Community Council Minutes

Iona Community Council

Draft Minute of public meeting held in Iona Library on 08.03.17

Present: Jane Martin, Mark Jardine, Toben Lewis, Rob MacManaway Shiona Ruhemann (convening), John MacInnes and 12 members of the public.

Attending:  Chris Cassells (NTS), Emily Wilkins (NTS), Dominic Driver (Head of Natural Heritage, NTS) Laura MacDonald (A&B Local Community Development Officer)

Apologies: Jim Smith (A&B Roads)

Minutes of the previous meeting, were approved.

Dominic Driver, Head of Natural Heritage at NTS (Nature and communities) was introduced to the meeting.

Community Development: Laura Macdonald was also introduced and spoke to the meeting about the Community Empowerment Act, introduced in July last year, and asset transfer.

This means that public assets can now be requested, including Scottish Fire and Rescue, Police etc.

From April communities can request an ‘outcome improvement process’ for example:- for a Development Trust to take on a Care Home would be possible.

Inequalities in Community Planning could be addressed.

The local Development Plan was once more at a consultation stage.

Iona Vehicle Permits: Mhairi Killin reported on meetings with Brian Rattery and Stuart Watson (A&B Roads). Some points raised,

Applications outwith the Iona Vehicle Permit Policy (which is actually a Road Traffic Order) will now not be accepted.

Applications by ‘ordinarily resident’ applicants will need to evidence their Vehicle Registration Document.

Blue Badge holders will need to quote their Badge number.

Previous applicants will be contacted to inform them of the enforcement of the orders so that expectations will be managed on future applications.

Stuart Watson will look at rewording the application form. As the Permit Policy is a Road Traffic Order with protracted process for revision avoidance of revising is to be preferred.

A tick box for ‘I have read the Terms and Conditions’ would be included.

Abusing a RTO (Road Traffic Order) could lead to being struck off and a penalty charge notice would be issued on the mainland.

Vigilance and reporting of misuse would be welcomed.

The tightening of the control over Iona vehicle permits was not intended to be punitive and was simply about respecting the previously agreed policy.

The suggested ‘lifelong’ permit for residents was rejected, however review of the length of validity/ issue date would be looked at, as previously some applicants had been unaware of the fact that depending on what time of year they applied they could be issued with a permit which in fact had a lifespan considerably shorter than a full calendar year.

Permits would be colour coded.

A ‘No Parking, Turning area’ was mooted for the north-eastern end of the village street.

Roads: Jane Martin reported Dean had written to Jim Smith in June and received a reply in January. So JM had written and asked how roads are assessed and monitored, and for information on their strategy and budget, and also offering any help we might be able to give? So far there had been no response.

Following experience of a SWMID meeting Finlay MacDonald asked ‘who is his deputy’ as a way of getting an earlier response.

Iona Stakeholders: JM reported on the pilot meeting held earlier in the day.

Weather had stalled some of the participants getting to the meeting.

In depth updates had been provided on the Village Hall and the Breakwater (also to be shared at this community council meeting) Along with any feedback welcome.

Iona Village Hall: Gordon Bruce gave an update on village hall matters.

Two funding applications had been successful recently with the Scottish Land Fund pledging money to buy the land required, and the Big Lottery Fund backing the development costs to the next stage.

Three parcels of land were being pursued, the existing site, a narrow strip of land at the western end of the Gully family’s  small field between the Library and Darrach Beag for improved access, and a small part of the Maol Farm land, the NTS had been approached for this bigger site.

Chris Cassells said that the case had been put to his colleagues as a recommendation which would be considered at an up coming meeting on the 23rd March.

It was now two years since the WT Architecture plans and the previous public consultation so now it was time to look at more detail, inside layout etc and come up with budgets for planning and build.

In the meantime restructuring arrangements were beginning as the current ownership of the Hall by a board with honorary members like the school teacher, postmistress and doctor and run for them by the Village Hall Committee would need to change and form a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) with ability to purchase and own assets.

More consultations would be coming. A paid post to take some of this work forward had been advertised but not filled within the deadline so the work had ended up being done ‘in house’.

In the medium to long term a worker would be appointed to carry out the considerable workload that would become necessary.

The AGM was due soon but had been postponed until the new structure was in place.

Film nights were planned for 15th and 31st March and 9th April and the Hall clean was scheduled for the 25th (it was brought up that the Church clean was due in the afternoon so keen cleaners had the opportunity of a busy day!)

The Music Festival was sold out and had done so very quickly again, this would take place on June 30th and July 1st.

Chris Cassells raised the idea of the Hall access incorporating bin storage and that it be considered how this would operate.

Sound of Iona Harbours; Finlay Macdonald reported on progress made by the SWMID group; a meeting had been held in January chaired by Michael Russell at An Roth. Argyll and Bute Council have an Asset Management Plan and a Harbours board which was aiming at funds within that budget being ring fenced, and also aiming at a viable sustainable ongoing financial balance between piers income and the cost of maintaining or improving the marine infrastructure.

Latest timescale for a breakwater in Iona and an overnight ferry berth in Fionnphort was:-

Year 1 Feasibility, Year 2 Design, Year 3-4 construction.

A&B have admitted that the steel in the repairs on Iona slip was a problem and that a breakwater would be the solution.

There had been a study commissioned and carried out by Arch-Henderson in 2015 but incredibly it had not utilised any local input. The findings were presented to the meeting but the conclusions were judged flawed and lacking by the SWMID harbours group and skippers and representatives from Cal Mac.

Local input from SWMID harbours group and Cal Mac had now been sent to A&B for incorporation into a new study brief and was sitting with them. A draft of the new brief was due to be ready by 15th March, which the group would have sight of, this would then go to consulting design engineers in a tender process.

SR mentioned matters arising from the stakeholders group meeting:- EW was open for additional ideas of jobs NTS Thistle camps could tackle, one was due in April.

The feasibility/ development brief for the MacLeod centre was being composed.


4 projects, 1) Iona Abbey heat pump, the marine version has now been changed in favour of a geo-thermal option, which can utilise the existing trench but with vertical boreholes, and is seen as likely to gain planning consent. At a later stage there is the possibility across the projects of a local post as e.g., a maintenance worker. Carbon saved annually via the Abbey Heat pump would be 78.3tons.

2) Village district heat network. This would be ground source, and more expensive than the Abbey as there is no existing infrastructure. Cost minimum £1.1million and retro fit to several houses. Capital subsidy would be required however there is  a possibility with the Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) and preliminary discussions have started with Argyll and Bute and Scottish Government.

3) Investigations into locally generated energy have focused down through various options to wind or solar. There are planning sensitivities but if turbines were relatively small in scale there is some possible scope. Three potential sites were looked at being DunBhuirg, Traighmor and Loch Staonaig.

Dun Bhuirg is unlikely to be accepted as it is ‘scheduled’, Traighmor would not require a major grid upgrade but is quite visible, Loch Staonaig was better in terms of visual impact and would be Planning’s preferred option but would require a spur on the grid to make it work which would involve extra cost.

4) Reducing energy demand. Iona Renewables has been awarded funding for a Climate Challenge Fund ‘Lightening the Load’ project, building on the good response to Home Energy Scotland and Resource Efficient Scotland surveys of residential and business buildings. This funding will provide as much support as possible to follow through on survey recommendations. Another component is encouraging carbon saving behaviour, - Community workshops to follow. Funding includes a P/T post for 11months with back up from the technical team in Edinburgh.

Finlay MacDonald asked about Solar generation, SR replied that the investigations and modelling suggested wind would be more efficient and that demand for energy was more likely to coincide with generating peaks making it a far stronger contender. A consultation was due in April and a similar scenario to the Village Hall Committee would arise where the renewables group would need to become an incorporated organisation.

Ferries: Finlay MacDonald highlighted that there were a couple of changes to timetabling for the summer. The early ferry previously timed at 07.00 would now depart 15 mins earlier at 06.45 to connect with Craignure and must now always be booked.

The 11.10 (Mull boat) ex Craignure has been retimed to 11.00 which means that last year’s problem of an over tight connection to the Oban/Glasgow train has been solved.

The 16.00 (Mull boat) ex Oban has been retimed to 15.55 (this still works for the train connection).

The electronic noticeboard should now show if the boat is booked for the following morning, but it would be wise to book if you are intending to travel.

Future timetables are to be worked out on a fairly rigid 6 month in advanced basis, so for instance summer 2018 will be decided after making drafts available in October, so any changes we want or don’t want need to be flagged up in good time.

Using the Bank Holiday as a pilot it is clear that numbers are up on the ferries, Iona passengers IRO 13% and expected to rise further.

Winter timetable is expected to be unaltered although there is the possibility the Mull ferry will berth overnight in Craignure if pier pre-requisites can be met.

The recall of the Oban attending school children due to forecasts had been queried on certain Fridays, a response was being awaited.

Dot Stewart asked if the 09.00 Sunday Iona ferry winter run was being retained? Finlay said yes as far as he knew, but he had not heard about the 15.00 yet.


Health: TL, SR and Katie Gordon had spent many hours in meetings mostly off Iona and there had been a good turn out for the public meeting on Iona on the 23rd of February with NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS). Attendance by SAS staff had been appreciated and they both informed and listened.

Initial actions to apply for a Helicopter landing site were taken forward after the meeting by SAS. A suitable site is still to be identified and further discussion was suggested with Dot (Coastguard), Dean (First Responders) and the Fire Brigade.

Morag MacLean of North Argyll Carers was also present at the Iona health event and was keen to make Iona connections. CPR training was likely to be offered on Iona.

The authorisation to attend casualties under 16 by the First Responders was discussed, who are currently not covered by this service, but moves are afoot to remedy this and it is considered to be ‘in the pipeline’.

Dentist: The much valued Mr Price has now retired and the travelling dental surgery is currently not operational and its future in doubt. The job has been advertised for a year’s independent practice. Concerns were expressed and it was advised that routing these through Councillor Mary Jean Devon was probably the best action.

First Responders: Dean intimated that a ‘non Thursday’ prescription form was available to enable prescriptions to be delivered as quickly as possible as the need arises.

Two additional FR’s,  Karen Johnston and Rona Muckart-Lilley were now trained and passed with just final checks to be ticked off, and would be available for cover soon. Congratulations were voiced and this would boost the existing four of Morag Snell, David and Louise Allaway and Norman Young.

J MacI asked if there was a spec for the Landing site?

Mhairi Killin  suggested outside the Steading. As these were questions only helicopter staff could answer it was suggested that they were contacted. JMacI following up with SAS.


Postal Deliveries: Dean requested that everyone made sure their postal address was correctly registered as deliveries by post should after 3 months of a change of address no longer be delivered but be returned rather than forwarded by Royal Mail staff.

Iona Boat Association: Finlay MacDonald reported on build progress of the Iona skiff, she was now ready to be turned right way up for fit out, launch was hoped to be in April/ May, the boat is to be named ‘The Red Boat’.

Finlay also drew attention to the Facebook page ‘Iona stuff’.

Welcome to Iona website: Gordon Bruce updated on the work of the website committee of TL, Dot Stewart, Mhairi Killin and himself. Content management had finally been transferred from Dom Morgan and moves were afoot to make the site ‘mobile friendly’.

Bulk buy wood: Phil  Ruhemann  indicated that he was looking into bulk buying from Tiroran (community owned forest), the minimum buy would be 25 tons or so, This also might be something that could be taken forward by the part-time Iona Renewables post, as it would have significant carbon saving benefit. 

MICT: Development Trust Organisation can access bulk oil buying (already on Facebook) this can work out somewhat cheaper than normal domestic purchase. 

Participatory budgeting pilot: Argyll & Bute is piloting small-scale participatory budgeting for a Gaelic project, where communities are able to vote online for their preferred investment

(Laura Macdonald).

Date of the next meeting, Monday 5th June, this will be the AGM.