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21 April 2001

New council openness?
THE new leader of Argyll and Bute Council used the inaugural meeting of its Strategic Policy Committee at Kilmory last week to make clear how he wants the committee to conduct itself.
Councillor Allan Macaskill is also keen to see a new openness in the council by encouraging participation and discussion within the committee.
Reports coming before the group would not necessarily require recommendations he stated, but issues could be raised and discussed without there being a conclusion to any matter.
The open nature continues with the press and public able to ask questions of the committee, and a proposal that meetings of the group will on occasion take place at venues other than Kilmory.
The three strategic policy meetings held between each full council meeting will each have a theme.
The first will look at the council’s performance in areas such as financial monitoring, performance indicators and best value.
Health, housing, social issues, education and lifelong learning will be topics for the second meeting.
And the final theme will embrace development and environment, including European and tourism issues, and island and transportation needs.
Representatives from key external agencies are asked to submit written reports about their activities. And in reporting back spokespersons for issues should give a presentation, providing members with an opportunity to put questions.
Only the director of corporate and legal services will be required to attend each meeting with other directors attending if called on by the business of the day.
Also established at the meeting were the portfolios for a number of councillors who will be spokespersons on major issues.
Councillor Robin Banks will deal with economic and environment issues. Councillor Dick Walsh: education and lifelong learning. Councillor Alastair McKinlay: housing, social and health.
Councillor Ian Gillies: island issues. Councillor George Freeman: 21st century government and resource. Councillor Duncan MacIntyre: transportation.

A task force — for tourism
THE newly formed Tourism Task Force and a representative of AILLST tourist board met members of Cowal’s business community this week to discuss the impact of foot and mouth on the region.
Set up only a week ago by Argyll and Bute Council, the task force’s first job is to gather feedback from businesses and communities across Argyll and the Isles on how the disease has hit them and what can be done to help.
Dunoon businesses have described a downturn in their income of between 15% and 50% according to task force member Councillor Bruce Marshall.
Oban Councillor David Webster who chaired the meeting, said how vital tourism is to Argyll and the Isles because it is one of the biggest employers.
“Politicians now see the importance of tourism due to the foot and mouth crisis and that may see more funding to bring visitors into the area,” he added.
Chief executive James Fraser of AILLST was able to give a broad view on how the area has been hit. A survey early in the crisis looking at booking trends was showing a £10,000,000 loss, but a recent follow-up survey showed an uplift in the number of inquiries.
Mr Webster went on to explain that full-page adverts have appeared to encourage tourists back, and a six to eight week advertising campaign in the national press will continue to promote the area.
The bulk of the £174,000 allocated by government to help tourism is being directed towards the advertising campaign.
The task force indicated that as well as this short-term aid they will be looking for medium and longer term measures to help the industry.
But some in the business community said that advertising would not be enough, as they voiced doubts about visitors returning for the high season.
Hoteliers said more immediate help was needed to keep businesses alive and see them carry on until next year when visitors may return.
Relief for businesses through rates was also questioned by the audience as many believe that it would be very difficult to get money back this way because of government conditions, which require them to prove their business has been directly affected by the disease.
Mr Webster said the task force would be making a plea for an easier and more generous rates relief system.
Audience members added a local viewpoint that tourism in Dunoon was falling because of bad maintenance of public areas and because there was little for tourists to do.
And some viewed the foot and mouth crisis as a catalyst for businesses and the community to turn this situation around, and to start spending money on Dunoon and Cowal, while properly promoting the area.
After further meetings the task force will present its findings to the council next week.

A need for more nurses
RADICAL improvements imminent within the local health service, as ScotNursing launches its recruitment drive for nurses and carers in the Dunoon area, and Lomond and Argyll Primary Care NHS Trust announces £1,000,000 high tech links to improve NHS care in Argyll and the Islands.
This follows revelations that additional nurses and carers are needed to meet the demand in the Dunoon area.
“We are looking forward to further expanding ScotNurs-ing in the Dunoon area and I am confident that we will continue to be a valuable addition to the health service in this area,” says Ann Rushforth, Chief Executive, ScotNurs-ing.
“We can provide nurses and carers with flexible hours, to fit around family or other commitments, as well as ongoing training and personal developments for all staff, to the benefit of the patient.”
Meanwhile, the Lomond and Argyll Primary Care NHS Trust and the Argyll and Clyde Acute Hospitals NHS Trust are to boost services to patients with a £1,000,000 high tech telemedicine link between general hospitals and remote areas.
Once the service is implemented, there will be a link for rural and island doctors, not only for the Community Hospitals (run by GPs) in Argyll, but also linking the four district General Hospitals in Argyll and Clyde, including Dunoon.
This will allow 24-hour access to specialist consultants and accident and emergency consultants.
“We want to end the inequality between the services provided in urban areas and that provided in remote rural and island areas of Argyll,” says Michael Bews, Chief Executive, Lomond and Argyll Primary Care NHS Trust.
“This initiative will go a long way to finally cancelling out the significant distance factor, which has been the main cause of this,” he adds.
“The use of telecommunications to support patient care directly, by reducing or eliminating unnecessary journeys for patients and clinicians and speeding diagnosis, will support a seamless Health Service, providing 21st Century clinical services to our most remote and isolated island and rural communities.”
The first systems are planned to be operational by the Autumn.
A further Argyll and Clyde Acute Hospitals NHS Trust announcement reveals that the Review of Maternity Services will now not report before the middle of Summer, as the Trust wishes to plan the future properly and not make a rush decision.
A website providing information and progress to date on the ‘Review and Redesign of Maternity Services’ is at www.acatmaternity.org

Health centre plan revealed
by Melinda Gillen
DUNOON hospital will also be the location of a two-year pilot for a multi-function mental health centre.
This will be an alternative to hospitalisation for people with mental health problems, will also expand and co-ordinate services for mental health provided by a range of agencies.
Two former staff bungalows within the hospital grounds are currently being renovated to house the centre, which should be ready by the autumn.
The joint health and social work scheme will require four new staff to run the service.
“Initially the project will run for two years then, after evaluation, we hope it will become permanent. The aim is to help people with mental health problems instead of admitting them to hospital in Lochgilphead,” explained David Bertin, community mental health manager.
Money allocated for the project, around £83,000 annually has come from a £2,000,000 pot allocated by the Scottish Executive to the Mental Health and Well Being Development Fund.
Announcing the deal, deputy minister for health and community care, Malcolm Chisholm said that mental health is a “key priority” for both the Scottish Executive and the NHS.
“I am delighted to announce that nine projects have been successful in the latest round of bids, sharing a total of £1,950,000. We have now been able to help a total of 81 projects through this fund, and provide better support to people in every health board area in Scotland.”
The successful projects all aim to improve mental health services and support joint working between the care organisations, service users and their carers.
Other successful bids in Argyll and Clyde, include community forensic psychiatry services, which will carry out needs and risk assessment for those with mental illness living in the community.
There’s been a cash boost too for the Service Users and Carers Network, with the money being used to enhance and accelerate development of a user/carer network built on the principles of collaboration, mutual respect and flexibility.

Awards for local air cadets
CADETS of 2296 (Dunoon) squadron staged awards and open evening in the presence of Wing Commander George Campbell (officer commanding Glasgow and West Scotland wing - Air Training Corps) and Councillor Bruce Marshall, to show off the range of cadet activities.
Displays included pictures from the latest flying and gliding trips to equipment for skiing, expeditions, kayaking, first aid, modelling and VHF radio. With people being encouraged to have a play where possible, some of the 53 visitors attending took up an opportunity to see how cadets are taught marksmanship on the 25 yard range.
Awards were also presented, the first of which was to the Squadron by Councillor Bruce Marshall on behalf of the National Lottery Awards For All scheme to mark the successful completion of a project to equip the unit with new kayaks and associated equipment.
Councillor Marshall then made other presentations to Corporal Brian Whyte (Wilson Lauffer trophy for the highest overall score in the annual rifle competition); Cadet Craig Gladwell (Small Bore trophy for the most promising novice in the annual rifle competition); Cadet Gary Rew (Best Cadet trophy for best all-round cadet); Cadet Scott Black (Endeavour trophy for continued effort in the face of adversity); Cadet Gavin Love (James Ross trophy for fund raising for the RAFA Wings Appeal); Sergeant Craig Whyte (Carpe Diem trophy for the best overall flight in the squadron, on behalf of B Flight.

We shall remember them ...
by Colin MacDonald
THE mysterious disappearance of two British submarines within 13 weeks of each other in the Firth of Clyde nearly 60 years ago will be remembered locally this weekend by members of the Scottish branch of the Submariners’ Association.
Their memorial weekend for the companies of two U-class submarines lost at sea during World War Two begins tonight (Fri) in Dunoon with an informal gathering at the West End Hotel.
The first of three services over the weekend is at Lochranza tomorrow morning (11.15am) in memory of 37 submariners lost in HM submarine “Vandal” on February 24, 1943 when she went down in 300 feet of water in Kilbrannan Sound during sea trials off the northern tip of Arran.
A 10am muster at the Memorial Stone in Castle Gardens, Dunoon on Sunday (prior to morning service at Dunoon Old and St Cuthbert’s Church) precedes a second memorial service (to be conducted by the Rev. Pat Lang) for the companies of both “Vandal” and HM submarine “Untamed” which was also lost with all hands near Sanda island off the south coast of Kintyre on May 30, 1943, after she failed to surface during working-up trials.
The final service of remembrance is timed to follow a 12.15pm muster at Dunoon Cemetery on Sunday afternoon for the 37 submariners who perished in “Untamed”.
Both submarines are commemorated in Dunoon and Arran. Sole surviving crew member Larry Gaines – who was on sick leave and thus missed “Vandal’s” ill-fated voyage – is pictured with the two-ton marble memorial (gifted by Co-operative Monumental Services of Glasgow) which was unveiled in 1997 following a dedication service at Lochranza.
Somewhere in the deep is Larry’s naval uniform, a leather writing case and his watch which he’d stowed aboard the boat before he was ordered to the sick bay with an excruciating bout of earache.
Also pictured is the Memorial Stone in Dunoon’s Castle Gardens which the Submarine Old Comrades Association erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the loss of both submarines which were built by Vickers Armstrong at the yards in Barrow.
More than half a century of speculation on what went wrong has never been convincingly concluded. Rumour and counter rumours have circulated ever since the twin disasters.
Old hands — including Larry Gaines — had typical, sea-going reservations at the change of name when skipper James Bridger (25), taking his first command, summoned his crew to the Barrow jetty to tell them that their vessel — then HMS “Unbridled” — would henceforth be officially known as “Vandal”.
Whoever made that decision was flying in the face of naval tradition which has forever decreed that to change the name of a new boat is to tempt Fate …