In February, Blairmore Village Trust (BVT) sought to explore how Blairmore Hall Trust (BHT) may wish to be involved in the Beautiful Scotland Campaign and also the longer-term developments impacting upon both organisations. As a consequence, the Hall Trust extended an invitation for BVT to set out our thinking and ideas for consideration. This paper can be viewed following the link below:
Community Hub update:
The Shore Community Hub continues every Thursday morning from 10-12 in Blairmore Hall. All welcome.
Bags of Help update
We are delighted to announce that Blairmore Village Trust has received a grant for £8000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme to for the “Blairmore Village Landscape Project”. A big thank you to everyone who went across the water and voted for us.
Look out for more news in the new year once the paperwork has gone through and we can get started.
Kilmodan Primary School also got a grant in the same round of funding – it’s great that two local projects will be benefitting from the scheme.
The trial community hub in the village hall has been very successful and we intend to continue it over the winter. Come and join us for a cup of tea and a chat on a Thursday morning – have a look at the events page for details.
In June this year Blairmore Village Trust applied for a grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help Fund for the “Blairmore Village Landscape Project”. We are delighted to announce that our application has been one of three projects shortlisted. This means that we are guaranteed to receive at least £8,000 to spend on our landscape project in the village. The grant of £8,000 will cover the following:
- The creation of a safe and adventurous play area for children using as many traditional and natural playthings as possible. This will include a bug post, bug hotel, play tunnel, tyre climb, sunken trampoline, palette/ hide/den, ground level slide following the slope of the hill, willow wigwam and gym equipment.
- A range of comfortable accessible spaces, with the purchase of garden furniture, bench seats, picnic tables, covered area with seating and tree sculpture (using the existing Ash tree).
- Extensive and varied landscaping, wildflower gardens, mown grass paths, shrubs and plants to encourage bees and butterflies and a selection of native trees.
- Professional construction labour to achieve the above, in addition to support from community volunteers.
This work will be completed within 12 months of receipt of funds and I am sure that everyone will agree that this will make a wonderful transformation of a large portion of our village green which we successfully purchased for the community in 2014.
Alongside the two other projects shortlisted, customers of Tesco will be able to cast a vote, in the Greenock and Port Glasgow stores, for their favourite project. The project with the highest number of votes will receive a total of £12,000, the 2nd placed project £10,000 and the 3rd placed project £8,000. The voting starts on 31st October and runs until 13th November 2016.
Clearly, as a small rural community we do not have local access to a Tesco store, which may put us at a little bit of a disadvantage. However, we do know that many of Cowal’s residents do periodically shop in Inverclyde or stop off at Tesco’s when passing through that area; many also have relatives and friends in Inverclyde. Our plea is for everyone to bear us in mind please; share our news and opportunity with all of your friends, family, colleagues, facebook and email contacts, and hopefully with a bit of people power we may be able to move up the rankings.
Every time you make a purchase in the Tesco store you are entitled to a voting token! There is no monetary limit attached to the purchase. With the voting period open for two weeks we are hoping that this will give plenty of opportunity for people to help us. If like many, you have become a fan of using self-check outs you may need to ask an assistant to give you a token – so please do ask!
Thank you for all of your support.
on behalf of Blairmore Village Trust C.I.C.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Thanks to a very generous and anonymous donation these wonderful garden ornaments have been gifted to BVT in the hope that they can find a permanent home on the village green. They are 70 years old and in excellent condition – they are very large, Snow White is 3 foot high and the 7 dwarfs range from 20 inches to 2 feet high. We had these on display at our summer event and they were very well received by children ranging in age from 1 year to 70+! They certainly brought a smile to many faces. Our plan is to give them a permanent place on the village green – surrounded within a picket fence with wild flower gardens and a largish children’s wooden playhouse. It will create a magical experience for toddlers and young children and bring the green “alive”.
WASTE WATER AND SEWAGE TREATMENT IN BLAIRMORE
UPDATE: 10th September 2016
Many of you may be aware of imminent work by Scottish Water to connect houses in Strone and Kilmun to their networks. You may also be aware that Blairmore is not included in the current tranche of improvements. Blairmore Village Trust has been in discussion with Scottish Water about this and presented them with a petition from Blairmore residents.
Here is a copy of the correspondence:
From Ruaridh MacGregor, Regional Communities Manager, Scottish Water to David McKenzie, Blairmore Village Trust
1st September 2016
Thank you once again for the invite to recent meeting community council meeting. I will be back in contact soon with regards engaging with the community on the proposed works, however I wanted to provide a specific response to the petition received.
Response to petition provided to Scottish Water on 9th of August regarding provision of Sewage treatment to village of Blairmore.
Thank you for the petition submitted to Scottish Water at the recent Kilmun community council meeting. I fully acknowledge the points raised and why you wish to see a sustainable waste water system for the village.
To confirm the position with regards the current proposals, this work centres on the provision of appropriate sewerage treatment for Scottish Water customers connected to the existing sewerage networks.
The proposed works will involve the removal and replacement of 5 unscreened outfalls with 4 septic tanks as follows:
- Kilmun – replacement of 4 unscreened discharges with 3 septic tanks
- Strone – replacement of 1 unscreened discharge with a septic tank
Properties not connected to the existing Scottish Water network would be required to apply to for a connection. Scottish Water will make a reasonable cost contribution for customers wishing to be connected, however it is worth noting that the costs involved are sometimes prohibitive.
Blairmore currently has 4 properties connected to a small Scottish Water septic tank that is currently receiving the appropriate level of treatment. In relation to the communities request for Scottish Water to provide additional waste water treatment provision, there is currently no funding mechanism in place within our 2015-21 business plan. Scottish Water’s business plan is agreed with regulators and Ministers who agree our objectives and what needs to be delivered by us across Scotland. I can confirm that there is no first time sewerage connection projects promoted within this capital investment period.
In considering first time provision of sewerage systems it is important that we understand the full range of environmental and other issues associated with the discharges and existing arrangements. In seeking an effective resolution, SEPA, the Scottish Government, Scottish Water and the communities involved need to consider the range of public and private options and in many cases it may not be appropriate to invest in a centralised public sewerage system.
Whilst the current proposal will not include Blairmore, Scottish Water would be keen to work with the community to explore options for a waste water treatment solution.
Scottish Water is currently working in partnership with the Scottish Government, SEPA and others on a scheme which focuses on sustainable services to rural communities. These look at both water and waste water provision and Blairmore village could potentially be considered for suitability.
I will forward a copy of this response to SEPA as moving forward there will be a requirement to work in collaboration with other public bodies and the community to explore potential solutions.
I fully accept this is not the answer you may have been hoping for, however, it is important that we don’t raise expectations when we are not in control of delivering upon them.
Response from David McKenzie, Blairmore Village Trust
Thank you very much for this comprehensive reply to the petition provided to Scottish Water at the Kilmun Community Council meeting in Blairmore on 9th August, 2016. I have agreed with Robert Aldam that I would reply to your e-mail; I also copy in the following:
Ø Blairmore Village Trust, who organised the petition
Ø The representatives of Ardentinny and Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Community Council who were present at the meeting on 9th August and who have a direct interest in this topic.
Ø Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority
Ø Our local MSPs – Michael Russell and Jackie Baillie – and Councillors who are directly involved in this issue
Ø SEPA / Water Industry Commission for Scotland
Ø Local and National Press, for reasons that will be covered later.
I would like to couch my response under three headings:
1.First time provision of sewerage
2. Communities beyond Blairmore
3. Potential solutions
First time provision of sewerage
You make the point clearly that there are no first time sewerage connection projects within the 2015 – 2021 Scottish Water capital plan. You also make the point that the planned capital work in Kilmun and Strone is seen as provision of appropriate sewerage treatment for Scottish Water customers connected to existing sewerage networks.
This separation of the Cowal Shores communities into “sheep and goats” could be seen as discriminatory and is certainly difficult to justify or understand. Firstly, you make a distinction between Scottish Water customers in Kilmun and Strone and the private discharges from the Loch Long, principally Blairmore, properties. As I understand it, all the properties in the Shore Villages built before the 1970s, and these are in the majority, had private discharges into the Holy Loch and Loch Long. At some point, Scottish Water, or a predecessor organisation, installed a series of mains pipes which aggregated some of these discharges on the Holy Loch and moved the discharge points to deeper water. At this point, despite only some additional pipework being installed, these properties became ‘Scottish Water Customers’, although why a cut-off was made between Holy Loch and Loch Long is far from obvious.
Secondly, no sewerage treatment of any kind was provided then or since for these Holy Loch properties; the only change was a routing of the pipework. The work Scottish Water are planning to do now in Kilmun and Strone, which is welcome, is, in anybody’s definition, first time provision of sewerage treatment. I do not believe that the ownership of the pipework should be a determining factor. We have a group of properties that are currently discharging unscreened into the Holy Loch and Loch Long, unless the owners have installed individual septic tanks, and they all deserve equal treatment. The principal of ‘no first time provision of sewerage treatment’ is clearly breached by the plans for Kilmun and Strone, and we respectfully ask for all the Cowal Shores Villages to be included in your planning. I understand that this will involve engineering challenges, but, as was made clear at the 9th August meeting, there are already significant engineering challenges in what is planned.
Communities beyond Blairmore
You make the point that the residents of Blairmore will be disappointed by your e-mail. This is certainly true, but the impact of the current situation extends well beyond Blairmore. You met with representatives of Ardentinny and Arrochar at the 9th August meeting, and I believe they made their points quite clearly as to how their communities are affected by untreated discharges into Loch Long washing up on shores further north. In particular, the residents of Arrochar are significantly affected by the amount of debris left at the Head of Loch Long after winter storms. You were provided with photographic evidence of this, and the data from a recent analysis after one storm revealed some 2,500 items on the beach, of which 50% were ‘sewage related paraphernalia’.
While this is a major problem for Arrochar, and one which will continue until all the properties on Loch Long have effective sewage treatment, the other impact is on the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The shore at the Head of Loch Long is not only a tourist destination, but is visible from vehicles on the A83, which is one of the key tourist routes through the National Park and also a key route to destinations throughout Argyll and the Western Highlands. I do not believe it would be going too far to describe this regular despoiling of this beauty spot as a national disgrace and is why I feel that the local and national press might have an interest in what otherwise could be seen as an essentially local topic. I am aware that the debris that arrives at the Head of Loch Long probably comes from many sources, but I am sure you will agree that ‘sewage related paraphernalia’ is by far one of the worst offenders.
This Head of Loch Long problem is a focus for the recently constituted Arrochar, Tarbet & Ardlui Community Council Area Forum, chaired by Jackie Baillie MSP, and which also involves the National Park Authority.
In your e-mail, you refer to properties outside the planned provision as ‘being required to apply for a connection’; you also refer to partnership work with the Scottish Government, SEPA and others on a scheme which focuses on sustainable services to rural communities. Further, that there will be a requirement to work with other public bodies and the community to explore potential solutions.
The implication here is that the onus is on the community to take the lead in finding a road map to a solution. As you know, this community has been trying to do that for nearly 10 years and getting precisely nowhere. We need SEPA and / or Scottish Water to take the lead on this and come back to the community in a short a time as possible with a solution and a schedule. My own view is that, as the planned capital works in Kilmun and Strone are ‘first time provision of sewerage treatment’ in all but name, both SEPA and Scottish Water should urgently consider what marginal costs would be involved in extending the planned solution to include the Loch Long properties.
I am sure the community groups you met would be pleased to reconvene to discuss further.
23rd August: A report from David McKenzie giving an update on the current situation.
“The Board of Blairmore Village Trust would like to thank all the residents of Blairmore and others who signed the recent petition to Scottish Water asking for a committed plan for when a proper sewage treatment service would be provided to properties in Blairmore and others on Loch Long. Over 80 signatures were obtained.
The petition was presented to Ruaridh Macgregor, Regional Communities Team Manager at Scottish Water at the meeting of Kilmun Community Council on Tuesday 9th August. The meeting was attended by residents of Kilmun, Strone and Blairmore with representation from Ardentinny and from Arrochar and Tarbet, these latter communities being affected by debris from untreated sewage from Loch Long properties.
The two key issues that were presented to Scottish Water at the meeting were:
- The need for a committed date for a Scottish Water maintained sewage system for all private discharges from Loch Long properties.
- An assurance that the construction of the planned provision of industrial septic tanks for the Scottish Water owned discharges in Kilmun and Strone, planned for later this year and early next year, would not result in closure of the A880 or any restriction in the existing bus service.
The presentation of the petition is believed to be of significant help particularly with the first issue above. Scottish Water have promised to come back shortly with a formal response on both points.”
Summer Fun Day on July 2nd
We didn’t get the best weather for our fun day, but that provided a good excuse to sample the delicious home baking in the village hall and peruse the stalls. The sun shone for long enough to release the Painted Lady butterflies, and for everyone to admire the site in its summer splendour – and the lovely wildflower gardens planted by the pupils of Strone Primary school. Lots of people tried their hand at pottery, painted stones, made streamers or just enjoyed a chance to catch up with friends and neighbours. Thanks to everyone who helped to make it a great day.
7th May 2016: BVT is currently considering applying for funding to purchase an additional area of land for the benefit of the community. First, we wish to consult with the local community to see whether there is support for the purchase. Please take a look at the consultation on the Blairmore News page and email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate your response. Paper copies of the consultation are also available at Strone Post Office.
Festive fun… and fundraising!
Our festive lunch on Monday December 14th was a great success. Residents old and young from the Shore community came along and enjoyed a fabulous spread of soup, sandwiches and home baking. Entertainment was laid on by the Cowal Fiddle Workshop who played a lovely selection of tunes. After lunch, the pupils of Strone Primary got us singing along with carols and festive songs. They also treated us to fiddle duets, a chorus of clarinets and even Jingle Bells on the bagpipes!
A big thank you to everyone who came along, and especially to the volunteers who cooked, helped on the day and donated items for the tombola. Our Christmas raffle raised a fantastic £516 and the tombola and donations on the day added another £275.
The primary school pupils have also created a great exhibition of Christmas pictures for the glass panels of the village phone box. It looks really festive so next time you’re passing through or waiting for the bus, take a moment to look at the work of our budding artists.
Tickets for the winter raffle can be obtained from the Dunoon Pot Shop or from BVT. Prizes will be displayed in the window of the Pot Shop throughout November. The raffle will be drawn at our Festive Lunch event on December 14th.
A REPORT ON THE 2015 SUMMER EVENT by Pat Lynn
Considering the awful summer weather we have been having we were so lucky that the sun shone brightly for our Summer Event on the 25th July. It was lovely to see so many locals and visitors in and around the village enjoying the weather and the atmosphere of the village.
The Summer Raffle in aid of The Blairmore Landscape Project raised a staggering £1010.00 and we would like to thank all of you who generously supported us by buying tickets and, in many cases, selling tickets for us. A special thanks too to the local artists who helped and supported us with our first major raffle. On the day itself we raised £266 from sale of raffle tickets, £205.15 from the tombola and £58.08 from sale of refreshments.
The stallholders who we invited to take part in our Summer Event all reported that they had had a good day and would be delighted to take part in any event that we might have in the future. All of them bought raffle tickets, gave donations and offered items for our tombola. The Churchill Burger stall was very popular for visitors as was Gallimaufry. We hope the Glory Hole did well on the day too. Senga, the face painter, was run off her feet and Bill Williamson entertained visitors and children with his pottery skills.
The highlight of the day was watching young Caleb, Lucy, Rhianna release the butterflies which they had been nurturing for weeks – quite a magical experience and we understand that the butterflies are still being spotted around the village.
There was great interest in the landscape design which had been prepared by Yvonne Tracey and which included possibilities for the creation of much needed parking for the village – it caused a fair amount of excitement and much conversation.
It was a fun day from start to finish.
SANTA EVENT NEWS UPDATE:
A “Thank You” from Blairmore Village Trust
Since announcing that Blairmore Village Trust is no longer able to continue with the very popular Santa event in Blairmore, we have been overwhelmed with the responses that have been coming back to us. Naturally everyone is very disappointed but, despite this, the warm appreciation you have shown for our efforts over the last eight years has been very touching.
It has been a magical journey for us here in Blairmore – we have made many friends over the years and have had the delight of seeing babies and toddlers grow into lovely young people – it’s been a joy and a privilege for us each year and we will treasure the memories.
The corporate support we have had over the years from Emma Thompson, The Co-op Food Group and Blairmore Heritage have been a tremendous help to us in maintaining the very high standard of our Santa event. We have also been amazed at the generosity of the local traders and businesses who year after year have supported us by giving us lovely items for our raffles and tombola; providing meal vouchers; beautiful items from our local artists; and the very practical support from Lorraine at Rowantree Toys who has helped with our booking system. Thank you all so much.
So “All good things must come to an end” but something equally as good, but different may be just around the corner! – we have had indications that other groups may wish to fill the gap! We would be delighted if this happens and we would happily share our experiences and advice with any other group.
So a fond farewell from Blairmore Village Trust.
All good things must come to an end…
For the past 8 years, Blairmore Village Trust has hosted the highly popular annual visit from Santa & Mrs Claus. The event has been enjoyed by literally thousands of children and families over the years and is known to be a major highlight of the festive season in and around Cowal. At a recent meeting the Trust has regrettably decided that it is time to bow out of the festive calendar.
A spokesperson for the Trust said “Many visitors who have enjoyed the ‘Santa and Jingle Bus’ experience may know that it has revolved around a very small core of dedicated elves who have made a herculean effort each year to make the event such a resounding success. Sadly the majority of those elves are now in their advancing years and feel that the time is right to end on a high rather than risk the experience deteriorating from a decrease in energy and enthusiasm.
Throughout the years, we have been supported by teams of teenage elves from Dunoon Grammar School , many of whom attended our annual Elf Academy. Our thanks go to all of those enthusiastic young helpers over the years and indeed to all of our more mature helpers. Special mention must also go to West Coast Motors and their driver John, who year after year has endured with exceedingly good grace endless renditions of Jingle Bells from very noisy musicians of all ages.
It would be very remiss of us to close this chapter of our history without a great big thank you to the stars of the event namely Mr & Mrs Claus (also known fondly as Ian and Moira Martin). Clearly they have also enjoyed their festive visit to Blairmore each year; but we all know what a very special contribution they have made to ensuring that all of the children and the big people with them had a great experience. They are an incredible double-act and deserve a well earned rest.
When we started in 2007, there were few opportunities for families to access a local Santa event; since then a number have blossomed. Although we recognise the uniqueness of the Blairmore experience we hope that in making this announcement early, families will have time to overcome their disappointment and plan alternative ways to celebrate this magical and special time of year. It’s a little bit too early to be sending seasonal greetings to our loyal supporters but we do wish everyone well and thank you all for your support”
Our projects include:
- Blairmore Village Green
- Santa’s visit to Blairmore
- Blairmore In Bloom
- Blairmore Forum
- The High Road
- Hamilton’s Brae
- The Phone Box
- The Bus Shelter
BVT participated in the 2012 Local Action Plan.
Blairmore Village Trust has adopted the telephone box to preserve its presence in the village.
It has been painted and looks super. Let us have your ideas for its future use.