04-02-12 Village News And Ideas
Eric Dudley and Cathy Forbes.

Jobs in and for Carradale

On behalf of the East Kintyre Community Council, we are working on a proposal for a pilot project in Carradale and East Kintyre to generate local jobs to support local services, particularly – but not exclusively - those aimed at the elderly.

Our core idea is that in remote rural areas “care in the community” cannot be divorced from care of the community. We believe that meeting the needs of elderly people through generating jobs for local people will result in both a stronger community and a better and less expensive service.

Our belief is that well intentioned criteria for good practice in care for the elderly have evolved without any recognition of the reality of a remote rural context. The system has been designed to work in cities and towns. Regulations prohibiting an isolated care worker from helping someone who has had a fall, changing a light bulb, or administering medication are misguided. An ambulance may take over an hour to attend a 999 call. Assessment of acceptable risk and the accompanying regulations must be reconsidered to take account of reality of our situation.

We envisage a team of full-time and part-time, multi-talented “village assistants” employed to provide an array of services including:
? Personal and social care
? First-responder (i.e. prior to ambulance)
? Citizens-advice and help with form filling
? House maintenance
? Respite care at home allowing live-in carers a holiday
? Shopping
? Technical assistance (e.g. TVs, computers, mobility)
? Power and water cut preparedness and support
? Transport for medical and social purposes
? Managing defibrillators
? Maintenance of public spaces
? Maybe even pot hole filling?

Our aim is to have Local Authority departments, and organizations such as Housing Associations and commercial care providers, pay our “village services” to deliver services on their behalf. The “village services” would be a community trust or company employing a full-time administrator.

More details by clicking VILLAGE SERVICES

We have talked to our MSP, Michael Russell, who supports the idea and has contacted Nicola Sturgeon. She is encouraging Argyll and Bute to support the initiative. The Big Lottery have offered to pay for a consultant to help develop the idea into a fundable proposal and the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Rural Health has offered to act as that consultant. On the 23rd February there will be a meeting with Alison Hunter from Argyll and Bute Elder Services, Glenn Heritage from Argyll Voluntary Action and David Hanley from Social Services Quality Assurance.

If you are interested in developing the idea of village services, please contact Cathy Forbes
(01583 431 787), stop by at Ardcarrach by the pier for a chat or e-mail cathy@mapmaker.com.

Update on the petrol station
2nd February 2012

The “fuel group” is still exploring possibilities for a community owned petrol station in Carradale. However, it is now clear that the process is going to be longer and more complex than we had hoped. Three issues have emerged:
• The actual costs involved are much higher than the first cost estimates that we received. Under the conditions of the “Village SOS” competition it was permissible to top up the funds from other sources but only up to a point. It became apparent that even if we could find additional funds the costs were going to exceed this limit significantly.
• In researching the proposal we talked to people at Applecross, who have successfully set up a community petrol station. For the unpaid volunteers who operate the petrol station, it has turned into a bit of a nightmare. The demands on their time, dealing with technical faults and administration are much greater than they expected. We need to take this seriously and think how our petrol station could avoid such problems.
• Since the proposal was floated, many people have said, “great idea, but I don’t actually need it. It would be good for the others, but I have to drive to Campbeltown so often anyway…” Very probably this group would buy from a community petrol station in order to support the community. But this is different from putting a definite number on the people in real need – mainly elderly people who only drive around the immediate locality. We really do not know how many there are who would truly benefit from a local fuel supply. And if we did, would the number justify the costs and effort of setting up our own petrol station. Are there alternatives? For example, a fleet of a dozen or more electric, road-worthy, weather-proof golf buggies could be purchased for the same price.

The outcomes are:
• In order not to lose the Community Council’s “Village SOS” funding opportunity, the proposal has been changed into one for the hire of mountain bikes and off-road disabled buggies based at the Network Centre. This has been developed by Network Carradale and has now been submitted. The draft proposal can be seen at VILLAGE SOS. We should learn by April whether the application has been successful.
• The fuel group believes that a project as ambitious and complicated as a petrol station cannot realistically be carried out using volunteer labour alone. It would need paid staff. Unfortunately, a petrol station, with its narrow profit margins, could not, by itself, afford staff. In the Semples experience, selling fuel was a public service that they had to support through other work. The same applies to other potential projects and there are only so many volunteer-hours available. People are too busy making a living, looking after their relatives and neighbours, and following their own pursuits to be able to give the necessary time. Paradoxically, it is becoming clear that we need to be more – not less – ambitious. If we look at other communities such as Comrie, Ardrishaig and Westray we see that an array of projects, taken together, can fund the staff to run them. Volunteers will always be essential but full-time workers are needed to carry the work forward over a period of years. Consequently, the fuel group has decided to become the “energy group” and will look to develop a set of proposals under the broad umbrella of energy saving.
Energy related priorities
There are two events that require the immediate consideration of the Community Council:
• Hydro power. On the Torrisdale estate they are now at an advanced planning stage for building a hydro-electric generator. Niall Macalister Hall has suggested that the old Carradale reservoir might be a suitable site for a community owned hydro scheme. The consultants who designed the Torrisdale scheme have generously offered to do an initial feasibility study free of charge. We should know within a few days whether, in principal, our reservoir is viable. The Forestry Commission, which owns the relevant land, have said that, in principal, they would be happy to consider such a project under their community renewables scheme. To be eligible we, the community, need to make a formal expression of interest by 30th June 2012. We would then need to put together a major funding proposal.
• Ferry. Energy saving encompasses a broad range of activities. One possibility would be a ferry service from Carradale to Arran, to save car journeys. A passenger/cycle ferry has been discussed and has not been ruled out. However, the future of the Cloanaig ferry is now under consideration in a major Scottish Government review of all ferry services. The review is in its second stage. Do we want to press for a change in the route to take in Carradale (Cloanaig -> Lochranza -> Carradale). If we do we must get our proposal in by the 30th March 2012. So we must ask ourselves now, do we want a Calmac car ferry, and, if so, would we want it coming to Carradale harbour or Torrisdale or somewhere else? Things are already happening with the ferry, as with home care. Do we want to try to influence our future or lie down and wait for it to overtake us?

The Kintyre – Arran ferry

In 2010 The Scottish Government initiated a process of consultation about the future of the ferries serving the Highlands and the Islands. This process resulted in a draft plan which was published just before Christmas 2011. We are now well into the 14 week period for consultation on the draft which will come to an end on the 30th March 2012. After the results of this consultation are duly considered, Transport Scotland will produce a ten year plan to cover ferry provision up to 2022. The draft plan now under public review can be downloaded from http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/strategy-and-research/publications-and-consultations/draft-ferries-plan-consultation.

The draft plan breaks the Highland and Islands down into parts and considers each part separately. For instance, there is a section on Arran and another on Kintyre. In the section on Kintyre, though the new West Coast Motors passenger ferry to Ballycastle is welcomed, we note that the Cloanaig – Lochranza ferry is not even mentioned. The only vehicle ferry mentioned is the Tarbert – Portavadie ferry. In full, the draft says:

“Kintyre currently has a service from Tarbert that links the peninsula with Portavadie. This is an important connection which is not only used as an alternative to the extended road journey for people travelling from Kintyre to the central belt, but is used by people living around Portavadie who want to travel to Kintyre and from there to Oban. It is also popular in the summer with visitors and forms part of a strategic set of routes that facilitate tourism in the summer months. To remove the route could have implications for not just the immediate area but further afield.”

One would have thought that if the paragraph read “people living on Arran who want to travel to Kintyre” the very same importance would attach to the Cloanaig ferry and its removal would have similar implications for extended road journeys and tourism.

The document goes on to a suggest a new service from Campbeltown:

“a service operating between Kintyre, via Arran to Ardrossan (or Troon). The service would operate one or two days per week”.

In the section on Arran the draft proposal replaces the existing Brodick ferry with two smaller vessels starting earlier in the day and ending later in the evening - a major investment which would result in a much improved service. The new service from Campbeltown would, incidentally, be contingent on this service. In this context only is the Cloanaig service mentioned. In full, it says:

“Cloanaig to Lochranza largely fulfils a specialist function in the movement of dangerous goods. In terms of passenger and vehicle numbers it is very much a secondary route to the Ardrossan and Brodick service – for every passenger travelling between Cloanaig and Lochranza, there are around16 passengers travelling between Ardrossan to Brodick. The figure for cars is around 9 to 1 in favour of Ardrossan to Brodick.

It would be our intention to review services between Cloanaig and Lochranza following the upgrade to Ardrossan to Brodick.”

Combined with the lack of any recognition of the role of the Cloanaig ferry for Kintyre, or in the broader picture of tourism routes, it is hard not to interpret these words as laying the ground for axing the Cloanaig ferry.

If their argument is that the Cloanaig ferry does not generate enough traffic to justify its existence, then one option would be to look at how it might be modified. For instance, if a slipway were constructed at Carradale, the ferry could adopt a two-legged route Cloanaig – Lochranza – Carradale, and back. This would retain the existing Cloanaig connection but open up new possibilities for Carradale and Campbeltown. Unlike Cloanaig, Carradale has a regular bus service. Foot passengers could travel from Campbeltown on public transport by way of Arran and on to Ardrossan and points south. Cars could travel from Campbeltown to the ferry without having to negotiate the terrible East Kintyre road north of Carradale, nor face the long trek north up the west side, and east across the top of the peninsula to Cloanaig. A ferry coming to Carradale would have the potential to transform the slowly dying harbour and open up tourism for central Kintyre. If the Cloanaig ferry goes walkers on Arran will loose their link to the Kintyre Way and the National Cycle Network will be broken between Arran and Kintyre.

Such a proposal would involve some investment and a longer, but not that long, travel time from Carradale to Lochranza. However it would be both cheaper and quicker to use the existing boat and offer a seven day a week summer service from South Kintyre instead of the proposed one day a week service from Campbeltown. It is difficult to imagine the summer visitor who plans a tour around the West Coast to coincide with a one day a week ferry service from Campbeltown.

There is precious little time left to make your view known. While the draft plan does not explicitly say that the Cloanaig service will be axed the implication is clear. Once the assumptions and conclusions are built into the ten-year plan they will be hard to change. We have to stress that the Cloanaig ferry is not simply Arran’s back door. It is a beautiful way to enter and leave Kintyre.

Please send your comments on the document to colin.grieve@transportscotland.gsi.gov.uk or to:

Colin Grieve
Transport Scotland
Ferries Unit
Victoria Quay

Comments should reach him by the 30th March 2012. We also suggest that all comments be copied to our MSP, Michael Russell, Michael.Russell.msp@scottish.parliament.uk.

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