All jobs except the still manager will be local. The whisky itself will be west coast in flavour, something close to Tallisker or Lagavulin, with both peaty and non-peaty versions. With the stills due to be delivered early next year, work on the building will start soon.
Donald Houston also agreed to have the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the field by Mingary Castle. It was felt that access to the Lighthouse, the proposed venue, might be too problematic.
If anything, the situation with medical cover on West Ardnamurchan has gone from bad to worse. The one hopeful aspect is the 999 provision. Sam Harding is to be appointed technician, which means he will be able to operate at a very high medical level. The other Emergency Responders will be given 60+ hours of additional training to bring them up towards his standard. So far they have been called out ten times, and have operated very effectively. At present there are four ERs, and this will be increased to six - applications have been received for the two posts from well-qualified people. This side of the service still has its teething problems, so people need to be patient, but it looks promising.
The District Nurses arrangement is a shambles. No nurse is available in the Centre at 9am, the service which is being provided to those in need is poor, the Kilchoan Nurses' Base phone isn't being diverted to Strontian, our remaining local nurse is driving all over West Lochaber, 'our' other nurse is living in Shielfoot, the amount of waste - for example, of professional time driving around West Lochaber - is appalling...., etc, etc. WACC has given up dealing with Jill McVicar and is trying to talk to Garry Coutts, Chairman of NHS Highland, without much success. Mary Scanlon, MSP, is well aware of the situation and is furious with NHSH.
The situation with our Doctors is catastrophic. Both are resigning as of 11th August. A full text of their statement is available here, and it makes dismal reading. To summarise, their problem is lack of support from the Health Board in the provision of out-of-hours cover, something from which they resigned last November. WACC will be working with the other Community Councils, but we may face a prolonged period with locum cover.
The long-promised leaflet from SAS/NHSH which sets out to explain to us how the new 'system' is supposed to operate STILL hasn't been produced. No explanation is forthcoming.
The Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Highland will be holding a drop-in session on Thursday 17th - date and time to be confirmed - to which all are invited. WACC urges everyone to attend and 'explain', politely but firmly, particularly to NHSH, how utterly dissatisfied we are with what is happening. In the space of a year a medical service which dealt with a remote community in an exemplary manner has been utterly destroyed, and only the 999 cover - with Nicola Sturgeon breathing down the SAS's neck - has shown signs of rising from the ashes.
We're going to need a further campaign to bring the problem to public notice. This needs to get going before Nicola Sturgeon comes down here in about four weeks time. Please write to Nicola Sturgeon, our MSPs, Charles Kennedy MP, your new Highland Councillors, and Garry Coutts, Chairman of NHS Highland - the addresses are in the right hand column of this blog.