Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Community Council

The new Community Council has been up and running for a couple of months now, with Geoffrey Campbell as Chairman and Gayle Cameron as Secretary.

It met last Monday, and covered a wide range of matters which are exercising the minds of local people, including the state of the roads - this is another section of the B8007 which, along with the much more serious section by Ardslignish, is sliding off down the hill. Repairs are now scheduled at Ardslignish and several other local sites.

It also looked at

  • proposals designed to increase the number of people joining our Emergency Responders, who are woefully understaffed
  • the continuing problems with broadband in Kilchoan
  • changes to the timetable of the Kilchoan - Fort William bus
  • the problems arising from the large increase in the number of people and vehicles using the Tobermory ferry following the introduction of RET

....and a number of other matters.

Gayle is now releasing draft minutes as soon as she can, and they will continue to appear regularly on the West Ardnamurchan News. The latest minutes are here.


  1. Mary McLauchlan21 June 2016 at 18:55

    I have read the minutes with interest, may I make a suggestion regarding the ferries and the increase in usage? Could it be suggested that locals get a discount card and that visitors like ourselves pay a higher price. The boat was never designed for coaches!

  2. I have always loved visiting Kilchoan and the surrounding beautiful area. This year I have had an unfortunate experience and I would like to share it with your Community Council. I have always enjoyed camping wild and on the 31st July, only a few days ago, my friend and I visited Sanna Bay with our two daughters (10years and 5year old). We had planned to camp there discreetly, away from any animals, not lighting fires irresponsibly, as we are both responsible adults and would always treat the land respectfully. I am well aware of the Scottish Outdoor Access code and that wild camping in Scotland is permitted on the proviso that you follow the code and act responsibly. We were sensitive to this at Sanna.
    On arrival at Sanna it clearly states there is no parking overnight, so we were going to move our vehicle away from the carpark. We had minimal camping equipment and found a discreet spot, away from animals.
    However shortly after pitching our tent, a young woman arrived with her dog, and a couple of other people who were related to her. She came up to us and told us quite clearly that if we camped here, we would have our tent pegs pulled out overnight and our car wheels clamped! I asked her if she owned and lived on the land, and she said yes she did.
    We had two small children with us, and we both found her manner fairly unfriendly and unnessarily aggressive, as we were unaware of any problem camping on the ground, seeing as we were being sensitive to the environment. She pointed out that the land was Common grazing ground. But even so we were well away from any animals, so I had not seen a problem in camping there. As we had two children with us, we decided that it was not worthwhile causing a fuss, and we would pack up and leave and camp elsewhere.
    We arrived at Farr View Cottage in Kilchoan at 9pm that evening, and the very considerate owner kindly let us camp there, even though it is not officially a camp site, as we were struggling to find a suitable site at that time of night.
    I have to say that this experience at Sanna Bay was very disappointing. It would not encourage me to visit again. I have never in all my years of wild camping in Scotland been given such a clearly unfriendly stand point. I do not think the community of Sanna are doing themselves any favours by acting like this.
    Perhaps I could suggest that if there is a problem with wild camping in the area due to the Common grazing land, then the community designate a small wild camping area, put it aside for campers. There are spots like this in Mull, such as Calgary Bay.
    If you could give me any feed back on this I would be grateful.
    Karen Powell

    1. How dreadfully sad to see that I am not the only visitor who has found Sanna so unfriendly, but for a different reason. I wrote this letter, but cannot find the contact email for the community council and for it to be on the agenda for tonights meeting:
      I have just spent the most wonderful weekend on holiday in west ardnamurchan where we felt very welcome, except in Sanna. Our greeting was a particularly unfriendly orange sign, threatening to shoot my dog, smack bang in the centre of the village green. Not only is that a threat to commit an act that is often carried out illegally but, how do you think that looks and feels to the many visitors to your area whose financial support, I presume, you want to encourage?

      Its great to see animals roaming free and it is totally unacceptable to have dogs running out of control whilst amongst them. I live in rural Perthshire and am a regular hillwalker with my dog. However, as a Clinical Dog Behaviourist and expert in legislation involving dogs, your community should be advised that it is illegal to shoot a dog worrying livestock unless a warning had previously been given to the dog's owner or it could be proven that every effort had been made to try and find the owner and there were no practicable means of finding out to whom it belonged (Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953). Many farmers/crofters are unaware that their often cavalier view to taking a pet dog's life is illegal and the SPCA readily successfully defends the dog owners in court.

      I suggest, therefore, that the aggressive sign I mention misleads local livestock managers into trouble, that the NFU would not be able to defend and is incredibly unfriendly. How about replacing the sign with a couple of small positive, welcoming reminders placed along the paths?

      Many thanks

      Christine Fotheringham

    2. Graham Crerar, on behalf of the Sanna crofters, replies

      "I'm sorry to read that Ms Fotheringham found Sanna to be an unfriendly place. As has been aired in earlier comments, we always aim to strike a balance between ensuring accessibility for all, and meeting the practical needs of those living in this remote and rural environment. Inevitably some of those who visit will perceive it differently to those of us resident here.

      "The sign in question reads 'Dogs worrying sheep may be shot', not 'will be shot'. This is intentional and worded so as not to imply any action beyond that which Ms Fotheringham states is covered in the legislation. The sign is positioned on the common grazings on the most direct route to the beach and while it might appear to be 'smack bang in the middle of the village green' there is, in fact, no village green and it is sited on the part of the grazings where the sheep most often gather.

      "There are two other signs that set out the context of the environment visitors are entering and both of them spell out the need to keep dogs under control at all times. Despite this we frequently have incidents of sheep being chased by visitor's dogs. On three occasions this summer alone sheep were savaged and, on one occasion, horribly killed. Regular visitors to Sanna may have spotted three sheep with one or both ears missing - a peculiar sight, but a sad reminder that not all visitors are as mindful of their responsibilities as Ms Fotheringham is.

      "'Local livestock managers', a category into which the crofters in Sanna most definitely fall, are fully aware of their responsibility to respect the rights of visitors and their dogs, as well as their responsibility to maintain the welfare of their livestock, the condition of which directly affects their livelihood. We would far prefer not to have any such signs in Sanna, but unfortunately it's a small minority of dog owners, not crofters, that are unaware of the consequences of their actions."

  3. Hi Karen. I am deeply saddened to read of your experience at Sanna. As requested, I have passed this to the chairman and secretary of the Community Council. Jon

  4. Graham Crerar, on behalf of the crofting township of Sanna, writes, "I'm very sorry to hear of such an unfriendly episode in Sanna. I have no idea who the young woman with the dog was and her description doesn't match anyone who could claim to 'own and live on the land', but I think I can speak for all of the permanent residents and crofters of Sanna in saying that that her comments were completely out of order. At this time of year there are quite a few summer residents, some of whom may feel more territorial than those of us who see the visitor numbers ebbing and flowing through the seasons, so perhaps she felt she was taking a stand on our behalf.

    "Respecting the often competing demands of those who want to enjoy this wonderful place, now and in the future, is not at all easy. We do ask that people don't camp in the dunes and machair as they are genuinely fragile and really too close to our homes to be described as 'wild camping' (and are the best of the common grazings, which were delightfully clear of sheep on 31 July as they'd mainly been gathered to Achnaha for treating), but we have never moved a camper on after they've pitched - even those that ignore the signs and drive off into the dunes - and have often shown late arrivers to places where they can go for the night. The Outdoor Access Code does require interpretation by both campers and crofters, so we generally take the approach of explaining and offering our reasons, rather than entering into the type of confrontation Ms Powell experienced. Most who've made the effort to come this far west are, like Ms Powell, experienced campers and generally understand the issues we have to try and cope with here.

    "We have discussed the option of designating an area in the past and will certainly look into this again.

    In the meantime, I would like to convey our sincere apologies to Ms Powell for the way she, her friend and family were spoken to and would reassure her that those were not views held by those of us who permanently live and work in Sanna."

    1. Thank you Jon for your response to my message. I very much appreciate the time you have taken to answer me and for your apology.
      I love your area and can assure you if/whenever I visit again, that I would always wish to respect the beautifultimate land you have there.
      I look forward to hearing if it is possible to designate an area of ground for wild camping in this sensitive environment.
      Kind regards
      Karen Powell