THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA

Excerpts from issue 45/26 13 October 2018

In this issue: Otranto Remebrance Services, Islay Book Festival, Kevin Hague takes issue with Commonweal, MacMillan Cancer Coffee, Opera at Ardnahoe, Caol Ila's transformation, ACHA's new housing in Bowmore, Bunnahabhain's houses demolished, Ferry committee meets Scottish minister.


service at Kilchoman military cemetery

The congregation at Kilchoman Military cemetery on Saturday 6 October, commemorating the sinking of HMS Otranto 100 years previously.

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Ferry committee meets Minister in Edinburgh
ferry commiittee and msps

Representatives of the Islay and Jura Ferry Committee met with Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands on 4 October in Edinburgh to discuss the recent disruptions to CalMac sailings.
The meeting had been facilitated by MSP Michael Russell who actively participated and very strongly supported the case for change. Islay McEachern and Jim Porteous of our islands' ferry committee were joined by Bill Calderwood of the Arran ferry committee.
"It was probably a first for two separate island communities to join together in this way for such a meeting,"
said Jim Porteous, "between us representing in total 22% of passengers, 22% of cars and 29% of CVs carried in 2017 by CalMac."
Also present were Graeme Laidlaw and Frances Pacitti, Transport ScotlandŐs Director of Aviation, Maritime, Freight and Canals."

Jim Porteous sent the Ileach this report of the meeting:
The meeting with the Minister lasted one hour during which we emphasised the unacceptability of recent and increasingly regular disruptions and we discussed and proposed some possible solutions. We gave examples of the damaging effects and costs of removing vessels during peak periods, cutting timetabled sailings, moving or stopping bookings altogether and insisted that there must be a radical change in the way the service is managed and a move to a 'can-do' approach. It was unsustainable for the cost burden to continue to be falling on local communities and businesses - heading in exactly the opposite direction called for by the 'Islands Bill' and associated 'Islands Plan'.
We informed Mr Wheelhouse of the previous agreement at our 2016 ferry summit that Islay needed a two vessel service during the Summer and that removing a vessel must only be a very last resort.
We requested that where vessels are redeployed, this should be in consultation with the communities and some level of compensating capacity be provided, eg with relief crews to provide extra sailings. We also gave information regarding the growth potential on Islay that was potentially at risk, including tourism and distilleriesŐ investment and forecasts.
We raised the issue of the ageing fleet, the Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan (VRDP) recommendation for a new Islay ferry and the need to specify and order this without delay. We questioned the efficiency of current maintenance and repair programs and asked that the search for a 'stop gap' additional vessel should be stepped up. We highlighted that Calmac's statistical reporting was outdated and misleading and we proposed that the current ineffective communication process between ferry users, stakeholders and operators should be streamlined to help achieve change.
Finally, we emphasized the strength of feeling in our communities and insisted that actions and outcomes were expected as a result of this meeting.
The Minister assured us that he recognized the severity of the problems, he took detailed notes and advised that he would revert to our MSPs with proposed actions, after proper consideration of all of the ground that we discussed.
After the meeting closed, the ferry committee representatives were asked to stay on and discuss with Transport Scotland some of the issues that we had highlighted. We gave some practical examples of concerns of issues and effects that are not visible from just looking at numbers. We also talked further about the VRDP process, reporting, failure to capture 'unmet demand' and ineffective user consultation structures - all of this highlighted some areas which may not have been fully recognized. Overall a useful exercise and we were reassured that the matter has Transport Scotland's full attention.

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Caol Ila's transformation

Caol Ila Distillery opened its doors to local residents last week to give them the first look at plans to transform the visitor experience. The Islay distillery is one of the key locations in plans to invest £150m in single malt and Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky tourist attractions across Scotland, and will see significant upgrading of the distillery's visitor centre.
Local residents were welcomed to the distillery on Wednesday (3 October) to be the first to see the outline plans to allow them to give feedback before plans are submitted for planning approval.
Under the plans, the new state-of-the-art visitor experience will be created inside the Caol Ila warehouse, including a bar with stunning views across the Sound of Islay. The visitor centre will be entered via a footbridge into the roof of the warehouse, linking to new parking facilities on the hill above the distillery, which will be discreetly located and carefully landscaped to manage visual impact and traffic movement.
Pierrick Guillaume, Caol Ila Distillery Manager said:, "We are very excited about the ambitious plans to transform the visitor experience at Caol Ila with this investment. A lot of careful thought has been put into the plans to ensure we minimise any impact on the local community.
"It was great to welcome local residents to the distillery and to share our plans with them first and to gain their input. We look forward to working with the community and stakeholders as we progress the plans."

The planning application for the distillery is expected to be submitted to Argyll and Bute Council before the end of the year and subject to successful planning permission, work should commence in 2019.

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Ardnahoe to host new opera

In a first for Scotland a new opera, Navigate the Blood will be performed in distilleries across the country. Ardnahoe Distillery will be the venue for the visit on 11 November.
Sian Evans has written a story set in a small family distillery about a couple whose son has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Performed against an industrial background, touring to regions where there is no accessible opera house, Navigate the Blood will give many people an opportunity to see live opera for the first time, though Islay has seen its fair share of operas over the years.
In a powerful new partnership, the top Scottish indie-folk band, Admiral Fallow, has joined forces with composer Gareth Williams, pushing their collaborative boundaries in new creative directions to create the music for this opera. Working with Gareth and Sian and classical opera singers, they have embraced an intense writing process, resulting in an exciting first new work of modern opera by these talented and versatile musicians.
This new production of singing, music, theatre and storytelling has been created to reflect the lives of the distillery community in Scotland. Touring to the traditional distilling regions of Lowlands, Highlands and Islands, it is designed to be relevant to the people living there and to welcome, engage and entertain new audiences for opera across Scotland.
Bryony Boyd, Ardnahoe Distillery's Visitor Centre Manager is enthusiastic about the venture. She said, "Ardnahoe is delighted to host the brand new opera, Navigate the Blood, in our brand new distillery. The story will unfold in our bar area as the afternoon light fades; a truly unique first event for the business".
James Robert Carson is the artistic director of NOISE (New Opera In Scotland Events) responsible for this production from conception to performance. He said, "Scotland has a deep and historic involvement with the art of distilling. By performing Navigate the Blood in each of the five distinct distilling regions, NOISE has created an opera that reflects and celebrates the success and continued innovation of this remarkable industry. The band, Admiral Fallow and composer Gareth Williams have created a truly magical and original score, with a story set in a distillery. NOISE is delighted to be able to bring this new production to audiences who live and work in some of the country's most important and unique communities."

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 27 October 2018

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islay info

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Islay Diary 2018

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  • Sunday 14 October
  • Scottish Country Dancing, ICCI
  • Tuesday 16 October
  • Timebank Stroll Ardbeg Pier
  • Feis Ile AGM, Service Point
  • Sunday 21 October
  • Scottish Country Dancing, ICCI
  • Tuesday 23 October
  • Timebank Stroll, Carraig Fhada
  • Saturday 20 October
  • RNLI Coffee Morning, An Tigh Seinnse
  • Beach Mission, Port Ellen Baptist Church
  • Thursday 25 October
  • Badminton, IHS
  • Friday 26 October
  • Cairdeas Social Gathering, ICCI
  • Whist Drive, Bruichladdich Hall
  • Hallowe'en Party, Ballygrant Hall
  • Saturday 27 October
  • Hallowe'en Disco, Ramsay Hall
  • Sunday 28 October
  • Scottish Country Dancing, ICCI
  • Wednesday 31 October
  • Hallowe'en Party, Bowmore Hotel
  • Hallowe'en Party, Peatzeria
  • Thursday 1 November
  • Badminton, IHS
  • Thursday 8 November
  • Badminton, IHS
  • Monday 12 November
  • An Comunn Gaidhealach Meur Ile, AGM

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