Argyll and Bute Council is full of great people, working very hard every day for our communities. As the council’s Chief Executive I have the privilege of speaking with employees from across the full range of our services.
To help keep our employees up-to-date with the work of the council, and to make visible some of the efforts that often go unnoticed, I would like to share with you conversations I am having with different people about different aspects of the council.
Thank you to all our hard working employees for the difference you are making for Argyll and Bute.
If you have any ideas about subjects we can cover on any future podcasts please get in touch with us at email@example.com
What is the most unusual animal that has been present at a wedding? And what is the best location for a ceremony in Argyll and Bute? Pippa speaks here with Julie McLellan, Senior Registrar and Service Point Manager, about how the Council’s registration service does its best to accommodate the dreams of happy couples. And it’s not just weddings – You might be surprised to hear what a wide range of other services our Registrars offer.
More information on Marriage and Civil Ceremonies can be found on the Council website or on Instagram /abregistrars.
For this year’s Refugee Week, we are focussing on Ukraine and how the Council is working in partnership with a number of organisations in the area to welcome refugee families fleeing the conflict. Listen here to Pippa in conversation with Morag Brown (Business Improvement Manager and Resettlement Lead), Hannah Greening (Resettlement Coordinator), Mark Parry (Environmental Health Officer), Luidmyla Momotenko (Community Interpreter), Michaela Wilson (Teacher at Tighnabruaich Primary School, where some resettled Ukrainian youngsters are already attending), and Housing Association representatives Michael Driscoll (West Highland) and Iona MacPhail (Fyne Homes).
To celebrate its 14th birthday, Oban Airport is holding an Open Day on Saturday 25th June 2022. Listen in here to Pippa in conversation with Oban and the Isles Airports Station Manager, Tom Eddleston, about events on the Open Day, some very exiting drone trials that are currently underway, and how the Airport is becoming a popular filming location.
You may remember the recent news about our Empty Homes Team picking up the ‘Outstanding Team Award’ at the 2022 Scottish Empty Homes Awards, and how we had five entries shortlisted as finalists this year. Here, Pippa has the pleasure of speaking with Kelly Ferns, Empty Homes Officer who collected the team award, along with Innes MacQueen and Simon McVicar, who are owner/renovators of properties that were finalists at the Awards and how they were able to transform long-empty properties into modern occupied homes.
A climb up Mount Kilimanjaro … A 250-km Arctic dog sled trip … What next for the intrepid Shonna Derrett and Mary Galloway who take on challenging expeditions to raise money for charity? Find out in their conversation here with Pippa about their adventures and motivation for fundraising. And as we recognise this year’s Volunteers Week, hear also from Robin Miller, Project Coordinator from the charity Cowal Elderly Befrienders, which relies on the valuable contribution of volunteers, and benefits from the fundraising exploits of Shonna and Mary.
The holiday season is well underway again in Argyll and Bute and this year we are even more prepared than ever before for our visitors. Here Pippa catches up with the Council’s tourism officer Zalina Dzhatieva and staycation officer Nathan Gallogley, along with the GRAB Trust’s Christina Saunders, about the facilities in place for visitors and how you can find all the information you need for a great holiday in Argyll and Bute on our website. Hear also about the experiences of staycation wardens from our own Graeme MacPherson.
Following on from the recent podcast offering advice for people struggling with the rising cost of living, in this week’s podcast Pippa speaks with Jackie Westerman, the Council’s Home Energy Efficiency Project Officer, and Brian Barker from Home Energy Scotland, about what households can do to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency. There is also information about renewable energy sources for homes and what financial assistance is currently available. For more information, please also see the Council’s home energy efficiency webpage or visit the Home Energy Scotland website. You can also call the Home Energy Scotland helpline on 0808 808 2282.
As you are probably well aware by now the elections took place this week, which will see our new elected members in place. Our teams have been busy with staffing the polling stations and counting votes. For many people, an election is just about turning up at the polling station on Election Day to cast a vote, or marking a ballot paper to put in the post. Back in March, Pippa spoke with members of the Council’s elections team – Tricia O’Neill, Sandra Campbell and Melissa Stewart – about just how much work goes into organising elections in Argyll and Bute, with its 23 inhabited islands, and the logistics of bringing all the votes to a central location for counting, while ensuring that all legal requirements and timescales are met.
Have you ever wondered what a Lord-Lieutenant is and does? Here, Pippa has the pleasure of speaking with Jane Macleod about her role as the current Lord-Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, the Honours system and celebrations for the Queens Platinum Jubilee. You can also find out more about the Lieutenancy of Argyll and Bute at the Lord-Lieutenant's official Instagram - @lord_lieutenant_argyllandbute.
Hear about the work of the Scottish SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Argyll and Bute and across Scotland in Pippa’s conversation here with SSPCA Chief Executive Kirsteen Campbell and local inspector Yvonne Sloss.
For more information on the Scottish SPCA, please visit their website.
Are you worried about the rising cost of living and how you are going to pay your bills? Listen here to Pippa in conversation with people and organisations that are there to help. We have Fergus Walker from the Council’s Revenues and Benefits team, Dr Lynda Mitchell from ALIenergy, Jen Broadhurst from Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau, Julie Semple from Bute Advice Centre and Mary McGinley from Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank. More information about help with rising costs can also be found here on the Council’s website.
Events such as what we have experienced with Covid over the past two years, and now the war in Ukraine, can cause a lot of anxiety and take their toll on our mental wellbeing. Pippa speaks with Dr Anne Grieg and Chulainn Ledsom from our Educational Psychology Service (EPS) about mental health support in our schools and how to talk to children and young people about war and world events. You can also find some useful resources on our website and on the EPS Glow Blog.
In this week’s podcast Pippa chats with Mary Louise Howat, one of our Senior Development Officers in the Development and Economic Growth team, about some exciting Argyll and Bute projects that have recently been successful in receiving UK Community Renewal funding, part of the UK Government’s levelling up agenda. Listen out for the guest appearance of Mary Louise’s dog Heidi!
To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week (7th – 11th March), Pippa chats with five of our current/former modern apprentices – Cameron Allen, Cameron Bonnar, Cameron McCallum, Tom McLaughlin and Mitchell Robertson – about their experiences of working and learning with the Council. Also participating in the conversation are Rebecca Guy and Fiona McBride, who speak about the different avenues through which young people can access apprenticeship programmes, and Bob Miller who describes the benefits of supervising apprentices.
Free period products such as tampons, pads and reusable products will soon be more widely available for anyone in Argyll and Bute who needs them. In this week’s podcast, Pippa speaks with Amy Bruce about the Free Period Products initiative, the survey which is open for comments until 4th March 2022, and how Amy came to be the Period Products Project Lead for Argyll and Bute.
Having acted as Interim Chief Officer of the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership since May 2021, Fiona Davies has now been appointed as the permanent HSCP Chief Officer. Here Pippa chats with Fiona about her career, her priorities as Chief Officer going forward, and the HSCP budget consultation which is open for comments until 28th February 2022.
The Our Modern Workspace group is doing a lot of work just now to transform Council offices so that long term we can move to the home/office mix of working that most staff have told us they would like. This week Pippa chats with our Change Manager, Shirley Johnstone, and Head of Commercial Services, Ross McLaughlin, along with Chris Malcolm from Ryder Architecture, who is assisting the Council with the Our Modern Workspace project.
February 3rd is Time To Talk Day, an opportunity to talk to people around us and normalise conversations about mental health. Pippa chats with support workers and members of the Kintyre Link Club about their experiences with mental health and how the Club provides support and activities to help promote the welfare of those who suffer or have suffered from mental ill health.
Pippa and Kirsty Flanagan unravel the mystery of the Council budget in a unique podcast on a matter that impacts everyone’s lives regardless of where you live. Our schools, pavements, potholes, bins, grass cutting, community regeneration and many more everyday essential activity is affected by the annual Council budget process and this podcast provides a guide towards understanding the size of Argyll and Bute Council’s budget, how it is funded, limitations on spending decisions, the budget development process and how decisions are made.
To accompany the podcast, there’s a handy guide to understanding the Council’s budget
Balancing everyday life with the requirements of work and home can create pressures for all of us. Today Pippa chats with Jane Fowler, Head of Customer Support Services, about the Council’s Employee Assistance Programme which provides support and information, and can assist staff in achieving the work-life balance. More information can also be found on the MyCouncilWorks staff website.
Argyll and Bute Council has signed up to meet Scotland’s target of achieving ‘net zero’ by 2045, and during the week before COP26 came to Scotland in 2021, we held our first ever on-line Climate Summit hosted by the Education Service. With COP26 now behind us and as we embark on a New Year, we look to our younger generations who are already making a difference in the fight against Climate Change. Pippa chats with pupils from Barcaldine Primary School (James, Orion, Eva and Michael), along with their head teacher Julie Watson, and also with Linda MacBeath (head teacher from Rhu Primary School and convenor of the Education Climate Summit), about the environmentally sustainable education work going on in schools across Argyll and Bute.
In the final podcast for 2021, Pippa is joined by our Executive Directors, Douglas Hendry and Kirsty Flanagan, to thank everyone for their hard work during the year, to wish all a safe and happy festive season, and to look positively towards the New Year.
With the recent announcement that a consultation will be opened early in 2022 for members of the public to have their say on proposals for where to position future electric vehicle chargers in Argyll and Bute, Pippa chats with Mark Calder, Project Manager, and Victoria Weir, Project Officer, from our Roads and Infrastructure Service, about the proposals, the existing infrastructure and the ongoing work to improve access to charging points.
As part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in 2022, the UK Government has launched civic competitions which include granting ‘city status’. Argyll and Bute Council is entering one of our main towns, Oban, into the competition, and Pippa catches up with our Head of Development and Economic Growth, Fergus Murray, who has been instrumental in preparing the bid for city status.
You can find out more about the bid for city status for Oban, and show your support, here on our website - Back the bid for Oban city status
The Council’s annual Learning Awards pay tribute to employees who have achieved a professional, academic or vocational qualification linked to their role. This year’s event was held in partnership with the Health and Social Care Partnership and the ceremony was conducted via Microsoft Teams. It was a real honour for Pippa to present some of the awards at the event and, immediately following the ceremony, having the pleasure of speaking with the event compere, Carolyn McAlpine, along with award recipients Cameron Bonnar, Claire McLachlan and Maureen McSporran. There is also a recorded message from Carol Allibone, who was unable to attend the event to receive her award.
The Council’s winter roads maintenance stand-by arrangements operate from the end of October until the middle of April each year, although the planning for this begins much earlier, around the start of autumn. Pippa speaks with Callum Robertson, Assistant Network and Standards Manager, about the preparation for winter and the logistics of keeping people safe on the Argyll and Bute road network during the cold, dark mornings and nights.
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and Pippa chats with Helen Butler from our Web Team about her own personal experience of epilepsy and the creative work that helped in her recovery from brain surgery.
If you want to find out more about epilepsy or have been recently diagnosed you can get support from Epilepsy Scotland.
The Council recently held a consultation on our Local Housing Strategy which will be delivered over the next five years, from 2022 to 2027. Joining Pippa in this conversation are two members of our Housing Services Team who were actively involved in the consultation and development of the new strategy: Douglas Whyte, Team Leader Housing Strategy; and Kelly Ferns, Empty Homes Officer.
For additional information on energy efficiency, renewable energy and home energy grant options, please contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 or via their website.
Pippa delivers her most ambitious podcast yet bringing together three separate recordings on the subject of the hugely ambitious community project to develop a cable car and mountain bike project in the Corlarach forest adjacent to the town of Dunoon. Hear about the sterling efforts by the community to progress this project, my reaction on site from the top of hill looking down on Dunoon and finally the involvement of Dunoon Grammar in supporting this wonderful initiative.
In this week’s podcast, Pippa chats with three female leaders in the health and social care services for Argyll and Bute about their journeys and experiences as women in leadership: Pam Dudek, Chief Executive of NHS Highland; Fiona Davies, Interim Chief Officer of the Health and Social Care Partnership in Argyll and Bute; and Sarah Compton-Bishop who is Chair of the Integration Joint Board for Health and Social Care in Argyll and Bute.
Clockwise from top left: Pam Dudek, Chief Executive of NHS Highland; Fiona Davies, Interim Chief Officer of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership; Sarah Compton-Bishop, Chair of the Argyll and Bute Integration Joint Board; Pippa Milne, Chief Executive, Argyll and Bute Council.
With information being more readily available online, and methods of contact being more accessible, scammers are in a better position than ever to engage with us. In this week’s podcast, Pippa speaks with Lee Roberts from our Trading Standards team and PC Laura Evans, Local Authority Liaison Officer for Argyll and Bute with Police Scotland, about some of the different types of scams and the prevention and education work that is being done to protect people, particularly the vulnerable, from becoming victim to a scam or fraud.
Please see the following useful contacts for more information, or to report a scam:
- Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland or call 0808 164 6000
- If you feel threatened or unsafe, contact Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency
- Sign up to the Neighbourhood Watch Alert system to receive localised information and updates
It has just been announced that Jayne Jones, our Commercial Manager, has secured one of only 20 places on the UK Acumen Fellowship 2021. Pippa congratulates Jayne on this prestigious achievement during this conversation about one of the many aspects of Jayne’s work, the logistics and benefits of providing healthy sustainable school meals across Argyll and Bute.
Before some of our young people headed off to university, Pippa took time to speak with members of the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) about their work in helping young people to understand and engage with the Children and Young People’s Service Plan (CYPSP). Joining the conversation were youth members Rosie Sumsion, Vinita Rawani, Megan Day and Eleanor Preece, along with adult members Simone McAdam (acting education manager with Argyll and Bute Council), Helen Martin (vulnerable groups nurse with NHS Highland) and Brian Smith from Live Argyll’s community learning and development service. YAPs are really proud of the work they have progressed in developing an animation that explains the Argyll and Bute CYPSP to young people.
On a lovely sunny Summer afternoon, Pippa visited the Maki Pups outdoor nursery, established in 2020 in the Walled Garden at Kilmory, taking the opportunity to speak with the nursery manager Erin Kennedy about their Early Learning activities, and also the janitor Murdo McDonald, who has a family connection with the Kilmory gardens.
At the first anniversary celebration of the official start of work on the Helensburgh Waterfront Development, Pippa spoke with our Regeneration Project Manager, Andrew Collins, and Kevin Farrell, Heron Bros Project Manager, along with three young employees/trainees who are gaining valuable experience from working on the project: Francesca Wilson from our cost consultants RLF, and Daniel Green and Jamie McBride from the project contractors Heron Bros.
With all the improvement work going on in Lochgilphead at the moment, Pippa takes the opportunity to chat with Anna Watkiss and James Lafferty, who are project managing the Lochgilphead Front Green, CARS and Public Realm works, and also catches up with Lee McKeever from Hawthorn Heights, the contractors working on the Front Green redevelopment.
For more information on these and related projects, please click on the following links:
And if you would like to register to receive email updates about the Front Green project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Allotments Week falls in August, so Pippa took the opportunity of speaking with our Local Biodiversity Project Officer, Marina Curran-Colthart, about the Council’s Community Food Growing Strategy, and also catching-up with some representatives of community food growing projects from across Argyll & Bute: Sara MacLean from Branching Out in Argyll; Ed Pybus from Kyles Allotment Group; and Catriona Petit from Hope Kitchen in Oban.
World Wellbeing Week runs in the last week of June and aims to raise awareness of wellbeing and its importance for individuals, in society and in the workplace. In this week’s podcast, Pippa has a conversation with Seona Laird, Kay Owen and Sharon Johnson from the Wellbeing Team, and also catches up with the group of radiant ramblers returning from the Wellbeing Walk around Kilmory, which was one of the many activities arranged for Council employees during the week.
Following world refugee day on 20th June Pippa spoke with Morag Brown who leads the work we do to support Syrian refugees settle on Bute and they talk about some of the great success stories.
To say thanks to the critically important contribution of volunteers to our communities, Pippa listened to the personal experiences of individuals who responded to the pandemic. Special thanks to Fiona McTaggart and Sheena Lamont for sharing their personal experiences and Takki Sulaiman, CEO of Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface.
This week Pippa spoke to Alex Brown of Skyports who design, build and operate drones for passenger transport and delivery of goods. In partnership with the Argyll and Bute HSCP, Alex recently completed a trial using drones to deliver medical supplies from the Council’s airport in Oban to some of our islands. Learn more about how this fast evolving and low carbon technology may bring benefits to the lives of our communities.
07 to 13 June marks UK Coaching Week to celebrate the important contributions coaches make to the welfare and wellbeing of our communities. Stuart Green from my team is actively involved in sports coaching within his community and talks about his motivation and offers insights to anyone else thinking about getting involved within their own community.
Pippa speaks to Dr Kate Cowcher from St Andrews University and our Cultural Co-ordinator Madeleine Conn on the remarkable story of the discovery of important works of modern African art which are part of the Argyll Collection and currently being exhibited at Dunoon Burgh Hall until 13 June. You can find more details online at Dar to Dunoon – Modern African Art from the Argyll Collection and see the whole collection on the Argyll Collection website
Events over the last 15 months have inevitably increased work-related stress levels across the UK. Joining Pippa this week is Martha Simpson, a life coach, who provides valuable advice on what we can all do to help relieve some of the stress.
As part of Foster Caring fortnight, this week Pippa is joined by Lorraine Prentice, Practice Lead for HSCP and two of our foster carers as they highlight the great work of foster carers across Argyll and Bute.
Not only is today election today for the Scottish Parliament, it is also the end of term for the Scottish Youth Parliament and Pippa spoke to two of Argyll and Bute’s elected Scottish Youth Parliamentarians Cameron Garret and Rosie Sumsion on their experience.
Pippa and Roslyn Redpath discuss the critically important work of our educational psychologists whose work has never been more important as they explore the impact of the COVID pandemic on our young people.
Pippa talks to Catherine Topley, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals on the history of the canal and recent investments in its future.
This week's podcast is with Joanna MacDonald. Joanna reflects on her 2 1/2 years as Chief Officer of the HSCP as she moves on to take up the role of adviser to the Scottish Government.
Whilst the notion of a ‘job for life’ is not very relevant these days, the Council can certainly be an ‘employer for life’ as Pippa speaks to one of our most successful ‘Grow Your Own’ employees Executive Director Kirsty Flanagan about her progression through the ranks of the organisation.
Pippa speaks to Alistair Barge, Managing Director of one of the UKs oldest fish farm companies Otter Ferry Seafish Ltd and its sister company Gigha Halibut to learn a little a bit about their origins and their current activity as one of Argyll and Bute’s greatest exporters.
To promote International Women’s Week, Pippa had a conversation with Ashleigh Connor, our first female mechanic and Sandra Black, Fleet Services Performance Manager to discuss their role in the Council’s Fleet Services.
Communities make Argyll and Bute the special place it is and this week Pippa speaks to Moray Finch to learn about the critical role that Mull and Iona Community Trust play in taking forward the ambitions of these island communities.
Pippa explores the key role that the Council is playing to decarbonise our footprint in an engaging conversation with Ross McLaughlin, the Council’s Head of Commercial Services and lead officer on Climate Change.
Pippa speaks to Professor Nick Owens, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) near Oban, one of the oldest marine research institutions in the world. SAMS is a key partner to growing Oban as a University Town and in the Rural Growth Deal to growing the life sciences sector in Argyll and Bute.
Love is in the air this Valentine's day as Pippa learns from Brian Swinbanks about how he fell in love with both his wife and his vocation at Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.
Pippa learns from Malcolm MacMillan about the origins and development of Machrihanish Airbase Community Company, one of many successful community enterprises in Argyll and Bute.
Calum Ross, a well-established leader in the tourism industry in Argyll and Bute as well as Scotland provides his insights on the importance of the tourism sector to our area and the challenges brought by the COVID 19 pandemic.
To highlight the issue of violence against women and to promote the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, Pippa speaks to Sandra Paton from Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid and Shona Williams, Senior Justice Manager for Argyll and Bute Council.
The contact details for Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid (ABWA) are as follows: