Muir of Ord Community Council meeting minutes 11th February 2021

Muir of Ord (Tarradale) Community Council


  The Muir Hub, Muir of Ord

Thursday 13th February 2020 @ 7.30 pm

Present:          Frances MacGruer (FM) – Temporary Chair; Margaret Jack (MJ) – Treasurer; Moira Chalmers (MC); Ally Reid (AR); Philip MacRae (PM); Duncan Chisholm (DC)

Others:           Cllr Graham MacKenzie (GM), Cllr Angela Maclean (AM), Cllr Margaret Paterson (MP), Alex Johannesen, Freda Thomson, Alison Jackson, Leonard Fraser, Stephen Pennington, (Colin Howell, Hugh Gardner, Alf Leslie, Bryan Stout  – all HC),  Jo Ellen (Minutes)



Appointment of a New Chair


Cllr AM explained that Jean Davis (JD) has resigned as Chair.  As there is currently no Vice Chair she asked for a volunteer from the CC  to take over this role.  FM agreed to Chair this meeting, but was very clear that she will be unable to do this going forward.   A permanent solution will need to be found before the next meeting in March.  Thanks were expressed to FM for helping out this evening.


Apologies for Absence & Welcome

There were apologies from Carol Blanchard (CB) & Cllr Alister Mackinnon (AMK)

FM welcomed all those present to the meeting including Hugh Gardner, Alf Leslie, Colin Howell and Bryan Stout from HC.


Minutes of Previous Meeting


The minutes of the meeting on Thursday 12th December 2019 were proposed as a true reflection by MC and seconded by MJ.


Matters Arising from Minutes


HLH Youth Team


There was no update whether the HLH Youth team have been back to MOO to engage with young people on the streets.


CC Meeting Dates


It is understood that JD passed a list of CC meeting dates for 2020 to PC Maciver.


Urray Cemetery Updates


See Item 6.  Cllr AM advised that she spoke to the Ward Managers, but they would be unable to come to a meeting to discuss any Urray Cemetery issues due to their heavy workload.  They will be happy to agree decisions by email however.


Restoration of path on the Burton Estate


There was no update to report as Mike Atkinson was not present.


Christmas Lights


FM has been in touch with the supplier Blachere Illuminations. They have suggested a link to some half price ex-hire lights which may be suitable.  If anyone is keen to have a look FM will share the link with them. FM will continue to progress this.


Smiley Face Update


Cllr AM has spoken to Ross Bartlett from Safer Routes to School for an update.  They are looking at the best location for a new Smiley Face.  The current one at the Filling Station (towards the bridge) will remain at this location as it has been highlighted as a bad area for speeding.   An option being looked at is on Black Isle road (heading towards the school).  It is hoped that that the new Smiley Face will be installed in the next two months.  The equipment has been bought, but installation needs to be in conjunction with the HC Lighting Team.


Electric Charge Points


There was no update on this item as Mike Atkinson was not present.



Moorings Planning Application


See item 11.


Great North Road Verge


FM has arranged to meet next week with John Forbes, the Golf Club Manager and Darren, the Head Greenkeeper to discuss the untidy verge along the roadside.  They club are keen to sort this issue, but have to be mindful of nearby houses that might be affected by stray golf balls if some protection is removed.  FM will update at the next meeting.



Seaforth/Great North Road Junction


See item 6.



Bowling Club Mats


Stephen Pennington from Muir of Ord Halls & Facilities Company advised that they are working with the Bowling Club to seek a resolution to the issue of mat storage highlighted at the last CC meeting.


Town Centre Fund Application


See item 8.



Flooding Photos


JD passed photos of flooding taken by James Henderson on to HC.  A brief discussion followed with it highlighted that some gullies have been cleared out, but others have not.  Outside the primary school is a particularly problematic area.  It is understood that work is still ongoing to resolve these issues in the village.


HGV Weight Restriction Update


Cllr AM advised that the signs are now up in the village to notify road users of the new restrictions (but still covered).  It was unclear if the Traffic Order has been advertised and therefore when the weight restriction will come into force.   Cllr AM will check the situation with Andrew Hunter at HC to clarify the situation.  She will also check any exemptions relating to this Order including those relating to buses.


Speeding on the Beauly Straight


It is understood that JD did report this issue to PC Maciver


Police Report


PC Maciver was not available, but had provided a report detailing crimes, offences, antisocial behaviour and other incidents of note dealt with between 12/12/2019 and 11/02/2020:

•          6x Vandalism

•          Several abandoned 999 calls

•          1x Domestic incidents

•          12x Anti-social behaviour

•          Several Concern for person calls

•          8x theft by shoplifting

•          2x disturbance (not youth related)

•          1x Cybercrime

•          1x Fire raising

•          1x Assault

•          8x Road traffic offences

In addition the report stated:

The attached figures are over a two month period and as such the figures remain relatively low. There has been a marked increase in shoplifting offences of which a suspect has been identified and will be reported for the same.


The figures for vandalisms have also increased however it should be noted that four of these are the same victim and are NOT youth related. A suspect has been identified for these and has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal.


Anti-Social behaviour calls are showing as twelve over the two month period which is reasonable although it would be nice to see further reductions. I will endeavour to ensure patrols are in the area at peak times for disorder to try and combat this. Although there are low numbers in the Muir there have been increases in other areas.


Roads policing units have been making efforts, when duties permit, to be visible in the village and the figures reflect this with a number of drivers being issues fixed penalty notices or being reported. One Driver will be reported for Drug Driving following the introduction of new drug wipe technology.


Urray Cemetery Update


FM introduced Hugh Gardner (HG), Amenities Manager and Alf Leslie (AL) from HC who provided an update on the situation at Urray Cemetery.  Following an assessment eight mature trees have been identified as causing a significant risk and will need to be felled.  One Cyprus tree has caused damage to the area around a 14ft high obelisk.  The works involved with removing the tree and securing the memorial back in place will be significant and costly.  A bat survey is also required before any work can be done.

The cost of removing all the trees has now risen to just over £22,000, although  HC is looking to see if this can be reduced. The cost to reinstate the obelisk safely will be around £13,000.   HG advised that the MacDonald Bequest can be used for this work as the potential cost of not removing the trees and the subsequent damage that could occur make this a legitimate use of the fund.

It was advised that HC has to take responsibility for any grave stones that do not have family members to tend to them.  This has left them will a big issue to deal with as there are thousands to check and maintain in its patch.

A more general discussion followed on the cemetery with queries about the unsightly spoil pile that has built up near the shed, litter bins not emptied and pot holes in the carpark.   HG took note of all these issues as action points for him.

DC suggested that there may be volunteers keen to help tidy up the cemetery and asked for guidance on how this can be done.  HG advised that HC can assist by providing the necessary tools and materials such as hardcore for paths.  The CC will look into getting a group together to do some voluntary work, with upgrading the paths being the first priority.   The SSE Team who have worked on the War Memorial may also be able to give some time towards this.  It might also be possibly to get the Community Payback Team to do some work here in the future.

It was advised that Urray Cemetery has approximately eight years capacity left at current death rates.  When this falls below six years options to extend it will need to be investigated.  Currently it is not an option to pre-purchase a lair in any cemetery with less than 10 years capacity such as Urray.

HG advised that when the trees are felled the wood will be available for local people.  They will let the CC know when it is ready for collection.


Before they left FM advised that weeds are now growing through some of the lime mortar at the MOO War Memorial.  HG will have a look and assess the situation.

(after this item HG & AL left the meeting)


Infrastructure Issues


Bridge Landscape Maintenance


FM introduced Colin Howell (CH),  Head of Infrastructure from HC to give an update on the situation with the landscaped  ground around the new bridge.  It was advised that George Leslie Ltd who built the bridge were also contracted to plant and maintain the land next to it up until September 2020.  £25,000 was to be paid to them on completion of this work.  However despite repeated requests the company have never been back to do this work.  HC therefore asked another contractor in to do some of this and have used a large portion of the money to pay for this.   There is now £1,700 left of this maintenance liability. 

HC have two options, they can pursue George Leslie Ltd to ask them to finish the work, or absolve them of it and hand this money on to another company or group who will do the work.   CH suggested that this could be given to a group of local volunteers if there was a desire in the community to do the work themselves.   This could pay for equipment, plants or whatever is needed.

A discussion followed with concern raised about the size of the area, the lack of local volunteers and the type of planting or surface that it should have.  Following September 2020 the area will fall under normal HC maintenance so any work done would need to reflect this, i.e. planting that would require significant tending would not be desirable.

Following the discussion FM agreed to see if there are any volunteers in the community to take this work on, possibly via Muir Matters or FB.   The CC will then discuss this and go back to CH to advise how the community would like to proceed.  Alex Johannesen asked that Gardening Club is  informed of the discussions tonight.


Seaforth Road/Great North Road Junction


CH advised that when the bridge opened in 2017 a consultancy firm were asked to do a Road Safety Audit to look at all the issues associated with the junction.  This was done in conjunction with the Police and HC staff.   At the time the report did not identify any works required.  However they did acknowledge that it would be good to give the 20mph speed limit time to bed in, then do further speed checks.   In response those present emphasised that many in the village feel the junction is dangerous and there have been a number of near misses and minor accidents which highlight this. Speeding and the junction layout are felt to be jointly responsible.  

CH advised that HC have speed checking equipment and can set this up to get definitive speeding data which will help inform the situation.  He will progress this. 

As there is an ongoing planning application in for Lochan Corr and this may have implications for the junction, making changes to the layout, signage, etc at present is unlikely.  If the development goes ahead it may be altered which will hopefully improve the situation. 

Options for improving the junction such as moving white lines and changing the signage or even adding traffic lights were suggested by those present.  CH advised that the latter option has been ruled out, but if deemed necessary minor curb realignment might be possible in the future.

Following the discussion CH will liaise with Jane Bridge, Senior Engineer at HC and discuss this further with Bryan Stout to establish what can be done to reassure local people.


Town Centre Fund Application (Car Park Project)


DC gave a brief introduction to the project advising that the community has been successful in gaining a £190,000 grant from the Town Centre Fund to improve the village square, by increasing parking spaces and making it an area that can be more useful for local events.  As it is not straightforward for the CC or the Community Association to manage the financial aspects of this project, HC will do this and the CC will act as Project Managers.

FM welcomed Bryan Stout, Principal Engineer at HC who is helping with the project to discuss the way forward. He advised that following an assessment of the drawings submitted some changes needed to be made to the plans to allow for emergency access to the school and a footpath along the back.  With these amendments the increase in parking is only two spaces to what there is now.  If the planter along the library wall is removed this could add more, but would add to the costs.  Those present were in agreement that this should be explored.  He suggested that it would be best to not include the electric hook up points as one will take up two parking spaces.

Following the discussion BS agreed to come up with a revised plan removing the planter, with less lock block and hopefully more space for parking.   He will also work with CH and Robin Pope at Community Services to look into the rules of funding this project to ensure that all the plans are compliant.   DC & AR will liaise with BS regarding this and report back to the CC when necessary with updates.  The deadline for spending this money is tight so progress will be made as quickly as possible.

CH advised that whatever happens with the development this is an HC adopted carpark and will be included in a review of parking charges taking place.  This may mean in the future that charges will apply for those parking in this area.

(after this item CH & BS left the meeting)


Financial Report


There was no financial report.  DC will contact Stephen Mackenzie to urge the transfer of information to allow the new Treasurer to take over the role.


Microgrant Applications


There were no applications to consider.


Update – Planning Issues


The Moorings Great (Ref: 19/03444/FUL)


FM advised that planning has been approved for a 6 bed, 24 hour care assisted facility on the site of the old Moorings hotel which is due to be demolished.   FM stated that the community was supportive of this type of development, but there was still concern that the building could ultimately end up as an HMO, with the associated issues that this can bring.   The Cllrs present advised that they have been reassured that this will not happen unless another planning application is submitted (at a later date).  The Decision Notice dated 28/01/20 states (available at the HC website):

For the avoidance of doubt, this permission is for a maximum of six assisted care or sheltered apartments with supporting warden’s accommodation only, as shown on the approved drawings.  Specifically, it shall not be used or converted to form a House of Multiple Occupation or hostel accommodation without planning permission being granted on a future application to the Planning Authority.



Lochan Corr (Ref: 18/05159/PIP)


AR advised that this will be discussed by the HC Planning Committee in March.




VE Day 75


FM advised that the CC have received information about VE Day 25 events happening. DC will investigate this further and try to establish if there is any desire to do an event locally.


Stagecoach Network Changes


FM confirmed that following a recent community consultation in the area, Stagecoach have now amended their timetable which is affecting residents of MOO and the wider area.  She understands that this is having a negative impact on some and a number of complaints have been made.  FM will write to Stagecoach to highlight the concern in the community.


Black Isle Community Food Project


FM advised that an email has come from a new local group based on the Black Isle who are keen to give an overview on their project at a CC meeting.   This appears to be similar to Moo Food, although there are very few other details.  It was felt by those present that a presentation to a meeting is not required currently.


My Place Awards 2020


The My Place Awards celebrate community-led built environment initiatives that have produced a transformative project for their area.  Those present felt this might be an appropriate award to enter next year when/if the square project is completed.


Keep Scotland Beautiful

Is looking for Communities to enter annual environmental initiatives, shining a light on local projects – agreed to pass onto Emma Whitham of MOO Food.



STP Funding Finder

This is a list of funds available to Communities – to discuss further.



CC Liaison Meetings with Dingwall Medical Practice


JD had attended one of these quarterly meetings with Dingwall Medical Practice and other CC representatives prior to finishing. FM will check the details with her to establish if it will be useful to send a CC representative in the future.


Update – Community Groups


Moo Food


Cllr AM advised that Moo Food will not now be developing a small piece of land on Fairmuir Road following consultation with the local residents.  The group is very conscious of working with the community and respects the view that this small section of land is best kept as it is.


Muir of Ord Halls & Facilities Company (MHFC)


Stephen Pennington reported that Artysans advised with very short notice that they will be vacating the Hub café by the end of March.  The search is now on for another provider to run the café and six expressions of interest have been submitted.   The closing date for full applications is 24/02/20.  It is hoped that the successful group will ensure the café is open as soon as possible after Artysans leave.


Roads, Paths & Safety Issues


Stephen Pennington advised that the issue with the overhanging branches on the West Road, near the bridge appears to have been sorted when he checked the situation recently.


Leonard Fraser reported that Corry Road, up to the junction near Upper Ardnagrask is to be tarred soon.  Those present agreed that this section of road is horrendous, but felt that more of this road requires repair.  Cllr GM will check the situation and report back.


AR advised that there is a Scottish Water manhole cover on Black Isle Road that is sinking.  The cover is in danger of falling into the chamber.  Cllr AM will report this.


AR advised that his wife Fiona has phoned Scottish Water a couple of times about the lying water on Burma Road.  Cllr GM will check the situation with this.


Community Action

There were no issues discussed.


Local Place Plan (The Big Picture 2)


There was no progress on this.  FM will speak to Mike Atkinson about this and see how it can be progressed.




Carpark behind the Funeral Parlour


A member of the public reported that the rear of this private carpark is in a terrible mess with rubble, pallets, chest freezers and other waste dumped there.  She supplied photos to illustrate the problem.   FM will write to the owner asking if this can be cleaned up.


Road Sweeping


A member of the public present queried if the village currently has a road sweeper as there has been a marked deterioration since Donald retired.  Cllr AM advised that it is unclear as yet if this post will be replaced or when. 


Dog Fouling


It was reported that the spray marking of dog poo last year had made a big difference.  Alex Johannesen advised that Stephen Mackenzie was looking into a new source of the spray.  DC will check this with Stephen and report back.


New Minute Secretary Required


FM confirmed that this will be Jo Ellen’s last meeting as Minute Secretary.  This post will be advertised in Muir Matters and on FB.  If anyone is interested they can speak to FM or Jo for more information.


Date of Next Meeting


The next Meeting is to be held on Thursday 12th March 2020 @ 7.30 pm in the Hub, Muir of Ord. 



The meeting finished at 10.00pm











To make informal enquiries about the restoration of the core path on the old railway line –  when works complete.




To investigate the cost of Christmas Lights with Blachere Illumination




To investigate the option to add 1 or 2 electric hook up points in the square renovations with HIE.




To speak to John and Darren at the Golf Club to see if the verges along Great North Road can be tidied



Cllr AM/JD

To check the situation with the HGV weight restriction on Black Isle Road & Ord Road





To look into getting volunteers together to assist repairs at Urray Cemetery.

HC to look into the spoil pile, unemptied bins and pot holes in the carpark




To check MOO War Memorial for weeds growing through the lime mortar




To arrange for speed monitoring equipment to be set up at the Bridge/ Seaforth Road/ Great North Road junction.

To liaise with Jane Bridge & BS regarding this issue




To work together to come up with a new plan for the square and ensure that all necessary rules and regulations are adhered to




To contact Stephen Mackenzie to transfer the Treasurer paperwork to MJ




To investigate if there is support for a VE 75 Day event in the village




To write to Stagecoach and advise of the complaints from local residents




To check with Jean Davis about the Dingwall Medical Practice Liaison Group



Cllr GM

To check if Corry Road will be re-tarred and if so how far



Cllr AM

To check who is responsible for the manhole cover on Black Isle Road which is sinking



Cllr GM

To check if the issue with water accumulation on Burma Road is being investigated




To write to the owner of the carpark behind the Funeral Parlour to see if the area can be cleaned up



Cllr AM

To check if the replacement for the road sweeper has been progressed




To check if Stephen Mackenzie was able to source dog poo spray




To arrange for the Minute Secretary position to be advertised in Muir Matters and FB