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
- Salmond finds irresistible his ‘dark star’ of London and his reviled Westminster
You will find that we have consistently been pretty excoriating on ‘Labour’s woes’.
Johann Lamont’s parting shot could not be more accurate – that Labour’s Westminster MP cadre has not understood at all that the driver of politics in the UK at the moment is Scotland and not Westminster.
If they cannot grasp that and recalibrate what passes for their thinking on that premise, they will not have earned support.
- South Kintyre by-election
How do the Greens feel about the extent to which the SNP and its followers are simply taking ownership of them – like a flower in the SNP buttonhole?
They decorate it well, of course, and did sterling service in the indy referendum, keeping mum at all costs – but they are paying the price of their lunch now.
- South Kintyre by-election
And Alex Salmond lives in Gordon?
You’re quite right about Councillor Kelly standing as a Conservative – apologies.
- Salmond finds irresistible his ‘dark star’ of London and his reviled Westminster
I have never been an ‘Ulster Unionist’. I do not know Mr Clegg. I am no part of any political or other clique. I now have no political affiliations.
I have joined two political parties in the past.
I joined the Labour Party of Northern Ireland when it was set up in 1985 by the late Paddy Devlin, since Northern Ireland had a serious political deficit being a member of the UK but with no UK parties established there. The LPNI did not survive too long in the largely sectarian politics of Northern Ireland it was set up to render redundant.
I joined the SNP early in the 2007 minority administration as I was and remain deeply respectful of the abilities and achievements of Argyll’s then MSP, Jim Mather. I left the SNP early in the independence campaign when I saw, on independently researched evidence, its prospectus to be disappointingly incompetent and downright dishonest. I was relieved to have come to this decision when I saw how primitively tribal, abusive and divisise the indy campaign became.
In my voting history, since I make my decisions on the calibre of candidates alone, I have probably voted for representatives of every one of the main UK political parties and for independents – and, in Northern Ireland, for the Social Democrat and Labour Party [SDLP].
For the record, I personally found the most genuine and honest moment in the endless indy campaign to come from the Scottish Conservative MSP, Jamie McGrigor.
At the pro-union launch indoors in Dunoon one night – which was constantly disrupted by a pretty brattish SNP claque, Jamie McGrigor, who was on his feet at the time, uncharacteristically turned on them and said: ‘Do you know, I am sick of you. I am sick of the lot of you. You’re going on about Bannockburn – but I went to a memorial event recently for Flodden and there was not one single SNP representative there, from any level. Not one.
‘I was there – to pay my respects to the many Scots who died in that battle but no one from the SNP was bothered to come, because they lost.
‘You lot are only interested in the victories, not in the Scots who died in failed attempts. I have no respect for that.’
He sat down to silence and then growing applause.
Being a gentlemanly person, Jamie McGrigor got up again at the enld of the session and apologised to the SNP claque ‘for losing my temper’.
To me, his first intervention blazingly underlined the hyopcrisy of the braveheart stance; and his second one spoke volumes for the sort of civility in politics I did not witness at any other point in the campaign.
So while I am politicised, I am unattached; dogma free; recognise merit, dishonestly and incompetence where I find it; have been and will be profoundly critical of every political party deserving it.
I believe that party politics are redundant and damaging to any state’s chances of progressively building for a balanced and sustainable future.
I believe that the United Kingdom, if it has any political vitality left, must work to become a federal union, as the fairest and most mutually respectful political system for today – and I will openly support that. If the UK proves to have little interest in fundamental reform and redirection, I will not support it again.
And that’s the picture.
- Lamont standing down immediately as Scottish Labour Leader
The desperate grasping at Kezia Dugdale rather suggests that what you fear may happen is on the slipway.
Kezia Dugdale is a talented MSP who shines in a very shallow pool where the best talents are unremarkable.
With experience and a good mentor, she could be an influential politician for the future.
But she is being grabbed at simply because she shines relatively, with no care for the fact that she needs time and guidance to grow to political maturity.
She does not need to be propelled prematurely into the leadership of a haphazard parliamentary group within a national party which is directionless and underfuelled.
With no sign on the horizon – at Holyrood or Westminster, of the thinkers that are so badly needed right now, Labour needs a strong strategic political intelligence to harness and redirect itself. There is no sign of that capability either.
Political fixing and opportunism will get a listless party through the odd bad night but cannot fuel it for an expedition.
The prospects are not good.
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