussion –

Finlay MacDonald: when are the missed bins being collected? Discussion: Rob has been given assurance of a collection imminently by the Mull Amenities Services Officer, exact date tbc based on driver availability. Neil Jardine: is the bulk uplift going to happen again? SR: not without learning lessons from what happened this time – need to meet with the people that made this offer to discuss why it didn’t work and how to move forward. Dot Stewart: ICC had suggested we re-instate the previous method of the lorry being at jetty at a set time on a set day for people to bring things down.

Housing meeting

Shiona Ruhemann read report from Katy Russon –

MICT, NT and ABC's policy lead for Housing have all now been out to Iona for a meeting. They met with a range of locals with differing needs and perspectives, visited disused buildings/footprints for possible redevelopment and, particularly with NT, are considering sites for new development.

Possible solutions are mostly medium to long term but, in the short term, the importance of registering with Home Argyll was reiterated – a proper record of demand gives them the leverage and lobbying power to seek support and funding for any developments. MICT will be coming to Iona to hold a session to support people to register with Home Argyll (18th or 19th March, will confirm and publish via Facebook, mail chimp, notice board etc).

You do not need to be homeless or in immediate need to register – it is simply registering the demand for public sector housing. This could include people in inadequate accommodation (shared, too small etc), people in tied accommodation/private sector accommodation wanting the security of a public sector tenancy etc.



Date of next meeting: 5 June 2024