Community Council Minutes

Iona Community Council


Minutes of the AGM and public meeting held in Iona Library on Monday 4 June 2018 at 8.00pm

Present: Jane Martin, Shiona Ruhemann (convening), Toben Lewis (minutes), Rob MacManaway, Mark Jardine, 22 members of the public, and a swallow

Apologies: John MacInnes, Moray Finch (MICT)

Minutes of the previous meeting: signed off without further amendments

Overview of election and inaugural meeting 

Meeting held a few weeks ago, Council provided update on procedures and minutes for this meeting. All committees reconstituted.

Accounts and Report on previous year

Rob MacManaway — Presented audited annual accounts (attached).

Jane Martin — Iona Community Council holds public meetings quarterly following the pattern of first Monday in March, June, September and December.  What you might not know is the we hold preparatory meetings to agree the agenda and some of you will then get requests to provide updates after that and the agenda goes up on the board. We have an email group so can be contacted via and Toben set up the mailchimp which gives you all regular updates. Let us know if you need to be added. 

We have covered a range of topics over the past year some of which are still on the agenda tonight. These include health, the Breakwater project, Iona Village Hall, the Ferry Committee and ferries in general with the February meeting with CalMac a worthwhile outcome, vehicle Permits, Iona Renewables, Iona Community, NTS, MICT, First Responders, Iona Primary School, the local development plan, community council elections and Argyll and Bute’s budget. 

We have discussed roads, drains, the welcome to iona website, broadband and the gala fortnight coming up again. My personal favorite though are bins.  A big success has been provision of defibrillators - thanks Jann - and we also have an emergency kit bag provided by the Council with foil blankets torches, a loud hailer and hi vis vests.  It is stored in the fire station. 

Last July we had a visit by Humza Yousaf and Michael Russell and were able to raise a number of issues with them and also celebrate the success of the Housing Partnership with a tour of the Glebe. 

Finally I am looking after the Village noticeboard so any notices can be left in Dunara porch. Ideally they should be A5 but I appreciate you might just be passing them on so I’ll try my best to get them in.  Thank you.  

Vehicle Permits

Mhairi Killin — Positive update on progress. No legal changes have been made to road traffic order, only procedural. Council has agreed boats and boat trailers will not be given permits for launching purposes. When issuing blue badge permits A&B Council will advise that the permit is only valid when blue badge holder is in the car and reported abuse of the permit will result in future applications being declined. Council will provide numbers on permits to ICC quarterly, cannot provide further than this due to data protection. AB Council have agreed to trial social exemption clause discussed at March meeting, with self nominating  and reporting structure. Resident must contact Council with name, electoral roll number (to show residency), and stating that a social care permit is required for illness, disability, and/or old age related assistance, and naming a person(s) they nominate to assist them and requiring a permit. The named person/s will be added to a list of names held by Argyll and Bute Council. The named person can then contact the Council requesting a year-long permit under exemption i. The permit will only be valid for pier to house use as needed by the resident. Mhairi very happy to help with phrasing letters or answering questions.


We now have a vacancy for the Ross of Mull and Iona GP since Dr Frank terminated his contract and retired early this month. There are notices re Out of Hours care: now to dial NHS 24 (111) outside surgery hours – Round & About suggested also sensible to dial 999.

Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) held a meeting on 15 May in the Village Hall. ICC wasn’t involved in organising this meeting. We have serious ongoing concerns about HSCP’s handling of the process to replace our GP and to decide a model of care for Mull and Iona that gets beyond long term dependence on extremely expensive locums and attracts and retains the right GPs and other staff for this area. We’re very concerned to avoid Iona becoming an ‘outpost of an outpost’. 

After several years of temporary fixes, HSCP has now held 2 workshops (February and March 2018) to agree a model of care for Mull and Iona, which in neither case put forward or discussed models of care. Ahead of the March workshop, as HSCP still hadn’t proposed any options for our GP and the wider plan for Mull and Iona, the ROM/I Patient Participation Group (ROM/I PPG) put forward our own proposal. This proposal is absolutely consistent with ICC’s position throughout the last 2 years, and with what HSCP committed to in writing in June 2016. ROM/I proposed a progressive, pragmatic hybrid model that we think is the best option to attract and retain GPs in this area. I.e., our proposal:  

  • Retains what’s best about the single-handed GP practice we’ve had here, by giving the option of attracting and recruiting an experienced, relatively senior GP directly to ROM/I (not to a Mull-wide GP pool) and giving them autonomy to invest in and run their own practice and multi-disciplinary team;
  • But also addresses the burdens of the single handed practice by being part of a single island practice to an extent (pooling Out of Hours, admin, GP cover etc).

This proposal doesn’t have to be accepted but it does have to be properly considered, and HSCP has never considered it properly. We have several concerns about the way HSCP is operating: 

1. Holding workshops that don’t present let alone properly discuss options and then publicly claiming agreement (e.g., the March workshop to discuss a model of care didn’t include any proposals from HSCP and didn’t discuss the proposal put forward by ROM/I PPG).

2. After the workshops that were meant to discuss these issues, getting the Locality Planning Group in April to agree to go ahead and recruit a ‘lead GP’, despite: 

  • This creating a ‘hierarchical’ model and ruling out the possibility of a flat, decentralized, non-hierarchical model as we’ve proposed; 
  • The implications of having a lead GP apparently not being fully understood, as we’re now hearing multiple arguments against that role.

3. Holding a round of community meetings – including the one on Iona on 15 May – that we think are not appropriate when they haven’t listened to the community input they’ve been given for years about what does and doesn’t work in these localities.

4. At those community meetings, HSCP co-opting the wording of the ROM/I proposal (i.e. their presentation was in large parts based on extracting and tweaking our wording) but entirely missing its point, in particular by fundamentally downgrading the Ross of Mull and Iona GP post - i.e.:

  • ROM/I’s proposal is premised on the Bunessan GP having significant autonomy over the practice, without being subordinate to other GPs, so they can invest and build their own team, and are likely to stay;
  • HSCP meanwhile taking forward a model that gives ROM/I an 80% GP who is part of a wider island pool and doesn’t have autonomy over the ROM/I practice (there isn’t a ROM/I practice, in fact, only an island-wide practice), and who is subordinate to a ‘lead GP’ (who may not be good at their job) – we think this is not as good an offer, not as attractive or as likely to retain a GP (noting they’ll be recruiting for ROM/I as one of 4-6 GPs when they’ve struggled to attract let alone retain 1). To concretise the issue, HSCP’s ‘hierarchical’ model would not attract the good locums we’ve had, who wouldn’t accept such a junior positon or working under a lead GP;
  • HSCP has moved forward with recruiting a lead GP which would negate the possibility of implementing the ROM/I proposal without ever having properly considered it 

5. Out of Hours care – HSCP committed to us 2 years ago that they would look again at a safe and appropriate model of Out of Hours care, because their proposal for a single GP on call at Craignure covering all of Mull and Iona has been consistently opposed by communities and locums. When asked about whether they’re looking at local back up for OOH care (e.g., a second on call Dr, or advanced nurse practitioner to back up the GP in Craignure), HSCP said they were looking at this – which is no progress in the last two years. We know HSCP’s insistence on a single on-call GO is a significant turn off to candidates, let alone a significant safety issue, but they still haven’t addressed it. 

ROM petition: a local petition has gained 354 signatures in favour of retaining a single handed practice. This has been sent to HSCP and also the Minister for health. This argues for a “non-hierarchical partnership” across the practices of ROM/I, Salen and Tobermory, and we’d very much support that ‘equal’ approach, but not clear how burdens would be dealt with – e.g., under the new contract GPs need to opt in to OOH care, and what happens if we recruit one who doesn’t opt in? 

Next steps: 

  • We’ve invested a lot of time in this issue and are not able to keep doing so. All our input is on record for HSCP to take on board if they decide to listen. We’ve also withdrawn from the PPG as we can’t keep investing time, and are concerned about the unclear mandate and responsibilties being put on PPGs. 
  • Mary Jean Devon is arranging a meeting with senior HSCP staff for us to feedback on this experience and how HSCP works with communities.
  • ICC had drafted an outline recruitment strategy but wouldn’t be keen to use it for a model we think is fundamentally flawed. 
  • There is growing recognition that recruiting a lead GP undermines all the other GP posts, and growing support for ‘anchor’ GPs in each practice, not rotating and commuting GPs. 

Post meeting note: HSCP contacted ICC the day after the meeting, and acknowledged that communication and partnership on their part had been lacking, and said that the arguments above are now being listened to – e.g., HSCP is now recognizing that there needs to be an equal partnership across GPs on Mull and Iona, not a hierarchy under a lead GP (otherwise for instance experienced GPs will not apply) and that GPs need to be attached to particular practices. The phone call was promising and we will see how recruitment plans progress.

Prescriptions: Dean Snell reported this morning that someone tried to get a prescription on the basis of the arrangement we’ve set up for prescriptions to be brought over with standing permission given in writing by the recipient, and were told the arrangement no longer stands. Post meeting note: on the same call with HSCP, we were firmly assured that the prescription arrangement still stands, recognising that it is effective and doesn’t create governance or clinical problems.  

Breakwater update 

Mark Jardine — A+BC are about to award tender for borehole work in the Sound, expecting this to occur shortly. There will be 4 to 5 weeks of work, 6 days a week, and will involve a barge being in place. This is investigative work to support continuing design work. 

Iona Renewables

Funding update – 100% awarded! As of end of April we have progressed from 90% to 100% of capital funding awarded. This is subject to meeting conditions, including planning consent and contractual commitment of 70% of the Network heat load, which we’re working towards.

Energy efficiency surveys, 23-27th April: within a week of funding coming through, every potential building in the network was surveyed for the energy efficiency measures that are doable, affordable and will have greatest impact. 

Geophysical surveys, w/c 9th May – quite high likelihood of coming across as yet undiscovered cultural heritage assets as the ground is disturbed during the construction. If not managed carefully, this risk could affect the programme and design, and increase costs. GUARD Archaeology has therefore undertaken a geophysics survey on our behalf over the area of excavations to pick up larger or more significant features, which can then be avoided or planned for in programme and budgets. The field work is complete and we await the reporting. 

NTS on site same week with volunteers. asked us where would be most useful to undertake a pre-construction dig – and together we agreed that a location where boreholes are planned, north of the Village, would be useful. Amongst other items, shards of pottery and a tooth were found, and we await the report from the work. 

Building by building meetings, 9-13th May. Within 3.5 weeks of funding coming through, we held a very intensive run of 36 individual meetings, each of which required its own set of drawings with heat system design (e.g., radiator size and positions) and proposal for discussion and amendment with you. We also produced and shared a draft Heat Supply Agreement (HAS). Thank you to everyone for your graciousness and patience! 

We’re out to tender! Within 4 weeks of funding coming through, we issued 5 volumes of procurement information and are now out to tender. We hope we will get some strong bids. The weighting is 60% price and 40% quality. We have also shared details of the funding available, so expect the variation in costs to be relatively small. These factors put a big premium on doing a good job – and there is a significant weighting on evidence of delivering effectively on an island or comparable context. We aim to identify a lead contractor in the week beginning 18 June. 

Contractor appointment: as above, we hope to identify the contractor in the week of 18th June, and formally appoint once we have financial close (end July). A pre-start meeting would be arranged immediately after appointment, aiming for plant and machinery to be mobilised, ready to start on site in September. 

Next steps for potential customers – updated design layouts and revised Service Level Agreement to follow as basis for decision on commitment to the Network. 

 for potential customers – updated design layouts and revised Service Level Agreement to follow as basis for decision on commitment to the Network. 

Next steps for potential customers – updated design layouts and revised Service Level Agreement to follow as basis for decision on commitment to the Network. 

Ongoing roadblock with planning consent: 

As reported previously, we’re having ongoing difficulties with Roads & Amenities re. planning consent. We propose it’s sufficient to dig to 600mm – they insist on 900mm. Roads and amenities department is also claiming that while the road condition on Iona isn’t “excellent”, it is “reasonable”, and are therefore insisting that we resurface the road to a standard it isn’t right now.  They say it’s “a former unsurfaced ‘cart’ track” and “The public road on Iona is aged and is not likely to withstand trenching action well” – which illustrates the problem with being compelled to dig deeper than we really have to? No compelling reasons are being given for this position. We’re being told we need to dig this deep in case any of the utilities want to bury pipes or cables vertically, even though they acknowledge this “may not be in our lifetime” – i.e., this requirement is based on adhering to Strathclyde Regional Council guidance, which:  

  • is very old, 
  • addresses a new, suburban development (very different from the Iona context), 
  • and the servicing diagram includes gas (not present on Iona), telephone (overhead on Iona), electricity (overhead on Iona), cable tv (not present on Iona) and road lighting (sporadic). Vertical separation is necessary only where there are multiple services in a narrow strip. 

The head of Roads is citing “the main reasons” for requiring a depth of 900mm as being to protect the pipe from traffic damage and to reduce reflective damage – these main reasons are without basis as the pipes are polyethylene (40mm diameter) which are neither subject to traffic damage nor cause reflective damage (i.e., they are not the 200mm+ pre-insulated steel pipes that Roads & Amenities appears to have presumed); 

Roads & Amenities is also arguing on the basis of avoiding "increased demand on the already stretched public purse” – the community project is also obviously funded by the public purse, and these requirements are unnecessarily adding to those ‘public purse’ pressures (in a particularly painful form, at the expense of a community project, as well as major increase in time pressures on a tight construction programme).  

Iona Abbey involvement

Michael Russell is actively assisting us with Historic Environment Scotland re the Abbey joining the community Heat Network

Energy Efficiency: 

Sandra Fox asked for update on energy efficiency works; Phil Ruhemann responded (as this work was originally initiated under a Climate Challenge Fund project that finished in March 2018) and acknowledged difficulties with contractor. He had been contacted just prior to our current communications outage, but hasn’t been able to respond. He will follow up with Ally Calder in Council on behalf of houses here.

Iona Community 

Heinz Toller — Columba festivities this weekend, including activities in Nunnery, Abbey, and Library, etc. Tickets for tours are free for islanders and can be picked up at Community Shop. Joyce Watson jumped in with further information about locations and activities, and posters are up now and more information in Round and About. 

HT — Abbey refurbishment Phase One is 6 – 8 weeks behind schedule, hoped to be finished beginning of July. IC wanting to offer simple lunches in Refectory for visitors to the Abbey on a donation basis and hope to have an opening of this, with proceeds to Village Hall, aiming for 1 July. Three Iona Community properties in the Village will be joining the Iona Heat Network. Miracle in May appeal was very successful and cleared target of £300,000 so it is likely Phase Two will start this autumn.

Ferries and Ferry Committee 

Finlay MacDonald — ferries were running smoothly until fault on Loch Buie in May, Iolaire stepped in to run passenger service but were not on hire by CalMac. Ferry was unable to be fixed until later in the day and Tobermory ferry was not sent around to assist, despite agreement made with CalMac after disruption last autumn. CalMac has committed to get details of all local vessels to add on to system for hire. Mark Jardine confirmed he had been asked for his details. Fog has been causing issues with ferry service, but there have also been issues with app not updating (ie. update to occur after 8.30, no update occurs, and ferry runs). Big problem with radar on Isle of Mull and is not currently able to sail unless 100% clear visibility; still has not been fixed after 12 days. Has been escalated to Mike Russell and Humza Yousuf who are inquiring. Anecdotal stories during this technical fault of not getting to Oban until near 3am despite arriving in Craignure at 17.45, and elderly passengers being knocked off feet in free for all to get on one available sailing. There were massive fails with contingency planning, only West Coast Motors voluntarily getting involved allowed people to get bussed via Lochaline. But then the Corran ferry was off at end of their day and diverted passengers had to go the very long way around. Two ferries are supposed to be coming into service, and Coruisk will be going back to Skye. Mot Macdonald are undertaking a STAG appraisal on behalf of A+BC regarding future of Craignure pier.

Rob MacManaway — BT engineers were in reserve queue this morning at Oban but were not given priority for boarding. RM felt that BT should not take the place of booked vehicles, but should have first priority in the standby queue. FM will mention this to CalMac, though cited that it is at their discretion.

NTS report

Emily Wilkins — Alan Rankin (Islands Manager) in post for 3 months now, next visiting 10/11 July, please let Emily know if you would like to meet with him during this time. 


Bins — two issues: 

  • We had a repeat issue (27 March) of bin collectors refusing to come to Iona on a day when the ferry was only on a yellow light, and when all other services and businesses made the crossing without hesitation. SR followed up with Councillors, having raised this issue last year that a yellow light on its own is not reason not to proceed, and that the bin staff should seek further information if concerned about actual likelihood of disruption. Immediate response from Council was “we’re at the mercy of CalMac and the weather”; SR clarified that the whole point is that they are not at the mercy of either in a yellow light situation, and need to give much better justification for not proceeding. Apparently Council managers had been told on 27 March that the ferry was on an amber light, which was false. No clear conclusion on this occasion but at least this raised the issue with Council and Councillors again about very poor performance in yellow light situations. Discussion included accounts of bins not being emptied because they’re too dusty. Questions as to why bins were not being emptied on next trip, rather than waiting until the next scheduled trip. 
  • An issue had been raised about ensuring there are sufficient bins at the jetty. Questions regarding where second bin at top of jetty has gone, why there is no plastic recycling there, why no public bin in North end, etc. Suggestion to move glass bin so it will not be used when rubbish bin is full. Mark Jardine suggested that ICC could pay for a bin at the North End if the Council would empty it. Rhoda MacInnes asked about special uplift facility, that she had issues with them actually coming for pick up after taking payment. Phil Ruhemann answered that special uplift vehicle is also used for funeral clean up so can be very busy ‘if particularly grim’. Dot Stewart said that all recycling bags are now clear, but items still need to be separated out into plastic and tins. 

Actions: Jane Martin to follow up with Council. Dot Stewart to see if Iona public bins can be included in the MICT recycling signage efforts.

Broadband: Dean Snell updated that BT engineers are booked on first ferry tomorrow morning to look at Ardfenaig mast, quietly confident this will fix it. Will also look into if there is a connection between this and last outage. If Ardfenaig mast is not issue, they will come over to look at Iona’s. Looking at pushing forward 21st Century broadband to this area, March 2019 at absolute earliest as requires planning permission, etc. 

O2: Finlay Macdonald updated that BT mobile will soon have coverage here when O2 and EE shared masts are operative but no timeframe on this or fix to current issues.

Date of next meeting: 3 September 2018