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Minutes 13 November 2017

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 13th November 2017 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 11/12/2017

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Secretary/Treasurer (MT), Andy Wright (AW), Rob Pope (RP), Buster Crabb (BC)
Invited guests: Angus Elder (AE) and John Moisey (JM), of Muirden Energy
Also present: Phil Olson, Lucy Norval, Alan Lawrence, Carol Gilmour, David Mackay, Tracey Smith, Robert Sawyer
Police Scotland: PC Dave Thompson (DT) Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder
Apologies: Highland Councillor Linda Munro (LM), Leslie Pope (LP)

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above) Chair Betty Wright welcomed everyone, especially those attending with regard to the presentation from Muirden Energy. She invited the representatives to address the meeting.

Item 3. Presentation by Muirden Energy. Angus Elder introduced himself and John Moisey on behalf of the company and indicated that they would be the contacts for anyone wishing to liaise with Muirden Energy regarding the proposed windfarm development at Meall Buidhe on the Croick Estate. He displayed a map which showed the boundary of the estate and the intended area for use during construction and siting of the windfarm. The company will work with the estate which is seeking to diversify and to sustain the estate. AE gave a brief history of the company (information is available on their website: ) The site was identified as having many positive attributes for wind energy such as high average wind speeds, landform screening, separation from residential properties, no onsite ecological designation, existing access from Strathoykel utilising forestry tracks whenever possible. Twenty-one turbines are proposed with a 3MW generating capacity. Tower heights between 69-78m, blade circumference 82m. The Wild Land restrictions on the south west of the site has required the siting of the development on the north east of the ridge line. The nearest designated Wild Land on the other side is to the north east beyond Rosehall. Although the overall area of the site is much larger than the area for the proposed siting of the turbines, this is to allow for establishing the most suitable access for the various stages of the development not for extending the windfarm at a later date. Access will be via Ardgay avoiding public road use as much as possible. Issues were raised from the public regarding the condition of a stretch of the public road and the unmade tracks proposed for use, which are already much damaged by the timber operations in the area. AE stressed that the company would be liable for all repair/reinstatement of roadways, legally bound to meet obligations and conditions laid down by THC. All roadways should be improved before access is required for the development and retained afterwards. The timeline indicated by AE showed the start of assessments for the EIA in September 2016, Scoping report to Scottish Government June 2017, public consultations in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 after which the findings of the EIA and feedback will be incorporated prior to submitting application to Scottish Government in autumn 2018. The first of the public consultations will take place in Ardgay on 22nd November between 1.30 and 6.30pm with another in Rosehall on the 23rd November 2.30 – 7.30pm. These sessions will be advertised locally. The EIA covers the various impacts such as visual, ecological, ornithological, noise, hydrology, peat and geology, archaeological and cultural heritage, transport and access, shadow flicker and aviation. A map showing various viewpoints was shown, 12 -14 viewpoints indicated; the company will add more viewpoints if asked. Photo montage should show realistic impressions and without screening by trees. It was pointed out that on the map there was no indication of the Achany and Rosehall windfarms nor the recently approved Braemore development. Also there was no mention of the proposals for Caplich and Braelangwell. AE stated the map and EIA will be updated to show these. JM advised that the machines to be used will be of the latest technological design and will be the quietest available although from the floor it was noted that the noise issues come from the wind passing over the top of the turbines and through the blades rather than the machinery inside the turbines. Latest blades are designed with serrated edges which effects a major noise reduction. This would pose an added danger to bird life in the opinion of some present. The siting of this development between two very important designated areas of special scientific interest was questioned with AE stating that all possible precautions will be taken. Asked about the connection to the grid AE said the company is in discussion with SSE on all aspects for this but was unable to elaborate at this stage. When pressed he stated that Invershin Power Station would be the connection point with cabling to it underground whenever possible. The cables would presumably have to cross the river prior to reaching the substation. The high levels of fuel poverty in the area were mentioned and in response AE indicated that Muirden Energy is keen to utilise the latest technology, looking at energy storage and ways for distribution options to benefit local fuel prices. Transportation of turbines and blades on the narrow single-track roads and tracks and over the various bridges is a major concern to the public. JM stated the company will be bound by THC decisions on which roads can/cannot be used. Asked if local materials will be used to create the concrete bases on site, AE said that surveys to establish local borrow pits are being done along with peat surveys. Shared ownership schemes will be offered to both individuals and local trusts wishing to invest in the windfarm. Details can be had from the company and will be available at the public consultation sessions. After a short break for the Police Report (see Item 6), the impacts on tourism and businesses operating in this sphere were raised. The company was urged to use up to date surveys as older ones, such as the Moffat survey in the 1990s, are no longer relevant. AE said that several surveys would be studied, some currently being produced. Other concerns raised by the public included the disproportionate number of windfarms surrounding the local area which will have a major knock-on effect on tourism businesses, the ‘ring; of turbines interrupting many flight paths of the indigenous wild bird populations, effects on the many water courses through the developed areas, and the actual working time of the turbines, as witnessed by the many occasions when the existing turbines are not turning. AE stated that individual agreements with the National Grid are now very different from when those windfarms were established which should lead to maximum usage of the turbines on Meall Buidhe. The case for the positive impacts locally of the windfarms was made with AW reminded the meeting of the many local projects currently running thanks to community benefit, the jobs created, issues already addressed and pressed the company to take all such possibilities into account when dealing with the local communities. Chair expressed thanks to AE and JM for their presentation and willingness to engage in open discussion with the community. In reply AE encouraged feedback to the company directly, through the CC or by attending the upcoming public consultation sessions. This item concluded at 8.15pm.

Item 4. Minutes of last meeting. Following a short break the meeting reconvened at 8.25pm. The minutes of the September meeting were approved as a true and accurate record, proposed: Silvia Muras; seconded: Marion Turner.

Item 5. Matters arising. (1) Seats on Ardgay/Bonar straight. Cllr Munro has raised the formal request to change the speed limit. Two letters to THC from CC have as yet gone unanswered. Further letter will be sent to Graham MacKenzie, Head of Roads Dept. MT Action. It is understood that staff at The Hub have started a petition and the CC will gather examples of other villages with long speed restricted stretches on their outskirts. Older residents remember seats in place along the straight. RP reported the lights in the 30mph signs at the approach to Ardgay from Bonar and approaching Bonar from Lairg are not working. MT Action. (2) Poling station review. THC will accept comments until the end of January 2018. Discuss at next meeting. Agenda item/BW Action. (3) CC Insurance via THC. Colin MacKenzie THC has advised there will be little change. THC will still deduct the premium before paying the annual grant, but the documents will be sent direct to the CC. (4) Culrain station. LM to be asked if City Region Deal can be accessed to provide the essential electronic signage at Culrain and Ardgay stations. BW/LM Action. Another letter will be sent to Scottish Government Transport Directive and Customer Relations at Scot Rail. MT Action. (5) Defibrillators. Grant application was successful. SM will invite Rick Laird, Scottish Ambulance and Jason Gardner, Fire Service to December meeting. Agenda item. SM/BW Action. (6 /7) Barbed wire at path at Culrain/Kincardine Hill road. No update on either item.

Item 6. Police report. PC Dave Thomson had arrived at 7.50. His report noted thirty-two incidents, 75% of the thirteen traffic issues were of speeding, five alarm calls, eight assistance calls, three animal related, one suspicious person, one weather related. BW stated that there had been an attempted break-in at the Gearrchoille Community Wood storage container. BW noted that she had reported this last item but was dissatisfied with the response from the 101 call centre in Inverness. DT advised all callers to 101 to get a reference number for the call as this will ensure call is logged and follow up occurs. DT left at 7.55pm.

Item 7. Chairperson’s report. (1) Leslie Pope has recently stood down as Secretary and was warmly thanked for work over the last year and a half. MT will carry on with Secretarial work meantime and was also thanked for adding this to her workload as Treasurer. (2) An increase in the remuneration for the Minutes Secretary was approved in line with the rate paid by both Creich and Lairg CCs. Proposed: BW; seconded MT. MG was thanked for her continued work with the CC. Consideration will be given to applying to Beinn Tharsuinn Fund for a contribution to the CC’s administration costs. (3) Plant tubs. Jean Richardson, Cherry Alexander. Jenny Betts and the Growing Group have provided excellent floral displays without incurring large costs. There may be money left in the Regeneration Project which could be accessed to update all the tubs and displays in the newly created Drovers Square. Discuss in the spring. Agenda item for March/April. Coastal defence works. No implications for the community. Reply with no comment. MT Action.

Item 8. Secretary’s report. All relevant email correspondence has been circulated including the Weekly Planning Lists. No action required.
Item 9. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 27 October 2017 balance at the bank is £20,079.89 of which £19,326.31 are restricted funds. The Admin/General Fund has £ 753.58 available to carry out the business of the CC. The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking – £329.76, BTWF – Community Projects – £2,145.15, Newsletter – £3,2728.80, BNO – £12,452.20, EON Path – £670.40. The toilets will be closed at the end of the month with the water turned off. THC funding of the facility is to be reviewed next year.
Item 10. Matters raised by local residents. SM had circulated comments received via Facebook. MSP advised CC that the Scottish Education Bill is open for comments till January 2018. Secretary will continue to circulate press releases from Scottish Government.

Item 11. Christmas tree and lights. AW advised that all the lights are working bar two. Meeting to be held on 14th November with The Hub, KoSDT and GCWA. ‘Santa’s Magical Woodland’ is proposed again following the success last year. Once again AW will acquire a tree for the centre of the village, but this should fall to someone else next year. Discussion with Robbie Gunn, THC Lighting, could result in Christmas lights remaining on 24/7 during the season.

Item 12. Sutherland Community Partnership. MT attended the last session. As this is a ‘meeting held in public’ and not a ‘public meeting there is little opportunity for public comment or involvement. Christine Ross, VG-ES, is the only Sutherland resident on the panel. Most of those attending are doing so in work time and therefore paid to be there whereas all others must do so at their own expense. This does little to actually involve communities. Discuss with LM at next meeting. LM Action.

Item 13. Regular updates:
(1) Planning. Nothing relevant this month.
(2) Newsletter. (SM) Thursday 23rd November is copy date for all contributions, adverts and letters to the Editor. The aim is to distribute the hard copies during week commencing 11th December.
(3) Ardgay Regeneration. Project proceeding very well. An Open Day is arranged for 27/28th November.
(4) Broadband. Nil of note.
(5) Windfarms. (1) Braemore windfarm has received Scottish Government consent. Were Community Benefit discussions were held when the development was first proposed? MT/BW to contact Creich and Lairg CC to ascertain current position. BW will circulate to CCs relevant documents. BW Action. (2) Sallachy. MT/BW attended discussions regarding community ownership. Developers are keen to progress this as it may help with Planning Applications. Also for possible discussion with Lairg and Creich CCs. BW Action.
(6) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. Nothing relevant.
Item 14. Highland Council. Nothing in LM’s absence.

Item 15. Any other competent business. (1) None raised.

Item 16. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 11th December at 7pm in Ardgay Public Hall.

Private Session. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards.
Application by the Ardgay Public Hall received an award of £1,750 from BTWF and also £250 from BnO towards the refurbishment and decorating of the gents’ toilet. Invershin Hall Committee received £146.47 from BnO towards balance bike sessions.

Meeting closed 10.06pm.

Minutes 11 September 2017

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 11th September 2017 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 13/11 2017

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Treasurer (MT), Leslie Pope, Secretary (LP), Andy Wright (AW), Rob Pope (RP), Buster Crabb (BC)

Also present: Highland Councillor Linda Munro (LM), Helen Houston, Development Manager, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, Cameron Warren

Apologies: None

Police Scotland: PC Tracey Murray                          Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above) Chair Betty Wright welcomed everyone and asked the Police representative to give the report. Twenty-eight incidents have been recorded in the last month, of these twelve were road traffic related – one road traffic accident, one no insurance, one overweight vehicle, four of driver behaviour and three road traffic hazards (breakdown, diesel, etc). The other incidents comprised ten advice calls, one medical matter, two relating to animals, one wildlife crime, one disorder and one false call. Advice was given for the public to be aware of a spate of rural thefts, many in the Dornoch area, of tractor batteries, fuel, etc. The public should be particularly vigilant and report any unusual behaviour particularly in the rural areas.

Item 4. Chair then invited Helen Houston to bring the CC up to date with the business of the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. Much detail was given regarding the excellent progress of the Ardgay Regeneration Scheme with the project being on schedule and on budget. The Trust hopes to move into its new offices around the 3rd December. Two open days are planned for 27th/28th November when members of the public will be welcomed to visit the new units in the refurbished barn, the outside walls of which have been sandblasted and restored. Albyn Housing has planning permission for four, two-bedroom houses on the west side of the square and there will be one private house plot for sale which will be handled by Highland Small Communities Housing Trust. The four houses are expected to be ready for occupancy late next summer. The square is made and the road has been adopted by THC. Interpretation panels should be ready by November. The planned art gallery will not now be set up and the space for it has been rented. This exciting project will bring new life to the centre of Ardgay. CC members expressed great delight in the project, welcoming the use of the ground space and in particular the preservation of the barn building once part of the original farm buildings on this site, ensuring its ongoing use.

The Falls of Shin Visitor Attraction has been constantly busy since its opening with upwards of 70,000 visitors passing through the café and shop. Staff are settling into their new roles, many of those employed are local people. The path to the falls was damaged during a recent storm and will be re-surveyed with repairs carried out in due course. The first wedding to be held there went very well and the centre will be marketed now as a wedding venue for next year. A Falls of Shin Experience Officer is in post to promote all aspects of use of the facility, including business networking events. A recent working breakfast event brought people from Inverness and Thurso as well as closer to home. Overnight parking/camping has been a slight problem and this will be discouraged, especially as some of those parking do not make use of the facilities in the centre. Some issues have arisen within the wooded areas due to their being used as toilets by these visitors.

The other projects within the Trust are ongoing: Keep Active Together has been refunded with many activities once again up and running, Food shop and café has around forty-five regular attendees with between forty and sixty people there most weeks. The evening café has attracted between twenty to twenty-five and the entertainment has been provided by local volunteer groups. This project is funded by Scottish Government to support those in need of help with food supplies and to encourage social contact. At the start of the summer special attention was given to families who would miss the school meals service through the holidays. The Energy Advice Service remains very busy and is achieving beyond the targets set by Scottish Government.  Refunding for the next two years is being sought in hopes to extend the service throughout Sutherland. Events, shows, school and elderly centre visits continue.  A major ‘Step Up, Step Down’ housing facility is in the early stages of talks and design. To be situated opposite Migdale Hospital the accommodation could comprise ten units with high-spec technology to offer help to those ready for hospital discharge but not yet able to go to their own homes without support. A respite bed and family accommodation is envisaged allowing relatives to stay near at hand in cases of severe illness/end of life situations. This is a very innovative project with much more work to be done to bring it to fruition. As Sutherland is one of the areas with a very high number of aging population new thinking of how services can be provided is essential.  A Contracts Team is being established and the Trust is beginning to sell its expertise in management services throughout Highland. This is turn will bring in extra revenue to allow the Trust to work on yet more local projects in the future. Helen was also excited to advise that the Trust has recently taken delivery of its own vehicle, an electric powered Renault Zoe. This will be used by Trust officials when traveling locally on business. A charging point is in place at Falls of Shin and another will be sited at The Barn in Ardgay. The door of the Trust office is always open to anyone wishing to discuss ideas or projects, anyone seeking advice or help regarding funding or any of the other avenues in which the Trust team now has experience, or even people just wondering what is going on with the Trust at any time. Helen was very warmly thanked for taking the time to bring the CC up to date with so many of the aspects of life at the Trust.

Item 3. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the August meeting were approved as a true and accurate record, proposed: Andy Wright; seconded: Silvia Muras.

Item 5. Matters arising. (1) Seats on Ardgay/Bonar straight. BW in touch with THC Ward Manager and Access Officer Matt Dent who has been encouraging. LM advised that Cllr Currie is looking at a similar project elsewhere in the Ward as part of a Scottish Government funded ‘Active Communities’ initiative and suggested that the CC discuss this with her. MT Action. At a recent CC surgery LP received complaints regarding speeding on this straight and concerns due to the increase in traffic of all kinds now that the Hub is open. Speed indicator devices could also be installed. CCs to forward all their ideas to Chair who then will liaise with the Hub and contact THC Roads Director, Graham MacKenzie. BW Action. (2) Kincardine Hill Road.  Road survey has been completed with road improvements expected soon before timber extraction starts. Meeting of Graham MacKenzie and residents on 20th August was productive. (3) email address. Advised that this is not possible due to costs. Agreed to maintain the present contact arrangements. (4) Barbed wire Culrain path. Issue reported via Matt Dent in August. Monitor. (5) Carbisdale trails. Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has confirmed the trails are closed due to financial restraints. Existing local access group (Kyle f Sutherland Forest Trust) is interested in taking on upkeep. MG to provide RADAG Chair email to LP for more information as to Rosehall’s progress with the trails there. MG Action. An open meeting was held in Culrain recently to discuss the future of the hall. Locals wish to maintain some form of meeting place and an outside-accessible toilet/shower facility is required. This could prove to be a money-maker for the village. (6) Culrain station. Nothing further this month. The installation of an electronic advice board at both Culrain and Ardgay stations is essential. (7) CC insurance via THC. CC opinion is that the status quo should be maintained rather than every CC having to seek out individual insurance. Secretary to ask THC why this change has to happen. LP Action. (8) Polling station review. Statistics on footfall at the election are inconclusive. Official consultation due in October.CC View remains that the polling station should be located in Ardgay Public Hall. (9) Toilets supplies. Late again this month but stock now received. (10) Christmas lights. Agenda item in November.

Item 6. Police report. See item 1.

Item 7. Chairperson’s report. (1) CCs asked to ensure that Chair is notified of all items in good time ahead of meetings. (2) Once Regeneration works are complete and the noticeboards are in full use again, space should be reserved for CC information, or the CC should erect a dedicated board of its own. (3) Hall Auction raised £2,255. The CC was thanked for its support. (4) THC Quality Awards nominations. SM will nominate Matt Dent and BW will nominate John Clark. SM/BW Action. Other correspondence included a survey of a Charter of Patients’ rights, information regarding fireworks licence, changes to provision of dog waste bins, Low Emission Zones consultation, Highland Senior Citizen Network mailing list inclusion, FCS grant scheme, THC Welfare Support Team Debit Advice, Intimation of Sutherland County Committee meeting in November, Forest Enterprise Scotland Land Management consultation and Fountain Forestry Soil Association management assessment. Details of relevant items will be put on the CC Facebook page. SM Action.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. All relevant email correspondence has been circulated. NHS poster passed to SM. Countryside Alliance Awards, ‘Rural Oscars’ – nomination information will be put on Facebook page. SM Action.

Item 9. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 9 August 2017 balance at the bank is £21,701.95 of which £20,765.12 are restricted funds. The Admin/General Fund has £ 936.83 available to carry out the business of the CC. The Annual Community Benefit Payment from Beinn Nan Oighrean was received on 8 August 2017. The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking – £729.76, BTWF – Community Projects – £2,145.15, Newsletter – £4,517.61, BNO – £12,702.20, EON Path – £670.40.

Item 10. Regular updates:

(1) Planning. Nothing relevant this month.

(2) Newsletter. (SM) Delivery of the autumn edition of the ADCC newsletter is expected on 13th September. Due to the amount and quality of contributions this issue will, for the first time, comprise thirty-six pages. A total of twenty-four different local groups have been in contact for this edition, submitting contributions, book adverts or to update details. SM was congratulated by all present for another excellent edition and her ongoing work. Deadline for the winter edition is the third week in November.

(3) Ardgay Regeneration. See item 4.

(4) Broadband. It is understood that HIE is conducting a review of CBS.

(5) Windfarms. (1) Coire na Cloiche. Confusion last month regarding a document received has been clarified. The CC is not now required to sign it. (2) Meall Buidhe. Angus Elder of Muirden Energy will attend the November meeting.

(6) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. See Item 4.

Item 11. Highland Council. LM hopes to have an update from BT after the next meeting of the County Committee. Education – THC progressing to more campuses of larger schools. Government requirements for 1000 hours of nursery provision by 2020 could lead to many difficulties.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1) SM thanked Cameron Warren for his interest in the CC which hopes to encourage younger members of the community to attend/join.

Item 13. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 13th November at 7pm in Ardgay Public Hall.

Private Session. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards.

Application by the Kyle of Sutherland Hub received an award of £250 from the BnO Small Grants Fund to help with Fitness Instructor Training.

Meeting closed 9.25pm.

Minutes 14 August 2017

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 14th August 2017 in Culrain Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 11/09/2017

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Treasurer (MT), Leslie Pope, Secretary (LP), Andy Wright (AW), Rob Pope (RP), Buster Crabb (BC)

Also present: Highland Councillor Linda Munro (LM). Kate Alexander (KA), Janet Mackay (JM)

Apologies: None

Police Scotland: None present                          Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above) Chair Betty Wright welcomed everyone especially the Culrain representatives.

Non-agenda item. BW presented a tribute to Robin Ross who died recently. Mr Ross was a previous chair of A&DCC and a great supporter of the community. His family have crofted at Heatherlea for three or four generations. He will be much missed in the community. The sympathies of the CC were extended to his widow Margaret and the family. SM hopes to add an obituary to the next edition of the newsletter. SM Action.

Item 3. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the June meeting were approved as a true and accurate record, proposed: Marion Turner; seconded: Betty Wright.

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Defibrillator. SM confirmed that application has been made to SSE Resilience Fund with submission acknowledged. (2) Polling Station. Reply received from the Elections Manager with apologies that protocol was not followed ahead of the last election due to time constraints. A full review is to be carried out, confirmed by LM. SM passed on thanks from Hall Committee to the CC for following this through. (3) CC Insurance through THC. BW/LP continuing to follow this up. (4) email address for CC. BW will liaise with Ward Manager. BW Action. (5) Ardgay toilets. Delay in stock replenishment, now sorted out. Recent leak also fixed. Facility is being well used by locals and visitors. NO Smoking signs requested by caretaker. Project Manager for the Regeneration Project will be asked if KOSDT office can provide a couple of laminated signs. MT Action. Sheena Shaw was congratulated on the excellent caretaking of the facility.

Item 5. Police report. None available.

Item 6. Chairperson’s report. (1) The agenda is produced with details of all items to be discussed, not just headings, to help public awareness of the matters which will be raised each month. Although this makes the agenda appear lengthy, many matters will be dealt with quickly with others requiring longer discussion. Chair aims to complete each meeting in approximately two hours. CCs were encouraged to try to keep within the time frame. (2) The next Sutherland Community Partnership meeting is scheduled for 25th August in Kinlochbervie.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. All relevant email correspondence has been circulated.

Item 8. Matters raised by residents. (1) Road improvements at Kincardine Hill. Public meeting to be held in Ardgay Hall on 29th August at 7.30pm. Preliminary road marking has been done; residents aware of an increase in traffic already. The road sign advising slow driving, horses on the road has not yet appeared. All matters have been passed to THC Roads Dept. via Graham MacKenzie and can be discussed at the public meeting. (2) Staffing concerns at Gledfield School. This item has been removed from the public minutes for reasons of confidentiality. Sheila Lall will continue to liaise with CC when appropriate and was thanked for this. (3) Seat between Ardgay and Bonar Bridge. A request received to have a seat installed on the straight between the two villages to encourage local people to walk, by allowing one or two rest points. BW will talk to John Clark, Roads Department in Bonar Bridge, to see if this might be possible. Difficulties with proximity to the road, which carries a 60mph limit, are appreciated but the suggestion is a very valid one. After talks with THC, BW will report back as to what might be achieved and how. SM will contact the lady who raised the idea to find out if there is a story behind it which could be an item in the newsletter. BW/SM Action.

(4) Ardgay Hall Auction fundraiser. The event will be held on 26th August. CC approved the donation of £20 gift voucher valid for one of the local businesses. MT Action. The hall will be open for donations of items for auction on 22-25th August. Collection of large items can be arranged via the Hall Committee. (5) Non-stopping of trains in Culrain. Janet Mackay advised that the 9am train has not stopped at Culrain since 2014/15. This was the most popular train for Culrain residents and visitors as it allows for time in Inverness and to return, also for onward connections. There is no disabled access to southbound trains in Ardgay Station therefore the Culrain stop is essential. The lack of passing sections of track appears to be a major issue in maintaining the current timetables. Upgrading of the line is urgently needed. A sign should be erected at Culrain and Ardgay to encourage people to use the direct phone line immediately upon arriving at the station to ascertain if the train is running, is on time, etc. Many incidents reported of the non-arrival of trains when travellers did not find out until too late to make alternative arrangements. HITRANS Strategy Consultation has closed but all concerned should still make submissions to it. Secretary will do so for CC on behalf of the community and also contact Frank Roach. Scottish Government has a Far North Line Working Group – perhaps contact through Alan Brown at Scottish Government. (6) Paths at Ardgay end of viaduct cycle ramp. AW has written as an individual to Matt Dent regarding the overgrown paths which now mask a dangerous barbed-wire fence along the side of the track. The barbs on the wire face onto the path, not into the field. Should a walker stumble or a cyclist fall they could receive a very serious injury from the wire. BW will write to Matt Dent highlighting the issue and seeking swift action to remedy it. BW Action. (7) BC raised the issue that all the Forestry Commission signs for the walks and trails around Culrain have been removed. No maintenance has been done on the tracks; a picnic table has been removed leaving stumps which will prove dangerous when overgrown and no longer visible. Kyle of Sutherland Forest Trust is willing to seek funding to do maintenance on the trails but needs to make contact with the new owner of Carbisdale Castle as access to the trails is over Castle owned land. Secretary will write to FCS asking for clarification of its future plans for the woodland as these trails are much missed. LP Action. Many cyclists come to the area specifically to ride here and also link to Balblair woods thanks to the viaduct walkway and cycle ramp. It is noted that the ramp itself can be difficult to use..

Item 9. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 27th July 2017 balance at the bank is £19,425.15 of which £18,488.32 are   restricted funds. The Admin/General Fund has £936.83 available to carry out the business of the CC. The annual admin grant from THC was received on 10th July 2017.

The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking – £929.76, BTWF – Community Projects – £2,145.15
Newsletter – £4,540.81, BNO – £10,202.20, EON Path – £670.40. MT posts bank balances at the start of each month on Dropbox for ease of access to information for CC members.

Item 10. Regular updates:

(1) Planning. Nothing relevant this month.

(2) Newsletter. (SM) The copy deadline for the next edition (#37 Autumn) is 28th August with delivery expected after 12th September. The Editor is pleased to report that already clients are contacting her to book advertising space.

(3) Ardgay Regeneration. Project is on schedule. It is hoped that the scaffolding can be removed ahead of the Fundraising Auction on 26th August. The traffic lights are required presently to allow work in connection with the site to take place.

(4) Broadband. It is understood that Cameron Warren of Highland Wireless is working with Ron Boothroyd of Creich CC with plans to bring an effective service to the area. BT is making offers which may work in conjunction with the UK Universal Service Obligation. CC will continue to monitor all such projects.

(5) Windfarms. (1) Coire na Cloiche. A document received regarding arrangements between the developer and the CC is very poorly written and very confusing. Other CCs are having this checked out and A&DCC will proceed once matters are clarified.  (2) Meall Buidhe. Angus Elder of Muirden Energy will attend the November meeting. A meeting will be held in the new year regarding community benefit/ownership schemes. It is hoped to discuss these with Mr Elder in November. Scoping report was well done; deadline for comment is 18th August. BW will submit comments from CC including the possibility of shared access with Braelangwell windfarm and concerns regarding the Carron Bridge. BW Action. (3) Braelangwell. Nothing new. (4) Sallachy. BW and MT attended a recent meeting to hear the latest plans, the originals having been turned down. This will be a smaller development requiring only THC approval.

(6) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. (MT) A detailed updating report was received from Helen Houston, Development Manager in July. This covered twelve different projects and areas on which the Trust is currently working. The next major project which the Trust is hoping to progress is the Kyle View supported living development. Talks are at an early stage to determine the feasibility of the project. The CC accepted Helen Houston’s offer to come to a meeting to give an update in person; BW will contact her to arrange the date. BW Action. LM passed on the praise which the Trust receives from the wider area within which the Trust is considered an excellent example of community working and achievement.

Item 11. Highland Council. LM spoke of her concerns of the major inequality of service provision within THC region where small communities are constantly losing out to the urban areas due to lack of population numbers. Many of the smaller communities can be classed as areas of deprivation as a result. These are fragile communities, struggling to maintain populations and withdrawal of services simply aggravates the situations. Threshold populations are too high for many of the rural and remote areas and there appears little political will to help establish equality. A creative approach by the eleven CCs in Sutherland is needed. THC has to be reminded that it represents the whole area and not just the urban areas. Sutherland has the best record for paying Council Tax, for recycling, etc and yet is still ignored. LM agreed to provide a piece for the newsletter and will liaise with the Editor. LM/SM Action. BW will look at the Survey Monkey for the Draft Outcome Highland Improvement Plan and will complete it on behalf of the CC if possible. BW Action.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1) KA advised that the Culrain Hall Committee is having to consider the closure of the hall due to lack of support in the local community. Most of the present committee is standing down. The hall is very old and in need of major refurbishment or replacement. Some feel that a smaller unit is essential to maintain social contact and perhaps a number of interested locals can be found to take this idea further. A large project requiring serious funding is out of the question. The CC wishes to support the Culrain community to operate a smaller, practical venue for meetings, social gatherings, etc and asked to be kept informed. The Hall Committee is urged to check the constitution to be sure of how the position should they disband, especially in regard to liability. LP and LM will have further discussions and keep the CC informed. LP/LM Action. (2) RP and LP continue to run the CC surgeries once a month in Ardgay Café. Overall the attendance is low, but slowly building. RP and LP are happy to continue the CCs presence in the village in this way. They received thanks from other members.

Item 13. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 11th September at 7pm in Ardgay Public Hall.

Private Session. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards.

There were no new applications to discuss. During the summer recess application was received from the Kyle of Sutherland Gala Week Committee. Owing to the tight time deadline an exception was made to make an award decision by email consultation amongst CC members. The award of £330 was approved with final overall approval given and noted this evening.

Meeting closed 9.28pm.

Minutes 12 June 2017

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 12th June 2017 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 14/08/2017

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Treasurer (MT), Leslie Pope, Secretary (LP), Andy Wright (AW), Rob Pope (RP)

Also present: Highland Councillor Linda Munro (LM)

Apologies: Buster Crabb (BC)

Police Scotland: PCs Angus Morrison (AM), Steve MacKenzie (SM)                          Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above) Chair Betty Wright welcomed everyone especially the recently re-elected Highland Councillor Linda Munro.

Item 3. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the May meeting were approved as a true and accurate record, proposed: Betty Wright; seconded: Marion Turner.

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Dropped kerb opposite Ardgay Stores. Although it is considered unlikely that this matter will be activated, CC could discuss again with Community Works Officer. There is a dropped kerb opposite the garage forecourt. It was suggested that the contractors working on the Ardgay Regeneration project might be willing to undertake the work as a goodwill gesture to the community. LM will follow this up. LM Action. (2) Oakwood Place Path has been completed. Travis Perkins invoice passed to MT for payment. MT Action. (3)  Defibrillators. SM received approval to submit a funding application to the SSE Resilient Communities Fund. The application seeks to fund two defibrillators, to be placed in Ardgay and at Culrain hall.  Jason Gardiner of the Scottish Fire Service is offering to run CPR courses locally. Such training is very important; CPR can keep someone alive for up to fifteen minutes, though survival rate drops after eight. Used in conjunction with a defibrillator this can make the difference between life and death. The application totals £3772 which includes quotes for an electrician to install the equipment as well as the cost of the defibrillator. The community will be required to take the responsibility for maintenance, repair and battery renewal. SM Action. (4) Tain Royal Academy 3-18 campus. It is understood that the proposal for the site is being reconsidered.

Item 5. Police report. PC Morrison gave his report at the start of the AGM. This included one drunk, one warrant enforcement, one theft by housebreaking, one road accident and one call regarding vacant premises. The officers had no information concerning the proposed bill to introduce 20mph limits instead of the current 30pmh limits across Scotland. The police are aware of the increase in tourist traffic, especially motorbikes and cycles, generated by the NC500 but there are no plans at present for an awareness campaign.

Item 6. Chairperson’s report. (1) Arrangements for circulating and amending draft Minutes. The draft Minutes are approved for circulation by the Chair and Treasurer after which they are also posted on the website and the CC noticeboard. A quick turnaround is often required which has led to some problems with the NT summary in respect of the Minutes concerning the Newsletter. The Editor will submit a short Minute to MG each month with the information for the Minutes and summary.SM Action. In all other respects the system will continue as before. (2) BW asked LM if the CC might be able to have a email address. THC system is heavily encrypted and it is unlikely to be extended to CCs but LM will enquire. LM Action. (3) Polling station. With no consultation with the CC the polling station was moved from the Hall to Gledfield School for both the local and general elections. The CC had been led to believe this was only for the local election. The siting of the station may well have a significant effect on the turnout at any election. LM will take this back to THC; BW to forward all relevant correspondence to her. BW/LM Action.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. All relevant email correspondence has been circulated. (1) Scotways receipt passed to MT. (2) Letter from Edward Mountain offering to visit the CC will be politely declined at this time. BW Action. (3) Recent advice from Colin MacKenzie at THC regarding the change to CC insurance provision from next spring raises several concerns, not least how the insurance will be paid for – at present the premium is taken from the CC annual grant before that is distributed. LM will check this out. LM Action. Placing too much responsibility on volunteer CC members, such as controlling local budgets, etc, may well lead to closure of CCs around the country as people turn away from this extra burden. Secretary will invite Colin MacKenzie to attend a CC meeting to fully acquaint the members with the changes and responsibilities. LP Action.

Item 8. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 20th May 2017 balance at the bank is £ 17,963.22 of which £ 17,744.61 are   restricted funds. The Admin/General Fund has £218.61 available to carry out the business of the CC.

The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking – £1,329.76, BTWF – Community Projects – £145.15,
Newsletter – £5,267.50, BNO – £10,202.20, EON Path – £800.

Item 9. Representatives to Highland Small Communities Housing Trust & SSE Achany/E.ON Rosehall CB Panel.

David Hannah has volunteered to remain as the CC rep to HSCHT. He was thanked for his past representation and his offer to continue was warmly welcomed. BW Action. Currently the CC representatives to the Achany/Rosehall Panel are SM and MT but MT wishes to stand down at this time. BW was one of the community representatives; she will now represent the CC with SM. The community reps will now be Catriona Hill and David Hannah. The CC representative to the Beinn Tharsuinn Windfarm Company Ltd is RP who is happy to continue and was thanked from the Chair.

Item 10. Regular updates:

(1) Planning, Nothing relevant this month.

(2)  Newsletter. (SM) The newsletter edition 36, Summer 2017 is now printed and expected for delivery at the end of the week. This issue has 32 pages, more advertisers, 25 contributors from 22 different groups and organisations. There is an extensive article on the work on the Community Council.

(3) Ardgay Regeneration. Work has started on the project with the roof of the barn now removed and extensive work being undertaken on the structure of the building.

(4) Broadband. Cameron Warren of Highland Wireless has approached the CC to provide information on the projects he has currently underway, based in Edderton, with a view to providing a private provision throughout the local area. It is understood he is working with Creich CC in respect of installing a system to Rosehall and district. An internet service provider on Black Isle apparently has recently failed. Scottish Government is offering a voucher scheme to help with installation costs to those living in areas which will not be supported by the BT rollout. Caution was advised regarding private schemes. The CC will wait until the overall situation becomes clearer. Mr Warren will be thanked but the CC will not invite him at present though it will ask to be kept up to date with his progress. BW Action.

(5) Windfarms. (1) The CC has heard from Mr Elder of Muirden Energy, Turriff, with regard to a proposed twenty-one turbine development at Meall Buidhhe on Croick Estate. The scoping makes no mention is made of a proposed windfarm development at Braelangwell which could possibly share access. CC will make the usual statements of interest in shared ownership and invite Mr Elder to attend an upcoming meeting, August/September. BW Action. (2) Caplich. The PLI is scheduled to start in Lairg on 19th June. CC remains neutral reflecting the various opinions locally, although it has signed documents regarding a shared ownership scheme with Muirhall Energy.

(6) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. (MT) Falls of Shin is operating very successfully, busy with tourists and locals in addition to hosting special events. Ardgay Regeneration Project (See Item 10/3). Café and Food Stop also successfully encouraging social integration and connections. Keep Active Together continues to run varied activities in several local village halls. CHESS project has finished but East Sutherland Energy Advice Service will continue to help local residents with energy advice and assistance.

Item 11. Highland Council. LM reminded the CC that all THC actions are budget driven. Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act will mean a very different form of local government though communities should be wary as more power for decision making will carry more responsibilities. Sutherland Community Partnership is the local body operating under a Highland-wide Community Partnership. Awareness raising of these changes and encouraging involvement is a priority for Highland Council’s Sutherland County Committee as the 18-30 age group is noticeably absent from surveys and meetings.  The online survey is still available via SM will highlight the issue through the Newsletter. Jason Gardiner is keen to attend the CC regarding the Locality Plan. A decision as to when will be made at the August meeting. Agenda item.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1)SM has now joined the Ardgay Public Hall Committee as the CC representative. At her first meeting the main concern was regarding the newly commenced works on the barn and the loss of parking, especially with the Committee’s Auction in August. The contractors are working to prioritise the work on the side of the barn concerned. (2) AW asked the Culrain representatives if there was any news of Carbisdale. PL stated that work appears to be ongoing. The outside of the building and ground works have all received attention.

Item 13. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 14th August at 7pm in Culrain Hall.

Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards.

At the private meeting following the CC’s monthly meeting, application by Ardgay Public Hall was approved with an award of £418 to support the continuing provision of Broadband in the hall.

Meeting closed 10pm.

Minutes 08 May 2017

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 8th May 2017 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Treasurer (MT), Leslie Pope, Secretary (LP), Andy Wright (AW), Sheila Lall (SL), Rob Pope (RP),

Apologies: Buster Crabb (BC)

Police Scotland: No representative                                Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above) Chair Betty Wright welcomed everyone and with no police report available proceeded through the agenda.

Item 3. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the March meeting were approved as a true and accurate record, proposed: Marion Turner; seconded: Rob Pope.

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Dropped kerb opposite Ardgay Stores. Owing to changes in job title and description, John Clark, CWO, has noted the problem and will respond in due course. (2) Culrain phonebox. Phone box would be an ideal siting for a defibrillator. There is no defibrillator on this side of the Kyle; the nearest, in Bonar Bridge, is too far away to be of any use in an emergency. SSE Resilience Fund to be approached for help with funding two defibrillators, one each for Ardgay and Culrain. The fund is open until the end of the 15th June. SM Action. (3) Oakwood Place path. Matt Dent and Rhonwen Copley are liaising re this project. Bags of stones to be delivered from Travis Perkins. (4) Footpath around Drovers Square. Chosen route will remain. (5) Sutherland Community Partnership. MT attended the recent meeting which focussed on drug and alcohol abuse issues. Also communities urged to submit lists of their priorities for works in each area; this CC has a list of priorities which will be given to SCP.  Action BW. A survey of all Sutherland residents is available with everyone encouraged to complete and return either online or hard copy. Of the survey responses received so far transport appears to be the most concerning issue. References within the meetings appear to refer to Bonar and Ardgay as one area. The next meeting will be in Lairg on 19th May. RP and LP volunteered to attend if possible.

Item 5. Police report. Email report received indicated three advise/assistance calls, two road traffic matters, and five speeding offences.

Item 6. Chairperson’s report. (1) Secretary’s mailbox. Various problems recently have resulted in some circulation issues which also included confusion over the use of Facebook. It was decided that the email should remain as the contact point for people accessing the CC for any reason with the Facebook page being used to disseminate information from the CC to the public. Contact via the website does go directly to ‘secretary@…’ Emails received by the Secretary will be forwarded to CC members as before. (2) AGM will be held on 12th June. This will include the annual reports from the Chair and Treasurer, the BTWF report (RP) and the BnO report (MT). SM will give a report on the Newsletter. A THC Cllr should be in attendance but failing this MG will take the Chair for the purpose of conducting the office bearers’ elections.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. All relevant correspondence has been circulated. BW agreed to complete the survey for HM Fire Service Inspectorate. Third Sector Assembly will be on 23rd June in Inverness. Bank of Scotland branch in Bonar Bridge will cease operation on 5th September. No details available as yet regarding the proposed mobile service; nearest open branch will be Tain. Survey of Hall users will be completed by SM who also volunteered to represent the CC on the Hall Committee. A recommendation will be made for the installation of a child safety gate at the steps in the hall and that something be done about the unused notice board by the front door.

Item 8. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 20th April 2017 balance at the bank is £ 18,063.22 of which £ 17,844.61 are   restricted funds. The Admin/General Fund has £218.61 available to carry out the business of the CC.

The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking – £1,429.76, BTWF – Community Projects – £145.15,
Newsletter – £5,267.50, BNO – £10,202.20, EON Path – £800. MT advised that the end of year accounts were finalised in April and are currently with auditor prior to the AGM.

Item 9. Ardgay Public toilets. Supplies will continue to come from THC via John Clark. Sheena Shaw, newly appointed caretaker, has submitted her first invoice. The toilets are open for the season.

Item 10. Regular updates:

(1) Planning issues – Tain 3-18 campus. Much concern over the 3-18 campus model which will disadvantage rural children at their transition from village schools to secondary, the Tain children having been on site since aged 3 years. The lack of inclusion in activities, e.g. swimming, highlights the issue, leading to marginalisation of small schools. The overall plan for the school aims to put too much into one site. CC to write to Planning with comments and also to support many of the good comments already submitted by others. AW Action.

(2)  Newsletter. (SM) SM was congratulated for another good issue. 25th May is copy date for the summer edition. The application for ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) was successful. The newsletter has been assigned two ISSN, one for the hard copies and another for the online format. This will allow incorporate a bar code in future newsletters and sell copies on any outlet. Articles relevant to the Garvary wood extraction were requested. A box with highlights from CC meetings could be introduced, bullet-point format. LP will draft suggestions for SM.

LP/SM Action.

(3) Ardgay Regeneration. BW reported that at the recent CARES conference, attended by herself and AW, the delegates were very impressed by the ongoing projects in the Kyle of Sutherland area perceiving this as a very vibrant area in which to live. Work on the Lady Ross site is due to start in the coming week with Valerie Houston as Project Manager. Albyn Housing workers will access the site from the rear to minimise disruption at the front of the site.

(4) Broadband. CBS press release indicates that Scottish Government subsidy is available to help with the cost of satellite installation in areas where superfast broadband rollout will not be available.

(5) Windfarms. (1) Braelangwell. CC has responded to Scoping document. (2) SSE & E.ON Community Fund Panel requires a community representative from the Ardgay area. Anyone interested should complete a nomination form. An election will be held ahead of the AGM in June if more than one nomination is received.

(6) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. Falls of Shin project completed with a ‘Celebra Shin’ event on 13th May. Two jobs within the Trust have been advertised.

Item 11. Highland Council. Recent local government elections saw the return of Linda Munro and Hugh Morrison as councillors for this Ward with the addition of Kirsteen Currie. They will decide as to how to work with local CCs. MG will write with congratulations and also give dates etc of meetings for the rest of the year. MG Action.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1) MT to send link to BW regarding Census population figures. MT Action.

(2) SL advised that she will be standing down from the CC at the AGM due to pressure of other commitments. She still plans to attend meetings whenever possible. She was warmly thanked for her input to and support of the CC during her time as a councillor.

Item 18. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 12th June at 7pm in Ardgay Hall. This will be the AGM which will take place ahead of the regular monthly meeting, with the Achany Panel election if required also taking place first thing that evening.

Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards.

At the private meeting following the CC’s monthly meeting, application by The Friends of the Bradbury Centre was approved, subject to match funding, with an award of £500 towards a music and alternative treatments project. Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust’s Keep Active Together project also received an award of £1,500.

Meeting closed 9.16pm.

Minutes approved 12/06/2017