Arran Banner letters – week 45

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That’s progress

Sir,

Further to my recent comments published in the Banner on the not fit for purpose Brodick terminal, I travelled last week as a foot passenger on the 12.30 from Ardrossan.The ferry arrived in Brodick Bay around 13.15, carried out the 360 degree turn, then commenced with the docking procedure. The foot passengers started to disembark via the single person access around 13.35. Since I was going to the bus stance, I was near the head of the queue and I hurried along the elevated corridor, down the stairs and eventually on to the bus, which was, according to the timetable, scheduled to leave at 13.35. Shortly after boarding the bus, it left the stance.

While waiting for the 16.40 ferry in the departure lounge, I watched the ferry arriving and noted it took approximately the same time as indicated above for the passengers to disembark. The marine forecast for that day was a NE 6 to 8 knot wind.

I was lucky I got on the bus. However, due to this time overlap, there must have been passengers who missed the bus and subsequently were stranded despite the bus waiting beyond its scheduled departure.

This not a criticism of CalMac or the bus company. When the old pier was in use, ferry docking, going down the two person wide gangway and along the short pier to the bus only took a couple of minutes, allowing plenty of time for passengers to reach the bus stance. That’s progress!

I also read the recent letter in the Banner on full nationalisation. It would appear the writer overlooked the successful private company Western Ferries. Also the Scottish Government has just renewed the Northern Ferries contract with Serco (another private company), despite a bid from CalMac. Apparently CalMac stated their bid was lower (how did they know?) and questioning why they were not awarded the contract. Many of the problems discovered during the course of a contract are due to the project not being properly specified at the tender stage and lack of contract management/monitoring. For example you only need to look at the Scottish Government performance in recent years on major infrastructure and IT projects, including the relatively small £14 million overspend on the Brodick terminal.

PS: I have just read a detailed article in the Herald (13 June, 2019) on the ‘flawed harbour’ move. In it an Arran resident highlighted the time taken to reach the bus stance. I did not have heavy luggage, a pram, disability or had to use the lift!

Yours,

Robin Gardner,

Milton of Campsie.

Shoebox appeal

Sir,

For many years Anne and Hamish Mitchell of Brodick organised an Arran shoebox collection for the Blythswood Christmas Shoebox Appeal. Shoeboxes are filled with practical and gift items and distributed to disadvantaged people in Europe, Africa and Asia. This year a team at Brodick Church took up the mantle from Anne to organise the 2019 collection.

A total of 143 filled shoeboxes were collected from the Arran people along with donations of £515 which will be used to help with transport costs to the destination countries. This was a great effort, thank you to all who contributed in any way. Our thanks also to Tony Morrow of Arran Deliveries who arranges transport of the shoeboxes to the Blythswood Depot in Glasgow each year free of charge.

Yours,

The Shoebox team,

Brodick Church.

Sustainable Arran

Sir,

As a beautiful island in a tranquil setting, Arran continues to attract visitors as well as people who come to live and work on the island.

Whilst challenges to sustainability are perhaps less evident than in some other parts of the world, Arran faces challenges of its own.

Here are a few of the issues:

  • Ensuring that everyone on Arran has somewhere decent to stay within their budget. A lack of affordable homes has inhibited local businesses and reduces opportunities for young people to settle on the island.
  • Helping residents to stay warm in the colder months, whilst minimising the personal and environmental costs – through improved insulation and greater use of renewable energy sources.
  • Enabling people to move around the Island conveniently and sustainably – helping to combat loneliness and isolation, as well as driving the local economy.
  • Ensuring that older people have the support and care they need, to keep active and health, as they become more frail.

We are so used to looking to authorities – local, regional, and national governments to solve major problems that we face individually and collectively. However, authorities have a mixed record on delivering services and amenities/infrastructure in rural areas. Cuts to public spending, alongside rising health/care costs, are curtailing authorities’ abilities to intervene.

People on Arran feel these effects as much as other rural areas and Arran’s island nature further complicates service delivery.

With an eye to these and other sustainability challenges, Eco Savvy, Arran’s Digital Blacksmith and the University of Northumbria are delighted to collaborate on an event bringing local people together for friendly and constructive discussion.

Our Idea Engine evening event poses some imaginary and challenging scenarios that might befall Arran and invites participants to play one of a number of possible roles in finding possible solutions. The solutions can draw on the use of digital technologies (such as mobile apps) to provide additional power – which underlines the importance of good connectivity and digital literacy across the community.

We are staging the event from 5 to 7 pm at the Ormidale Pavilion, Brodick) which we think will make it more accessible for people from across the community. The novel scenarios chosen should give rise to engaging and imaginative discussions whose results will be very interesting to see and hear.

We look forward to seeing you there on Monday November 11.

Yours,

Andrew Stirling,

Co-organiser,

Sustainable Arran.