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Campbeltown Grammar School seeks hosts for pupils from Gigha

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The capacity of Argyll’s Isle of Gigha ferry berth at Tayinloan on the mainland to get badly silted with weed during driving winter storms causes service cancellations each year. With bad weather a further contributor to an unpredictable schedule, islanders are concerned abut the degree of disruption to their children’s education and are exploring arrangements for them to lodge in Campbeltown during the week.

Around twenty years ago this was the pattern of school life for secondary school age pupils from Gigha. (Gigha, of course, was not alone in this. All of Scotland’s islands saw their children leave to go to school and indeed many young children from the Western Isles took the boat from Lochmaddy to Uig to board in Skye for at least a term at a time. Today, though, things are different. The old kind of hostels and lodgings no longer exist and, with dwindling demand, no new variation has emerged. Disclosure requirements would also apply today.

However, the Rector of Campbeltown Grammar, Mr William Crossan says that parents are worried too about their children’s loss of extracurricular activities through the time needed to make daily ferry and bus journeys from Gigha to school. He is inviting Campbeltown people to consider offering this hosting service.

Campbeltown Grammar School raises £11,000 for Children in Need

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The news that Campbeltown Grammar School has raised the huge amount of £11,000 for the Children in Need appeal says a great deal for the generosity of the town and of the Kintyre area – which do not have their own troubles to seek.

This is a school with around 500 pupils and, in a deep recession, this is a time when money and resources are in short supply.

Among the many inspired by the school’s eic effort is Argyll’s MSP, Jim Mather, who has written to Campbeltown Grammar’s Head Teacher, William Crossan, congratulating the pupils, the staff and the people of Kintyre for a superb effort.

Mr Mather says: ‘At a time of financial constraint it was heartening to hear of the quite superb effort from the pupils at Campbeltown Grammar School whose fund raising efforts for Children in Need exceeded £11,000. Such an effort reflects well on the school, both pupils and staff, and also on the wider community of Kintyre  for  once again demonstrating their willingness to dig deep for a very worthy cause’.

With heart and will like this, Campbeltown and Kintyre deserve every success that can come to them from the arrival of Skycon; the Machrihanish Dunes Golf Course; the refurbishment by Southworth Developments of the Royal Hotel in Campbeltown and the Ugadale  Hotel in Machrihanish; the new creamery; and whatever initiatives come from the sale of the old RAF base at Machrihanish.

Campbeltown has some of the most disadvantaged urban areas in the UK and the Council and the Scottish Government are focused on strategies to develop it and secure it a prosperous future.

This looks like a good time to ask why Campbeltown hasn’t got an all-weather sports pitch? Beautiful as Kintyre is, Campbeltown is literally out on a limb. There’s a short menu of things to do and an all-weather pitch is very much in line with the Scottish Government’s push for a healthier and more active society io Scotland.

Emergency closure of Campbeltown Grammar

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Campbeltown Grammar School is closing at 1pm today, after a burst water main in the town left the school with no water supply.

Buses have been arranged to transport the pupils home from 1pm.

Any pupil who cannot go home early will be supervised by school staff in Campbeltown’s Victoria Hall until the end of the school day.

The cchool will be open as normal tomorrow morning.

Campbeltown teacher stands for election as education representative on Council’s executive

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Ray Cameron-Goodman, drama teacher at Campbeltown Grammar School, is one of three nominees to be voted on by all teachers in Argyll and Bute.

He wants to become the education representative sitting on Argyll and Bute Council’s executive committee.

A highly creative independent thinker with huge energies, Mr Cameron-Goodman has a lot to offer in support of Argyll’s education sector in this influential forum.

What does he say about himself to his peers in asking for their votes?

‘Since moving to Scotland in 2004 I have been involved in developing Drama as a subject at all levels of the curriculum from primary through to further education.

‘My greatest strengths are my communication and collaborative skills, an eye for detail, enjoyment of challenges, determination, positive attitude to problem solving, humility and a sense of humour.

‘I enjoy seeking advice, input and inspiration from those who are informed, passionate and knowledgeable in their fields, and I make it a priority to continually reflect on my practice.

‘We have all been made very aware of the difficult times ahead for us as educators. There is uncertainty about the future. The role of teacher representative to the executive is vital at this time.

‘I would welcome the opportunity to represent the teaching body, to raise our issues and concerns, to fight to ensure that the things we have worked hard to build are not dismantled in the scramble to cut spending.

‘I have already presented a package which outlines, in detail, ways in which the government could save up to five billion pounds on the education budget without closing a single school or making a single teacher redundant, whilst improving the quality of education provision for every child in the country.

‘I hope you will consider me as teacher representative’.

The other two candidates are Dougie Mackie, Principal teacher at Oban High School and Jamie McCready, RE Teacher at Dunoon Grammafr School.

In a strong field, two things may stand to Mr Cameron-Goodman’s advantage at the moment.

  • One is the fact that he has recent experience of working across the primary and secondary education spectrum.
  • The other is that, of three candidates, each from one of Argyll’s major towns, Campeltown is the most remote and the closest to the reality of remote rural primary schools.

At a time when the hottest issue in Argyll is the council’s mishandling of its first attempt to close a swathe of 25 of Argyll’s rural primary school, Cameron-Goodman works in an area where this issue reverberates powerfully and wold certainly represent the issues in a forum where such representation is badly needed.

With the next shot at closures due to come to council on 3rd March, this is a matter that teacher voters, many of whom work in rural primary schools, may wish to reflect upon in casting their vote.

Whichever of the three capable candidates that qualified members of our audience may wish to support, the closing date by which votes must reach Suzanne Kerr is Monday 24th January 2011.  Ballot papers may be submitted – clearly marked ‘FAO Suzanne Kerr’:

  • by email to: suzanne.kerr@argyll-bute.gov.uk
  • by post to: Argyll House, Alexandra Parade, Dunoon, Argyll PA23 8AJ

All teaching staff in Argyll and Bute have already been emailed ballot forms from the council.

Jubilee Woodland tree planting in Kintyre tomorrow

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Tomorrow, 7th March at 12.30, pupils from Campbeltown Grammar School are going out to Glencraigs Farm in Kintyre to plant trees in the Jubilee Woodland there.

They tried to do this on a previous occasion but the weather was a wash out – so the Diamond Jubilee has got a modest extension in Kintyre – and the woodland at Glencraigs will see the benefit of the young folk’s efforts in due time.

Tickets for Gala Evening to celebrate ‘the first 100 years’ of Campbeltown’s Picture House

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Campbeltown picture house

The Directors and Management of The Picture House in Campbeltown have put together an exciting programme for a Gala Evening to celebrate the first 100 years of the life of this iconic cinema on Sunday 26th May.

Tickets

Tickets for this event will be available on a first come, first served basis from Thursday 9th May.

As a number of tickets have been set aside for invited guests, those who would like to be present on this historic occasion are urged to apply for tickets – up to 4 per person – as soon as possible.

These can be obtained from the kiosk any evening that the cinema is open from 8.30 pm, from Saturday through to Thursday from 9th May.

Tickets will be free of charge, with entry by donation on the night, and will include a complimentary icecream.

The programme

The evening is to begin with a special recital by Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s Makar, who is Patron of The Centenary Project.

There will then be a short review of film over the past 100 years followed by the main feature, which is ‘The Great Gatsby’.

Immediately after the performance there will be about 20 minutes of fireworks on the waterfront.

It is hoped that the whole town, including those attending the Song Writers Festival and the ceilidh for the MOKRUNNERS, will also enjoy this, together with other visitors to the town on this holiday weekend.

Those who have tickets are urged to be in their seats by 7.50 pm – and to encourage the audience to achieve this, there will be a programme of live music from Campbeltown Brass starting at 7.30 pm.

Doors will open at 7  o’clock.

The Directors – rightly -  want every seat in the house to be filled, so please be as sure as possible that you will be able to attend on the night or, if you find that you cannot attend, please pass on your tickets to friends or return them to the cinema as soon as possible so that they can be re-issued.

Students at Campbeltown Grammar School have been busy for the past couple of months creating some baking masterpieces to celebrate the Centenary.   These cakes will be on display during the previous week in the windows of Argyll FM, suitably decorated in honour of the occasion.

This is a celebration of the nurture and love shown by the people of Campbeltown and Kintyre for their Wee Pictures – the commitment that has enabled this very special building to survive.   Great credit is due to all the generations that have made that possible.

The Directors are indebted to Tangy 2 Windfarm Trust, Campbeltown Common Good Fund, The Rotary Club of Campbeltown, Argyll & Bute Council, the Ardshiel Hotel and Sarah MacDonald Photography for making these celebrations as exciting as possible.

It’s good to see the inclusivity of the plans for the celebration, in opening it up to the town at large and to visitors, with the waterfront fireworks display. This will be a night to remember – and here’s to the next 100 years of this glorious little cinema.

The intriguing photographs above, is a 360 degree shot of the auditorium, taken by Gordon Barr of Scottish Cinemas.

The Campbeltown Picture House Centenary

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With the centenary of Campbeltown’s joyful little waterfront Picture House coming up, preparations for an appropriate celebration began shortly after the turn of the year, 2013.

Feverish activity in the past month ensured that an event worthy of the day would be put on – with the date set for Sunday 26th May 2013.   The core of the celebration had to be an evening of entertainment looking both back at the past and on to the future.

Russell Carroll, General Manager, consulted with Scottish Screen and the British Film Institute on appropriate early film material and release dates of significant new films were studied.   Invitation lists were compiled and funding sought.   Gradually everything fell into place and The Picture House found that others were also wanting to join in the fun.

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Firstly an approach came from the Hospitality Department at Campbeltown Grammar School – could they bake a cake?   Of course … and the pupils then set to work, researching and talking about their own memories of the cinema and what it all meant for them.   In the end a number of cakes were baked and decorated, and in the week preceding the big day all were displayed in the window of Argyll FM in the centre of the town, so the whole community could admire them.   (After the Gala Reception the pupils were able to take the cake to the Care Home nearby for the residents to enjoy.)

Further north in Kintyre, in the village of Clachan, the congregation of Kilcalmonell held a Flower Festival in April with the theme of ’100 Years of Film’ at The Picture House, Campbeltown. The church was filled with amazing floral creations depicting actual films or representing themes, such as Films of the Silent Era. The Youth Club and individual children joined in too, specially representing films such as ‘Shrek’ and ‘The Hobbit’. Pride of place had to go to the magnificent rendition of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, which used the wooden panel behind the Minister’s Stall as the wardrobe.

Later in the month Dr Gordon Barr, an expert on the history of Scottish Cinemas, gave an action packed lecture to The Antiquarians Society on the rise and fall of many famous cinema buildings, and making the audience fully aware of the importance of the very special cinema in their town.

Meanwhile replies to the invitations were coming back and the special Gala programme was taking shape.   Three oil paintings focusing on the waterfront and Picture House were donated to be auctioned, and these were displayed in the window of Rosslyn Oman’s Studio window in Main Street.   The Campbeltown Brass Band agreed to play for 20 minutes before the show began and the tickets began to be snapped up.

About 100 special guests were invited to attend a Reception at the Seafield Hotel, whose premises had been generously donated and decorated for the evening. Chief of these was Liz Lochhead, Machar of Scotland and Patron of The Centenary Project. She was joined by descendants of the original troika of local businessmen who had initiated the building of the cinema 100 years ago. There were also descendants of other shareholders, current business supporters, representatives of the cinema industry, local councillors and funders.

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Miss Mary McMillan was also a very special guest, as she had been born in September 1913, just a few months after the Picture House opened. She is seen top, on the left with Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s Makar and Jane Mayo, Chair of the Campbeltown Picture House Board.

Pupils from the Grammar School were on hand to talk about their baking creations, and a sample of photographs from the Flower Festival added to the display.   A fine buffet had been provided and guests were invited to keep their glasses charged ready to toast the future of the precious, iconic building.

Meanwhile a local photographer, Sarah MacDonald, had generously agreed to record the occasion and was busy snapping away and marshalling groups to chronicle the event for posterity.

It was time for a short speech from the Chair [recorded below]. Jane Mayo welcomed and thanked everyone for coming – noting that this was not only a celebration of the life of ‘a priceless survivor’, Mr F.A. Walker but of a community that had supported the business for 100 years.

The auction was held and over £1,500 raised and then everyone started to head for the cinema and the second part of the evening.

Off and running

A red carpet had been lent by Castlehill Primary School, but sadly it was not possible to have it down as the wind had increased and it started flapping around rather dangerously.  On top of that the rain came in to dampen proceedings – fortunately after everyone had been seated.

A kind and spirited retired Bank Manager had offered to climb into his dinner jacket, don a ‘Picture House’ cap and welcome all the ticket holders to the cinema.   So, a verbal red carpet was given instead.

Tickets had been issued free of charge to make the show accessible to all, but donations were sought on entry and the audience was extremely generous. Strains of brass band music encouraged people to hurry to their seats, so that promptly on the stroke of 8 o’clock the show began.

The Chairman led the Platform Party to the stage and introduced the first guest, Mr Patrick Stewart, Lord Lieutenant of Argyll & Bute, then read a message from Her Majesty The Queen, who sent her warm, best wishes for a memorable and successful event, marking this most special anniversary.

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Liz Lochhead, the Makar, above right with Miss Mary MacMillan, then spoke about being delighted to be associated with The Picture House and recited an amusing piece of poetry composed by her about a visit to cinema. Willie Crossan, below left, nephew of George and Isa Durnan, who had served as projectionists for 75 years, was Master of Ceremonies for the evening and he introduced the programme.

CPH 4CPH 9

The first part looked back, beginning with a selection of very amusing old Pearl & Dean advertisements.  Then came excerpts from Movietone News, which included a clip on The Battle of the Atlantic to commemorate 70 years since the tide had been turned in this epic struggle against the U-Boats.   Campbeltown was an important Naval Base during this period, highly secret anti-submarine training being conducted here.

Two silent movies were shown, with piano accompaniment from David McEwan, below, former head of music at the Grammar School, who is custodian of the original cinema piano music of A. Ritchie Greig.   The first silent film was the surviving 6 minutes of what is known as ‘The Campbeltown Film’ shot in 1913, and the second a slap-stick comedy ‘McNabs Visit to London’!   Following this there was a short interval while the staff, specially dressed and equipped for the occasion, dispensed complimentary tubs of ice cream from Isle of Arran Dairies, the closest commercial producer.

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The main feature was ‘The Great Gatsby’ which had only 10 days before opened The Cannes Film Festival, a story set in the 1920s, in Jazz-age America, starring Leonardo diCaprio.   Some in the audience had dressed appropriately and the sparkle of that era seemed appropriate to the occasion.   At the conclusion of the film the capacity audience streamed out of the cinema to the skirl of the pipes, a final surprise from Lorne MacDougall from Carradale, who had played Highland and Border pipes for Disney Pixar’s movie ‘Brave’.

He had raced from Edinburgh airport that day after a gig in Germany the night before.   Sadly by that time it was raining quite hard.   But that failed to dampen spirits as 20 minutes of fireworks over the harbour greeted the audience.   The local volunteer firefighters have great experience of putting on a splendid show as they organise the annual Guy Fawkes celebration and had readily agreed to help The Picture House.   Communication was made to the MOKRUNNERS celebrating in the Victoria Hall and the Songwriters in the White Hart, so that they could witness the spectacle too.

After a long day the Staff of The Picture House were eventually able to close the doors and switch off the lights after a very successful and enjoyable 100th birthday celebration.  The following day the ‘Wee Pictures’ resumed its weekly programme with ‘Iron Man 3′ and the displays and photographs set up in the library for more people to enjoy.

Chair, Jane Mayo’s address to guests at the Centenary

‘Welcome everyone and thank you all very much for coming, especially to those who have had to make a special, long journey to Campbeltown, described as the most peripheral town in the United Kingdom.   Some have come from Edinburgh and Glasgow, some from the far Cornish corners of England and even some from overseas.   We particularly welcome Liz Lochhead, Machar of Scotland, Patron of the Centenary Project.     And to so many of you do we owe a huge debt of gratitude for helping this remarkable building, The Picture House in Campbeltown to survive to celebrate its Centenary.

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‘I have searched the internet for what else happened on 26th May 1913 and found nothing, although another Centenary, that of the Chelsea Flower Show has already been celebrated this past week.      So the opening of The Picture House here in Campbeltown was the most important thing in the world to happen on that day.   Described variously as ‘the cinema Rennie Macintosh might have designed’, ‘a UFO from outer space’, ‘a Bond villain’s mountain hideaway’ and most recently as a ‘flying saucer that’s crash landed on a whisky baron’s villa’, this precious building is actually also about the people who created and sustained it.

‘Think back 100 years to the heydays of this town, when the successful business people were travelling frequently by steamer to Glasgow.   Interesting then, that from this very weekend this will now be possible once again and indeed some here this evening have travelled to the town by this route.   But back then the Campbeltownians found that Glasgow had a large number of these new amusement palaces and determined that one should be built in their town.   The troika of Archibald Armour, Samuel Armour and James Smith became the driving force, joined by 38 other local shareholders, to appoint a prolific specialist cinema architect, Albert V Gardner, to create this masterpiece.   James Smith was the owner of the Ugadale Hotel and a early believer in marketing – how could he make his patrons want to come ‘doun the watter’, what were they to do on rainy days?   A purpose built cinema was the answer.   Later the family of Archibald took on the running and ownership of the cinema and Peter and Joyce and their family, are with us this evening.

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‘The Durnan/Crossan families are also important in the history of the Wee Pictures.   Together George and Isa worked in the cinema for over 3/4s of a century and their nephew, Willie Crossan is helping us this evening as our Master of Ceremonies.

‘In the mid 80s the Campbeltown Community further demonstrated its support.   The future was looking dire, the doors were going to close, even bingo could not resurrect the fortunes of the business.   But Campbeltown did not want to lose its beloved cinema – so a Community Business was formed, one of the first in Scotland, and as a charity it has survived for more than 25 years ever since.   This has only been possible because of local people, the Campbeltown diaspora and other lovers of cinema.   The current Directors would like to pay tribute to these many people, only a few of whom could be here tonight.

‘A special mention should be made of our current staff, particularly Russell Carroll, who next year will also celebrate a quarter century of involvement with The Picture House.   We have also been supported by Argyll & Bute Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the LEADER programme, all of whom together with the Rotary Club of Campbeltown, the Common Good Fund, Community Council and the three Windfarm Trusts have enabled us to take our first step into the digital age earlier this year.

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‘Rather like Canterbury Cathedral we did not succeed with our first attempt at gaining funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our vital refurbishment project, which will see The Picture House into its second century on a firmer financial footing.   They are encouraging us to try again.   Next week we shall submit a second application.   I am glad to say that our previous funders have remained faithful to the cause as they see it as a most important project.   It is vital we consider the future and our dream is to restore this special place to its former glory but also bring it up to date so that Peter Irvine’s remarks in Scotland The Best come true ‘To see a film here and emerge onto the esplanade of Campbeltown Loch is to experience the lost magic of a night at the pictures’

‘Indeed the improvements to The Picture House will hopefully occur together with a resurgence of prosperity in the town.   Campbeltown is on the cusp of a brighter future, and may I suggest that our iconic building be the symbol of the new way ahead.   Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise your glasses to give The Picture House our very best wishes for the future. ‘

Note: The photographs accompanying this article are by Sarah MacDonald Photography and are reproduced here with permission.

McGrigor welcomes double success of Campbeltown artists in JoLoMo awards

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Highlands & Islands MSP, Jamie McGrigor, tabled a motion today, 21st June, in the Scottish Parliament congratulating two artists from Campbeltown who have won prestigious painting awards organised by the Jolomo Foundation.

Dawnne McGeachy, a Glasgow-based artist who is originally from Campbeltown won the 2013 Jolomo Bank of Scotland Painting Award; while Campbeltown Grammar school pupil Justine Nawrot was named recently as the winner of the 2013 Jolomo Schools Painting Award.

Jamie, who attended the recent event in the Scottish Parliament where Justine Nawrot was presented with her award and saw her winning painting in person, says: ‘I congratulate both Dawnne and Justine on their fantastic achievements in winning these awards in what is a significant double success for Campbeltown.  I wish them every success in the future.

‘I also want to commend very highly John Lowrie Morrison (Jolomo) and the Jolomo Foundation for the work they do in organising and, with partners, funding these prestigious awards. These awards are very important to the arts sector in Scotland and are playing a big part in helping to boost Scotland’s international reputation for landscape painting.’

The Parliamentary Motion

Motion Number: S4M-07113
Lodged By: Jamie McGrigor
Date Lodged: 21/06/2013

Title: A Double Success for Campbeltown Painting Award Winners

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates Dawnne McGeachy, a Glasgow-based artist originally from Campbeltown in Argyll, on winning the 2013 Jolomo Bank of Scotland Painting Award; notes that what it considers this highly prestigious annual award was announced at a ceremony in Glasgow at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on 19 June 2013; also commends the runners-up, Ruth Nicol and Amy Dennis, and all those who entered the competition, which is Scotland’s biggest art prize and the largest privately funded arts awards in the UK; further congratulates Justine Nawrot, a pupil from Campbeltown Grammar School, on her success in winning the 2013 Jolomo Schools Painting Award; notes that this biennial award was presented by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning at an event in the Parliament on 6 June 2013; also commends all those who entered this competition, which promotes and encourages painting of Scottish landscapes and is open to senior pupils in all Scottish schools; is aware that both awards are organised by the Jolomo Foundation; pays warm tribute to John Lowrie Morrison (Jolomo), one of Scotland’s most successful contemporary painters, whose retrospective, A Passion for Colour, is running at Clydebank Town Hall Museum and Gallery until 21 September, and to the Jolomo Foundation for what it considers its generous support of emerging artists living and working in Scotland and of budding artists at school, and hopes that these awards will continue to assist and inspire Scottish landscape artists for many years to come.

Fudge rules: no change – yet – at Argyll and Bute Council

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This morning’s performance at Argyll and Bute Council’s August meeting was symptomatic of the irresponsibility that has characterised much of local government here since May 2012 and well before then.

If you had imagined clear physical expression of warring groups, cold shoulders and overt tensions – there is virtually no superficial evidence of any of these.

All is apparently chummy with little dissent – because they have made fudge together beforehand.

The entire chamber is effectively conspiring to defraud the electorate, by failing – still -  to provide from any source, a political management that has a forward-looking lifespan and stability.

The bottom line from this morning is that there is no change to the situation at the Council since or before the council meeting at the end of June.

Argyll is to stagger on for at least another month, with the paper still in place over the cracks .

Part of the reason for this is that there is no agreement yet to describe the obligations of the coalition partners. Unbelievably, the SNP Group ‘negotiators’ did not participate in any joint preparation of such an agreement but left it to their senior partner-to-be, Argyll and Bute for Change to present them with a draft agreement. This proved unacceptable but some members of the SNP Group, led by the Provost,  were prepared to accept it anyway. Others wanted to take back for further discussion what was not acceptable.

This meant that nothing could be presented to the council today – and the fudge was to agree to let the hare sit for the moment.

So – the SNP’s Councillor McCuish is still Council Leader, having been denied the support of some of his own party group.

No Deputy Leader is in place, causing delays in getting some matters signed off in the accustomed timescales.

All current senior posts remain as they were for yet more of the time being.

And no one appears to be in a position to do anything about this state of affairs – or to want to do so.

However, at today’s opening farce, there was interesting evidence [see below] that the seat of power has already shifted, although there is no formal recognition of the fact.

Stirring the fudge

Before the council began, there was a private meeting of the SNP Group in the Council Chamber – with members distributed around seats on the two long forward facing rows of desks. Group Leader Sandy Taylor was wandering around at the front, addressing them. These guys don’t even know how to meet.

There were other caucuses going on elsewhere.

Councillor Walsh was deep in conversation on procedural matters with an officer on the staircase.

At the start of the session Councillor Fred Hall raised the issue of a motion submitted for the meeting by himself and Councillor Iain Angus Macdonald. This had not been placed on the agenda. Neither Councillor had been notified of any inability in the motion nor of any veto exercised in its non-appearance. He asked for it to be read aloud to the chamber and wished to know if the Provost was aware of the decision not to table it.

She said she was – but clearly had no understanding of the reasoning behind the decision. In a flounder, she was rescued by a nimble intervention from the Executive Director of Cutomer Services, Douglas Hendry. He said that the matter of the motion related to the work of the Short Life Working Party on Political Management Arrangements [SWLG]. Tradition apparently prefers to avoid any duplicated discussions and, since there was a report to come to the council from the Short Life Working Group, the feeling had been that the concerns of the absent motion could be raised under the discussion on that item.

In the event, there was no discussion whatsoever on the SWLG report [see below], which is itself of concern – and Councillor Hall raised no issues. Given that both of these councillors are members of Argyll and Bute for Change, a shoe-in to lead the next coalition, it would be important to know of the content of this motion, which might at least, for clarification, have been read aloud as Councillor Hall had asked.

The agreed avoidance of action on political management

When the meeting got going, Item 4 on the agenda was a report from the Short Life Working Group [SWLG] on Political Management Arrangements at the Council.

The two key paragraphs of this two page report came together at the end of it:

‘The SWLG will hold another meeting on 9th September 2013 and is conscious that it deliberations will need to take into account the report from Audit Scotland once it is made available to all members in September or early October.

’3.3 In light of the detail at 3.2 the Council is invited to note that the SLWG has not yet completed its remit but anticipates that it will be in a position to do report back to the September Council meeting.’

The issue here is the contradiction between these two paragraphs and the reality of timescale they simultaneously reveal and conceal.

The first one says that the Working Group’s deliberations will ‘need to take into account the report from Audit Scotland once it is made available to all members in September or early October‘.

This makes clear that the final deliberations of the SWLG cannot be guaranteed to be completed until after early October. This means that no final recommendations to council can be assured before the meeting at the end of October.

Then the last paragraph, 3.3, says that the SWLG  ‘anticipates that it will be in a position to report back to the September Council meeting’.

This does not commit to submitting its recommendations to the council at the end of September. With the probability that the Audit Scotland report will not be accessible to all members until early October, no such commitment could credibly be given.

However, the tone and carefully vague working of that last paragraph – suggesting an end to the matter -  means no more than that another report from this group will come to council at the end of September.

We understand from Audit Scotland that the availability of the commissioners’ report to all members is very unlikely to come in September; and that ‘early October’ might be a tad optimistic.

So what we are looking at, at best, is recommendations coming to council from the SWLG at the meeting at the end of October.

Suppose that the Audit Scotland report is made available in, say, mid-October – on Monday 16th.

According to the public calendar on the council website, no date has yet been set for the October council meeting; but it is traditionally held on the last Thursday of the month. That would be Thursday 28th October.

Audit Scotland have had serious and delicate matters to investigate and will have, in the way of these things, perhaps unduly, guarded conclusions to present.

No one knows what Audit Scotland are going to be saying.

When the report is available, unless it issues a clean bill of health on member-to-member relations and on member-to-officer relations in the council, whatever it says will require mature consideration in any recommendations on the way forward.

It is hard to see the SWLG preparing its final recommendations in the small space available between this possible reception of the Audit Commissioners’ report and the October council meeting.

So the earliest we can reasonably expect recommendations for political management of the council from this group is the November meeting of the council.

Yet we know that backstairs arrangements are well advanced – outside the SWLG – to see into power a new coalition led by the Argyll and Bute for Change Group and with the SNP Group as junior partners.

Quite how this improper situation is finessed into some sort of apparently acceptable procedural conclusion is impossible to understand. But that will be done.

There will be a smooth and challengeable shoe-horn statement made to council by the Executive Director of Customer Services – which will not be challenged because anther batch of fudge will have been made beforehand.

This morning, in any responsible circumstance, there ought to have been, from somewhere in the chamber, an objection to the situation created by the report from the SWLG. But there was not a single bat-squeak.

The entire chamber, with no evidence of contrary advice from senior officers, appears to believe it is OK for Argyll to carry on in its current limbo. One evidence of that limbo in the absence of recommendations from the SWLG was the sheer length – again – of today’s agenda: 29 items with an urgent one from the Education Director added at the start of the meeting.

The signal of transfer of power

As the meeting was to move to the next item from the non-consideration of anything to do with the report of the SLWG, Lay Member of Council, Mr William Crossan, former Headmaster of Campbeltown Grammar School asked – pointedly – if there would be a value in establishing an Education Committee, since the council tended not to address education issues in much detail.

At this point, Councillor Dick Walsh – still formally Leader of the Opposition – intervened, without invitation from the Provost in the Chair, to assure Mr Crossan that there were matters in train which would address his concerns.

This assurance cannot have been given from the authority of the Short Life Working Group on Political Management Arrangements since that is chaired by Council Leader McCuish; and since the brief report of the SLWG to council today contains no mention of any discussions on the possible scrutiny of education matters.

This was a point of information and assurance to the chamber from the man who is now effectively – but below formal visibility, the seat of power in Argyll and Bute Council.

Our concerns here remain with the probity of procedure – which appears to be a matter of little concern on the elected or the executive side of Argyll and Bute Council.

This morning’s deployment was perfectly surreal.

For Argyll 2013 tributes: to the awarded

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This reminds us of the enterprises whose competitive success has been recognised in a variety of awards and nominations in 2013 – and the spectrum of businesses involved, from transport to eating out, underlines the detail of what Argyll has to offer to its residents and visitors alike.

CalMac

West coast ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne [CalMac], beat 13 major ferry companies to its win in being named Best Ferry Company 2013 in the prestigious Guardian and Observer Travel Awards – for the fourth year in a row.

CalMac also won two more major awards this year: Public Transport Operator of the Year, awarded to the company in the Scottish Transport Awards  – the third time the company has won it in four years; and an award for Customer Focus in the Scottish Business Awards.

Ardbeg Distillery

Ardbeg, producer of one of the best known of the world renowned Islay single malt whiskies, stormed the World Whisky Awards in London with a hat-trick of wins: World’s Best Single Malt; Best Islay Single Malt with Ardbeg Galileo; Global Icon Visitor Centre Manager of the Year for Jackie Thompson.

Scottish Association of Marine Science [SAMS]

Scientists from the Scottish Association of Marine Science [SAMS] at Dunstaffnage were part of an award winning European Project. ASIMUTH, led from Ireland and with eleven partners, was recognised as the Best Service Challenge from Copernicus Masters, a European Earth monitoring competition that annually awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society, based on Earth observation data. The award was for a system forecasting impending harmful algal blooms [HAB Forecast], the first of its kind and important for the shellfishharvesting industry.

Ninth Wave Restaurant

Ninth Wave, Mull’s little restaurant at Fionnphort, across the sound from Iona, was made Restaurant of the Year at the Highlands and Islands 2013 Food and Drink awards, seeing off opposition from Michelin starred establishments in what was the largest nominations list in the awards.

Ninth Wave was also a finalist as Best Restaurant in the Visit Scotland 2013 Thistle Awards.

An Cridhe

An Cridh  – ‘the heart’ – a new community centre on the Isle of Coll, won the top prize in the Scottish Civic Trust ‘My Place’ Awards.

The Village at Machrihanish Dunes

The Village at Machrihanish Dunes won the Scotland Enterprise Award at the Countryside Alliance Awards – awarded to the business that is inspiring and globally competitive, while contributing to the community and the rural heritage in which it is based.

The Village at Machrihanish Dunes in South Kintyre was shortlisted in the Best Training category in the s013 VisitScotland Thistle Awards.

Loch Lomond Arms Hotel

The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in Luss has been recognised as one of Scotland’s most stylish establishments after being nominated in the cool Scottish Style Awards.

Gigha Halibut

A major winner was  given as ‘Gigha Seafood’ but is in reality Gigha Halibut – at the Highlands and Islands 2013 Food and Drink awards – a product for which this innovative company based on ‘God’s Island’ of Ggha,is now renowned. They took two awards – both stellar confirmations of the quality of their product: the Excellence Award and the New Product Award: for their Smoked Gigha Halibut.

Luss Prinary School

Luss Primary School, on the shores of Loch Lomond, took a highly prestigious award in the British Animal Honours, shown on primetime STV. This wass in recognition of the school’s successful participation in the trail-blazing ‘Powan in the Classroom’ project, run by the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust (LLFT).

Craig Clark of CF Productions

30 year old videographer Craig Clark saw his work with his three year old Dunoon-based company, CF-productions, earn national recognition in a big way. At the inaugural Scottish Wedding Awards 2013, CF Productions won Videographer of the Year for the South West region; and Craig himself took the prestigious Videographer of the Year Award for Scotland.

Island Bakery Organics

Tobermory’s Island Bakery Organics, a regular recipient of awards as well as a provider of treats, was given the Environment Award at the Highlands and Islands 2013 Food and Drink awards.

Fyne Ales

Fyne Ales’ Jarl won two top awards at the 2013 Great British Beer Festival. The blonde session ale won the much coveted Champion Golden Ale award and a Bronze medal in the overall Champion Beer of Britain award. This is the first time a Scottish brewery has placed in the competition since 2005.

Argyll Holidays

Argyll Holidays’ Campbell family were winners again in 2013, given the coveted Best Scottish Family Business of 2013 at the Scottish Business Awards; and the Renewable Energy Supplier of the Year at The Scottish Farmer Agricultural Awards 2013.

South Shian Tern Rafts and Dr Clive Craik

The South Shian Tern Rafts – an initiative to protect breeding common terns in West Scotland – and the retired Barcaldine-based scientist behind it, Dr Clive Craik, were shortlisted in RSPB Scotland’s 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards – Dr Craik for the RSPB Species Champion Award - which he won against all comers.

Mull and Iona

The sister isles of Mull & Iona have more Green Tourism Business Scheme members than any other island and were shortlisted for the Green Tourism Destination Goldstar Award at the Green Tourism Awards in November – the only destination in Scotland to be shortlisted.

Sam Coley of Samteq

Sam Coley of Samteq in Dunoon was made Argyll’s top young entrepreneur at the regional finals of the 2013 Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland Young Entrepreneur (PTYBS) Awards.

Leonie Woolf, Art & Sea

Leonie Woolf of Oban-based Art and Sea, a custom kayak graphics business established at the beginning of 2011 with funding and advice from the PTYBS, was runner up to Sam Coley as Argyll’s top young entrepreneur at the regional finals of the 2013 Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland Young Entrepreneur (PTYBS) Awards.

Argyll and the Trossachs

Argyll and the Trossachs was shortlisted in the Britain’s favourite holiday destination category in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2013.

The Scottish Beaver Trial

The Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale in Argyll was shortlisted for the Best Conservation Project in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2013. The Scottish Beaver Trial was also shortlisted in the 2013 RSPB Scotland’s Nature of Scotland Awards.

Ethical Shellfish Company

The Ethical Shellfish Company on Mull was shortlisted in two separate categories in RSPB Scotland’s 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards.

HWDT’s Silurian

Silurian – the Tobermory-based Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s floating classroom which provides a venue for the practical training of hundreds of volunteers – was shortlisted in RSPB Scotland’s 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards.

Snapberry

Snapberry, an annual partnership project between SNH and Lochgilphead High School which uses photography to connect local school students with the natural landscape, then uses an outdoor town centre projection to link to a much wider audience, was shortlisted in RSPB Scotland’s 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards.

Heart of Argyll Tourism Cooperative

Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance has been named as one of the UK’s leading co-operatives and has been shortlisted for Most Innovative Co-operative Award. The Most Innovative Co-operative Award is one of the annual awards run by Co-operatives UK, the trade association for co-operatives and mutual businesses.

Ardtorna B&B

The Ardrorna B&B in Oban, a much awarded establishment, was a finalist as Best B&B in the 2013 VisitScotland Thistle Awards.

Clan Cottages

Clan Cottages, near Oban, was a finalist in the Best Self-Catering category in the s013 VisitScotland Thistle Awards.

Cottage Kindergarten

Helensburgh’s Cottage Kindergarten, was a finalist is in the Numeracy Across Learning category of the 2013 Scottish Education Awards – an aspect of competence Scotland as a whole needs to get seriously cranked up – and seeing off hefty competition from the sector across Scotland.

Argyll College

For the third year in a row, Argyll College, University of the Highlands and Islands, has featured in one of the Scotland’s Best Workplaces Awards. The college was awarded 6th position (Medium and Large Business Category) in the 2013 awards.

Community Dementia Team

Argyll and Bute Council’s Community Dementia Team was been shortlisted for the 2013 Care Accolades.

Justine Nawrot

Campbeltown Grammar school pupil Justine Nawrot was the winner of the 2013 Jolomo Schools Painting Award.

Nancy Craig

Nancy Craig, a volunteer with three decades of support given to the National Trust for Scotland’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh gem in Helensburgh, Hill House, was given the Chairman’s Award, recognising her long service for the Trust.

 

 

Blue Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship already benefiting young people in Kintyre

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And there’s a competition to name this specific rally – on 5th and 6th July 2014. This Friday, 28th February, at Campbeltown Grammar School, starting at 2pm in the Assembly Hall, there’s a half day event on rally care and road safety where Kintyre pupils will get to meet some of the stars of the Blue Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship.

As Machrihanish Air Base prepares for Kintyre’s very first rally on the weekend of July 5th and 6th, the organisers of the Blue Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship have organised a fun and informative day for local pupils in Campbeltown.

They will have the chance to learn all about the thrills of professional motor sport from the experts, with a rare insight into what happens on the track and behind the scenes.

They will be able to get up close and personal themselves to a number of bona fide rally cars which will arrive at thier school.

An integral part of the half-day event will also focus entirely on road safety, with advice for future motorists on how to enjoy driving while staying safe and legal . . . and the importance of leaving motor sport where it belongs – with the professionals on the rally championship stages.

The Kintyre rally is organised by Dunfermline Car Club [DCC], which has been rallying and organising such prestigious motoring events for more than 40 years

Event coordinator and Car Club committee member, David Hatrick, says: ‘It’s great that the sport can offer something back to the local community, a community that has been very gracious in welcoming and supporting the inaugural Kintyre rally.

‘This is the perfect chance to fire up young imaginations about a future in motor sport – not just in driving and navigating, but also in automotive mechanics, events management, organisation and safety.

‘It is also an opportunity to help children, who will young people, soon be young adults behind the wheel, to appreciate how vitally important it is to stay safe at all time on the roads.’

The visiting team will consist of David Hatrick [Events Co-ordinator], Keith Cowan [Events Chief Marshall] and Alison Clark [Go Motorsport].

This initiative holds huge promise for young people in Kintyre in following and engaging in motorsport. Argyll has a lively portfolio of motorsport events and a lot of first class home grown drivers in rallying a d in race driving – from the Duffy brothers on Mull to Oban’s Susie Wolff [Stoddart].

It would be fabulous to see a series of motorsport champions starting to focus attention on Kintyre.

With:

  • the airport at Campbeltown capable of taking any aircraft;
  • the A83 now trunked all the way from Loch Lomond down the spectacular west coast of the Kintyre peninsula;
  • West Coast Motors running five return coaches a day from Glasgow;
  • and Kintyre Express running a summer season fast passenger ferry service to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland…

this part of the world can support as much interest as the enterprising can grow.

Name the Kintyre rally

The grand finale of the fun day will be the announcement of an exciting competition, with the organisers asking young people from all over Kintyre to suggest an official name for the new rally.

The rules and entry dates will be announced on the day, with the final winner expected to be chosen in the coming weeks.

Anyone who would like more information on the Campbeltown Grammar School event, on the inaugural Kintyre rally, or who would like to keep up with events as the countdown to the big weekend of Rallying begins, can visit the Dunfermline car club website here – or join the growing legion of fans on the event’s Facebook page here.

More information will be on the Dunfermline Car Club website soon.

Social Enterprise Awards and Dragon’s Den winners at ABSEN annual conference

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Bute, Mull, Oban, Campbeltown and Mid Argyll featured in the successes announced at the Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network [ABSEN] annual conference in Inveraray last week.

79 delegates attended the conference over its two 2 days, providing great opportunities for networking and for learning, with workshops on matters such as the third sector partnership, single outcome agreement, public diplomacy, social media, procurement and marketing.

Dragon’s Den funding successes

There were eight gladiators in the annual Dragons Den contest for project funding. The emerging winners were:

  • Oban Phoenix Cinema, with their Office in a Shed idea who will receive £1000 of business support from Royal Bank of Scotland and £300 funding towards their idea from Scotwest Credit Union.
  • Two Campbeltown Grammar Students, who made an excellent pitch for CGS4 Gambia and won £500 sponsored by Firstport for their new business idea to take forward a sales venture.  This will support their ongoing work with Gambia.  They plan to develop sales and marketing of ethical imported goods.
  • Artmap Argyll, who will now be able to progress their sales of quality Argyll Art to the London market, helping to promote the area and enabling them to reinvest in Art Workshops for local people back in Argyll, they received £500 sponsored by Inspiralba.

The annual Social Enterprise Awards were also presented, recognising excellence and highlighting the range of community, environmental, economic and social benefits being delivered by enterprises across the area.

Social Enterprise of the Year: Fyne Futures

This was awarded to Fyne Futures, recognising their strong commitment to community regeneration through environmental activities and their ability to diversify and grow their activities to deliver their charitable objectives.

The company has grown from a trading income of just over £72k in 2005/6 to over £221k in 2012/13, having diversified and grown their activities in response to community needs and their charitable objectives.

Their services and products have evolved from recycling operations to a spectrum including: Furniture Re-use, Local Produce, Car Club and Home energy efficiency.

The Company undertook a strategic review following a challenging year in 2012/13, reviewing the management structure and developed an effective management and staffing structure for the long term development and sustainability of Fyne Futures, supported by their board.  The consolidation of distinct projects in to a cohesive social enterprise, whilst maintaining local and nationally recognised brands has been a key achievement this year.  The development of a community engagement strategy and digital marketing activities have also been key developments this year assisting the company to achieve a modest profit despite difficult trading conditions.

This along with a year long programme of change management has enabled Fyne Futures to develop as a fitter and more resilient social enterprise, employing 16 people in Bute with a strong commitment to employment training and volunteering.

Fyne Futures says of its award: ‘We are delighted to receive this award.  2013 was a challenging year in many respects however we can celebrate a great deal of achievements.

‘There is great awareness on Bute of climate change and more people are recognising that adopting green practises is good for them and their families too!  Whether its growing vegetables or supporting horticultural learning, Bute Produce has had a bumper year, visits to the garden have increased and more people are enjoying our Green Box scheme.  With the cost of running a car increasing every year, people are re-thinking car ownership and Car Bute celebrated it’s 100th member.  Recycling participation rates have increased to 34% on Bute and re-used furniture is this year’s best fashion tip.

‘We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year, and with community support, are looking forward to a fantastic year ahead.’

Social Enterprise Leader of the Year: Brian Swinbanks

Social Enterprise Leader of the Year was awarded to Brian Swinbanks of the Tobermory Harbour Association. The award recognises his vision 30 years ago of a better Tobermory Bay and his ongoing commitment and dedication which has resulted in the soundly successful company and facilities that play a vital role in the economy and social fabric of Tobermory today, both on land and at sea.

The Tobermory Harbour Association has been a driving force in re-organising moorings and anchorage areas; getting the infill at Ledaig where they now have a large public car park – reclaimed from the sea and serving the range of businesses and services in the village; a wonderful harbour building; pontoons – with up to 45 visitor berths; and a string of visitor moorings.

The Harbour building was a huge project officially opened by HRH the Princess Royal in 2009.  The building has 6 letting offices for small business, facilities for visitors and a Marine Visitor Centre opened by THA in 2013 to educate, inform and entertain young and old.

Brian’s ability to maintain enthusiasm and commitment to regeneration in Tobermory, through challenges and successes has remained undaunted and he continues to support the work of Tobermory Harbour Association.

New Social Enterprise of the Year – Oban Phoenix Cinema

The New Social Enterprise of the Year award went to Oban Phoenix Cinema, who, through strong support from the community and hard work from a strong team were able to secure funding and purchase the cinema as a community asset in 2011.

They refurbished the main core cinema facilities, including Cinema One, opening for business in August 2012.

From the outset, there has been a strong commitment to delivering a community run programme and feedback from the community has been hugely supportive.   Oban Phoenix Cinema has achieved attendances that match the highest averages and percentiles for cinema attendance in the UK.  Attendance in the first year of opening achieved over 50,000 paying customers with the space developed within the Cinema being utilised to capacity.

Having had a significant focus on the purchase and refurbishment to deliver a high quality Community Cinema, the board reviewed their strategic direction in 2013 to ensure ongoing growth and development and are now working towards their ongoing growth plan.

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‘Mach 1 Stages’– the inaugural Kintyre car rally is GO for 5th & 6th July

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What’s in a name? Everything – and that’s why the organisers of the of the Blue Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship event at Machrihanish Air Base in Kintyre on 5th and 6th July 2014, are delighted to announce the official title of the inaugural event.

Kintyre’s first ever rally will be called ‘Mach 1 Stages’. The name, which is the brainchild of local school pupil Shona Basset, was chosen from dozens submitted in a contest by the pupils of Campbeltown Grammar School.

The Kintyre Rally – whose title sponsor is Blue Machinery (Scotland) Ltd – is organised by Dunfermline Car Club (DCC) and Event Co-ordinator and committee member David Hatrick said: ‘Finally giving what promises to be one of the most popular and prestigious events in the rally calendar an official title, it really feels like we’re getting closer to the big weekend.

‘We’d like to offer our congratulations  to Shona and hope that Mach 1 Stages soon become buzz words and not just locally in Kintyre, as the excitement grows towards the event, but throughout the rally community in Scotland and beyond.’

Entry regulations and scrutineering times

The organisers are also announcing details of the event’s entry regulations and scrutineering times for all participating teams.

Entries for Mach 1 Stages will open on 4th June with the closing date set for 21stJune. Scrutineering takes place on 5th July, with the first car due on Stage 1 at 12 noon precisely. Other details released include:

  • Supplementary Regs published 26th May
  • Entries open 4th June
  • Closing date for entries 21st June
  • Final instructions and seeded entries issued 25th June
  • Scrutineering 4th July, 16.00 – 19.00
  • Scrutineering and documentation 5th July, 08.00 – 11.30
  • First car starts 12 noon, 5th July
  • First car finishes 17.10, 5th July
  • First car starts 08.30, 6th July
  • First car finishes 13.25, 6th July

The organisers along with the landowners have also issued a statement stating that there will be no camping allowed within the venue at any time – with huge crowds expected, competitors and spectators are urged to contact local camp sites, hotels,B&Bs and guest houses.

There will, however, be car parking for the general public: charged at  £15 per car and £5 per motorbike per day.

More information on the inaugural Kintyre rally and running updates on events as the countdown to the big weekend of Rallying begins, are online here at the Dunfermline Car Cub website and on the facebook page here.