Muir of Ord (Tarradale) Community Council
The Muir Hub, Muir of Ord
Thursday 13th September 2018 @ 7.30 pm
Present: Mike Atkinson (MA), Frances McGruer (FM), Carol Blanchard (CB), Duncan Chisholm (DC), Jean Davis (JD), & Moira Chalmers (MC)
Others: Cllr Margaret Paterson (MP), Frank Stephen, James Henderson, R Morrison, A Morrison, Ron Blanchard, Joan Munro, Mary Brown, Jeni & Douglas Hardie, Jo Ellen (Minutes)
1. Apologies for Absence & Welcome
There were apologies from Stephen Mackenzie (SM), Irene Macleod (IM), Cllr Angela Maclean (AM), Cllr Graham Mackenzie (GM)
MA welcomed all present to Bad Girl Bakery and thanked Jeni & Douglas Hardie for offering to host this CC meeting.
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting
The minutes of the meeting on Thursday 14th June 2018 were proposed as a true reflection by FM and seconded by JD.
3. Matters Arising from Minutes
Access to Old Railway Path (off Hawthorn Drive)
MA advised that the gate and fixings (paid for by the farmer) have now been delivered and are ready for installation when the fencer is available. After this is done, MA will ensure that this is publicised round the village as the landowner is happy for this route to be used by walkers.
Mackenzie Bequest Update
MA advised that following investigations by Di Agnew, it has become clear that there is also a MacDonald Bequest which may have added to previous confusion. This bequest of £100,000 is managed by HC and was left for the upkeep of a specific MacDonald grave/tomb at Urray Cemetery. This is completely separate from the Mackenzie Trust which was left to the Parish of Urray, Muir of Ord & Marybank for Educational Purposes and the Mackenzie Bequest which is specifically for the looking after and maintenance of the gravestone of Alexander Mackenzie. The latter two are nothing to do the HC and maintained by other trustees and groups.
A discussion followed about the MacDonald Bequest as it was queried if this has been used previously for wider cemetery improvements. It was highlighted that updates on the use of this money had been given previously at CC meetings in the past. MA will go back to Di for further clarification.
Village Entrance Planter – Great North Road
DC reported that he has spoken to the Golf Club Manager and Club Captain to request assistance keeping the area around the Gateway and planters on the road near the golf course tidy. As yet this has not been done, but DC is confident this will soon be.
MA advised that the location of the current Defibrillators was publicised in Muir Matters. In addition this information will go on the new CC FB page. It was suggested that local groups and clubs should also be encouraged to pass this information to their members. MA will arrange this and also draw up some small notices, with a map highlighting the locations, to post on local noticeboards, at the Police Station and other public facilities plus distribute to local businesses, such as hotels.
Developers Contribution Fund (DCF)
MA advised that it was agreed by HC that £65,000 of the DCF could be used for the village hall refurbishment project.
Upkeep of the Plants near the New Bridge
MA advised that he met with IM on the bridge. It now appears that some of the plants are starting to grow and are looking more healthy. A brief discussion followed on the type of planting, with the opinion expressed that it is not particularly attractive. The feeling was that grass would have been better, although it was acknowledged that maintenance would then have been an issue.
Grass Mowing Update
MA is still trying to get a copy of the Grass Mowing map for MOO. He will hopefully have an update at the next meeting.
Encouraging attendance at CC meetings
MA has spoken to Tracy Sinclair, Head Teacher of Tarradale Primary. She is happy for the Head Boy and Girl to come along to a future meeting. MA will progress this emphasising their views will be appreciated, but that the pupils will not need to stay for the whole meeting. Other youth groups will also be encouraged to get involved too.
JE will ensure agendas and approved minutes are put on the Butcher and Hub noticeboards. Joan Munro will help with this too.
CC Facebook Page
JD advised that she has now set up a FB page for the CC. This can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MuirofOrdCC/. MA advised that the CC website has also now been updated so JD will now publicise the FB page more widely. She encouraged CC members to like it and share posts as this will increase wider knowledge of it in the community. The page will be for the CC to make announcements and publicise local events, etc. While it is currently open for comments, JD will try to monitor its usage and content. If any inappropriate posts are made by individuals they can be blocked if necessary. The situation can be monitored and if the page is not working as hoped it can be changed to prevent individuals (other than CC Administrators for the page) adding posts or even deleted entirely. JD will see how it goes for the next 6 weeks and report back.
There was no update from Cllr AMK regarding discussions with the Police Inspector about this. Cllr MP will check with him. A brief discussion following as speeding continues to be an ongoing problem.
Refurbishing the BMX Track
See item 12.
4. Police Report
MA reported that unfortunately he had no Police Report from PC MacDonald again and she has not responded to correspondence detailing all the CC meetings coming up. A discussion followed with those present all agreeing this was very disappointing – a Police Report should be always be given as a minimum with ideally PC MacDonald in attendance too. It was acknowledged that this would not always be possible, but some contact with the CC should be made in such instances. It was unclear if Cllr AMK managed to speak to her after the June meeting. Cllr MP will check with him and report back to MA.
A member of the public then gave details of an incident that they did not feel had been followed up appropriately by the Police. This will be raised with the community police representative covering when identified.
5. Financial Report
As SM was not present there was no update of the accounts.
MA gave details of the following Microgrant applications for the CC to consider:
• MOO Pensioners Table Tennis Club – Have requested £250 from both Funds to help them expand to an additional day to help reduce their waiting list
• War Memorial Upgrade – The team behind this have requested £174 from both Funds (£350 in total) to help pay for the lighting costs of the upgrade. A huge amount of volunteer time has gone into this project.
• OrdToz – Have applied for £250 from both Funds to cover hall fees, new toys, snack costs and insurance.
All three applications were agreed in full by those present, subject to approval from SM that the funds are available.
6. Update – Community Groups
Halls & Facilities Company (MHFC)
MA gave a brief update on the hall refurbishment project advising that the contract was awarded to Compass Building and Construction Services who started work today. The total cost has come in at £252,000 including VAT. The work will hopefully take 12 weeks, with a grand re-opening anticipated for December with the hall being open for bookings in January 2019. The work being done includes new insulation, replacement windows, a new heating system, refurbished toilets and improved office space. Unfortunately there were not funds to do a kitchen extension at this stage, which would have added a significant and currently unaffordable amount to the project, but this will hopefully follow in the future.
The Hub continues to be busy hosting events and activities and there is now a Marketing Graduate funded by HIE helping with various jobs including developing a new website.
MA acknowledged a letter from the Gardening Club which thanked the CC for the helping the club to buy plants. Those present were in agreement that this club does great work in the village which is well appreciated.
7. Update – Planning Issues
Although outwith this CC area, a discussion followed on a planning application for the erection of single storey training building on the Drynie Park Road. This is on single track road used by all vehicles including cyclists and concern was raised that this will add to the number of lorries and other vehicles using this route. MA advised that although this CC cannot ‘call in’ this application it can still object, like any other person or group.
A lengthy discussion followed on the effectiveness of CC objections and whether it is worth doing this. Although it was felt that often the views are ignored some successes were highlighted too. MA referred to a Scottish Government consultation currently ongoing called Democracy Matters – Local Governance Review which may lead to reforms in the way planning issues are handled in the future. (See AOB for more information on this).
8. Roads, Paths & Safety Issues
MA advised that the consultation over the possible implementation of a 7.5 ton weight restriction on Black Isle Road closed on 28th July. This will now be considered by HC. Cllr MP added that hopefully an update should be given to Cllrs at their next ward meeting on 24th September, but it is likely that a final decision will not be made until November.
FM gave an update on the work that has been undertaken by the Community Payback Team at Lily Loch and the School Pond. Considerable improvements have been made including replacing a rotten bridge and old handrails, plus chicken wire has been added to the wooden walkways. They have also cleared weeds and bushes to allow access round the School Pond which is significant progress. There are still some trees that need to be removed and they are wondering if the CC would be able to help with the cost of a chipper. FM will go back to them and establish the cost of this before circulating round members for approval. There will also be some fire wood which could be given to vulnerable members of the community or sold on if this is not deemed necessary.
Frank Stephen raised the issue of a tree which is blocking a streetlight which used to illuminate the footbridge across the railway, near the Ord Arms, making walking across this at night very dangerous. The tree needs to be pruned or cut down to prevent this. Those present were not clear if this tree was in a private garden or on land owned by the Network Rail. Cllr MP will investigate this.
A member of the public raised the issue of dog fouling in the village, stating this is a real issue of concern in the street they live and throughout the area. Changes to the location of the poo bin at the Skate Park carpark have not helped as people are just leaving bin bags on the ground where the bin was previously. A lengthy discussion followed on how the situation across the village can be improved with the majority view that little can be done by the community, even with the support of the Dog Warden. MA will do a feature for Muir Matters to highlight the issue again in the hope that some of the culprits may take heed. The new FB page can also be used to raise this.
A member of the public also raised about the poor state of Burma Road, from the Sheiling to the first Tarradale Gardens corner. This section is owned by HC and Cllr MP will speak to Ian Moncrieff, Roads Operational Manager about this.
9. Community Action
A member of the public present raised the issue of Vilmont, the unoccupied house on Great North Road, querying what is being done to improve this eyesore. MA emphasised that much has been done to try and encourage the owner to sell it over the years, but despite offers and support from HC there was no movement from them. All agreed this is unfortunate as this building is unsightly and a blot on the main thoroughfare through the village.
10. Post Office Issues
MA advised that the Post Office have opened up a public consultation regarding moving the MOO Post Office to the Ord Filling Station, Great North Road. The online survey is open until 28th September and can be found at https://www.postofficeviews.co.uk/national-consultation-team/muir-of-ord-iv6-7su-128840/.
11. Moo Food Update
There was no update to report.
12. Potential to re-allocate Square to Square/Round the Firth Funding to BMX Track Refurbishment
MA reported that, as agreed at the last meeting, consultation was done with the children of Tarradale Primary about the refurbishment of the BMX Track. 97% of them supported this being done so this plan will now be progressed, subject to confirmation from HC that no planning permission is required.
It is estimated the cost of reinstating the BMX Track will be about £18,000 with Highland Skate Parks already offering £3,000 towards the cost of this. The other £15,000 will come from the underspend from the Beauly Firth Loop project. MA emphasised that he has also had offers of support with this from other local businesses so the total cost can be kept as low as possible. Work will hopefully commence in November.
In response to a query that this may affect walkers in the area, MA reassured those present that this should not be an issue, but to help a path will hopefully be constructed behind the ramp to encourage walkers that way.
13. Bad Girl Bakery
Jeni & Douglas started off by giving an interesting talk about their business which started in 2014 from home. In 2017 they moved to their current location and now make quality handmade cakes for their café, plus the Caledonian Sleeper, National Trust properties and Scottish Canals. Since opening the café they have expanded into the unit next door and further growth is anticipated in the coming years. They now employ 16 staff, plus 3 self employed people, with 9 of them under 25 years of age, some undertaking qualifications as they work. They have won several awards for their cakes and with great reviews home and abroad they are delighted that people are now coming to the café from well outwith the area and from overseas. Within the community they try to give as much back as possible and support where possible local events and fundraisers. They also have a strong link with Tarradale Primary helping with baking classes and in other ways. Both Jeni & Douglas stressed they are happy to engage with the CC for the benefit of the community and their business.
Following on, a question was asked about them installing a hand rail and ramp to help those with mobility issues gain entry to the café. Douglas advised that this is something they have put considerable research into and hope to have resolved effectively as soon as possible. As they rent the property this had made the situation more difficult to rectify.
A discussion followed about the need for local businesses to get together and learn from each other, something Jeni & Douglas were very supportive of. DC offered to take this idea forward and investigate the potential for a business focussed event.
MA thanked Jeni & Douglas for their presentation which those present had found very interesting.
MC advised that the date for this will Tuesday 11th December. MA confirmed that the CC will help to fund this event.
Democracy Matters – Your Community. Your Ideas. Your Future: consultation
MA gave an outline of this consultation and why it is important for people to get involved with it. This is being done as the Scottish Government want to devolve more power to more local levels. The Review will aim to help local communities have more say about how public services in their area are run and will consider how powers, responsibilities and resources are shared across national and local spheres of government, and with communities.
To help prompt discussion about the review, MA suggested that this could be held along side a ‘Big Picture Day 2’ in the village. At the first Big Picture event in 2011 the views of the local community were gathered to understand priority projects to tackle in Muir Of Ord. This identified the development of the Old School building (now the Hub), refurbishing the Village Hall, Paths and Sports facilities. As the timescale for the Local Governance Review is the end of the year (and they will provide up to £500 to facilitate a consultation event), this will need to progressed soon if all agree. MA will take this back to the MHFC to see if they are in support and add this to the CC agenda for the next meeting. If in agreement it may be possible to work jointly with MHFC to deliver.
Note to Jem Taylor
FM asked that a note be sent from the CC to wish Jem well after a recent health scare.
15. Date of Next Meeting
Thursday 11th October 2018 @ 7.30 pm in the Hub, Muir of Ord.
The meeting finished at 9.50 pm
Ref Who Action When
1 MA To arrange for the new gate to be installed at the Railway Path (off Hawthorn Drive) and this location to be publicised ASAP
2 MA To query with Di Agnew about the use of the MacDonald Bequest ASAP
3 MA To draw up a notice with the location of the MOO Defibrillators for distribution round the village and to ask local groups to share this info ASAP
4 MA To get a copy of the grass mowing map for MOO ASAP
5 MA To invite the Tarradale Primary Head Boy or Girl to the next CC meeting For 11/10/18
6 JE To ensure agendas and approved minutes are put on the Butchers and Hub noticeboards ASAP
7 Cllr MP To check if Cllr AMK was able to speak to the Police Inspector about speeding in MOO ASAP
8 Cllr MP To check if Cllr AMK was able to establish why there has been no Police reports at CC meetings ASAP
9 FM To check the cost of equipment requested by the Community Payback Team and circulate to CC members ASAP
10 Cllr MP To check the situation with the tree blocking the light at the Railway bridge near the Ord Arms Hotel ASAP
11 MA To do a feature on Dog Fouling for Muir Matters and add something to the CC FB page ASAP
12 Cllr MP To raise about the poor state of Burma Road with Ian Moncrieff ASAP
13 DC Investigate the potential for a business focussed event ASAP
14 MA To speak to MHFC about the potential of a ‘Big Picture 2’ taking place ASAP
15 MA To send a card to Jem Taylor from the CC to wish him well ASAP