Easdale World Stone Skimming Championships: landowner’s response

For Argyll has made contact with the landowner of Easdale Island, Jonathan Feigenbaum, who has told us that the current situation has never arisen before and was totally avoidable.

He has had to withdraw permission for the event to take place on his land and has made this position public.

He seems disturbed by the developments that have made this necessary and is at pains to make it clear that he has always ‘done everything possible to support all the organisations on the Island as much as possible’.

He says – and EE signifies ‘Eilean Eisdeal’, the body organising the event:

‘It is imperative as the land owner that we ensure that the correct insurance is in place for such a gathering/event, this was not produced and indeed EE refused to produce it to us.

‘Leasing the area used was offered but no sum was mentioned.

‘We were informed that the revenue to EE from the event would be in the region of £8,000, in light of the fact they are a registered charity the view that 10 – 12% of revenue was a low request,and we asked for £1000. The “market rate” for an event like this would be more like a 25% revenue fee. Not only that the nominal  amount was not going to leave the Island but be used for the benefit of all the Islanders.

‘Not all the Islanders benefit from the Stone Skimming event,this way everyone would have had some benefit.

‘The commercial businesses on the Island take a large percentage of their revenue on the Stone Skimming weekend and have a direct interest in the event taking place. Therefore the total revenue from the Stone Skimming event is probably double the EE revenue, so the amount we requested is fairly nominal.’

As we reported yesterday here, back in April Mr Feigenbaum had expressed concern to the organisers of the event, Eilean Eisdeal, as to whether the public liability insurance for the event was adequate. As the owner of the land on which the event takes place, he was reasonably anxious about his own position, if it were not.

He heard nothing from Eilean Eisdeal until 6th September when its Chair wrote to his solicitors simply saying that the insurance was adequate but refusing to disclose the document to the landowner to demonstrate the reliability of the assurance.

Mr Feigenbaum then, on 16th September, had an open letter published online at Easdale People making the then situation clear to residents – that he had no alternative but to withheld permission for the event on his land.

The event is slated for 23rd September- this coming Sunday.

Since we received Mr Feigenbaum’s email yesterday evening, we understand that postering for the event is continuing.

We assume that this means that some agreement has now been reached between Eilean Eisdeal and the landowner over the public liability insurance issue and have asked Mr Feigenbaum to confirm this.

We will report on his response when we get it.

We emailed the Chair of Eilean Eisdeal at the same time a Mr Feigenbaum, simply asking for the thinking behind its refusal to let the landowner see the public liability insurance documentation for the 2012 event. We have had no response as yet.

It should be clear from our publication record, that we are supportive of, not to say enthusiastic about much of Eilean Eisdeal’s contribution to life on Easdale; and fair in what we have said about the continuing stand off between it and many of the residents since, as they say, it takes two.

We cannot but find the current stance of the organisation bewildering but hope that the situation with the landowner, as it appears to be, has very recently been resolved and that this unique and very worthwhile event can go ahead.

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21 Responses to Easdale World Stone Skimming Championships: landowner’s response

  1. The island owner is quite right when he says “Not all the islanders benefit from the Stone Skimming event”. The gushing Herald article reports 323 entrants last year, plus spectators = 400+ people trooping past the doors and windows of the inhabitants of Little Rock. The Puffer’s owner (who WILL benefit greatly!) waxes lyrical about “the dance the night before” and the amount of “boisterousness” there is on the day, which has included the ferry takings being stolen, islanders’ boats being stolen and abandoned, and the public toilets at Ellenabeich being trashed. Yo! What fun!! No wonder, as Melville says, “Some people don’t like it and they go away for the day …”. Others stay at home and lock their doors at night against any revellers looking for somewhere to doss down.
    The Herald article is here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/life-style/outdoorsleisure/a-stones-throw-from-glory.1347674668?_=144de8a0f51c6137eb7211ed1c814165dfd7613e
    You’ll have read all the same guff before, every time a paper or magazine publishes anything about Easdale.

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    • What you have described is at best anti-social behaviour together with criminality. Do EE not make arrangements with the local police for coverage of this event? Have any convictions been obtained? Does EE have a drinks licence that permits consumption of alcohol into the early hours?

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    • I own a house on the island and have never worried about ANY trouble on skimming day. you have more chsance of being knocked down by a bus in oban than your property being vandalised or broken into.
      stop scaremongering.

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    • We have always understood that the hall, the arts programme and the stone skimming championships were Eilean Eisdeal initiatives. Is this not correct?

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  2. You are correct but how do they contribute to island life? What benefit are they to islanders? What use are any of them to residents? You probably won’t agree, but in my experience, the main beneficiaries are visitors. It’s a bit like the Arts hall at the Findhorn community. You don’t see many of the community using that either – they have their own hall in the village. If you would like an example of a true community hall that offers benefits to the whole community (including Easdale Island) you need only look across the water to Seil. It offers classes, community events, craft sales, sports – everything for young and old, and is well used by all.

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    • We would not disagree with much of this, as an accurate broad picture of a situation that occurs quite widely. Different aspects of the situation bring different nuances to consider but there are core issues in what you are saying that wold reward discussion.

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    • Surely if people want to run classes or events in Easdale hall they can book it? Is it not perhaps the case that with two halls so close together it is inevitable that they should have to complement each other rather than try to compete?

      I have been to a good few excellent music events in Easdale hall – performances that you would rarely see in any other village hall nearby. They have always been well attended, and there always seems to be a good sized island contingent among the audience. I don’t believe that anyone could credibly argue that the hall contributes nothing worthwhile to islanders’ lives. It’s a fantastic asset and one which many rural communities would give their eye teeth for, but ultimately it’s just a building – it’s up to you to find other imaginative ways of using it to your own and other people’s benefit.

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    • easdale hall is on an island reachable by a half hour ferry in the evenings. its not feasible to run lots of classes as the potential clientele is small by virtue of size of population and transport challenges. you couldn’t have two halls together doing similar things its not viable. many classes would not get enough attendees to make it worth while.Seil has access to a much bigger catchemnt area and si easier to get to.
      of course the hall and museum are for visitors too. what’s wrong with appealing to visitors. We are regular visitors to the island and use all the facilities IF we want to. Yes Eilean Eisdeal could be more transparent and leave a lot to be desired in the communication front but I don’t see what sabotaging the stone skimming day is going to do other than further entrench the two opposing views.

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      • Aaaahh! You’re “regular visitors” to Little Rock, Jill, which means that you don’t live there all the time. Maybe you’d feel a bit differently about it all if it was your everyday, normal, peaceful life that was being disrupted? As a commenter on Easdale People remarks, “we’ll hold it in your street next year”. So, give us your address, and we’ll be along with a 400-strong crowd!
        It appears(from what I’ve read on here and elsewhere) that you’re quite right about the fact that Eilean Eisdeal need to be “more transparent and leave a lot to be desired on the communication front”. Isn’t that exactly what OSCR pulled them up for? So … it seems that they haven’t taken any notice, then.

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  3. I believe the stone skimming championships was started by the Easdale Island Residents Association long before Eilean Eisdeal was set up.

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  4. Two questions:

    1. Why do Eilean Easdale refuse to show their insurance certificate to not just the landowner, but the wider public? That seems extraordinarily unprofessional, not to say discourteous.

    2. Why has the landowner suddenly decided that he is in a better position than EE to judge how a substantial fraction of the income from their event should be spent on the island?

    It is hard to see how statements such as “Not all the Islanders benefit from the Stone Skimming event, this way everyone would have had some benefit.” can be seen as other than increasing tension and hardening the positions of both ‘sides’.

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    • In reply to your second question, Tim, it is probably because in recent years EE has spent money on items that go against the wishes of the majority of island residents. For example, on employing a QC to appeal against planning permission refusals even though many of the residents didn’t want the developments to go ahead, and on trying to build a wind turbine on the island that the majority of residents did not want, and which was going to be used to heat the village hall which EE refused to insulate!

      As for the phrase “Not all the Islanders benefit from the Stone Skimming event” …. don’t even start me on that one! Recent years have seen thefts of money and property on the island, plus damage to local facilities. Security becomes a major concern for residents and there have been cases of visitors to the event looking for empty cottages to doss down in.

      Sadly the event has become a victim of its own success, plus the fact that it has become a cash cow for a small group of individuals. It is now too big for the tiny island.

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      • the second para of your reply is absolute rubbish. the event is on for a few hours on one day. there’s plenty of room for everyone. I’m glad the pub does well that day because it makes up for the days in the dead of winter when the ferry is off and there’s hardly a soul out drinking. I want the pub to continue because it contributes to the island being a FANTASTIC place to be part of.

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        • Not quite true, Jill, the skimming itself is on the sunday but the festivities start with the ‘pre-skim party’ on the saturday night and people start arriving during the day of the saturday.
          I agree that the island is a fantastic place to be part of, but the sad fact is that if Keren hadn’t banned anyone on the island that disagreed with EE from going in the pub then it would be busier in the winter.
          Sad to say, but everything in my previous comment is true.

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    • Very topical, SR, with news of an American being awarded £4.4m in damages from a popcorn manufacturer who provided no warning that the diacetyl fumes (artificial butter aroma) in the bag were dangerous – he got ‘popcorn lung’ so citizens of Seil be warned, we don’t want grief in another island community.

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  5. In reply to MrsMac (et al), the impression I’ve picked up is that resident locals have “banned” themselves from the Puffer because its landlady is the chair of Eilean Eisdeal. The Oyster Bar in Ellenabeich apparently enjoys a good trade from disaffected residents of Little Rock!

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