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approaching hunters quay from the ferry

Welcome to the on-line home of the

Hunters Quay Community Council

The Council meets in the Scout Hall, Crawford Lane (off George Street), Hunters Quay at 8pm on the 1st Thursday of the month.

The Community Council exists:-

    * to promote the interests of the local community
    * to canvass the views and opinions of the community
    * to express these opinions to local and national government agencies and other interested parties

 

LATEST NEWS

 

It is with immense sadness that we report the sudden loss of Chris Lambert our Treasurer and friend of many years. We extend our sympathy and support at this time to his family.

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Yet another reason for us to fight against windfarms

Birdwatchers see rare white-throated needletail fly into turbine on Harris

The white-throated needletail was spotted on Harris
An enthusiast who travelled to the Western Isles to view a rare bird has told of his "dismay" after watching it fly into a wind turbine and die.

The white-throated needletail, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia, was spotted on Harris.

About 30 birdwatchers travelled to the island to see the unusual visitor, which has only been recorded five times in the UK since 1950.

However, they then saw it die after colliding with the wind turbine.

Birdwatcher David Campbell, from Surrey, told the BBC Scotland news website that the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Pathetic way for such an amazing bird to die”

Rare Bird Alert tweet
Mr Campbell, who is now making his way home to south east England, said: "We just watched the whole thing with dismay."

He added that on a previous bird watching trip he had seen a migratory wryneck hit by a train.

A relative of the common swift, the white-throated needletail is said to be the fastest bird in level flight.

It is reported to reach a top speed of 105mph.

'Very rare'
The Rare Bird Alert, an online service that notifies users of sightings, had passed on reports of the white-throated needletail on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the service said users had told them the bird had died.

In a tweet, the service said: "The white-throated needletail on Harris flew into a wind turbine and has died, pathetic way for such an amazing bird to die."

RSPB Scotland said it was possible the migratory bird had been blown off course and had lost its way.

A spokeswoman said: "Whilst the collision of this unusual visitor with a small domestic wind turbine is very unfortunate, incidents of this sort are really very rare.

"Careful choice of location and design of wind farms and turbines prevents, as much as possible, such occurrences happening on a large scale."

She added: "Wind energy makes a vital contribution towards mitigating the impacts of climate change, which is the biggest threat to our native birds and wildlife."

 

Report a Fault on the Road

If you spot a fault on our roads, whether it is a pot hole or a street light not working, we want to know about it so we can fix it.

You can report any problems with street lighting or faults on the road, such as potholes or damaged signs by filling in the online reporting form here, by phoning the Contact Centre on 01546 605514 or emailing enquiries@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

You can also report street lighting faults by calling RALF (Road and Lighting Faults) on 0800 37 36 35.

 

 

Cowal Community Hospital Medical and GP Out of Hours Service

As part of the NHS Highland Better Health, Better Care, Better Value process a Working Group ‘Cowal 24/7’ has been convened to examine and develop potential options for the sustainable provision of GP out of hours services for the Cowal peninsula and medical cover within Cowal Community Hospital.

The Group is co-chaired by a member of the public (Heather Grier) and Dr Brian McLachlan (Clinical Lead for Helensburgh & Lomond).  Membership also includes GPs, councillors, public and Community Council representatives, Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, nursing staff and other health professionals.

http://www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk/CHP/ArgyllandBute/PPF/Pages/CowalGPServices.aspx

Copy of letter sent to the 24/7 Out of Hours review board:

Dear M/s Grier and Dr. McLachlan,

At the Hunters Quay community Council meeting on the evening of the 5th April, 2012, which was well attended by all Hunters Quay elected Councillors, members of the public, representative of Strathclyde Police Force and Argyll and Bute councillor, Tom Law, our representative on the Cowal 24/7 Out of Hours Review, gave a full presentation to those present on the then current uptodate status of this review which All present found both interesting and alarming.

Following on from the public consultations / presentations in a few locations that NHS Highland and Review Group members, etc., recently gave and the printed material thereon distributed at these events and with the local paper, etc., we had conducted our own survey with a considerable number of both Hunters Quay residents and others from various other Cowal locations as well as hospital staff and consultants from within and without Cowal to determine the Cowal residents and medical experts, etc., viewpoints on the current 24/7 services and their views on the current many options that have been suggested by the review group that seem to all to be ever more pointed, increasing in number, complication, feasibility and practicality both functionally and medically.

In virtually every case the members of the public were completely confused and baffled by these options and there presentation and expressed the opinion that they thought they were possibly being deliberately mislead / confused and / or there maybe an unacceptable (to them) agenda behind it all. ie they could not understand any of these options, etc., or there proposed method of assessment. The senior and junior medical staff and professional consultants communicated with were equally outspoken in their condemnation and many highlighted simpler and to them better options and many improvements that could be made at Cowal Community Hospital at very minimal cost, if any, that would benefit  ALL, patients and permanent and visiting staff and would certainly through the course of a year vastly improve patient services and reduce the overall cost to The Highland Health Board.

We greatly appreciate and laud the opportunity for public participation that the Scottish Government has instigated in this Review but for it to be in anyway meaningful, ALL present at the Hunters Quay recent meeting and those from our own survey felt that progress to date has been more backward than forward, is ever increasingly confusing to the public at large and especially the suggested Matrix proposed to judge the options seems to be to them solely directed to support certain self-interests and certainly can be easily made to give any conclusion that its applicants desire and thus may not give any substantiate-able meaningful appraisal of the given options that  the public at large can accept.

The majority of the public in Cowal hold "their" NHS in very high regard and we have been therefore delegated by ALL present last Thursday to appeal to you to respect and honour that regard and not to submerge this review in a "fog of incomprehensible so called management tricks and jargon".

 

 


Wind Farms

Love them or totally opposed to them you really should look at this from YouTube:

Greenery

With all the rain lately the plants and hedges have really started to grow - could householders please ensure that they trim back any greenery obstructing or overhanging pavements.

We have been assured that Manor Park will be dealing with the trees alongside Victoria Road - watch this space!

 

From Scottish Water:

 

Key water mains project will improve service in Cowal

Wednesday June 15, 2011

Scottish Water is about to start a key stage of its work to provide clearer, fresher drinking water to more than 20,000 customers in the Dunoon and Loch Eck area.

A £3.9m project, due to start on about June 27, will rehabilitate 27 miles of mains in the distribution network served by the Loch Eck Water Treatment Works and help address manganese and iron issues.

Scottish Water is progressing with a separate £3.5m investment at the Loch Eck WTW, which produces the water supplied through the mains.

The project at the WTW, which is expected to be completed later this year, involves the installation of a manganese removal plant to provide an effective barrier to manganese from entering the network.

The work about to start in the network, which will be carried out for Scottish Water by contractors George Leslie, will include the replacement of some existing mains, the relining of other mains and the flushing of pipes.

It will benefit customers throughout the supply zone in Dunoon and a number of areas including Sandbank, Hunter’s Quay, Kirn, Toward, Kilmun, Ardentinny, Strachur and St Catherine’s.

The work in the distribution network is also expected to be completed late this year. It is starting now so that it is completed at about the same time as the WTW project is completed.

Once the WTW project is completed, tests on the water mains will be carried out and some further flushing of the network will be done.

Manganese is a naturally occurring substance and is no risk to public health at the levels which have been recorded in the area in the past. The Prescribed Concentration or Value (PCV) level for manganese of 50ug/l has been set by Scottish Ministers for aesthetic reasons.

Improvement work on the distribution network has been carried out in the past two years to remove some deposits of manganese. This included flushing operations and service reservoir cleaning. As a result there has been only one recorded exceedance for manganese at customers’ taps since April 2008.

However, some manganese is present in the source water for Loch Eck WTW and this could build up in the network and impact on some customers unless it is significantly reduced at the treatment works.

Mr Jim Hassan, Scottish Water’s water operations manager, said: “Scottish Water wants our customers to enjoy the look and taste of their drinking water.

“The work we have done in recent years has improved the water quality and this latest investment – together with our project at the Loch Eck WTW - will help make further improvements and ensure customers enjoy clearer, fresher drinking water for years to come.”

 

From Neil Kay's Website:

The silence of the local

Historically, print newspapers have had a central role in communicating important news to the public. That can hold even more strongly for local newspapers which can carry news and information not generally available elsewhere. However the circulation for most newspapers, including local, has been declining steadily over recent years as the Internet becomes an even more effective substitute for it. One way for local newspapers to try to fight this is to have a strong campaigning editor who gives the readers what they need to know on things that matter to them and lobbies on their behalf, such as Bill Jardine who was editor of the Dunoon Observer until his retirement in 2007.

So when a local newspaper like the Dunoon Observer does not publish matters of crucial local interest to its readers when even the nationals are interested in the local issues in question, not only would this seem to be against the public interest, on the face of it this would also seem to be against the newspaper's interest.

On the 10th January 2011, I posted on my website an analysis of Western Ferries, judging it by economic criteria and other benchmarks set by other ferry services, both local and others cited by some as the most expensive ferries in the world. The article was fact-based with the facts checked (and independently checkable), but many of the facts would not be known to local residents. The article is of crucial relevance to a debate about the future of the ferry services that virtually all local residents depend on, directly or indirectly, given the imminent tender of the alternative CalMac service.

Amongst other things the article noted:

  • Western Ferries fares, including discount fares, were already at least comparable on economic grounds with others that had been cited as the most expensive in the world.
  • Its profit margins were close to averaging 30% for the last six years for which figures were available, significantly higher than for most other ferry companies, indeed significantly higher than for most other forms of public transport.
  • It had paid no tax (net) over the last six years, with a £6,000 tax rebate in 2003-04 balancing a total of £6,000 tonnage tax paid in lieu of corporation tax over the six years 2003-09; the issue of whether or not Western is liable for corporation tax is the subject of an ongoing dispute between HMRC and Western Ferries which has still not been resolved.
  • It is now set to become the monopoly vehicle carrier over the Clyde later this year on the basis of information obtained through Freedom of Information on vessel availability and shortlisted tenderers for the CalMac route.

Issues such as these could all be seen as being of strong local interest, especially since they were based on facts, much of which was in turn based on new research.

The analysis was quickly taken up by For Argyll on Wednesday the 12th January. Before that on Tuesday 11th January a reporter on the Dunoon Observer confirmed that they had written up a story for the paper based my article.

On Friday 14th January, the Dunoon Observer was published but without even a mention of my article and no contact from the newspaper. I e-mailed the reporter to ask what had happened but instead of a reply from the reporter I got an email from the editor which could best be summarized as waffle.

There were others locally interested in the article and why it had not been published and on the basis of the editor's reply I told them that I did not expect to see anything about it in the local paper.

On the same day, Friday 14th January, The Herald carried an article on the Western tonnage tax situation. Later the next week (Thursday 20th January) I was contacted by a national news paper to say they were interested in running a story based on my article.

The Dunoon Observer the next day (Friday 21st January) still carried nothing about it or even the tonnage tax issue, despite Western's tonnage tax issue having been the subject of an article in the Herald the week before.

Wikipedia's entry for the Dunoon Observer says "the newspaper currently has a circulation of around 7,000". In fact, the "view history" link for this entry indicates that that figure has not been updated since the first entry in the summer of 2007. However, for the year 2008 the Dunoon Observer's audited circulation was down to 6406 and for the last six months of 2009 it had fallen to 5225

From this, it would appear that the Dunoon Observer has lost a quarter of its circulation in about three years, and on the basis of these figures there is no evidence the rate of decline is slowing, if anything it would seem the opposite is the case. Ignoring issues of extreme local importance is hardly a way to stem this trend. As I know to my cost down the years, anyone who posts anything which can could be interpreted as not being in Western's interests can expect vitriol from third parties (as the comments on the For Argyll article above confirms). However if a private individual like me is prepared to accept the abuse that inevitably attends this, one would think that no less should be expected from the local paper (as an aside it is worth noting that such vitriol rarely focuses on the facts, and when it does it usually gets the facts wrong).

There are issues which can make for personal tipping points and this is one for me. I am not going to speculate on the specific reasons why the paper chose not to publish these issues or why it did not even refer to them, I'll leave that to others. But there is no point in the local paper campaigning on easy targets such as why there has been no tender for the CalMac service Gourock-Dunoon - not when it continues to ignore the elephant in the room, the issues and effects of Western Ferries' dominance in this area and its likely imminent monopoly of vehicle-carrying post-tender. As the Herald article referred to above confirms, even Western Ferries actively supports the campaign to get the tender done. This is not surprising because as my FoI questions revealed the tender is set to lead to the CalMac route going passenger-only (at best) and a Western monopoly of vehicle-carrying Gourock-Dunoon

There is equally no point in relying on the Dunoon Observer for these matters when there are other modes such as the Internet websites such as For Argyll and old fashioned word of mouth which do better the job they should be doing. And once everyone starts thinking that way, it could also be a tipping point for the Dunoon Observer, if that point has not been reached already. Which is unfortunate, not just for the paper and its readership (not all of whom are logged in to the Web) but also for the good reporters who still work there. And it should be emphasized that there are really good reporters in the Dunoon Observer, there is no evidence the problems lie there, and I do not believe they lie there.

Those with an interest in this can read my original article through the direct link here or at:

http://www.brocher.com/Ferries/expensiveferry.htm

 


 

 




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