Community Council: Minutes of Meeting 12th Nov 2015


Pavilion, Muir of Ord

Thursday 12th November 2015 at 7.30pm

Present:          Frances MacGruer (FM) (Chair); Stephen Mackenzie (SM)(Treasurer); Mike Atkinson, Wilma Mackenzie (WM); Jem Taylor (JT)

Others:            Cllr Margaret Paterson (MP), Cllr Graham MacKenzie (GM), Alasdair Mackenzie, Morag Douglas, Mary Petrie, Sandy Sutherland, James Henderson, Margaret-Anne Henderson, Hazel Sutherland, George Sutherland, Irene Macleod, Annie Morrison, R Morrison, M MacGourlay, Margaret Alexander, Allyson Briggs, Louise Sutherland, David F. MacDonald, Hannah MacSween, Sgt MacRae, Area Commander Ian McClellan, Jo Ellen (minutes)

1. Apologies for Absence
There were apologies from Cllr Angela Maclean & Cllr Alister MacKinnon
2. Minutes of Previous meeting (Thursday 10th September 2015)

Minutes of the meeting were proposed by WM and seconded by SM.

3. Matters Arising from Minutes
Regeneration of the Square
  FM advised that an application for £43,000 has been made to Scotland’s Town Partnership Fund which if successful will be used to regenerate the square.
  The Old Moorings Hotel
  As the majority of the public were present regarding this item, it was agreed to discuss this at this point of the meeting. A member of the public stated that it now appears that (after some refurbishment) this establishment is being advertised on Facebook (and possibly other places) as single room accommodation for £100 a week.   The Councillors present confirmed that there have been no recent planning applications submitted to Highland Council (HC) relating to this property and that no House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence (or one to make it a B&B) has been applied for. It was confirmed however that in June 2007 the property had a change of use from commercial to residential agreed by the Planning Department.

A number of concerns were expressed about this property including the likelihood that it contains Asbestos, issues with the drains and rats being seen around the vicinity.   Other serious concerns were highlighted that those present felt the Police need to be aware of.

Area Commander Ian McClellan, from Police Scotland introduced himself to those present.   While he was unaware of any issues with this property he tried to reassure those present that if any criminality is taking place the Police need to hear about this and will take action.   He emphasised that any licencing issues will need to be dealt with by HC.

A wider discussion took place on who can apply for licences, restrictions to this and dealing with anti-social behaviour. The Police emphasised that while evidence of any breaking of rules/criminality is required caution should always be taken by the public so not put themselves in dangerous situations.

A member of the public queried if a petition could be organised by the CC regarding this property. FM advised that the CC rules of governance mean this is something that they cannot be involved with or initiate.

Following the lengthy discussion both Councillors present confirmed they will investigate the situation further with their colleagues in planning, licencing and other relevant departments at HC.   They will report back to FM as soon as possible who can then pass this information on to the community.

4. Police Report
  It was confirmed that PC Nicola MacDonald has been appointed as the new Community Police Officer following the retirement of Dolina Martin.   She was unable to attend this evening so Sgt Nick MacRae gave an update on crimes and offences between 01/07/15 and 28/10/15:

·         2 persons charged with assaults

·         1 person charged with sexual assault

·         4 persons charged road traffic assault

·         1 person charged with possession of drugs

He stated that Officers also dealt with a neighbour dispute, 3 acts of Vandalism were reported and 2 frauds.     There were also 2 thefts from Vulcan Cottage.

In addition multiple stop and searches have taken place (all negative), plus licence premises checks continue to be done. Road safety continues also to be a focus from Inverness to Caithness with double the number caught speeding during the recent campaign.

Sgt MacRae also urged the public to be vigilant on the internet as fraud continues to be a huge problem. He advised that a Fraud Prevention Advice Night was taking place in Ullapool this evening with a view to providing information on how to avoid this.

5. Financial Report
  SM gave an update on the accounts.   As of 30/10/15 the balance is £43,843.76. The majority of this (£37,585) is restricted funds for the Square to Square project. The balance currently available for CC business is £6,258.76.

The annual grant of £ 1,814.10 has been received from HC.   Money from the Auchmore and Fairburn Wind Farm Micro Grants funds are also due.   FM gave a brief overview of the Micro Grants stating that these are primarily for non-constituted groups who can apply up to a maximum of £250.   There is also a larger fund from the Fairburn Wind Farm which has been allocated solely to the Village Hall for the last 5 years. This has been used to get this facility up and running.   The new Company Development Manager, Nina Graham will now hopefully move this forward and look for match funding.

  Micro Grant Applications for Consideration
  3 applications were considered by the CC members present:
  ·         2nd Muir of Ord Brownies – £250 applied for to fund the cost of taking 16 girls canoeing or kayaking and also for a session of Bubble Football. Decision – Agreed in Full
  ·         Fairways Residents Association – £200 applied for to fund initial operating costs of the Association, including communication costs and the hire of meeting premises until other funding streams are established. Decision – Partial Award – £100
  ·         3rd Ross-shire (Muir of Ord) Scout Troop – £250 applied for to fund taking 20-24 Scouts to Loch Insh Water Sports Centre for a residential weekend. Scouts will receive downhill skiing instruction on both a dry ski slope and on Cairngorm Mountain.   Decision – Agreed in Full
6. Community Council Elections
FM advised that the 5 current members put their names forward to continue on the CC following the recent nomination process. There are 10 places available on the CC so no election was required on 18/11/15.   The inaugural meeting of the new council will take place on 10/12/15.   The committee is now looking to co-opt 3 people to join them on the CC.   Carol Blanchard has offered to do this again and will be nominated at the next meeting.   FM urged the public present to consider being co-opted on.   If anyone is interested they can contact FM for more information.

FM introduced Jo Ellen, the new Minute Secretary to those present.

7. Remembrance Service
  FM confirmed that Cllr GM attended the service in the village at the newly refurbished war memorial on behalf of HC.   The event was very well attended and included a parade by the local uniformed groups. A report will be put in Muir Matters.
8. Square to Square Path
  MA advised that much of this route (from Beauly square to Muir of Ord square) is now finished, with only the final section from the Cairns through to Wyndhill to be completed. He has been in touch with the developer for this stretch who is likely to make a detailed planning application imminently. The intention is that the remaining path section will be put in as part of the site preparation works. Work is anticipated to commence in early 2016 with a safe route usable by next summer.

JT publically thanked MA for all his hard work on this project. Those present supported this with a round of applause.

9. Update from Community Groups
  Friends of Tarradale
  FM advised there was no update from this group as they meet next week.
  Hall & Facilities Company

JT advised that they now have two members of staff. Hannah MacSween started work on 02/11/15 and is the Community Development Manager. She will work with the Board and Community Development Group to ensure the community hub becomes successful when it opens next year. She will also support local interest groups, recruit and train volunteers. Hannah introduced herself to those present and will give more information at the next meeting. The other employee is Nina Graham, Company Development Manager.

JT also advised that on 04/02/16 the AGM of the Hall & Facilities Company will be held and Members would receive an invitation to this.

10. Update – Sale of Properties, High Street
  Cllr MP advised that the Forbes Café building is in the process of being sold with only some legal issues holding this up. There was no update on the property owned by Mrs Beaton.

Further discussion took place regarding a derelict property on Corrie Road, just opposite the Railway Station carpark. It is understood there is planning permission being sought for this to be made into 3 units. WM stated that they may be looking for access via Corrie Terrace for this, but this was not a popular option in the area.

Mention was also made of the large house (also on Corrie Road) that belonged to Mr Forbes which is also deteriorating.   This is not for sale.

11. The Old Moorings Hotel
  Discussed under Matters Arising
12. AOB
  Communication of Meetings
  A member of the public stated that he had found it difficult to establish the details of when this meeting was taking place.   JT acknowledged that there have been issues publicising this information. Future meeting agenda’s and minutes will be available on the website:
  Speed Bumps
  Cllr GM advised that the speed bumps will be removed and re-instated on the West Road will be completed by the end of this month. This was welcomed by those present.
  Co-op Shop Carpark
  A member of the public highlighted the terrible state of the carpark used by shoppers of the Co-op which is quite dangerous. FM advised this is private land and therefore not something the HC can repair. She has spoken to the Manager of the shop who advised that this is a jointly owned space which is making it more problematic for the work to be done.

A member of the public stated that there are many dangerous potholes in the village. MA reassured those present that this subject is frequently discussed at CC meetings. A serious problem at the entrance into Corrie Gardens/Terrace was highlighted.   In addition the carpark at Castle Hill does not have white lines and this is causing problems for drivers. WM advised of an issue at the entrance to Station View which is still not repaired a year after being reported.   Cllr MP noted these problems and will investigate.

In response to other potholes identified, MA suggested downloading the app ‘Fill that hole’ on smart phones.   Using this app individuals can take a photo, upload it and a message is sent to the correct person to deal with it. MA & JT have both tested this and a pothole on Balvaird Road was fixed within a fortnight of this method of reporting being used.

  Old Urray House Site
  The plans for the development of this site were circulated round the room. Discussion took place on the number of sheltered homes and the need to make sure the entrance does not impact on the new cycle path.   No objections were raised however following the discussion.

Cllr GM stated that Emma Micklethwaite, Housing Development Officer from HC is willing to speak to the CC if there are any queries regarding this (ideally before the next meeting in December as the deadline for objections will be very close to then).

JT advised those present that the CC does not discuss all planning applications lodged for the area, only those that are deemed to be problematic and are likely to result in an objection being put to the Planning Department.

MA advised that the CC would like to see safer routes developed from every new development in the village.   The ultimate aim being to create a network of paths including a route to the Lily Loch carpark.

  Property on Hawthorn Road
  FM advised that she has been approached by some concerned residents close to this property which is currently in for retrospective planning for a change of use from a studio to self-contained residential unit.   Cllr MP advised that this has been passed to the Planning Department and Building Standards for investigation.
  Replacement of A862 Railway Bridge
  FM confirmed that the bridge works will start on 30/11/15 and this should be notified in a press release tomorrow.   MA will try to get the plans for this work from David Mackenzie (HC) to put on noticeboards.   Everyone agreed the installation of the new bridge is a very positive move and should provide a safer way to move around the village.

JT queried rumours that the old RBS building is being knocked down to make way for the new bridge. FM confirmed that this is incorrect and the building will not be affected by this work.

  Square Carpark
  It was confirmed that with the Bridge development there will be a change to the surrounding roads including the introduction of 20mph speed limits. It is hoped following on from this that the square carpark area can be improved too to compliment the new hub.  An application for funding for this went to the Town Centres Community Fund but was unsuccessful. Other funds are available to try in due course.   MA suggested that setting up a community consultation called a charrette might be a good way to progress this as it will encourage community engagement and the use of professionals to move the plans on quickly.   If this is an option it could be done during the spring/summer next year.
  New Beauly-Loch Buidhe Pylons
  A member of the public raised concern about the lack of communication from SSE over the rebuilding of the existing 132kV overhead line between Beauly and Loch Buidhe with a higher capacity 275kV which will require larger pylons than those that currently exist.   It was reported that there were originally 4 options for the pylon corridor, but this has now been reduced to one which will pass close to Muir of Ord.

The member of the public had two queries regarding this, why the CC had not responded to his email regarding this (sent to and also what the CC knew about this. JT will investigate the first issue as none of the CC members were aware of such an email. With regards to the second, FM advised that they had not been officially informed of it, but were aware that consultation events had taken place in Marybank and Ardross. As it appeared that Muir of Ord and Dingwall CC’s had been missed, Lisa Marchi, from Corporate Affairs, at SSE was contacted (18 months ago). The disappointing response had been that they could only offer display boards and posters for the community to see. These have never been received.

Following the discussion FM agreed to email Lisa Marchi and insist that SSE come along and speak to the community to advise of the situation with developments which will affect the local area.

  Community Transport Grants Invitation
  FM advised that the deadline for this is 18/12/15. The email with the details has been circulated. 
  HC Consultation
  MA highlighted that the HC is looking for responses to its Highland Wide Local Development Plan and two other consultations documents entitled Draft Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance & Highland Local Housing Strategy by 12 noon on 18/12/15.
  LEADER Programme
  JT stated that if anyone is interesting in sitting on the Inner Moray Firth North Local Area Partnership (LAP) they need to complete a Skills Checklist and return it by 5.00pm Friday 13/11/2015. MA to speak to Hannah MacSween about this to see if she would be able to represent Muir of Ord on this.
  Service Point
  FM confirmed that despite opposition from the CC the HC Service Point will close on 04/12/15.   Many of the services however will now be available at the Library (e.g help using PC’s, internet, making bookings etc).   Payment services can be found at the Post Office.
13. Date & Venue of Next Meeting
  Thursday 10th December @ 7.30 pm at the Pavilion, Muir of Ord
  The meeting finished at 9.25pm 


Ref Who Action When
1 Cllr’s MP & GM To investigate the situation at the Moorings with HC colleagues and report back to FM ASAP
2 Cllr MP To report the potholes discussed at the meeting to HC ASAP
3 MA To contact David Mackenzie to get the plans for the bridge project ASAP
4 JT To investigate why an email to the CC email address had not been dealt with ASAP
5 FM To contact Lisa Marchi and ask for a community meeting with SSE ASAP
6 MA To speak to Hannah regarding the LEADER Programme LAP vacancies ASAP