Welcome to the first Voice of 2017. It is customary to wish all our readers a very happy New Year at this point, but with a Trump presidency and British abandonment of the European Union in prospect, that would seem a pointless platitude if not an insult to our readers’ intelligence. Among other consequences, both of these events will seriously set back attempts to mitigate climate change, and it now looks possible that we will be facing a 5 degree rise in average temperatures by the end of the century. This would make two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land unusable, and the resulting famines, migrations, and wars are awful to contemplate. So what can we do? Well, our own little bit has to be the answer, however hopeless it may seem, and in this Voice we report from three Arran projects that are showing the way. The Arran Community Land Initiative, Eco Savvy, and COAST are each, in their own way, doing their bit and the Voice would like to take this opportunity to thank them, and all the other Arran voluntary and community groups and initiatives, for their sterling work. If there is to be a way forward it has to be by working together.
YOUR ADVERT COULD BE HERE
Please click on the “ADVERTISING” button on any menu bar
or contact email@example.com
I share Alan Bellamy’s anguish at the expressions of racism, homophobia and misogyny in the wake of a Trump victory and the Brexit vote, though I voted for Brexit on grounds of the democratic deficit just as I voted Yes in the Indyref, but he is right to pose the question ‘what do the rest of us do’. I hoped for a Bernie Sanders victory in the American election since a Clinton victory seemed to promise the continuation of a huge, failed, political elite who have led the world into chaos including an unprecedented media and political offensive against Russia. In the West, Blair, Brown, Cameron, Merkel, Hollande, Obama offered hope and delivered war, insecurity and poverty while, in the same period, the upper echelons of our society engorged themselves with wealth.
The educated , Guardianised middle class, among whom I include myself, have provided well intentioned support from a position of good salaries, security and comfortable superannuation in retirement but have failed to offer hope to the half of our society who are paying for leadership failure through austerity, low wages, benefit cuts, housing shortage and a restoking of the Cold War. The’ new imaginative ways’ that the editor referred to must address these issues but go further by controlling huge,globalised, tax- avoiding, corporate capital institutions who are able to blackmail us and erode our democracy with the connivance of our political elites. It requires a degree of radicalism that we are slow to consider but it is a discussion we should be having for the sake of children and grandchildren.
“The handprints of thirteen of my women friends encircle a jeweled world whose labyrinthine forms are mythical female figures woven by Kayabi Indians of Mato Grosso, Brazil. The title is from the song “Prayer of the Children,” composed by Kurt Bestor during the war in Bosnia. “Reaching hands with nothing to hold on to, but hope for a better day, a better day.”
Janaia Donaldson is an artist and host/producer of Peak Moment Television online series on locally reliant living for challenging times. She lives with her partner Robin in the Yuba watershed of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the USA.
By Pippa Downing
We have had a fantastic year here on the Community Land above Whiting Bay. Here are some of the things achieved in 2016:
Coming soon in 2017 we have to tempt you:
Come along to any of our activities or just have a wander around to see what is new on site! If you would like to keep in touch with what is happening, send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you on the mailing list for our monthly newsletters.
Carbon Conversations is a 6 week friendly and supportive evening discussion group, backed by well-researched resources including the book In Time for Tomorrow and a workbook. The course offers up-to-date information on our various options around energy at home and at work, food and water, transport and consumption and waste.
We start with a welcome meeting on 14th January, at 11.00 am in Lamlash Fire Station. Those who wish to take part in the group will be asked to contribute £5 towards the cost of materials, with Arran Community Land Initiative supporting the balance with funding from the Climate Challenge Fund. For more information please go to: carbonconversations.org.
The film for Sunday 8th January at 8pm is The Woman In Gold (2015, UK, directed by Simon Curtis, 109 mins, Cert PG).
The film is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, who, together with her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, fought the government of Austria for almost a decade to reclaim Gustav Klimt's iconic painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was stolen from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled on the case. Maria Altmann is played in the film by Helen Mirren.
Do come and join us for this fascinating film, in the Corrie and Sannox Village Hall.
Regional Screen Scotland, which operates the Screen Machine, has raised the necessary funds to carry out a major refit of the cinema vehicle, which will add a minimum of six more years to its operational life. The Screen Machine is the UK’s only full-time self-contained mobile cinema, bringing the latest cinema releases to communities across the North and West of Scotland.
The Screen Machine service was originally launched in 1998, and the current Screen Machine has been on the road since 2005, spending up to 48 weeks a year bringing the big screen experience to communities from Barra to Bettyhill and from Brodick to the Outer Isles of Orkney.
Now Regional Screen Scotland has secured funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland, to meet the costs of a full and thorough refit, to be carried out by the Screen Machine’s original builders, French-based Toutenkamion, world leaders in mobile cinema design and construction.
Robert Livingston, Director of Regional Screen Scotland, said;
“The aim is to carry out the refit at Toutenkamion’s French workshop in April/May 2017, and relaunch the fully renewed Screen Machine in June. It will then resume its normal touring circuit and audiences will be able to enjoy the customary wide choice of new films, as well as extras such as photography exhibitions and archive screenings, knowing that the Screen Machine will be fit to continue full operation well into the next decade.”
The Screen Machine is an articulated tractor and trailer, which uses hydraulic systems to expand the trailer to be able to accommodate an audience of 80 in multiplex-style comfort. These hydraulic systems are subject to considerable wear and tear, as the cinema is set up and dismantled three or four times every week. The Screen Machine also travels regularly on ferries, and is often set up on sites fully exposed to salt and sea air. Without this refit, the Machine would become subject to an increasing number of breakdowns, and would be unlikely to be able to continue full operation for more than another year or two at best.
The refit will thoroughly overhaul all the operating systems, replacing all worn parts, treating any areas of corrosion, and giving the entire exterior fresh coats of paint. This will also allow for a smart new livery to be applied, thanks to sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The Screen Machine is also supported by Highland Fuels and Caledonian MacBrayne.
Jennifer Armitage, Screen Officer at Creative Scotland said:
“This timely refurbishment will extend the Screen Machine service so that cinemagoers in some of the most remote parts of Scotland continue to enjoy a high quality cinema experience as well as an ever expanding programme of film.”
Regional Screen Scotland will also be drawing on its own reserves to replace the Screen Machine’s digital projector. Like many ‘first generation’ digital projectors, this is nearing the end of its useful life—an issue which many cinemas across the UK are now facing. In the case of the Screen Machine, it’s been a credit to the robustness of the projector that it has withstood eight years of being driven around some of the most winding and bumpy roads in Scotland! But the new projector will also provide audiences with an even sharper and clearer viewing experience.
2016 saw the celebration of the 10th birthday of this highly popular and successful Mountain Festival. The Festival committee have just opened the booking lines for 2017 with a programme of new walks added to old favourites and classic mountain walks and scrambles. The full programme can be viewed at www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk, but to whet appetites here are a few of the activities on offer in our wonderful Arran hills over 19-22 May 2017.
New to the programme is a walk up Gleann Diomhan, home to the unique Arran Whitebeams, then heading on up Beinn Tarsuinn and on to Loch Tanna before returning via Glen Catacol. The ever popular Three Beinns circuits are in the programme, of course, but there is a new twist to one of them which will take in three World War II bomber crash sites high on Beinn Nuis. A local expert on plane wreck sites will accompany this walk.
For those looking for a big outing that takes in the central mountain spine the Brodick to Lochranza High Route will prove a thrilling and memorable experience. Alternatively, this year’s programme includes a less demanding exploration of the southern hills with the Tighvein and Glenashdale Falls walk via two remote lochans.
The A’Chir Ridge Scramble is a renowned route, not just of Arran’s Mountains but of Scotland. This is a great opportunity to tackle this classic under the expert guidance of a qualified mountain instructor. The Goatfell Night Walk with its mountain-top dawn experience has become a classic of the Festival too, although only in its second year. Munro Moonwalker author Alan Rowan is returning to lead this exhilarating night-time outing and also, new for 2017, a Three Beinns Night Walk.
The Arran Mountain Festival committee have once again come up with a programme appealing to varied interests, with walks graded from Easy to Extreme and from 5 to 11 hours duration. The motto is ‘Small groups and big fun’! These walks get booked up very quickly so for the May 2017 Arran Mountain Festival now is the time to get on line to view the full programme and book a place at www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk.
The walks are all led by qualified Mountain Leaders. This is a community run, not-for-profit festival that succeeds thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of volunteers, and the generous support of local businesses and organisations.
The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carre, Viking.
'Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.'
David Cornwall, better known as John le Carre, is a master storyteller. But as a number of reviewers of this new memoir have pointed out, “look behind the smoke and mirrors and you will find a more reflective and slightly chastened figure, all passion spent, and perhaps less comfortable than hitherto in the world of cross and double-cross he has created around himself.”
In The Pigeon Tunnel le Carre, perhaps for the first time, discusses his father Ronnie at some length, and also his mother Olive, absent for much of his life. Ronnie was a con artist who could sometimes seem to lead a life of glamour and luxury, but was also a violent and cruel man who left devastation in his wake wherever he went. Lies and deceit were the norm in le Carre’s childhood, and it is not hard to see the link to the later intelligence officer and later still writer of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. What these memoirs also demonstrate is the enormous amount of research that lies behind these gripping stories, the adventures involved in doing that research, often in dangerous places and amongst dangerous people, and le Carre’s evolving social conscience, clearly seen in The Constant Gardener and The Night Manager amongst his other titles.
The 'Arran Economic Group' are preparing a Development Strategy for Brodick Harbour and the surrounding area to encourage its transformational development. As far as we know this survey hasn't been announced in the media, but it is of great interest to Arran residents and we would encourage you to take part. In particular the future of the existing CalMac terminal building is being discussed. In our opinion this would be an ideal location for the Tourist Office and Visit Arran, but your view may be different. However, if you don't take part in the survey, you will have no right to complain when another use is found for the building.
The Development Strategy will help coordinate public sector agencies, the local business community and other community groups, maximising the economic benefits of the following projects:
Consultation with local business and interest groups is critical to the success of preparing this Development Strategy. Please click on this link to participate: Brodick Harbour Development
Survey responses must be received by Monday the 9th January 2017.
from John Kinsman, Coastwatch St Monans
A creel fisherman was rescued off Shetland after his creel fishing boat ran onto rocks at Sandwick.
The Cornucopia hit the rocks around 12.15 pm on Saturday December 17th after becoming entangled in fishing gear. Another fishing boat the Osprey was nearby and was able to tow the stricken boat off the rocks into deeper water.
Coastguards called out Lerwick lifeboat which towed the fishing boat to safety.
Fishermen hail quota talks
Meanwhile, fishing leaders have welcomed increased quotas set for key fish stocks following annual talks in Brussels.
The Scottish government said the fishing industry will benefit from deals set to deliver additional fishing opportunities worth around £45 million. The overall package includes increased fish quotas for 16 out of 23 key Scottish stocks, such as cod, saithe and mackerel.
Bertie Armstrong of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation said "the agreement will bring welcome economic stability to Scottish fishing communities over the coming years"
The talks also secured extra flexibility around fishing for Northern Shelf haddock, and will provide more choice over fishing grounds, resulting in reduced cost for vessels.
Tobermory lifeboat crew assist retired lifeboat
The Tobermory lifeboat was launched at 10.29pm on Saturday December 17th to assist a vessel at Bloody Bay on the north of Mull. A former Tyne class lifeboat, now privately owned, had reported engine trouble to Stornoway coastguards. The Tobermory lifeboat, the Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsay, arrived in drizzle but otherwise good conditions, and coxswain James Fairbairns decided a tow would be established. The casualty vessel was taken to the pontoons at Tobermory harbour.
All Coastwatch Scotland teams are on duty over the festive period providing safety at sea and on cliffs, coastal paths and harbours and beaches.
Coastwatch St Monans wishes everyone all the best for 2017 and please stay safe on the water. Have a happy New Year.
Do you wear NHS hearing aids? Come to our FREE walk-in hearing aid clinic for:
Your local service is at:
Arran War Memorial Hospital, Lamlash,
Isle of Arran KA27 8LF
Project Coordinator on 01563 539900
Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.
Splitting an order
by Ted Kooser
I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
may be an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then see him lift half
onto the extra plate he had asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife and her fork in their proper places
then smooths the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.
Ted Kooser is a poet and essayist from Nebraska. He was US Poet Laureate in 2004-5 and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2005. Splitting An Order is the title poem from his latest collection and is published by Copper Canyon Press (2014).
Thinking of booking a cruise in the coming year? Consider it a good thing if Arran attracts more cruise ships to visit? Then it might be worth looking at the environmental credentials of the industry in the light of a recent court judgement in America.
Princess Cruise Lines will pay a $40m penalty after pleading guilty to seven federal charges in an illegal ocean pollution case that involved one ship’s use of a so-called magic pipe to divert oily waste into the waters.
Miami US attorney Wifredo Ferrer told a news conference the penalty was the largest ever of its kind. A plea agreement filed in federal court also requires Carnival, the UK and US-listed parent company of the Princess line, to submit 78 cruise ships across its eight brands to a five-year environmental compliance programme overseen by a judge.
Ferrer said the illegal practices came to light when an engineer aboard the Caribbean Princess discovered the “magic pipe” in 2013 off the coast of Britain and told investigators about it. Authorities later learned the 952ft ship had been illegally discharging oily water into the ocean since 2005.
“Our open seas are not dumping grounds for waste,” Ferrer said. “One thing we must never do is take our clear blue oceans for granted.”
A single illegal discharge dumped 4,227 gallons of oil-contaminated waste about 20 miles off the coast of England on 26 August 2013, according to court documents.
The documents also show illegal practices were found on four other Princess ships, including use of clean ocean water to fool onboard sensors that would otherwise detect dumping of improperly contaminated bilge water. Authorities say cost savings was the motive and that the ship’s officers and crew conspired to cover up what was going on.
John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the US justice department’s environmental division, said the Caribbean Princess “violated the law, they covered it up and then they lied about it”.
John Kaltenstein, senior policy analyst for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement that Princess’ behavior proves the industry’s “claims of environmental responsibility” can’t be taken at face value.
“Systems can be avoided or deactivated so that untreated waste flows right into the sea,” Kaltenstein said. “The discharge of oil into our oceans is extremely harmful to marine life and can have long-lasting environmental and economic repercussions. For years, Friends of the Earth has been saying that this sector is not as green as it claims to be.”
By Barbara I'Anson
As an island wide organisation, with our hub in Whiting Bay at our re-use community shop, our members travel from all the villages around the island. We are delighted they do this, but many have wished we were nearer to their village. We try hard to respond to our members’ requests, so Eco has found a solution.
We have just submitted our first funding application and if successful, we will be creating an Eco Savvy micro-hub in each village. Each hub will be located in an existing community space, providing a useful income. We hope to collaborate with established Arran groups and identify a local person to be employed part-time to act as a hub coordinator. Hub coordinators will be supported by local volunteers. Micro-hubs will deliver skill sharing workshops and operate in the same way that the Whiting Bay Eco Savvy hub works, but at a micro level, evolving to suit each specific location and village needs. If we are not successful with funding, we will continue to work towards our goals.
Eco’s big plan has not changed and an application to purchase forestry land for Green Waste Composting and the first phase of our eco park will be made in February.
Finally all our usual Zero Waste Arran activities will continue and grow, with a series of workshops beginning early in the year for all those looking to learn a new skill.
By Sue Weaver
Blackwaterfoot hosted a delightful experimental evening of wild food in mid-December when Gordon Decaestecker and David Brand of the Black Grouse and George Grassie of the Blackwater Bakery got together, aided and abetted by Robin Gray's herbs, Nick Relf's cocktails, and John Malpas (the trout escabeche and mackerel were not only fished by him but also created by him) to present a 'Wild night in Blackwaterfoot'.
For a cost of £20 per head they offered something like 20 tapas dishes of wild food (I lost count) plus a cocktail, a glass of white wine, a glass of red and a dessert wine. An astonishing bargain for 4 hours of unusual and creative flavours in good company.
The food was certainly mostly wild - and Arran caught! From the lobster bisque with sourdough white bread and pickled mackerel with kimchi on rye - to the venison haggis on seeded rye, with acorn squash, described by one of our party as a crispy, gorgeous masterpiece of culinary construction.
We also singled out the Arran trout escabeche with fish skin crackling on saffron and kamut bread as superb, and the squat lobster on herby bread was mouthwatering. Red meat eaters inform me that the slow (8 hour) braised pork belly with pork crackling and apple puree on top of glass bread was a wondrous meal in a mouthful. My own favourites were Southern fried pheasant breast with Cajun mayo and robust, earthy confit pheasant leg on Bakery baguette with pickled nasturtium seeds - mmm.
We weren't so sure about the breaded tripe with sweet tomato sauce - probably best to be a tripe lover. And I had ethical/sustainable questions about the Arran caught octopus with black olives, sun blush tomatoes and Peruvian black leaf from Robin Gray. Thanks to help from experts at COAST I can now advise that there are pros and cons to this. Octopus are normally thrown back by fishermen. But they are also good food for those cetaceans which we love. And there is 'overwhelming evidence' of high take up of metals, especially cadmium and mercury, and also of persistent organic pollutants. Hmm. My source says they personally wouldn't eat one though I can't find out if that's because they are worried about pollution or because they find them delightfully cuddly. After all, they are the COAST logo! Anyway, I only had a tapas sized mouthful and that's my excuse.
Desserts arrived at last when we thought we could eat no more - a plate of four little treasures: a mini Eccles cake, cranberry panettone with white chocolate, profiterole with softly oozing pumpkin cream and Drambuie parfait on flapjack with orange syrup and orange crisp.
The evening was a fun success, with many more mini dishes than I can describe, mostly conveyed on small pieces of George's delightful breads, topped with an astonishing range of textures and flavours. It demonstrated the great range of Arran foods available to us here, out in the hills and seas - how lucky we are, and how lucky that we have a new generation of skilled chefs willing to experiment.
It is a sad goodbye to 2016 after the loss of Tom Vella-Boyle (pictured right receiving COAST's Observer Ethical Award from Annie Lennox in 2008). Tom was a key member of COAST's original "dream team", whose passion and skills were key to the success of the Lamlash Bay community No Take Zone campaign. COAST co-founders Don McNeish and Howard Wood said "Tom’s generosity epitomised the spirit of community volunteering and marine activism on Arran".
We have a tribute to Tom Vella-Boyle, Community Marine Environmentalist, here.
There has been good news too. This year we have seen the legal enforcement of our hard-fought South Arran Marine Protected Area, followed by encouraging findings from our research - with lobsters more numerous and larger in the No Take Zone. Following local protests, Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has called in an application for an expansion to the existing salmon fish farm in Lamlash Bay. We are hopeful that the application will be rejected in the New Year. We have also worked with dozens of island and mainland schools and become part of a Scotland-wide network of coastal communities demanding fairer and more sustainable management of our seas.
This video is a snapshot of COASTs 2016 highlights. Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last year. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2017 for our new exciting venture, the Marine Discovery Centre.
We are thrilled to announce that COAST are now the proud owners of the Lamlash tennis courts and pavilion. We will be inviting you to join us in the New Year as we begin to imagine and make plans for Arran's new Marine Discovery Centre on part of the site (the existing pavilion will become COAST's MPA HQ and tennis will continue!). This community project will attract more tourists, encourage marine recreation and engage many more people with our amazing marine wildlife. We will begin fundraising in 2017.
by Patricia Gibson MP
I was greatly encouraged to see the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduce new rules on payday lending, ensuring that interest rates and fees on all short-term credit loans are capped. Following this ruling, people who take out this type of credit do not pay back more than twice the amount borrowed.
The FCA has also tightened the supervision of payday lenders, restricting how often loans can be rolled over and ensuring that lenders can no longer take money directly from a customer’s account. As a result, the number of approved loans of this kind has shrunk from 800,000 per month to 300,000 per month. All this is good news. However, the level of interest charged for payday loans remains exorbitant.
Well-publicised problems with regards to payday and short-term lending are always brought into sharp focus in the run-up to Christmas. In austere times, many people understandably turn to this type of credit to make purchases. Indeed, the Money Advice Service commented that 1.4 million people across the UK are expected to take out some form of short-term credit to help fund Christmas.
Recognising that more action is needed, following a Payday Lending Summit in Glasgow, the SNP Government published a 12 step action plan, to tackle the clustering of Pay Day lenders and gambling shops in Scotland’s town centres.
The majority of this plan has since been implemented, including a new online advice service – The Financial Health Service – and proactive promotion of Credit Unions as alternative lenders. Provisions have also been made in Scottish planning policy to counteract the over-proliferation of payday lending in our town centres.
There is clearly more to do on this issue however. I recently worked with StepChange, a debt charity which informed me that 12% of people contacting them from my North Ayrshire and Arran constituency had a payday loan debt, with an average debt balance of £1,326.
Despite action by government, not everyone gets a fair deal, even under the terms of such loans. Moreover, there is not nearly enough emphasis on lenders to ensure they identify vulnerable customers and refer them to seek advice. Without this, people can become trapped in a cycle of repeated borrowing and as their debt increases, so does the stress and anxiety that goes with severe money problems.
Whilst payday lending can be a legitimate and useful source of short-term finance, people confronted with spiralling debts that they cannot manage should not be targeted. Customers who cannot quickly repay debt could pay more in interest in one month than with a credit card in a year.
The FCA is currently undertaking a review of the high-cost credit market, including payday loans, pawn-broking, home-collected and catalogue credit and logbook loans, to address the key areas of customer disadvantage, with their findings to be published next summer. We must ensure that lending practices unfit for purpose are discontinued and that best practice is shared for the benefit of consumers, so that the burden of debt is minimised wherever possible.
Our compiler, Episteme was unable to give us a crossword for January, but here are the answers for the December puzzle.
8 Glyceria, 9 Abhors, 10 Kiwi, 11 Nanosecond, 12 Thank You, 14 Iodise, 16 Idea, 18 Socks, 19 Wine, 20 Turkey,
21 Excuse Me, 24 Champagnes, 27 Aunt, 28 Pegged, 29 Enlarged.
1 Sleigh, 2 Action Pack, 3 Brandy, 4 Yawn, 5 Parsnips, 6 Choc, 7 Grandson, 13 Uncle, 15 Downstairs, 17 Daughter,
18 Skywards, 22 Castle, 23 Manger, 25 Magi, 26 Noel.
Mashua, or Tropaeolum tuberosum, in flower in an Arran garden in mid-December. A vigorous climber, it produces edible tubers that are said to be good roasted.