Comment posted 11th April: George Berry chairing hustings for Oban Wards 4 and 5 by newsroom.
On the issue of airports – Brian Keating raised the issue at the Argyll and the Isles tourism summit and made a telling point about the absolute need to develop our area’s air travel and leisure flying sector.
He could not be more right.
We do not need to see Oban Airport closed. We need to see it work.
We need to see Campbeltown airport work.
We need to see our air routes marketed and run for what they are – unique routes to unique places – including the sea plane service.
And the leisure flying market is a crucial loss we’ve sustained in the cack-handed way Oban Airport has been handled before and since its inception.
Is there any other area in Scotland that has the variety of air routes in Argyll and the Isles? And that’s not to mention the airstrips the private flyers can use.
There’s another world up there. And who knows?
newsroom also commented
- Stooshie – This is not a place to start but a place to finish.
When we said we wanted this to stop now because it simply repeatedly – endlessly – goes over old ground – we meant it.
When we said that we were asking for our openness and our wishes to be respected – we meant that.
When we said that this did not involve barring but were asking for self editing – we meant that too,
This does not mean that if what we are asking for does not happen we will let it run. We will not. And that includes debate on our decision.
We will not hesitate to disallow comments that do not respect what is clearly constructive common sense in this matter.
- I have edited some material in the comment above – if for no other reason than it has all been said before and I cannot spend endless amounts if time in constant retro-checking and re-moderating.
There has to be an end to this – at least as far as For Argyll is concerned.
There is no value in endless repetition. Life – lives – get stuck in a groove which can go nowhere; and none of us have that much time to waste.
This issue has also hijacked discussion of the hustings in Oban with which it may have a relationship but not an exclusive one.
It is obvious that there are fissures in the Easdale island community of a serious nature. We have not run away from that but have tried to be constructive by considering the situation fairly and presenting a picture of the colliding cultures we have found.
There is also clearly more to it than that but whatever that is, it drags everyone to depths we cannot approach and would have no reason to try.
Yes, we feel that Eilean Eisdeal should be open about its membership. Why ever not?
Yes, we feel that a charity should be open with its own community about its accounts. Why ever not?
But suppose the worst case scenario – that not one of its members is a full time resident on Easdale island or even has little more than nothing at all to do with it….
That small group of volunteers, with whoever their supporting members are, has bpught and renovated the Easdale Village Hall – a lovely and spirits-lightening place that is a real community asset.
They have done a substantial amount of work on the harbour – a matter which is to everyone’s advantage – residents, part-time residents and visitors alike.
They secured the little island museum – again a real communal resource.
They run an entertainments programmne in the village hall that is utterly enviable, with landmark figures from the national and international music scene appearing there.
What does it matter, in the light of this genuine contribution (for which there is no evidence of competing offers) if every one of the members of Eilean Eisdeal comes from Kota Kinabalu?
As we’ve already said, the things they have defensively not done are as likely to spring from weariness and fear of any action triggering another round of accusations.
Whatever the ins and outs of all of this, there is a point where everyone has to ask what can possibly be achieved by perpetuating the situation?
For Argyll, having been as open as possible in allowing matters to be aired and having spent time and care in exploring the issues as best and as honestly as we could, cannot now spend time and webspace facilitating repetitions.
That is not an unreasonable position to have reached. It does not mean barring. It is a pleas to respect our position on this and to self-edit.
Please do not see this as a challenge to produce new grievances and allegations as opposed to repetitions.
Turn this to the positive and write for us on sea kayaking – a matter on which we know you are expert and on which many like us would be interested to know more (from the security of a sofa).
- We are about to remove the second of the two paragraphs of your comment on the grounds of lack of substantiation. In one case you say ‘I can’t prove this…’
This is being done in the spirit of fairness.
We accept that if you had got itemised financial breakdowns those would have presented a definitive picture that would have supported or removed your concerns.
We have seen a report by OSCR on their own examination of the affairs of Eilean Eisdeal – after complaints from island members of the ‘leave things as they are persuasion’. They concluded that, in the case of Mr Mackenzie’s company, it had indeed been paid for doing project work but had demonstrated that it had done a lot of work in a pro bono basis, had discounted more and that the arrangement was clearly of benefit to the charity.
OSCR commented that the work had been untendered and recommended that Eilean Eisdeal: ‘should implement a tendering process ‘… for architectural or building related services’ ‘to ensure all decisions made during the tendering process are clearly recorded’.
It seems fair to us to say that it is foolish of Eilean Eisdeal to ignore the advice of OSCR in apparently continuing to be less than transparent with its entire community.
OSCR regulations on compliance in specific accounting procedures by charitable organisations are extremely rigorous. Specific itemised accounts must exist. It is hard to understand why such breakdowns are not made public.
As we have said before it is possible, in this conflictual situation, that this high degree of defensiveness has more to do with being terrified of giving hostages to fortune than having much to hide – but it is certainly ill advised.
And yes, Mr Mackenzie did directly mislead us in response to a clear and simple question. We continue to find that disappointing.
What we would say is that, whatever the historical ins and outs of your core dispute with Mr Mackenzie, they are probably insoluble but it seems unfair to draw Mr Melville closer to the heart of it.
This risks perpetuating a diseased situation which is no good to anyone, by serially loading it onto the back of a new involuntary carrier.
The two article we published in an attempt to bring some objectivity to the community divisions in Easdale Island are:
- CMAL are responsible for all of the ports and harbours they own – but they do not own them all.
The standout controversy at the moment is that Craignure pier on Mull – owned and charged by Argyll and Bute Council, brings in around £1 million a year from CalMac but has had nothing spent on it for so long it is now unfit for purpose and has been unsafe.
Part of the current consulation on the Draft Ferries Review asks whether or not CMAL should own and operate all ports and harbours.
- Facing nose to the grindstone for some hours yet tonight, this is really uplifting news.
Your comment carries the sense of an invigorating session – so much more galvanising than endless wars of attrition.
Recent comments by newsroom
- Iain McCallum: the human bridge between Campbeltown and Heroes Challenge UK
Alan – we’ll try to get a message to the team for you – and will pass on your email to them for dir3ect contact.
The communications side of things is a weak link – not just with wifi and mobile signal problems but with accurate information on ETAs and even destinations.
We spent the afternoon today chasing around unsuccessfully to find them at their stated destination in Campbeltown – confirmed before we set off to drive – when in fact they finished at The Putechan Hotel, which is on the west coast of Kintyre and well short of Campbeltown. Very frustrating.
We did see the team doing the hard stuff though – passing them on the way south. They were cycling in two clusters, impressively easily and very disciplined in the way they were dealing with traffic streams behind them.
You should know that we now understand that they will row tomorrow from Campbeltown to Glenarm and not to Ballycastle; and that it looks as if they will row back not form Newcastle but from Bangor to Portpatrick.
They’ll be delighted to see you mi-channel. Great idea.
- Argyll and Bute Council: Where are we now?
The difference is that the new ferry to Campbeltown had an arrival time and actually arrived.
A major part of what we work to do is to support initiatives at all levels that are focused on regeneration and are driven by positive, creative energies that make things happen.
Campbeltown wins hands down over Kilmory any minute of any day on these criteria – and we never spare ourselves travelling and hard work on a cause that has some hope of going somewhere.
And just in case you are implying that this was a jolly – which we never do: I myself drove to Campbeltown – 1 hr 30m – did the work and drove back again immediately.
- Argyll and Bute Council: Where are we now?
This amusing spin disguises the fact that there was no political ‘speculation’.
There was formally recorded political realignment and manoeuvering by all councillors – which was done in some urgency before the council meeting, yet appears to have stalled – for some reason and for the time time being at least.
Councillors do not seem to realise that this adds to the alienation of voters rather than assuage concerns.
- Big welcome at Campbeltown for new Ardrossan ferry
We understand she carried about 60 passengers and although, flying around to catch as much as possible, we didn’t have time to count the cars coming off, we did look out for this and there were a respectable number of them.
- Argyll and Bute Council: Councillor McCuish leads again
We appreciate that it is inconvenient for a light to be shone on doings your party would prefer to keep hidden in shady places from those it asks to vote for it.
That is a dishonourable contract.
As the former Alliance of Independent Councillors [which had nothing at all do with Michael Russell ] knows very well, when it was damaging Argyll and Bute by its conduct during the 2010-11 schools closure wars, we were even more vigilant in keeping them under scrutiny and publishing on their manoeuvres.
We had to be even more vigilant because they were skilled at keeping things under wraps – where the SNP has conducted its acts of political genocide en plein air. All anyone has had to do is draw up a chair.
It should be obvious from our stance in recent weeks that we have no ‘vendetta’ against Councillor Dick Walsh, whom we dealt with arguably more harshly than we have done with Mr Russell.
A central function of our role is to contribute to the holding to account of those elected to serve the people. We do our best to fulfil this fairly – and hard. But we have no vendetta against anyone.
In Mr Russell’s case we simply feel he is a hot air balloon who has imploded over Argyll and done a great deal of harm – profoundly so to his own party, which we used to support. The evidence for our view is in the public domain.
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