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Issue 54 - September 2015
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The garden in August.
 

Editorial

Welcome to the September Voice. Our contents this month range across the arts and as far afield as India, but there is a bit of a focus on the marine environment around our beautiful island. We have updates from COAST and Save Scottish Seas on the inshore fisheries situation, plus disturbing reports on the dangers to the environment posed by marine farms. Common to these issues, and to the report on the progress (or not) of the Land Reform Bill, is the powerlessness felt by local communities in Scotland. Big business interests are able to lobby, cajole and threaten councils and government; local communities have little chance of being heard. We live in a broken democracy, in which the administrative units are so huge that there is little connection between people and their councils. Did you know that the average meaningful council area population in Austria is 3560, in Spain is 5680, in Germany is 7080, and in Scotland is 163,200? No wonder we are so cynical about local and national government here. There has been much talk in recent weeks about redrawing local government ward boundaries, but no mention of the fundamental problem – that the size of the administrative units makes true participatory democracy so much pie in the sky. Until our elected representatives address this little will change – but of course that means giving real power away to local communities, and that is not something our governments, of whatever colour, seem keen to do.

 
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Arran Artist of the Month

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Pine Cone in marble

For the first in what we hope will be an ongoing feature about Arran’s many artists and makers, the Voice asked Tim Pomeroy some questions about his work.

How would you describe your work and the philosophy behind it?

In simple practical terms it is mainly stone carving; philosophically it is much more tricky to talk about. That’s why I make it. I am driven by notions of the sacred in whatever form it is manifest. So a stupa is as inspiring as the tabernacle in a cathedral, a standing stone as mysterious as a night sky. While I know that all we know and feel is governed by physical principles, part of my nature, character, has always (for whatever reason) sought out the numinous and transcendental with a small t. I try to make objects that inspire thought and meditation rather than spectacle.

Where did you grow up, go to school, and go to college or university?

Born and brought up in Hamilton. After an abortive year at Glasgow University I went to Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen for five years, graduating in 1981. Went to teachers’ training college in Bearsden for a year. I became a secondary school teacher.

What other jobs have you done?

The usual… a variety of holiday jobs. On the boats in Lamlash (Denis Neville) and Brodick (Matt Laird). Worked in Vic’s Kitchen Whiting Bay and Hairmyres Hospital as a ward orderly. Pre-art school, I worked one year as a house-father in a Glasgow Corporation children’s home; post-art school, two months teaching at Girvan Academy followed by six months lecturing at Gray’s School of Art. Since the summer of 1983, I have been self-employed.

Tell us something about your journey in art – how is it that you are here now, on Arran, and doing what you do?

I suppose the journey of everyone’s life is an odyssey of intention, focus, chance, ambition, luck, happenstance; no less so mine.

I trained in and taught painting and drawing at Aberdeen Art School and painted and exhibited primarily 2D work in oils on canvas from 1983 to about 1993. Sculpture was an enjoyable adjunct to the painting process.

Around this time I was asked to tender for a big sculpture commission in Glasgow; a font in St Nicholas garden behind Provand’s Lordship ( popularly known as the oldest house in Glasgow) This commission I won and carved a cubic metre of Scandinavian granite over a period of four months. It was a baptism of, you could say fire, but it was stone. This remains for me a pivotal experience. And it steered me, absolutely brutally, into a new medium.

As it happened, at this time, the National Lottery came into being and suddenly there was a lot of funding around for public sculptures. The success of Provand’s Lordship brought other architects to me and before I had time to assess the step-change, I found myself carving more than I was painting.

In 1996 having exhibited in Scotland since ’82 I decided to try the London art scene having eschewed it in favour of the native scene which although partially successful, never converted into the kind of recognition of which I’d always dreamt. From 96- 2005 I worked with a gallery (the unlikely named Mchardy Sculpture Company) on Shad Thames just under Tower Bridge. This was my London base camp. When it finally closed I had a year of uncertainty but in 2007 I was approached by Agnews Gallery who unbeknown to me, had been watching my progress. From 2007 to 2012 Agnews represented me. When they finally closed in 2102 again there was uncertainty. But I was then approached by the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street where I am presently represented. My most recent solo show was there in November last year

Like so many, we came (as a family) to Arran as children – 1964 I think was the first year; thereafter we came every year until 1980. Many holiday jobs and acquaintances and many solitary walks around the hills and coasts made Arran a special place for me. When Josephine (Broekhuizen) and I came to move from Lanarkshire where we’d lived for eleven years, Arran seemed like a possibility. Neither of us were formally employed and if we could only make it work, living offshore, then it might just be a great place to bring up the children and make art. That was in 1997. It is never easy being an artist unless fate bestows superstar status as in the cases of Emin, Hirst, Koons and a few named others, when the world beats a path to your door. I am still trying to make what I feel is good work, relevant work, work that has a point and perhaps a purpose. It is subtler work than the majority of the personality-driven art that grabs the headlines. But I think nonetheless significant. That the National Museum of Scotland and Kelvingrove acquired pieces for their permanent collections last year, is a measure of the fact that my efforts have not been in vain. It is a valuable recognition and one that helps propel me further when all other evidences seem to the contrary.

Who or what have been the greatest influences in your work? Which other artists do you most admire?

So many…where to begin? Painters; Rogier Van Der Weyden (his Descent from the Cross would be my Desert Island luxury). Breughel (both interestingly Northern European) (Hunters in the Snow is sublime). In carving, Tilman Riemenschnieder, Ernst Barlach. In the modern era, Epstein, Gaudier Breska, Donald Judd, Arp, and of my contemporaries of course Goldsworthy, Randall-Page, Richard Long and Richard Serra. The one thing that seems to pervade all of these artists and I guess how they have influenced me is their seriousness of intent…which I think I have too. I’m not good at light and frivolous.

Describe your workspace or studio for us.

I have a large agricultural building some 16 metres long by 9 wide. It is subdivided into two studios; a painting and print-making studio and a sculpture and ceramics studio. It has a high pitched roof which enables me to do monumental pieces like the five metre tall bronze Tree of Life for Cawdor castle gardens which was one of my major projects of 2010. All made here! Half the studio roof is polycarbonate sheeting which gives even natural light. A roller door at the front allows me access with the forklift truck to bring in big stones for carving. We are very self-sufficient in tools and equipment and could pursue many art ideas.

How do you tend to work – in concentrated bursts, sporadically, or in a regular daily pattern?

I am very disciplined… I think. I tend to work from around 9 through to 5 , sometimes, like now for instance, with a solo-show approaching in November, I’ll work after dinner for another hour or so, but I do that less now than when I was younger…it’s a sad fact that I have to admit to. Because I love it, it doesn’t feel like work even though I refer to it as my work. I just do it.

What are you working on at present?

I have two major projects. A solo exhibition at the Fine Art Society in Dundas Street in Edinburgh in November and a huge garden commission for Norfolk which I am currently making in Carrara. The big commission is huge. The final piece of marble will weigh around three and a half tons. It’ll come directly from Marina di Carrara to Felixstowe, then to Norwich and the final lift will take it from Norwich to the private garden which is near Walsingham.

The works for the solo show are based on notions of ritual, the scared, the sense of an offering, the sense of talisman, objects that might have magical powers. It’s all very difficult to talk about. These notions are some of the lines along which I think when I am making but of course every spectator bring their own baggage of references and inferences with them so how works are interpreted by others can never be the dictat of the maker. I like to think of what I make as precious. I don’t know if that’s right. I don’t think there is any right or wrong when it comes to art.

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Detail of Pompom

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Not really other than to say that I know that artists talking about their art can sound pompous remote and detached from real life. And at times, I like everyone else I guess, get frustrated by artists pontificating about art. I think there is no right art and no wrong art only art that is authentic. What makes art authentic? Yes, the way it’s made, yes, the intentions of the artist, yes, the materials all these things but the question is, as it is of good poetry, did this art work need to be made? Did this poem need to be written? Or is it product of vanity and cleverness? The artwork, I feel, should transcend the personality of the artist. If it’s simply about cleverness of words, sleight of hand, clever modelling it is never enough. It can be entertaining but entertainment alone is not the real deal. There should be that other component, factor x, whatever that is, that makes an artwork more than the sum total of its parts. That factor is felt rather than learned or taught….at least that is what I think.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions, Tim.

 

Tackling Rural and Island Fuel Poverty

Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson writes:

!A new group has been established to find ways of making it easier and more affordable for people in rural and island Scotland to heat their homes. The new Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force, which had its inaugural meeting on 20 August, will explore the issues facing people in fuel poverty and prepare a report on its findings over the next year.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess made the announcement in Orkney where she met the council to discuss the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes (HEEPS: ABS). Mrs Burgess said:

“People in rural and island communities often struggle to heat their homes because their properties tend to be more exposed to wind and weather and are more expensive to heat as the majority are not connected to mains gas supplies. It is unacceptable for people to face these fuel poverty challenges just because of where they live.

“Our new Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force will identify solutions specifically tailored to help people in rural and island communities reduce their fuel costs and keep their homes warm.

“We are committed to making sure everyone has access to an affordable warm home, and are investing heavily in energy efficiency schemes. Our £65 million for HEEPS: ABS is directed to those most in need of assistance.

“People will benefit from energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation while the Home Energy Scotland hotline continues to offer free and impartial advice on how people can reduce their energy costs. By ensuring that islanders and people in more rural parts of Scotland have the same opportunities to make their homes warmer, cheaper and easier to heat we are taking a further step in tackling inequalities.”

The new group chair is Di Alexander, former Rural and Islands Housing Associations Forum chair who will build on the SNP Government's on-going work. Ms Alexander added:

“Affordable warmth is a problem for too many rural and island households, especially in doubly disadvantaged off-gas areas. The job of the Task Force is to develop practical, deliverable solutions and I'm delighted we have so much problem-solving experience to draw upon.”

Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson goes on to say:

“As with so many island communities tackling fuel poverty on Arran is crucial as we will soon head into another winter.

“We must avoid one-size-fits-all solutions and I’m delighted that the SNP Government has demonstrated its willingness to build flexibility into the HEEPS: ABS scheme so that it better meets the specific needs of Arran and its communities.”

More information on energy efficiency is available at Home Energy Scotland website or by calling the free telephone number 0808 808 2282.

 

A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work

Patricia Gibson MP for North Ayrshire & Arran writes:

In my last contribution to Voice for Arran, I made clear my views on the Chancellor’s introduction of his so-called ‘living wage’.

!The move was clearly a political sleight-of-hand and allowed George Osborne to claim he was on the side of low paid workers, whilst in fact punishing them through his assault on Tax Credits and a host of other working age benefits. Also galling was the fact that the Chancellor set his ‘living wage’ 65p lower than the actual Living Wage was his hi-jacking of the terminology.

The notion of ‘a fair days pay for a fair day’s work’ is not alien to any of us. We tip waiters and taxi drivers because we recognise good service and like to give a little extra in recognition. We expect to live in a society where people are rewarded for doing something well and we, rightly, demand that we are reasonably remunerated for tendering our services to an employer.

Sadly, a minority of employers who can afford to remunerate their employees more pay them only the legal minimum. This is short sighted and not good business sense. Whilst some will argue that high wages drives job creators away and reduces profit and productivity, this could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the business case for higher wages has been made many times.

Raising wages reduces costly employee turnover and increases productivity, due to increased staff morale, eliminating any fall in competitiveness that would otherwise transpire. Importantly, extra money in the pockets of workers means more money to purchase the goods and services employers are selling.

In order to make this case and to encourage employers to reap the rewards of fair pay, the SNP government launched the Scottish Business Pledge. Launched in May, the Pledge is a partnership between Government and business which works to boost productivity, enshrine fairness and generate inclusive growth across the private sector and beyond.

Pledge companies commit to paying their staff the Living Wage – the hourly rate of pay which is set independently by the Living Wage Foundation (£7.85) – as well as a further eight elements, ranging from prompt payment to senior management diversity.

I am pleased to say that 700 businesses as well as the SNP Government have signed up to the pledge and I am confident a great many more will do so in the near future. Arran businesses can sign up at: www.scottishbusinesspledge.scot/

George Osborne’s hi-jacking of a Living Wage which has genuine meaning is reckless and unhelpful. However, the decision by the SNP Government to promote employment fairness and to make the hard-headed business case for higher wages should be welcomed in helping to deliver a fairer and more equal Scotland.

 

The Holy Isle Project Welcomes Garden Volunteers from Arran for 2015/2016

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The gardens on Holy Isle are an inspiration for many of us on Arran, and there is now an opportunity to help maintain and develop them further. The Holy Isle team writes this for the Voice:

The biodynamic/organic kitchen garden on Holy Isle has grown, and we are looking for

We hope that this will lead to longer term volunteering with the Holy Isle Project as part of the garden team.

Our gardens provide organic food for our community and the Centre for World Peace and Health at the North End of Holy Isle, all year around. We grow vegetables, herbs and fruits as well as provide a garden for wildlife and a peaceful space for our guests. We would welcome volunteers from Arran to join our project for short or longer periods and would hope to facilitate opportunities to suit different needs.

To apply, please email: volunteering@holyisle.org. For more info please visit: www.holyisle.org

 

Corrie Film Club

The next film at Corrie and Sannox Village Hall on Sunday September 12th at 8pm will be Ilo Ilo, held over from last month.

!Set in Singapore during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Ilo Ilo chronicles the day-to-day drama of the Lim family - troublesome grade-schooler Jiale and his overstressed parents, Heck and Leng. Comfortably middleclass and with another baby on the way, they hire Teresa, a Filipino immigrant, as a live-in maid and nanny. An outsider in both the family and Singapore itself, Teresa initially struggles to manage Jiale’s antics and find her footing in her new community. The two eventually form a unique bond, but just as Teresa becomes an unspoken part of the family, unforeseen circumstances in an uncertain economy will challenge the new normal yet again.

According to film site Rotten Tomatoes, Ilo Ilo is quietly compassionate and rich in detail, and a strikingly mature debut from writer-director Anthony Chen.

Do come along to Corrie and Sannox Village Hall on Sunday September 12th at 8pm to see it – all are welcome.

 

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill

The Voice is following the Scottish Parliament’s work on land reform, and is concerned to see that proposals made in the December 2014 Consultation are being watered down. This report is from Land Matters, the blog and website of Andy Wightman.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill was published by the Scottish Parliament on 22 June 2014. The Rural Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Committee issued a call for evidence on the general principles of the Bill at its Stage 1 scrutiny in Parliament. The call for evidence closed on Friday 14 August 2015.

!The Bill forms part of a much wider programme of land reform. Other ongoing work by government includes reform to succession law, council tax, private rented housing, land registration and compulsory purchase law. The Bill should thus be seen as part of a wider programme and not the sum total of land reform measures. It should also be stressed that, as the first two parts of the Bill make clear, land reform is a process that will necessarily not be concluded by the end of this Parliament. Indeed it will probably take a generation before Scotland’s land governance is set on anything like a modern footing.

The Bill itself contains some welcome measures. The most worrying aspect of the Bill as it stands is the abandonment of proposals made in the December 2014 Consultation to bar companies in offshore tax havens from holding title to land and property in Scotland. This would have been a progressive move and one in which Scotland could have been taking the lead in a UK context. Instead, the Bill proposes a meaningless right to request information.

Last month, Private Eye revealed that over 750,000 acres of land in Scotland – an area larger than Ayrshire – was held in tax havens. It applauded Nicola Sturgeon for taking a lead in tackling the problem. Their enthusiasm was premature.

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to publish details of offshore corporate ownership in the English and Welsh Land Registry and pressure from NGOs like Transparency International to clamp down on the use of offshore shell companies is proving effective in Westminster. The Scottish Government, however, now finds itself being outflanked by the Tories in efforts to crack down on secrecy and tax evasion. The Scottish Parliament has an important role in scrutinising exactly why this has happened.

Other parts of the Bill are broadly welcome though important matters remain to be debated further as the Bill proceeds through Parliament.

 

Kirsty in India

Kirsty Crawford, daughter of Fiona Henderson (Crawford) and the late Robin Crawford, has been appointed by the British Council to work with the library service in New Dehli. She is keeping a blog and with her permission we will be printing some of her entries.

July 5th

Sorry it’s taken so long to show you my new home. I’ve barely been in it to be fair – not a week goes by when I’m not off to Chandigarh, or Chennai, and all cities in between. But I’m getting settled in now, and getting rather used to the services of Sarah – part time cook, housekeeper, shopper, laundress, ironing lady, and plant waterer.

But this is it. C- 188 Defence Colony is my new address. You can barely see my first floor windows for the trees, which means I have a nice green view, and no-one can peek in while I’m sitting here in my jammies writing this!

The back of my apartment looks onto some tennis courts too, so it’s particularly private in a city where that’s hard to come by. And I have a lovely little roof terrace – which I may get to use sometime in November when it cools down a bit.

Def Col, as it’s known, is a leafy suburb in South Delhi. Home to many retired servicemen, as well as diplomats and expats, it caters for all tastes in the market, which is just round the corner from my street.

There are many restaurants where you can eat just about every cuisine from simple South Indian fare to expensive Italian. There’s lots of bars too, and shops selling everything you could wish for – apart from haggis and pickled beetroot…

Transport options abound in Def Col. This little line of bicycle rickshaws under the trees will take you home from the metro for 40p. They’re a bit bone rattly to be honest, and all the drivers call you sir, whether you’re male or female, but very handy when your laptop is weighing you down at the end of the day.

There’s also loads of autos (auto rickshaws). I’m not sure why they’re called that here, when everywhere else in Asia it’s a tuktuk – but they’re generally cheaper and more comfortable than the bikes.

There are 2 taxi ranks in the colony, and I have the phone number of one of the drivers. If he can’t make it he’ll send one of his pals – which is great when you’re late on a Monday morning, but these taxis don’t have air con, so you still arrive hot, sweaty and coughing from the exhaust fumes. You could leave the windows shut of course, but I fear that would be unbearable. Even sitting at traffic lights for 90 seconds is make-up melting.

But enough of Delhi. I’m off to Hyderabad and Bangalore from tomorrow, where it will be air-conditioned cabs and nice hotels all the way!

 

South Arran MPA update …

By Andrew Binnie, COAST Executive Director.

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As most people on Arran will already be aware the South Arran Marine Protected Area was designated in July 2014 following COAST’s MPA proposal submitted in May 2012. The proposal took many months to prepare and had support from SNH and Marine Scotland, as well as many other organisations and individuals. However, most importantly, the MPA is very unlikely to have been proposed or designated had it not been for the enthusiasm and dedication of the people of Arran. The South Arran Marine Protected Area is a truly community-lead project, for which we should all be justifiably proud.

There is still much to be done. Since designation we have been campaigning hard, with the continued support of many people here and further afield to ensure that effective management is put in place for the Arran MPA and Scottish MPA network. The Scottish Government’s recently published Marine Conservation Order, which will bring in legally binding management for the whole of the South Arran MPA, while not perfect, is an improvement on previous proposals and will prohibit scallop dredging within the entire MPA. It will still allow trawling in three outer areas of the MPA, however, something COAST is opposed to. COAST has made representations to the Scottish Government giving our support for the measures in so far as they go, but stressing we will continue to campaign for a complete exclusion of all bottom active gear within the MPA. Creeling (except for in four defined areas of maerl and seagrass), sea angling and scallop diving will all continue within the MPA outside the No Take Zone, as will yachting, kayaking and other marine leisure activities. COAST believes the MPA has the potential to deliver real environmental benefits, as well as social and economic benefits to Arran and the wider Clyde.

The battle is not yet won. Richard Lochhead the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment is currently under a lot of pressure from some members of the mobile fishing sector to water down his proposals. Some very emotive and misleading language is being used to scaremonger communities. The proposals are actually pretty modest and will impact less than 2% of mobile and dredger gross income (assuming they do make this up by simply fishing elsewhere, which of course they can and will do). In fact, Scotland’s MPAs will only go a little way towards recovering our badly damaged inshore fish spawning grounds and sea bed nurseries which are so vital to fish stocks. It is important, then, that we support the broad sweep of the measures and make sure our elected representatives know we are holding them to account. Please write to your MSPs and our MP. The south Arran MPA and wider MPA network is an opportunity that we need to grasp and cherish. Like the existing No Take Zone it has the power to show things can be done differently and in ways that benefit all stakeholders and future generations.

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!… and news about the COAST team

Andrew Telford is leaving Arran and COAST to go travelling at the end of the month. He is heading for the Far East, across land! Andrew has done a fantastic job over the last two years delivering COAST’s schools outreach programme, summer events, in-house IT, accounting and general admin functions. It has been a very busy couple of years during which COAST marked 5 years of the No Take Zone in 2013 and the designation of the South Arran Marine Protected Area in July 2014. Andy has been an enthusiastic and vital member of the COAST team and we would like to wish him eventful but safe travels. We will miss him and look forward to his posts from far flung places.

!On the up side, we are delighted to announce that Manuela de los Rios will be our new Communications and Administration Officer. She started with us this week. Manuela grew up in the UK and Spain and has moved to Arran with her partner and three primary-aged children from sun-baked Cadiz (and, yes, they do know about the unpredictable weather!). She has MScs in coastal zone management and environmental education and has previously worked for CoastNet as their Communications Coordinator and with the University of Cadiz, as a guest lecturer and coastal officer.  She has also set up and run a number of community-based initiatives and will play a crucial role in delivering the potential of the South Arran Marine Protected Area for the community on Arran. COAST would like to thank everyone who has suggested or offered accommodation options to Manuela and her family as well as everyone who has helped to get her three children enrolled at school at very short notice.

We are also very pleased to announce that Sheridan Waldon will be providing bookkeeping services to COAST. Sheridan has previously worked for Arran Homes and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and will be a real asset to the extended COAST team.

Finally, Jenny Stark will be with us from mid-October until Christmas as a short term volunteer. Jenny is just completing an MSc at York University and has been conducting baseline Seasearch dive surveys with COAST’s Chair Howard Wood this summer.

 

Prawn wars and scallop spats

The website Save Scottish Seas recently reviewed the fishing situation in our inshore waters. This is what they found.

Something important is happening. For the first time in years, we are having an increasingly open debate about how we fish our inshore waters. These issues are usually confined to the clipped minutes of a regional fisheries meeting, quayside chat between skippers, or the dry consultation correspondence on proposed technical regulations. Over the years there has been very little media coverage of one of the most significant ongoing problems: how do we best manage our inshore waters, which have suffered from decades of lack of management, resulting in declining species and habitats and which are now experiencing intensive fishing competition.

!But recently, a programme aired on prime time TV – a documentary called ‘Prawn Wars’ as part of BBC Scotland’s Landward series. It was followed by a live debate on Scotland 2015, BBC Scotland’s flagship current affairs slot.

It was a watershed moment. It focussed on the very real and pressing issues which face fishermen: where to shoot their gear, whether to invest in new more powerful boats, views on historical catch levels; overlapping fishing grounds; declining stocks and how the different sectors within the industry perceive both the past and the future prospects for fishing.

For newbies to the debate, the programme explained that inshore fishing in Scotland (the area out to 12 nautical miles) is now mainly about catching two species: prawns and scallops. And we use different methods to do this: dredging (for scallops), bottom-trawling (for prawns), creeling (for prawns and crabs and other crustaceans), and diving (mainly for the growing premium hand-dived scallop market). Creeling is by far the most common method – over 70% of all inshore fishermen in Scotland are creel fishermen.

These methods are in competition where they overlap and yet in the absence of clear spatial regulation, fishermen are to an extent left to sort it out for themselves.

From an environmental perspective the programme was a bit light on the detailed ecological impacts our inshore area has experienced in recent decades, but the varying effects of the different catch methods was sensitively explored. One interviewee offered a pretty mournful reminder of the former plenitude of the inshore area – when prawns (our now beloved langoustines) were the size of lobsters and there was a vibrant, mixed fishery, which employed significantly more boats than currently operate on the West coast.

Despite the title (‘Prawn Wars’) there was no actual fighting in the storyline, but it did allude to an emerging ‘regulatory’ battleground. During the programme, a creel fishermen, described the case for the re-instatement of a ban on ‘bottom-towed mobile’ fishing within three nautical miles of the shore. This regulation known as the three mile limit was, as the programme stated, repealed during the years in 1984. This allowed trawlers to start fishing closer up to the shore. There is significant and ongoing debate about the effect of this on other fishing sectors and on Scotland’s sensitive marine species, habitats and ecosystems.

Our campaign’s members, like most people, are not keen on public spats, but we are interested in spat, specifically scallop spat, which is one of the key stages in the life cycle of a Pectus maximus. Scallop spat is the larvae of one of Scotland’s finest fruits of the seas – the King scallop. Individual scallops can live up to around 20 years of age and spawn at least once during the summer months, when each juvenile and mature scallop can generally produce several million ‘ooecytes’. This cloud of scallop ‘spat’ can drift as far as 10km before settling on the seabed. The success of this spawning process requires the right ‘habitat’: areas of the seabed with the biogenic complexity that provide as much three-dimensional structure as possible for scallop spat to stick to and mature, undisturbed, from a tiny scallop into the creature whose larger shells we often see washed up on the shore. A healthy seabed habitat is therefore a crucial part of the scallop life-history.

We think it is essential that fisheries management of the inshore starts to more fully integrate ecosystem-thinking by protecting – and recovering – the kind of habitats upon which a healthy scallop fishery depends. The inshore MPAs – whilst not designed for managing fish stocks – may help in this regard. But management in MPAs will likely affect only 10% of Scotland’s inshore waters. There are many areas outwith MPAs where protection for nursery habitats could be considered. In short MPAs are just one part of this broader debate.

The recent review of the King scallop fishery was a small step forward, but the wider debate around the management of the inshore highlighted in Landward indicates that a broader debate around spatial management of the inshore is now emerging.

 

!Agriculture and Young Farmers

by Jenny Baillie

I’ve taken on the role of Development Manager for SAYFC (Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs) and recently attended an NFU Scotland Stockjudging, Tup Viewing and Family BBQ on Arran.

The event was on Saturday 22nd August at Springfield Farm by kind permission of the McAllister family and saw a great turn out of young and old! The proceeds from the day have been donated to support the set up of an Arran Young Farmers Club.

The keen individuals hoping to set up a club very shortly are meeting Friday 28th August to discuss plans.

Please visit www.sayfc.org to find out more about our association or if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me at jenny@sayfc.org or on 07760401855 (National Office number 0131 333 2445).

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Book Review

Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram (Pantheon Books, 2010). This is a deeply impressive and powerful book, but also a difficult one to describe. The Voice can do no better than quote Rex Weyler of Greenpeace, wrote this about Becoming Animal:

Ecologists today must ask a difficult question: Are we succeeding? Is the human enterprise changing quickly enough? We glimpse forests ticking away, deserts growing, and temperature rising. We know a great deal of numbers. But we also feel the impact in our gut as we witness another great tree fall or another species blink out of existence.

Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, launching the modern environmental movement, almost 50 years ago. Today, the world has many more ecologists, environmental groups, lobbyists, green trade shows and ‘earth-friendly’’ products. We have more Environment Ministers, laws and university courses. However, are we more sustainable today than we were in 1962? No, we are less sustainable. After 20 years of the Kyoto climate protocol process – science, politics, meetings and agreements – do we have less global warming? No, we have more global warming. Why? What else must we do?

!Ecologist David Abram helps examine these questions in one of the most compelling and important ecology books in decades: Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. Through encounters with wild creatures and terrains, Abram reminds us that we do not stand outside nature as independent observers, but rather fully within, embedded in a dynamic, living world. We exist only in relationship to this world. Our species, however technologically complex, co-evolved with every living thing around us. These may appear as philosophical ideas, but they are not trivial ones. These ideas prove critical to the actions we take and the success we achieve.

In Becoming Animal, Abram takes us deeper into our ‘embeddedness’ with the wild, evolving world. He suggests we will not develop those ‘true’ relationships with nature through political strategy, policy initiatives, or technological breakthroughs until we first ’apprentice’ ourselves to nature. He encourages us to spend less time in front of our computer screens talking about nature and more time being in a dialogue with nature.

Abram examines our ideas through our actions and, specifically, our encounters with the landscape and the creatures with whom we share those landscapes. His insights spring from a naturalist’s experience in the wild, through encounters with moose, spiders, forests, shamans and even the contours of his own home.

There are several important lessons here. First of all, we cannot observe nature without disturbing it. We need to understand this deeply. All of our technical ‘solutions’ to ecological challenges include further disturbances to the natural world. Most human ‘problems’ are artefacts of previous ‘solutions’.

Secondly, that world occasionally resists, fights back or seeks its own balance. We’re not in control of nature, as Rachel Carson reminded us. Nature has its own rules and rhythms. There is no ‘End of Nature’ no matter what we do. Nature is far more resilient in its diversity and native intelligence than humanity and our technologies.

Finally, this is a story about language and communication. Humans often presume that we are the only animal with ‘language’, but Abram points out that language is simply the power to convey information. Birds call a companion, beg for food, announce territory, threaten aggression and sound alarms, all with nuances of their voice. Ravens, whales and wolves have language and use it. But Abram takes this further. “Everything speaks,” he observes.

Once we remind ourselves that we are in a constant interchange with the beings and processes of our world, our actions take on a new quality. Abram invites us to feel this reciprocity with nature by paying attention to our senses more than our intellects, by spending time within the miracle of nature and paying attention.

!Cultures who live in reciprocity with nature understand intelligence is a quality of the whole living world. Even our science tells us that nothing exists independently in nature. There are no ‘things’ alone unto themselves in nature, only relationships. Every breath we take could remind us of this fact.

This book sets out to remind us that we exist inside a living matrix of intelligence. This is not purely philosophical. Many indigenous people know this instinctively. The small farmer and attentive gardener know this. Ecologists should know. Sentience is an ongoing encounter between our body and the larger body of the world. Our purely human dreams and technologies can only impose their patterns within the constraints of the living biosphere.

As I read Becoming Animal, I felt a great sense of relief that someone with experience and intelligence was able to articulate this message with such graceful storytelling.

 

Scotland Sings

No experience necessary! Singing workshop seeks enthusiastic singers!

Singers of all ages are invited to take part in a one-day singing workshop taking place in Ardrossan this September. Katy Cooper, a Glasgow-based conductor and singer, leads the day at the Civic Centre on Saturday 19th September.

It’s all part of Scotland Sings’ aim to get everyone singing, whether you’re used to weekly choir rehearsals, haven’t sung for years or just enjoy singing in the shower! The workshop comes after the success of the one Katy led at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in January this year, which was attended by singers from all over Ayrshire.

Katy said, “There will be a warm welcome for everyone - you don’t have to be able to read music or have attended in January. We’ll be singing simple songs that we can all learn together on the day and all you need is energy and enthusiasm.”

The cost for the day is £12.50 per person with a free place when you make a group booking for ten people. The workshop has been organised with ferry times in mind so that singers from Arran can join in.

More information and booking details can be found here: www.sing.scot

 

Poem of the month

Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.

Flying Over Arran

Fields I got lost in.
I retched on the raw smells beneath
imperfect grain, dreamt
of cornflowers filling the sky.

In dreams I’ve commuted there,
always on time, shaking
off travellers’ jinxes,
opening doors, turning corners -
as if a sun-warmed stone
had kept warm for forty years.

Passing where I was born
four decades later and
thirty thousand feet higher,
New World sweat in my pores,
was not what I expected.
Pale micro-fields in a haze:
I take a picture down through space.
Only an outline shows.
Something light-years away,
a blow-up, cupped in my hand.

Robin Fulton Macpherson

Robin Fulton (he only added the name Macpherson later in life) was born on Arran in 1937 and attended primary school here before moving to the mainland, finishing his education in Sutherland. He began to publish poetry in the 1960s and established a reputation as a translator of Nordic languages. He has spent much of his life in Norway where he was a lecturer at Stavanger University until 2006. This poem is taken from ‘A Northern Habitat: Collected Poems 1960-2010’ published by Marick Press.

 

Bridge Challenge

South to make Four Hearts. West leads the ♥10.

 
 

Scottish Salmon Company plans expansion in the Clyde

by Sally Campbell

Last month my husband John and I attended a Community Council meeting in Bute where the Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) were to make a presentation on their desire to open two salmon fish farms around Bute, and with the strategy to progress more aquaculture developments in the Clyde. Over 50 residents on the island attended and posed direct questions to the SSC contingent. In 2006-9 the same island had fought a farm at Inchmarnock, a small island off the west coast of Bute, and won. One of the proposed new SSC sites could not be pursued as a BT line goes across the seabed in that area, but the company has every intention of finding two potential sites in the near future, much against the island’s wishes. Arran beware!

The push by SSC for increased production can also be seen at Lamlash, St Molios salmon farm where a certificate of lawfulness was issued on Tuesday 16 June 2015, for the siting of fourteen 80m-circumference cages and a 220 tonne-feedbarge in association with the existing use of the site as a fish farm.

!
© Scottish Salmon Company

Figures show a sea lice explosion in SSC Loch Fyne fish farms during this spring. The latest Scottish fish farm industry figures show the average sea-lice numbers on the ten fish farms operated by SSC in Loch Fyne rose to nearly 23 times the industry thresholds for adult female sea-lice parasites at the worse possible time for the migrating wild salmon and sea-trout smolts. This occurred despite the company using a total of 86 treatments at its sites in the 9 months to March 2015, including 5 co-ordinated treatments (where all farms were treated in one go), which must call into question whether these treatments can or should be relied upon. These high numbers of lice will have meant that wild salmon and sea trout will have faced a huge risk of lice infestation, disease and death from the millions of mobile young lice produced in these farms. One has to ask, where is the Scottish government in limiting the proliferation of farms, their output and their husbandry? Where is SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency), supposedly the policing agency? In Norway such massive sea-lice infestation would result in culling of the farmed salmon to protect wild salmon and sea-trout stocks. This is not a company that has earned respect as regards its husbandry regardless of what you think about salmon aquaculture.

 

Carradale: Marine Harvest Salmon Fish Farm Escapes

More than 16,000 Atlantic salmon escaped through a hole in a net overnight on 2 June at Marine Harvest’s Carradale fish farm. The damage to the net is believed to have been caused by a storm. The business support manager at Marine Harvest in a typical understatement said: “It’s a substantial loss, no doubt about it. Around 16,000 fish escaped each weighing around 10lbs. (4.5kg). These were worth over £240,000”. On the opposite side of Kilbrannan Sound, just 5 km (3miles) away is Arran’s west coast, with traditional salmon and trout rivers. This farm lies nearly opposite Dougarie Point.

Marine Harvest said the fish, which were not sexually mature, pose little threat to local salmon populations. Mr Bracken added: “Immature fish would tend to go out to sea. It’s unlikely they would head upstream to breed.” But it has to be asked, what happens if these farmed fish return to Kilbrannan Sound’s local rivers when they are mature? Interbreeding between wild and farmed salmon is becoming a problem. With increasing storms due to climate change and storm surges, the salmon farming industry should be looking at the very least to better, double netting.

!The escape from Eilean Grianain at Carradale is believed to be the largest from a Scottish salmon farm since 2009, when 59,000 fish escaped from a farm at Strone Point on the west coast of Loch Striven in Argyll operated by Lighthouse Caledonia, now part of the Scottish Salmon Company. Another recent salmon escape occurred in November 2014; operated by the Scottish Salmon Company, 2090 salmon escaped from Quarry Point fish farm situated at Crarae on Loch Fyne. Incidentally, Ireland’s largest single salmon farm escape in history was 230,000 salmon missing after storms significantly damaged a salmon farm in Bantry Bay, on 1 February 2014. Adding together these losses, it is clear animal husbandry and indeed the containment equipment employed is inadequate to cope with climatic conditions and storm surges.

Escapes are a serious problem as farmed salmon differ genetically to wild populations. In the wild, salmon are loyal to a particular river returning each year to spawn. Every river’s salmon population has adapted over thousands of years. If these escaped farmed salmon cross breed with wild populations they pose a significant threat to their gene pool. Farmed fish are designed to be aggressive feeders that grow fast. But, they are not used to dealing with predators, and do not have carefully attuned strategies for growth, maturity, timing of migration and resistance to disease that relate to their local environment. Scottish Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) believe the fish from Carradale are mature, therefore they will migrate into important salmon rivers in the Firth of Clyde, genetically diluting wild stocks. “There is a real danger that these fish may survive in sufficient numbers to breed with wild salmon in this area, leading to the genetic dilution of the wild fish population with farmed fish, which are largely descended from Norwegian and not Scottish fish. This is very bad news for the long term survival of western Scotland’s wild salmon,” said Guy Linley-Adams, solicitor to the S&TA.

A research study, published by Professor Gage of the University of East Anglia, showed escaped farmed salmon are just as fertile as their wild cousins. While previously it was thought they may be less successful in reproducing in the wild, opinion is now changing. Professor Gage noted in the New Scientist in March 2014 that there is “ample evidence that escaped farmed salmon can survive at sea and get into spawning rivers. In some Norwegian rivers, large numbers of farmed fish have been recorded – accounting for as much as half of the salmon population in these environments. There is also evidence that farmed fish have successfully mated with wild populations: the genetic signatures of salmon in some Norwegian rivers now exhibit significant changes that are entirely consistent with wild/farmed hybridization”.

Scottish Ministers said in 2011 that they wanted to increase production of farmed Atlantic salmon by 50% by 2020 – that is about 70,000 tonnes extra capacity.  If average farm size is just above 1,000 tonnes then that could be 70 new salmon farms! What a depressing thought if nothing is done to massively reduce the risk of escape.

 

An update on Saveseilsound

by Ewan Kennedy
August 2015

I think it’s a good time to report to Saveseilsound contributors on where we are now at with industrial salmon installations in our part of mid-Argyll, as there seem to be no current applications and those recently approved have now been installed. It’s hard to believe that it’s over four years since we established the campaign group.

As most of us know, the Ardmaddy relocation was granted in May 2013 by the committee of Argyll & Bute Council voting unanimously and disregarding over 800 individual objections as well as reservations from the local MSP and the guardians of our heritage and archaeology.

Subsequently the archaeologists at RCAHMS became aware that the site contained a Viking boat naust, but they didn’t know about this in time as the Council had decided not to commission a full Environmental Statement, which would have triggered a survey.

Then the Council approved the expansion of Pol na Gille, despite numerous objections and evidence of horrendous seabed pollution. I was present on the dive boat when the seabed video was taken and have not eaten farmed salmon since. See here:

Finally last year the Council approved the new installation at the South-west end of Shuna. There was no hearing because an insufficient number of objections were received, which was perhaps understandable after the total failure of the democratic input at Ardmaddy.  Further, having granted the application an official allowed the orientation of the cages to be changed so as to project further across the Sound than was originally planned.

The cumulative effect of these consents is that we now have seven operational fin-fish sites (and some shell-fish ones as well) in the stretch of water comprising lochs Melfort and Shuna, Seil Sound and Shuna Sound, contrary to the official policy of discouraging expansion in inshore sea lochs and voes. At full capacity this could mean there are about over one million mature fish eating an unnatural diet and producing enormous quantities not just of waste food and faeces but also zinc and other additives, medicines and pesticides. If the operators start introducing wrasse that will be another factor in an already overloaded environment.

We have engaged with SEPA, whose function is to grant a licence to pollute under the CAR regulations. On one occasion we requested the Minister to call in their decision, without success. In preparing our submissions we have drawn on our members with knowledge of hydrology and marine biology as well as local knowledge of tidal flows. It is disappointing that SEPA have at no stage engaged with us, or given us any indication that they have even read what we have submitted.

We have taken part in a number of government consultations and engaged with the RACCE committee when they were considering the recent Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill. Block voting by the SNP members ensured that all reservations expressed to the committee were over-ruled and the legislation is accordingly very industry-friendly.

It’s plain that in our main aims of trying to stop the damage to the local ecology and protect the micro economy around Seil and Luing we have been entirely unsuccessful. Engagement with Argyll & Bute Council, SEPA, Marine Scotland and Scottish Government has proved totally pointless and has only shown how impotent local communities are when faced with the power of big business. It is likely that we will not require to engage with these bodies again anyway, because the stretch of water comprising Seil/Shuna/Melfort is probably so over-developed that it may be unlikely that further applications will be made. It’s certainly difficult to envisage where any further installations could be placed.

So, where do we go from here? Just possibly, to Europe.

The existing developments probably contravene the European EIA Directive, which requires those doing environmental assessments to consider the cumulative effects of all operations in an area, not just fish farms. Astonishingly there has never been one in Seil/Shuna/Melfort. Sometimes assessments have not been called for and in other cases they have been sorely defective.

It is likely that there is also a contravention of the Habitats Directive, as arguably the pollution from Seil/Shuna/Melfort impacts on the nearby Firth of Lorne conservation area.

The Waste Disposal Directive is also engaged. In the Spring of 2012 we submitted a complaint to the European Commission regarding the failure by the authorities to monitor the disposal of the carcases of over 80,000 mature salmon which perished a few months earlier at Ardmaddy in a failed biological experiment of some sort. The complaint is ongoing  but it looks as if we little people aren’t entitled to be told what’s happening, ironic because Port na Morachd means literally the port of the big people. The latest update as at 24 June 2015 reads:

“Extensive correspondence has taken place between the Commission services and the UK authorities in the context of the EU Pilot investigation which was triggered by your complaint. I can inform you that the UK authorities have in this context presented an action plan which includes an envisaged amendment to the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and improvements to the official control activities, in particular in relation to contingency planning for large scale fish mortality disposal. In order to maintain the necessary trust-based cooperation between the Member State and the Commission during the pending EU Pilot investigation, further details of the action plan submitted by the UK authorities cannot be explained at this stage. However, the timeline provided by the UK authorities shows, inter alia, that the legislative amendment is envisaged to enter into force by the end of year 2015. The Commission services are closely following up with the commitments of the UK authorities in this context.”

 

GLOW Charity Fun run comes to Ayrshire for a second year

!Sight loss charity RNIB Scotland is asking people to join them in painting Ayrshire neon for a second time. It is holding a GLOW Neon Fun Run again at Ayr's Dam Park Stadium on Saturday, October 17, following a fantastic turn out at last year’s event. Hundreds of people ran, walked or danced their way around the three kilometre track dressed in neon and sprayed with GLOW paint to raise funds for the RNIB Ayrshire Vision Appeal. Elma Magowan, the charity’s local fundraiser, said “We are bringing this exciting event back to Ayrshire, encouraged by the overwhelming support we received last year from local people. There are around 5,000 people in Ayrshire and Arran living with sight loss. By taking part, all the runners, walkers and dancers will help us support people with sight loss at the time they need us most. Our appeal will fund vision support officers based at Crosshouse and Ayr Hospitals who can give people newly diagnosed with sight loss the emotional as well as practical support they need to find their lives again.” This year’s event aims to be bigger and brighter and is fully accessible. The charity will provide guides for anyone taking part who is blind or partially sighted. Further details and tickets are available at www.rnib.org.uk/glow.

 

McLellan Arts Festival latest news

This year's programme for the McLellan Arts Festival is better than ever!

Already we have had a successful Arran Open Studios weekend, a terrific evening with award winning, renowned and entertaining poet, Simon Armitage, a rip roaring Ceilidh with the Taiko Drummers, Ruari Gordon and the Jazz Cafe Band in Corrie Hall, an informal evening of music and poetry in Brodick Bar and an hour of wonderful sacred music in Corrie Church with the students from the Royal Northern College of Music.

But there is much to delight still to come. For the first time the McLellan Arts Festival will join forces with the Saltire Society in Altachorvie, Lamlash with writer, Alan Riach and painter, Alexander Moffat who will present an interesting and entertaining evening about Scottish painting on Tuesday 1st September.

A further first takes place on Wednesday 2nd September. In collaboration with the Arran Music Society, an exciting dance company called Indepen – Dance will perform with a live cellist in the Community Theatre in Lamlash.

On Thursday 3rd September in Whiting Bay Hall another exciting event in partnership with Arran Events – Weaving Musical Threads, a stirring, funny and moving drama with music about the Paisley Mill girls during the Second World War. Not to be missed.

On Friday evening, 4th September we will welcome back the talented students of the Arran Summer School who will give us a splendid Opera Gala – guaranteed to be a night of music to remember.

A departure this year is a unique event in Corrie Hall on Saturday 5th September where artist Jim Hardie will show and interact with 5 of his films all connected to flight. Sounds fascinating!

The final event of the festival will be a performance on Sunday 6th September of Hadyn's Nelson Mass with the students of the Arran Summer School as soloists and our own McLellan Festival Chorus.

In addition, workshops for adults will take place in Lamlash Fire Station at 2.00pm on Tuesday 1st (all instruments focussing on improvisation) and Thursday 3rd (Strings). Enquiries to Diana Hamilton 601322).

All this adds up to a really interesting festival.

arrantheatreandarts.org

 

Print CrosswordCrossword

by Dave Payn

!

Across

 1 TV crime drama – ‘dab’? (8,3)

 6 Pit in part of a dingy mausoleum (3)

 8 Cup discovered right inside girl (5)

10 Delegate for bike part? (9)

11 Keyboard key to axe and avoid (6)

12 It’s a dilemma when you have no right to a hairstyle (8)

14 Uncontrolled sheep? Gulp! (7)

17 Ace gets to the top along a hill (7)

18 Adhesive to get smashed on? (7)

19 Support reason for beheading detective (7)

21 An expert on buzzers (8)

22 Actress enters right, duck (6)

25 Influential musical returns after Met performance is cut short (9)

27 Ship’s officer has hygiene issues in warm weather (5)

28 Article on activity seen in 6? Correct! (3)

29 Fir for earnest pleb, somehow (11)

Down

 1 Fear cartoon rabbit (mostly) and Yogi (7)

 2 Singer in outskirts of Kentucky is a myth (5)

 3 Detect refuse in London area (4)

 4 Commission to burst into anger? (9)

 5 Ruin poem for a buck (3)

 6 Hero’s fat gnome removed in fantasy series (4,2,6)

 7 Nickname for a girl, it's said (7)

 9 Maniac cop crashed – intended to sound like an attribute (9)

13 Drained, removed article and preserved (5)

16 Flips brick on gate (9)

18 Disturbingly, I loan a soft, self-playing instrument (7)

20 Improve Eliot Ness. Can he fix it? (7)

23 Deny bringing up potato (5)

24 Present, but not quite all there (5)

26 Revised chart using speaker (3)

 

The answers for the August crossword.

Across
1 The Hound of the, 8 Accused, 9 Sauna, 10 Dictatorship, 11 Log out, 13 Temple, 16 Baskervilles, 20 Rotor, 21 Realise, 22 Liechtenstein.

Down
1 Thaw, 2 Etching, 3 Onset, 4 Untidy, 5 Observe, 6 Touch, 7 Example, 11 Liberal, 12 Unearth, 14 Precise, 15 Averse, 17 Satie, 18 Loads, 19 Seen.

 

McLellan Poetry Competition results

This year’s poetry competition again attracted a record number of entries. The prizewinning poets are:

Please click on any line above to read the poem.

 

What’s your experience of connectivity on Arran?

Connect Arran is an informal community group devoted to improving connectivity on Arran for resident and visitor alike.

What is connectivity? It’s your mobile phone signal, your broadband connection... your ability to connect with social media, file your tax return, attract new customers, tweet your photos, allow your kids to research homework, watch iPlayer, plan a holiday, track ferry status, order from Amazon, access online learning (whether you're a firefighter, nurse, vet, Open University student etc.) and, of course, read the Voice!

!Connectivity is already an essential part of everyday life, and we depend on it for everyday tasks. That’s why we want to map out where the problems are, and demonstrate what a lack of connectivity on Arran means for its residents, visitors and businesses.

ConnectArran is planning a summit meeting to be held at Lamlash Outdoor Education Centre on Wednesday 30th September with generous support from SSE.

The aims of this meeting will be to inform, galvanise and enthuse local projects (one in particular) which will aim to meet the connectivity needs of residents, public services, enterprise, tourism and visitors to the island. We've been working hard on forming links with key partners.

The programme has yet to be finalised but will comprise short presentations/workshops and a drop-in format to enable as many of Arran's business community to attend as possible, if only for part of the day.

Further information will be published on our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/ConnectArran.

In the run up to the summit meeting we want to collect your experiences of connectivity on Arran. Please visit the link to take our ConnectArran survey … it should take a maximum of 10 minutes to complete (depending, of course, on how your connection is!).