Spir­ited de­fence of Mull fol­low­ing scathing at­tack

The Oban Times - - News -

A COM­MU­NITY ac­tivist on Mull has hit back at crit­i­cism of the is­land.

Oban Times reader Barry Turner launched a scathing at­tack on the is­land, its in­fra­struc­ture and peo­ple in a sear­ing let­ter to the ed­i­tor (July 14).

But Steve Wil­lis, sec­re­tary of Mull Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, has hit back.

Mr Wil­lis said: ‘I will be­gin by cor­rect­ing the in­ac­cu­ra­cies in Mr Turner’s let­ter so that I am bet­ter placed to an­swer other points he makes.

‘As re­gards the road sur­faces on Mull, these re­cently re­ceived the ser­vices of a ma­chine known as a ‘Jet­patcher’, which was here for a num­ber of weeks, cor­rect­ing pot­holes and other mi­nor is­sues, leav­ing our roads in the best con­di­tion they have been in many years. This fact was com­mented on at June’s com­mu­nity coun­cil meet­ing where it was agreed that I write to the roads depart­ment to thank them for a job well done.

‘The com­ment that “there is no visi­tor cen­tre on Mull” beg­gars be­lief as the very first build­ing any visi­tor would see on ar­riv­ing at Craignure is a visi­tor cen­tre.

‘It is well-stocked with every con­ceiv­able ne­ces­sity such as maps and guide books and staffed by the most friendly and help­ful staff. As re­gards pub­lic toi­lets, there are sev­eral which he has cho­sen to ex­clude from his list. He omits those at Aros Hall in Tober­mory, Ulva Ferry and Fion­nphort. Those in Der­vaig will shortly be taken over by the North West Mull Wood­land Man­age­ment Com­pany and those at Salen closed be­cause of es­sen­tial re­pairs which have now been com­pleted (this was not down to pub­lic pres­sure as he im­plies).

‘Park­ing in pass­ing places al­ways has been and re­mains a road traf­fic of­fence and there­fore see­ing a po­lice no­tice to that ef­fect is sim­ply to re­mind vis­i­tors of that fact. Per­haps the sce­nario whereby an emer­gency ve­hi­cle can­not pro­ceed as its route is blocked by an un­law­fully parked ve­hi­cle with the on­com­ing car not hav­ing any­where to quickly get out of the way is not one with which he is fa­mil­iar.

‘What Mr Turner fails to see is the fact that Mull is a huge is­land with a very low pop­u­la­tion count (2,800 or there­abouts) and he is com­par­ing here with places such as Lis­more and Raasay. Spend £500,000 on roads and in­fra­struc­ture there and you would in­deed have world-class fa­cil­i­ties. Spend that on Mull and no-one would no­tice.

‘He men­tions view­points and – speak­ing as one who sat on the com­mit­tee look­ing into this prob­lem – the fig­ure we were look­ing at some years back was in ex­cess of £1 mil­lion. This was to in­stall new and re­fur­bish ex­ist­ing view­points. Per­haps Der­byshire is for­tu­nate and can at­tract this level of fund­ing for what­ever projects it sees fit. Sadly, this is not the case here.

‘Now, more than ever, largescale fund­ing is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult, and Argyll and Bute Coun­cil can­not be ex­pected to fi­nance non-statu­tory schemes so it is not that it is “ig­nor­ing” Mull, as he puts it but sim­ply there is not the money avail­able.’

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