LISMORE COMMUNITY COUNCIL

 

Minutes of Committee Meeting held at Lismore Public Hall at 19.00

Tuesday 18 May 2004

 

Present

 

John Livingstone (chair), Donnie MacCormick, Mairi Perkins, Duncan Livingstone, John MacFadyen, Archie MacGillivray, Mark Willis and Councillor Elaine Robertson

 

Date of Next Meeting

 

The next full Community Council Meeting to be held at 20.00 on Wednesday 26 May 2004 at Lismore Public Hall

 

Chairman’s Introduction

 

Chairman welcomed Councillor Elaine Robertson and stated that the meeting had been called so that the Community Council might be updated by Councillor Robertson on proposals for car parking charges at Port Appin, and on progress towards improved ferry services.

 

He also apologised for the short notice in bringing the meeting forward from 20.00, as advertised, to 19.00. This was necessitated by the ferryman advising at 18.20 that weather conditions were likely to prevent a ferry service after 20.00 that evening. 

 

Proposal for Port Appin Car Park Charges

 

Councillor Robertson explained that at the last meeting of Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee what she had expected to be a discussion paper, on the possibility of levying car park charges at various A&B Council car parks, resulted in the passing by council of a resolution that charges should be raised during the summer season at a number of locations including Port Appin.  The matter would next be considered by A&B  Council’s Strategic Policy Committee in early June, at which Councillor Robertson has sought leave to speak.

 

It appeared that the motive for introducing these charges was production of a revenue stream and not to enhance management. Councillor Robertson stated that she opposed charges being raised for such a purpose. The only concession proposed for Lismore residents using the car park was the availability of a season ticket at a charge of £79.04 per summer season.

 

The charging proposals were in direct contravention of A&B Council’s established policies on “access”.

 

Implementation of a charging policy would take approximately 12 months to allow for the making of the appropriate Road Traffic Order and relevant public consultation.

 

Reference was made to proposals by Appin Community Council for revised car parking arrangements at Port Appin, including the possibility of a new car park in the vicinity of the doctor’s surgery and pedestrianising the road from there to the ferry. Councillor Robertson suggested that Lismore Community Council might wish to work with the Appin CC to establish a mutually acceptable car parking strategy for presentation to A&B C. In any event Lismore Community Council was asked to identify the arguments which it wished Councillor Robertson to present at the Strategic Policy Committee.

 

 

Ferry Services (with particular reference to a North End Vehicular Ferry)

 

Councillor Robertson reported on the meeting she and George Lyon had with the transport minister and Scottish Executive officials during April. At the meeting she had sought an assurance that if the residents of Lismore decided that a vehicle ferry at the north end was required, that infrastructure investment would be available. Such an assurance was not forthcoming and much was made by the minister’s officials of their understanding that Lismore residents were divided on the most appropriate ferry provisions. This impression was largely based upon the 39 responses to the public consultation on ferry tendering proposals said to have been received from Lismore.

 

Councillor Robertson had asked the minister what kind of mandate from the island he would be prepared to act upon. Whilst no clear response was given, he perhaps might think about it if a proposal had the support of 65% of residents.

 

On the question of the tendering of services currently supplied by CalMac, Councillor Robertson understood that although competitive tendering of services carrying fewer than 100,000 passengers a year was not an E.U. requirement there was little likelihood of the Lismore service being taken out of the tendering package because ministers were concerned to avoid opportunities for “cherry picking”.

 

So far as A&B Council was concerned, Councillor Robertson confirmed that the council would be pleased to be relieved of the responsibility for a Lismore ferry service. A&B C officials have indicated that the perceived divisions on Lismore on the matter of ferry provision would, at present, inhibit any further pursuit of funding for a new service. Councillor Robertson acknowledged that the cost estimates for the previous bid by A&B C for funding for a north end vehicle ferry were not acceptable to the Scottish Executive.

 

A number of Community Councillors had understood from Cllr. Duncan MacIntyre that infrastructure funds earmarked for a new north end vehicular ferry service were still available. Councillor Robertson explained that these funds related only to road improvements between Gunn’s Garage and Port Appin.

 

Argyll and Bute Council still regarded the only affordable options to be the status quo, and a north end vehicle ferry in substitution for any service directly between Lismore and Oban, although with the possibility of the north end ferry being diverted once or twice a week to Oban. This latter option had previously been rejected by the Community Council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Councillor Robertson confirmed that the test of affordability was based solely on the cost of ferry provision currently incurred by A&B Council. It took no account of the subsidy provided to CalMac by the Scottish Executive. Attempts to quantify the subsidy to CalMac for its Lismore service had failed, it having been claimed by Scottish Executive officials that this was commercially sensitive information. Chairman stated that the limited scope for ferry provision which this interpretation of affordability indicated was incompatible with A&B Council’s 1999 policy document “Access the Future”

 

Councillor Robertson reported a meeting she had recently with Foster Yeoman to establish their possible interest in taking on the provision of a north end vehicle ferry. The firm had yet to give its response

 

In conclusion Councillor Robertson indicated that it was up to Lismore to establish popular demand for a particular ferry service provision before she could seek to activate A&B Council on the issue again. If such a consensus were achieved she would be willing to press for further action by A&B C.

 

There appeared to be a need for a new survey of the views of Lismore residents on the issue of appropriate ferry provision. Councillor Robertson had spoken to Cllr. MacIntyre and A&B C officials about the earmarking of funds for her council to undertake such a survey. This course remains a possibility if the Community Council wishes.

 

D. MacCormick asked Councillor Robertson to note that additional sailings of the Appin ferry, between normal daytime timetabled services, are now being charged at £19.40 whereas the charge in the past has been twice the normal fare. Councillors felt that the new charge was unreasonable

 

 

Closure of Meeting

 

The meeting was closed at 20.00. Chairman indicated that these topics would be discussed further at the Community Council Meeting to be held on 26 May.

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