As a member of the public one attended part of the most recent meeting of CCDC. As a novice one may have missed or misunderstood part of the proceedings, but it was certainly impressive to see about sixteen people were sufficiently interested to attend, whether as mere observers or as part of the Board and its team. Perhaps 15% of the adult population, sadly something of a contrast with the average church attendance but doubtless a sign of the times.
Finances seemed to be in reasonable fettle, but the Board has decided that it is important to actually employ a qualified book-keeper, so that fiduciary control by the relevant director is made more manageable. There was a seriously exciting contribution by the LDOs in regards to re-cycling; they have applied for funding which, if successful, should put our efforts onto a sensible and rewarding plane. On a related subject, good progress is being made as regards “renewables” (i.e. one or more windmills) and a specific individual was appointed to work with the Board and the LDOs in driving this forward.
There has been a long-standing ambition to provide “affordable housing” in Colonsay, which is really just another way of saying “inexpensive sites close to services”. The options appear to be to build upon land that the community already owns (i.e. beside Port Mor) or to obtain land at as low a price as possible elsewhere, from a crofter or from Colonsay Estate. If one understood correctly, there is some sort of minimum number of sites required for such a development, perhaps six or nine close together rather than individual sites dotted all over the island. This being the case, the options are in realistic terms to use the existing community land (in a remote and un-serviced area of outstanding scenic and amenity value) or to purchase land from Colonsay Estate in an identified site close to services and amenities in an area of scenic sensitivity but of no specific or unique characteristics. As we all know, a community consultation authorised CCDC to pursue the second option, but it has stalled. In a nutshell (and one may have misunderstood), CCDC offered a purchase price based upon the District Valuator’s advice (which is the most that they are allowed to offer) but this offer was not acceptable to the vendor. Thus we have a willing purchaser and a willing vendor but a slight mismatch; in Ireland one would engage the services of a “tangler” and it was encouraging to learn that such a person has offered his services here, to whit Mike Russell, Member of the Scottish Parliament (and, one is told, a member of the Scottish National Party). In addition, CCDC will also proceed with an outline planning application in respect of the possible site at Port Mor.
One noticed that representatives were present from Highlands and Islands Development Board, with a view to helping CCDC in certain technical matters. There was a bit more on the agenda, since CCDC look after coal, gas, petrol and diesel supplies, are responsible for the transfer of tenancies in the new crofts and are working on numerous new projects. Unhappily your correspondent found that it was already 9.30pm and his dog was waiting in the car, anxious for a walk as far as the hotel….