Archive for the ‘Minutes’ Category

Minutes, 09 December 2019

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 9th December 2019 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 10/02/2020

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Secretary (MT), John Denniston, Treasurer (JD), Rob Pope (RP), Andy Wright (AW), Buster Crabb (BC), Bill Knott (BK)

Apologies: None

Also present: Highland Councillor Kirsteen Currie (KC), Members of the public (list at end of Minutes), Gail Robertson and Amanda Ophof from Scottish Forestry

Police Scotland: No representative – report received by email during meeting            Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1. Introductions. Councillor Currie opened the inaugural meeting of the CC with congratulations to all members, both returning and newly elected.

Item 2. Election of Chair. KC called for nominations for Chair. Betty Wright was nominated by Andy Wright, seconded by Marion Turner. BW accepted and, after welcoming new members JD and BK, continued to the rest of the agenda.

Item 3. Election of office bearers. Vice Chair: Silvia Muras, proposed John Denniston, seconded Marion Turner.

Secretary: Marion Turner, proposed by Betty Wright, seconded by Andy Wright. MT accepted though with the proviso that during this four-year term someone else shadows her prior to a handover in due course. Treasurer: John Denniston, proposed by Silvia Muras, seconded by Bill Knott. JD accepted with MT agreeing to work with JD during a handover period. Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder, proposed by Betty Wright, seconded by Marion Turner. It was agreed that the procedure for circulation of Minutes remains as before. Draft minutes are reviewed by BW and MT then circulated to all CC members, Highland Councillors, THC Ward Manager, Police Scotland, KoSDT Manager, Creich and Lairg CCs. A summary is submitted to the Northern Times Editor. Subsequently the draft Minutes are approved at the next meeting.

Item 4. Adoption of Constitution and Standing Orders. These were adopted, agreed by all present.

Item 5. Outstanding issues from outgoing Community Council. At this point the meeting moved on to the agenda prepared for the regular monthly meeting.

Item 1/2. Welcome/Apologies. As above.

Item 3. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the October meeting were approved by Betty Wright, seconded by Rob Pope.

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Ardgay toilets. The facility is now closed for the winter. There is a balance in this fund of £86.68. It was agreed that a bonus of £50 be given to the caretaker with thanks for the work during the summer season. MT Action. A previous indication by Donna Manson, C.E.O. THC, intimated that there could be monies available in the coming year from a Tourist Infrastructure Fund. Although obviously appreciated by the public, the present facility is very worn and in need of refurbishment. Cllr Currie will keep CC informed of any THC decisions. KC Action. (2) Statement from the Chair. How does a CC discuss things? There would appear to be some confusion about how CCs discuss items and reach a consensus about what actions/ opinions to hold and present to various bodies that we interact with. CCllrs are representatives of their community and not delegates.  When we discuss an issue, we seek views of the community – by inviting them along to our meetings, via newsletter (we will continue to have pages in Kyle Chronicle), Facebook or through discussions as part of our daily lives. The role of the chairperson in these discussions is to ensure that everyone – outside speakers/ developers / members of the public – has a chance to express their views, including personal opinions of councillors and also the chairperson.  It is not a debating society where the chairperson retains a neutral stance. When the CC has considered all representations and reached a conclusion about an issue this becomes the considered opinion of the CC and is what will be communicated to others as appropriate.  It does not mean that any CCllrs, or indeed members of the public have to adopt this as their personal opinion, and they are still free to speak in a personal capacity.  What would be considered to be a breach of CC conduct would be if an individual expressed a contrary opinion as if it were the position of the CC.  When a decision is arrived at, usually by consensus, an individual C Cllr can request that their opposition to such a decision be recorded.  If a proposal from a developer is opposed by the CC and a revised proposal is subsequently submitted, the CC will treat this as a fresh proposal and the process repeated – i.e. when there is a revised proposal, there will be no ‘official’ CC position on the matter until the matter has been discussed.  We are all volunteers on the CC and do our best to carry out CC duties alongside our other work, activities or interests.  We do not have our letters scrutinised by lawyers – no doubt it would be possible to find loopholes in them on doing so. This statement was endorsed by CCs present. (3) Tree planting on Jubilee Hill. BK advised that he took the views of the community to THC Chief Forestry Officer, Nick Richards, and a compromise solution was discussed. As yet Balnagown Estate has not seen/commented on the proposal. Several residents on the hill explained their objections to the planting plans, noting that the Estate is not addressing the concerns which include the historical/cultural aspects of the land, important loss of light issues in many of the residences, loss of views both from and towards the hill, the nature of native regeneration and species of trees planted, fencing/access. In summary, the residents present wished to continue with their objection; signatures from residents aged from 16 – 90 years have been collected. Secretary will write to THC stating that the CC wishes to make the holding objection a full objection. Once an initial agreement is reached further talks can be held. BK will supply background information to Gail Robertson. MT/BK Action.

Item 11. Highland Council. (KC) As Cllr Currie had to leave to attend another meeting this item was brought forward.

Her report covered nine items which included being the opening speaker at the European Parliament’ Week of Regions and Cities regarding the impact of Brexit in this area and the role of young people in local democracy, fighting for better wages and conditions for ASN staff, the future of the mobile library service and the inadequate current arrangement, 1140 hours roll out for which no plans appear to be in place, inaccurate visitor figures published by NC500 and the need to create a serious plan to improve tourism, housing issues locally caused in part by the failure of Universal Credit, and convergence funding, paid to difficult to farm areas, which is not being appropriately distributed. CCs commented that proper research should be done into the needs of tourists and locals, real figures produced, facilities maintained/improved, waste disposal facilities for use by motor home users must be widely available, infrastructure improved. KC was asked if THC was acting on the big issue of recycling farm plastic waste. KC has information she will forward to AP though there is no action at present. Other points raised by CCs were the lack of contracts for teachers and a request to learn what action THC is taking having declared a climate emergency. KC will report back. KC Action.

Item 5. Police report. The report noted two road traffic incidents, one domestic, two lost dogs, one concern for person, and one threat. No further information given.

Item 6. Chairperson’s report. (BW) Covered elsewhere in the meeting.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. (MT) (1) All relevant correspondence has been circulated. (2) MT will contact the Police again regarding speeding, especially around the school. Initial response indicated that matter was being passed ‘higher up’ but no further contact has been received. MT Action.

Item 8. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 12 November 2019 balance at the bank is £ 21,317.10 of which £ 20,878.09 are restricted funds. The CC Admin fund has a balance of £119.81 The Windfarm Admin fund has a balance of £319.20.

Toilet fund has finished the season with a balance of £86.68. A&D CC newsletter fund closed with a zero balance after a transfer of £238.76 was paid from the Beinn Tharsuinn Projects fund. A backdated payment of £3698.13 to the BNO fund has been received in respect of annual RPI payments. The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet Caretaking  £ 86.68, BTWF Community Projects  £2,408.90, Newsletter  £ 00.00, BNO £ 18,212.11, EON Path  £170.40.

Item 9. Correspondence/matters raised by local residents. Thanks were expressed from the CC to all who worked on erecting the Christmas tree and lights recently and to Jamie Macrae who arranged the SSE volunteer day and brought along a mewp to help put up the lamppost lights.

Item10. Regular updates: (1) Planning issues. None raised.

(2) Broadband. Feedback from the community about Highland Wireless broadband is very positive. Secretary will write to Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust to see if there is anything the CC can do to help further the rollout of the Highland Wireless broadband in Strathcarron district. Residents are utilising provision by EE while others have access to Highland Wireless. AW will also raise the matter at the next KoSDT meeting. MT/AW Action.

(3) Windfarms. Currently proposed in the surrounding area include Sallachy, Braelangwell, Garvary, Meall Buidhe, Beinn Tharsuinn, Glen Cassley, Lairg 11, Coire na Cloiche, Beinn nan Oighrean, Strathrory. Braemore has been consented but there appear to be no plans for construction at present.

AP attended the meeting to express her personal concerns regarding the proliferation of proposals for windfarm developments in and around the local area and throughout Scotland. She fears that the country is being turned into a ‘windfarm park’. Such large-scale development brings some advantages but the majority of the benefits, financial or otherwise, go to landowners and multinational companies. While AP wholeheartedly supports renewable energy there seems to be little respect for the land, the countryside and the people. In line with the statement earlier, the Chair re-iterated that it is the duty of the CC to reflect community opinions and assess potential benefits when asked to comment as Statutory Consultees. It was also noted that the community benefit funds received have been put to good use in delivering many projects in the local area and that future funds could be used to address such issues as fuel poverty and community transport. The possibilities of developing a Smart Local Energy grid are being actively pursued with potential developers. This is a divisive issue; locally there is much debate with opposing opinions. The CC has to date taken a neutral stance when commenting but also has the responsibility of negotiating and administering community benefit to the best advantage of all. This was a lengthy discussion and AP expressed her thanks to the CC for the opportunity. It was noted that the Braelangwell developers will be holding public exhibitions on 29th January in Ardgay And Rosehall on 30th January 2020.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1) AW advised that a report by the Trust Manager at KoSDT will be forwarded to CCs. AW commended the Trust for keeping the KAT and Community Café  running whilst awaiting news of continuing funding from Scottish Government. (2) Concerns expressed regarding the closure of the Strathy Ward at Migdale Hospital with questions asked as to whether the recent recruitment advertising had led to any improvement in staffing levels. It was also suggested that if the ward cannot be run as a Mental Health unit owing to lack of specialised staff it should be open for general nursing and care. BK commented that the current state of affairs requiring food banks, NHS closures, etc is and indictment of society which must be addressed both locally and nationally. (3) A report following AW and BW’s attendance at a recent Climate Emergency Conference will be available at the next meeting. (4) The CC will apply for the additional funding recently made available by THC Councillors. MT Action.

Item 13. Dates for future meetings. The next meeting will be held on 10th February, followed by 9th March with the AGM held on May 11th. All meetings will be held in the Ardgay Public Hall starting at 7pm.

Item 15. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards. Beinn Tharsuinn. There were no applications to discuss.

Members of the public attending: Anna Patfield (AP), Mary Stobo, Helen Pollock, Chris Ladley.

Meeting closed 9.45pm.

Minutes, 14 October 2019

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 14TH October 2019 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 09/12/2019

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Marion Turner, Secretary/Treasurer (MT), Rob Pope (RP), Andy Wright (AW)

Apologies: Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Buster Crabb (BC)

Invited guest: Sam McMillan (SMc) and James Baird (JB) Coriolis Energy

Also present: Teresa Langley (TL), John Denniston (JD)

Police Scotland: No representative – report received by email during meeting            Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/3. Welcome/Apologies (as above). Chair Betty Wright opened the meeting. She advised that THC has extended the deadline for CC nomination submissions to the 29th October with a new election date (if required) of 4th December.

Item 2. Presentation/Q&A by Coriolis Energy re proposed Garvary windfarm. SMc gave the background information for the company which is based in Glasgow, currently is a partner of ESB on wind farm projects and has delivered fifteen windfarms around the UK. Brief background for ESB was also given. Met mast has been on the proposed site since 2016 which has been scoped for 45 turbines, maximum tip height of up to 180m. CCs expressed the views that the narrative regarding appropriate use of community benefit has to change to bring more positive connections for local people. Suggestions ranged from cheaper electricity schemes to the provision of a local electric bus fleet to deal with the lack of local public transport. A new and innovative approach is required. SMc and JB left at 7.50pm.

Item 4. Minutes of last meeting. The minutes of the June meeting were approved by Betty Wright, seconded by Rob Pope; August meeting proposed by Rob Pope, seconded Marion Turner.

Item 5. Matters arising. (1) National Cycle Route 1. THC has agreed to remove the contentious references from the Dornoch Town Centre Plan. (2) Bonar straight speed limit. Further letter to THC has received no reply. Feeling is that residents need to push for the change. (3) Waste management. The Scottish Government deadline to cease using landfill has been put back as alternative plans are not yet in place. (4) Christmas lights. Date set to put up lights – week beginning 18th November. Cherry picker will be required. Three volunteers so far, more welcome. A separate date will be agreed to erect the tree. This can be made a village event; volunteers encouraged for this too. (5) Tree planting on Jubilee Hill. Forestry Scotland meeting with residents on 25th October at 10am in Ardgay Public Hall. CC will be represented.

Item 6. Police report. The report noted twenty-eight incidents in the previous month including eleven planned shoots, one external agency request, two personal alarms, one child protection, one road traffic matter, three assist members of the public, one animal call, four road traffic collisions, two concern for persons, one damage call and one other crime. CC asked for more detail regarding the planned shoots. Secretary will enquire. MT Action.

Item 7. Chairperson’s report. (BW) (1) The Community Day held at The Hub recently was well-attended. Fire Service gave a demonstration. (2) MT/SM met THC Chief Executive Donna Manson for a one-hour discussion which covered funding and budget cuts.

Item 8. Secretary’s report. (MT) (1) All relevant correspondence has been circulated. (2) MT has cleared the archive cupboard, completed by the end of September. Much of the content will be disposed of by arrangement with THC at Drummuie with significant documents retained including the last four years of accounts and minutes. Each consecutive CC (four-year term of office) should update as appropriate. Some documents concerning local history will be offered to the History Society. Decision on old computer and unused laptop deferred to next meeting. MT Action.

Item 9. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 27 September balance at the bank is £18,618.95 of which £18,077.89 are restricted funds. The CC admin fund has a balance of £189.77. The Windfarm admin fund has a balance of £351.29. The Toilet fund should break even. Final accounting for the A&DCC Newsletter will be done when outstanding payment and receipts due for November have been processed. The balances of the restricted fund are: Toilet caretaking £442.08, BTWF Community Projects £2,898.66, Newsletter £-197.23, BnO £14,763.98, EON Path £170.40. Matt Dent has submitted a request to order materials from the E.ON Path Fund. Chair will liaise. BW Action.

Item 10. Correspondence/matters raised by local residents. (1) TL raised the issue of traffic speeding through the junction in mid-Gledfield, especially when exiting from the Gledfield/Dounie road. Speeds of 50-60 are estimated in this 30mph restricted area. Traffic issues will be passed to Police. MT Action.

Item11. Regular updates: (1) Planning issues. Temporary Met mast at Beinn Tharsuinn windfarm. MT Action.

(2) Broadband. No update from Highland Wireless.

(3) Windfarms. Sallachy. (1 )MOU signed off with CC and WKN re community benefit. (2) Lairg 2. Ongoing discussions re community benefit. (3) BTWF considering extending/repowering. Meall Buidhe. No update. (4) Coire na Cloiche. It is understood that the development has been commissioned. Community benefit payments should have begun. (5) Beinn nan Oighrean. The original agreement with Creich and Ardgay CCs was that community benefit was index linked. Secretary will liaise with Creich Chair and write to Mr Brooke regarding the oversight of payments. MT Action.

(5) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. AW will send out email with any relevant report. He will flag up to the Trust Manager the need to report regularly to the CCs and membership. AW Action.

Item 12. Highland Council. No representative, apologies or report received.

Item 13. Any other competent business. None raised.

Item 14. Date and time of next meeting. The provisional date for the next meeting is Monday, 9th December at 7pm in Ardgay Hall. This should be the first meeting of the newly elected CC.

Item 15. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards. Beinn Tharsuinn. At private session two BTWF awards were approved. Kyle of Sutherland Cinema Club was awarded £150 towards running costs for 2019-20 and the Ladybird Club received £350, also towards running costs 2019-20. Application by Ardgay Public Hall for £947 towards the creation of new storage spaces was rejected as it was felt that this was part of a larger project.

Beinn nan Oighrean. Culrain & District Hall Committee received £250 towards additional Christmas lights. A&DCC also received an award of £250 for its Christmas lights improvements. MG/MT Action.

Meeting closed 9.35pm

Minutes, 10 June 2019

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 10th June 2019 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 12/08/2019

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM), Marion Turner, Secretary/Treasurer (MT), Andy Wright (AW),

Apologies: Buster Crabb (BC), Rob Pope (RP)

Also present: Vicky and John Denniston, Lee McNeish (LMN)

Police Scotland: No representative                                    Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above). Chair Betty Wright opened the meeting which followed directly after the AGM.

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

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Highland Council and Climate change. The CC has asked THC to declare a Climate Emergency. A motion on this subject was carried and a committee is being formed within THC. CC will monitor with interest. A local group, Planet Sutherland, has been set up aiming to spread awareness and action. At the April CC meeting Cllr Currie spoke about THC’s Waste Management plans. It was agreed that the Waste Management Officer should be invited to the next CC meeting. A list of specific questions will be sent to him with the invitation to the August meeting. BW Action. (2) Recycling point. The bins are back in place. (3) Development at Port of Cromarty Firth. No reply as yet from Joanne Sutherland. Fears remain regarding the increase in traffic to and from Ardchronie Quarry though it is understood some of the required stone will be brought in by sea. (4) Bonar straight speed limit. The Hub should be the organisation to push forward the call for the speed reduction. Chair will liaise with Chair at The Hub and will also chase up THC with regard to the promised traffic survey. BW Action. (5) Tree planting on Jubilee Hill. No-one reporting back to CC. Secretary will write to MSP Gail Ross asking if any progress is being made. MT Action. (6) Ardgay toilets. The amenity is now open 24/7.

Item 5. Police report. No report received.

Item 6. Chairperson’s report. (BW) BW and MT recently met Richard Gale, Chair of Sutherland County Committee. Discussion covered the CC Review which refers to procedural matters only. Other relevant issues are of transport, funding, website costs, and use of highland.gov email address by CCs to ease financial burden. Poverty Scotland organised a Community Transport meeting which MT and BW attended. The Locality Plan has highlighted the huge and widespread problems. AW and BW also attended a CARES Conference where they encountered many positive and creative ideas coming from many small groups throughout the country. A Health & Wellbeing meeting will be held on June 18th at Tain Royal Academy; BW plans to attend.

Item 7. Secretary’s report. (MT) All relevant correspondence has been circulated.

Item 8. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 30th May 2019 balance at the bank is £16,434.66 of which £16,413.91 are restricted funds. The CC Admin fund has a balance of -£20.54. The Windfarm Admin fund has a balance of £41.29. The balances of the restricted funds are: Toilet caretaking £644.70; BTWF Community Projects £1,298.66; Newsletter £1,536.17; BnO £12,763.98; E.ON Path £170.40.

Item 9. Correspondence/matters raised by local residents. (1) Christmas lights. AW will put a piece in the Newsletter appealing for a Christmas Lights group to be set up; both Lairg and Creich have similar groups which seek funding for lights, maintenance, etc. A suggestion was made that local businesses and residences could do their own decorations/lights – perhaps a competition could be held for the best decorated/lit up.

Item10. Regular updates: (1) Planning issues. Nil of note.

(2) Newsletter. Issue 44 will be delivered after 12th June. Editor is in ongoing discussions with KoSDT (see AGM report). She will attend Creich CC’s meeting in June to appraise the members of her plans.

(3) Broadband. Highland Wireless is working in the Strathcarron area.

(4) Windfarms. Sallachy. Next meeting is in August when it is hoped the community benefit agreement will be signed. If the KoSDT enters into the Shared Ownership agreement it may be seen as supporting the planning application and no longer considered neutral. Lairg 2. Another meeting in June. Coire na Cloiche. Commissioning has commenced.

(5) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. LMN explained his role as a researcher conducting an evaluation of the Trust, its effectiveness, and the various projects past, present and future. He has found people in the community are confused about the Trust and its aims. Projects dealing with social isolation and food poverty are being addressed. More, clearer communication is needed between the Trust and the community. There are many fragile people in the area, the elderly in particular but also younger age groups. Major transport issues highlighted. LMN will report to the Trust after three months; the CC should be able to access his report, details of which should be fed back to Scottish Government.

Item 11. Highland Council. No report in KC’s absence.

Item 12. Any other competent business. (1) (MT) Caithness & Sutherland Town Centre Strategy. In Sutherland this applies to Dornoch, Golspie and Brora and is open for consultation. Within the consultation is a reference to National Cycle Route 1 (NCR1). This well-established national cycle route currently comes along the B road behind Tain (the Scotsburn road) and then follows along the firth through Edderton to Ardgay. From there it goes to Culrain, over the viaduct to Invershin, past Falls of Shin to Lairg and then on to The Crask where there is an official marker post.  Local businesses benefit from the many cyclists who follow this route and these cyclists make a significant contribution to the fragile local tourist economy. One of the proposals for Dornoch threatens this. Statements on pages 21 and 22 suggest that NCR1 should be diverted from its current route through the Kyle of Sutherland onto the A9 to go through Dornoch thus cutting out our area. This proposal fails to recognise the damaging effects that taking cyclists from the main NCR1 would have on the communities of Ardgay, Bonar Bridge and others. (For example, we have a bicycle shop/repair shop which gets business from NCR1). There is also the real risk that diverting cyclists off the NCR1 at Tain onto the A9 to go to Dornoch may result in their then following the A9 route to JOG rather than going up through the centre and north west of Sutherland (NCR1).This could only exacerbate the current A9/(NC500) problems.  The Highland Council should not support diminishing the tourist assets of this area in order to support another, already tourist-rich, town. Secretary will highlight this issue to other local CCs and also write to the local Highland Councillors. MT Action. (2) CPR training. SM will liaise with Jason Gardiner, Scottish Fire Service to arrange a short refresher course. (3) Gledfield Primary School Parents group is concerned that the children have had seven different teachers in the last two years and that the current teacher will be leaving at the end of the teaching year, even though the teacher and parents are keen for her to stay. SM will keep the CC informed. SM Action. (3) It was suggested that the Kyle of Sutherland Gala Week should re-consider using a public vote via Facebook for the ‘Gala Queen’ as this does not encourage best online practice. (4) Carbisdale Castle. No recent contact with the CC; no-one aware of the progress or plans though it is good to see that the castle is being restored.

Item 13. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 12th August at 7pm in Ardgay Hall.

Item 14. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards. Beinn Tharsuinn. Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust was awarded £2,000 towards continuing the Keep Active Together/Community Food Stop project, the award conditional on the success of the main funding application. The applicant and BTWF Company Secretary will be advised. MG Action.

Meeting closed 10.10pm.

2018 AGM Minutes

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Minutes of Annual General Meeting held on Monday, 13th August 2018 at 7.00pm in Ardgay Hall

Approved 10/06/2019


Present: Elected members: Betty Wright, Chair (BW), Marion Turner, Treasurer (MT), Andy Wright (AW), Rob Pope (RP)

Also present: Highland Councillor Kirsteen Currie (KC), David and Patricia Hannah (DH/PH)

Invited guest: Martin Thomsen, Community Engagement Officer

Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder (MG)

Apologies: Vice Chair Silvia Muras (SM), Buster Crabb (BC)

Items 1/2.  Welcome/Apologies (see above) The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all present, particularly DH and PH.

Item 3. Minutes of last AGM. The Minutes of the last AGM held on Monday 12th June 2017 were accepted as a true and accurate record.  Proposed: Marion Turner; seconded: Betty Wright.

Item 4. Chairperson’s report. (BW) The report is copied here:

I’d like to give a short summary of the work of the community council during the past year.  It is often a valuable task to take a step back & review what has been achieved, what is still a work in progress & identify those things that seem to turn into an oft- recurring theme.  Although with our excellent newsletter, we do have a good record of our undertakings.

But first, a few thank–yous: to my fellow councillors for all their voluntary efforts, attending meetings, delivering newsletters, and generally being concerned about  & wanting to give something back to their community;  to our treasurer/ secretary Marion who does a great job looking after our money & Leslie who was our secretary until she had to stand down for health reasons,;  to Linda one of our ward Highland councillors who puts in a lot of hours to attend our meetings – often driving through some pretty bad weather; to Silvia for producing our excellent newsletter; to Phil Olson who manages our website; and of course Mary, our marvellous minutes secretary.  This cc really would not function without her.  Also, thanks to members of our community who have raised various issues with us – that is why we are here!

But it’s not all thank-yous.  I must express my personal disappointment with the way all community councils have been treated by The Highland Council.  I feel their actions in cutting our budget by 50% is nothing short of an attack on the most local level of democracy.   Our grant this year from THC is not sufficient to run our cc.  I can only think that THC acted upon a poor understanding of the funds held by various ccs – the bottom line looks very healthy, but the vast majority of the funds we have in our bank a/c are restricted funds that have come from Windfarm community benefits, not to be spent on subsidising THC statutory functions.  We will discuss actual amounts later & also a proposal to reduce the number of times we meet to 6pa – the minimum required under the Highland Council Scheme of Establishment for ccs.  We can only hope that by the time we run out of Admin funds, THC will have realised our dilemma & re-instated our budget for next year.

So, what changes have we seen over the last 12 months?  There has been a huge impact on the centre of Ardgay with the completion of works on the Barn & stage 1 of Drovers square.  Not only has this greatly improved the appearance of the village, but several businesses are housed in the Barn providing much needed job opportunities.  Thanks to KoSDT for all their work on taking this & so many other projects forward on behalf of the local community.

Last summer saw the opening of The Hub which is now providing a variety of activities for children & families, including soft play area, café, youth clubs, gym, yoga classes.  This is an example of a project which brings together the 2 communities of Ardgay & Bonar Bridge.  The 2 villages are separated by a very fast stretch of road.  We were approached by a customer at the Community Food stop (several of the regulars come from Ardgay) asking about the possibility of providing a seat or two by the side of the pavement to make the walk less challenging for those with health or mobility problems.  I am happy to say that we now have permission from THC to install 2 benches & have the money from Beinn Tharsuinn Wind farm community benefit & look forward to their installation over the summer.  We are also pursuing the possibility of a speed restriction along the straight as this would greatly improve the walking experience & help bring the 2 communities closer.

We have addressed several issues around the village.  We are once again organising the caretaking of the toilets in Ardgay – thanks to Silvia & Marion for this & Sheena Shaw for her hard work; the flower tubs were watered by a small number of volunteers last summer – tubs have been removed for renovation & replanting by Jean Richardson & Steve Wilkinson.  The polling station was temporarily moved to Gledfield school, but we are confident that it will be back to Ardgay Hall for the next election.  There are now 2 defibrillators in our area – 1 outside the Hall in Ardgay & the other in the old telephone kiosk in Culrain.  We again had a Xmas tree on the green & arranged for the lights to be on during the day.  A lack of volunteers meant that there were no lights on lampposts as per previous years, but we are hopeful that these will reappear next winter.  The road up Kincardine Hill has been resurfaced & has new extended passing places to make it up to standard for timber extraction lorries – although whether this standard is high enough remains under discussion – I think it highlights the problems we have with our roads & ever-increasing size of lorries.

We continue to communicate with ScotRail & HITRANS about our rail service re timetabling & possible provision of electronic signs at Ardgay & Culrain stations.

Windfarms & Community Benefit:  There has been an amount of activity over the last year.  Braemore WF obtained consent from Scottish government whilst Caplich – with whom we had signed an MOU re shared ownership – was refused.  There is a proposal going to planning from Meall Buidhe renewables for a WF on Croick Estate.  At present, A&DCC administers application to funds from BnO (£2,500 p.a.), Beinn Tharsuinn (£14,500 pa).  We also have 2 reps on SSE Achany & EON Rosehall panel (£130k between 3 ccs = £43k)

As part of our regular meeting, we often invite others to speak on issues of particular concern.  This year we welcomed: Helen Houston, updating us on the many projects of KoSDT; Reps from Muirden Energy re proposed WF at Meall Buidhe; Jason Gardiner from SF&RS – who is also a member of Sutherland Community Partnership.

Although we have not been involved directly in this, there is something we have talked about at every meeting – Broadband.  BT have delivered superfast broadband to Ardgay exchange & KoSDT are now working with a local provider on a scheme to provide wireless broadband to properties who do not benefit from BT’s provision by virtue of being too remote from a green cabinet.

This is a brief summary of some of the issues dealt with by your community councillors over the last 12 months.  There are full accounts of all our projects reported in our quarterly newsletter.  I would once again like to thank Silvia for the excellent job she does; together with all our contributors & those who deliver to all houses in our area.

Item 5. Treasurer’s report (MT). This report is copied here:

The 2017-2018 accounts show that the CC has a balance of £18,202.93 of which £17,892.93 are restricted funds.

Each year the CC is given two grants from THC.

  1. Toilet Caretaking Grant
    This HC grant is given to pay for caretaking the toilet.  A&D CC has been for some years organising the caretaking of the toilet in Ardgay.  In financial year 17-18 THC reduced the grant amount by £100. The balance in the Toilet account is £29.76. Discussions will be sought with THC regarding future arrangements.
  2. Admin Grant
    This grant is intended to cover the costs of running the CC.  In year 17-18, the CC received £896.16 from THC. This was fully spent.

Next year the Admin grant will be halved to £485.03.  The CC is conscious of how tight this budget is and has already reduced meetings to 8 per year.  Next year serious consideration will have to be given as to how the CC can fulfil the requirements of the Highland Council Scheme of Establishment within this severely reduced budget.

The balance in the Admin account is £310.88 which is what remains of windfarm community benefit funding drawn down in previous years and carried forward. The admin of the Beinn Tharsuinn and the Beinn nan Oighrean wind farm funds is paid for from this sum. In future to provide more clarity this will be shown separately as Windfarm admin. This will result in the CC Admin account starting the financial year 18-19 with a nil balance.

The balance of restricted funds is £17,892.05. The bulk of these restricted funds arise from the Beinn nan Oighrean windfarm benefit which is held by the CC for the community and is disbursed to community groups through the CC’s Small Grants Applications.  The balance in the Beinn nan Oighrean account is £11,810.73 The accounts show that in 2017-2018 four BNO awards were made totalling £891.47.  These are reported separately.

Other restricted funds: Toilet Caretaking, £29.76

Beinn Tharsuinn Community Projects Fund, £3178.15

Newsletter EON award + newsletter income, £2,203.01

EON Path fund, £670.40.

Item 6. Report re Beinn Tharsuinn community benefit fund. (RP) Unfortunately due to computer issues there was no printed report available for tonight.

& Beinn nan Oighrean community benefit fund. (MT) Beinn nan Oighrean community benefit is worth £2500 annually. It is disbursed to community groups through the CC’s Small Grants Applications. The maximum award from this fund is £250. Details of the fund and how to apply can be found on the A&D CC website and in the Ardgay & District Community Council Newsletter.

During the year 2017-1018 four awards were made totalling £891.47 The balance in this account is £11810.73

BNO awards made 2017-2018

  • The Hub – Staff development – £250
  • Ardgay Public Hall – Gents toilet refurbishment – £250
  • Invershin Hall – Balance bikes activity for children – £191.47
  • A&D CC – Newsletter art competition – £200

Item 7. Report from Newsletter Editor. (SM) This report is copied here:

This year we have continued growing. We have passed from 32 pages to 36 on the last three editions. We have welcomed new contributors, advertisers and, for the first time, we have subscribers who pay a yearly fee to receive the newsletter on the post. Also, we have consolidated our sale points (Ardgay Store & Cafe and Bonar Bridge Post Office).

In March this year we held our 2nd “Ardgay Newsletter Children’s Art Competition”, with 200 entries. Almost all children from the local Primary Schools participating in the contest and coming along to the exhibition. Thank you to Kirsten Macneil, Lisa Mackenzie, Marion Turner, Vicky Whittock, Doreen Bruce, and everyone else who helped or came to the event.

A very warm thank you to our volunteer distributors: David Hannah, Vicky Whittock, Jeannie Sparling, Anna Sutherland, Iain Worthy, David Ross, David Knight, Rhonwen Copley, Brigitte Geddes, Bob Sendall, Teresa Langley, Marion Turner and Betty Wright. A special thanks to Alan Lawrence, who has now moved South. His route on Strath Oykel is now covered by David Mackay, with assistance from Graham Charge. Thank you both for coming forward as volunteers to distribute our newsletter.

The funding awarded in April 2016 (Beinn Tharsuinn) and December 2016 (E.ON Rosehall) is now into its 3rd year. A new funding application is being put forward to cover these last months of our 3-year project. The revenue from donations, sales and advertisings has been slightly bigger than predicted, which means the grants have gone a longer way. I hope this will encourage our funders to renew their support.

Thank you all for your continued support to the newsletter.

Item 8.  Election of Office Bearers 2017-2018. All members of the Community Council stood down and Councillor Currie took the chair for the purpose of electing the Chair.  KC said how pleased she was to be attending Ardgay CC and chairing the election

Betty Wright was proposed to continue as Chair; proposed: Marion Turner; seconded: Andy Wright.

Silvia Muras was proposed to continue as Vice Chair; proposed: Betty Wright; seconded: Marion Turner.

Marion Turner was proposed to continue as Treasurer; proposed: Andy Wright; seconded: Rob Pope.

Marion Turner was proposed to continue as Secretary; proposed: Andy Wright; seconded: Betty Wright.

Sylvia Muras was proposed to continue as Newsletter Editor; proposed by Betty Wright; agreed by all.

Mary Goulder was proposed to continue as Minutes Secretary; proposed: Betty Wright and agreed.

Two representatives to the SSE/E.ON Achany Panel will be Silvia Muras and Rob Pope.

One representative to KOSDT will be Andy Wright.

One representative to Beinn Tharsuinn Windfarm Company will be Rob Pope. He indicated that he will be unable to attend the next meeting of the company on 18th September.

Item 9. Dates of meetings for 2018-19. Following the THC budget cuts, A&DCC will reduce the number of meetings held to the minimum requirement of six per year, meeting therefore every other month on the second Monday. The next meeting will be in October, followed by December, February, April and June, which will be the AGM. Owing to these date changes the new deadlines for applications to Beinn Tharsuinn and Beinn nan Oighrean windfarm funds will be clearly indicated in future editions of the newsletter. (SM Action)

Item 10. Any other competent business. DH and PH expressed thanks to the CC on behalf of the community for the ongoing work with a special mention for the excellent newsletter which is now being circulated as widely as the USA, New Zealand and Kurdistan.

Item 10. Date and time of next AGM. This will be on 10th June 2019.

Meeting closed at 7.37pm.

Minutes, 08 April 2019

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 8th April 2019 in Ardgay Hall at 7.00pm

Minutes approved 10/06/2019

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

Apologies: Buster Crabb (BC)

Also present: Highland Councillor Kirsteen Currie (KC), David Watson, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (DW), Anna Patfield (AP)

Police Scotland: No representative
Minutes Secretary: Mary Goulder

Items 1/2. Welcome/Apologies (as above). Chair Betty Wright opened the meeting.

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

Item 4. Matters arising. (1) Tree planting on Jubilee Hill. Secretary has had a reply from Amanda Ophoff, Forestry Commission Scotland stating that FC had met with estate factor who is to produce a revised plan and meet with local residents to discuss their concerns. A local resident reported that there are no Red Listed bird species nesting on the land at present. (2) Recycling point. THC Waste Manager has indicated that THC will resurface the area and, hopefully by the end of March, replace the bins at the South Bonar Industrial Estate. (3) Development at Port of Cromarty Firth. Secretary will now write to THC Acting Head of Roads, Joanne Sutherland, as no information has been forthcoming following her previous correspondence. (4) Bonar straight speed limit. As in (3) Acting Head of Roads will be contacted. Police and THC will be asked again regarding the speed survey. BW Action. (5) Ardgay toilets. Facility is open for the season, damaged lock and light fixed. THC will provide the consumables and bill CC. SM and MT were thanked for their efforts in getting the facility up and running.

Item 5. Police report. The police report, received by email after the meeting showed one fire call, eleven fixed penalties, one theft, two road safety matters and three domestic incidents.

Item 6. Newsletter. SM was thanked for her updating information on her proposal for a new local magazine. Two more issues of the A&DCC newsletter will be produced after which SM will stand down from the post of Editor. Further thanks and praise were recorded for her work in producing such an excellent publication over the last five years. Talks continue with KoSDT as to how the proposed magazine will come together, content, funding, etc.

Item 7. Chairperson’s report. (BW) Jean Richardson will be asked if she is willing to take on the flower tubs again this season. £100 will be paid by the CC towards the costs for replanting, etc. BW/MT Action.

Item 8. Secretary’s report. (MT) All relevant correspondence has been circulated. (1) Discussion regarding the BnO guidelines agreed to amend to include up to four grants of £250 per year towards training costs. The details will be ratified at the AGM in June. BW/MT Action. (2) Details recently sent by THC regarding CC elections in November will be published in the Newsletter. SM Action. (3) Deadline for CC Scheme Review is 31st May. MT stressed the importance of maintaining the current format for submission of annual accounts and will write to THC. MT Action. (4) Community transport Meeting to be held on 25th April. DW plans to attend if possible; BW may also. Transport is considered the biggest problem facing the area; many issues involved.

Item 8. Treasurer’s report. (MT) The 26th March balance at the bank is £17,227.06 of which £17,088.26 are restricted funds. The CC Admin Fund has a balance of £53.76. The Windfarm Admin Fund has a balance of £85.04. The THC Toilet caretaking grant of £800 for April to August has been received. THC paid £440 in error which has to be repaid.

The balances of the restricted funds are: £1,284.70 Toilet Caretaking (includes the £440 to be repaid); £1,441.53 -BTWF Community Projects; £2,281.25 Newsletter; £12,763.98 – Beinn nan Oighrean; £170.40 – E.ON Path. KC advised that the annual grant for the coming year will be as last year, but the Ward Discretionary Budget will be larger. Treasurer advised that the annual end of year figures will be done following the receipt of the next bank statement.

Item 10. Correspondence/matters raised by local residents. (1) Nil of note.

Item11. Regular updates: (1) Planning issues. Lairg 2 windfarm has submitted a full Planning application; 14 turbines and battery storage area.

(2) Newsletter. See Item 6.

(3) Broadband. Highland Wireless is planning to erect two transmission stations in Strathcarron and hopes to begin taking orders within the next few months.

(4) Windfarms. (1) Sallachy. Discussions continue regarding Community Ownership. KoSDT will assess the MOUs for both Community Benefit and Community Ownership thanks to funding to employ an expert. Next meeting in June. (2) Meall Buidhe, Croick. CC is not necessarily interested at this time in Community Ownership. DW will be given contact information for Angus Elder. BW Action.

(5) Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust. (DW) AGM was held last week and the annual report is available. The Trust and the community have felt severely the loss of the energy advice service due to lack of continued funding. The Trust is taking steps to improve its method of operating and communicating with the public.

Item 12. Highland Council. (KC) Cllr Currie recently attended the European Summit in Bucharest for the Committee of Regions. The knock-on effect of Brexit in Sutherland is worrying for European nationals living and working here. The Summit provided useful insights into European thinking on what may/may not happen. Scottish Government is working on a Rural Areas Bill. Concerns abound as most jobs are project, not core, funded meaning there are no careers. The rural areas need sustainable jobs. As yet there is no real evidence, other than anecdotal, of the benefit to the area of the NC 500. The issues with poor infrastructure, the quality of the roads, throughout Highland are being felt. There seems to have been no real understanding of the condition of the roads prior to the launch of the route. The number of second homes has greatly reduced those available for locals. KC also reported that THC has agreed to lobby the Scottish Government to build more nuclear reactors in Highland.

Lengthy discussion in Item 12 led into extended talks regarding the climate emergency. CC has produced and will submit a statement asking THC to declare a climate emergency. AP called on the CC to help pull local people/organisations together to brainstorm ideas, promote education, formulate energy saving schemes, etc. KC agreed to support such a plan; DW suggested windfarm companies could be encouraged to use innovative thinking and to invest in smart local energy use. SM will publish an item in the newsletter. AP will write to various local groups suggesting an initial meeting to gauge support and gather ideas/momentum. KC advised that THC have plans for a new waste facility at Longman site in Inverness.  THC said “The Council is proposing that the Materials Recovery Facility proposed at the Longman within the current Planning Application will receive approximately 83,000 tonnes of green bin waste from throughout the Highlands. Recyclable material will be removed from this waste where possible, and the remaining waste material will be transported to Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities in either the Central Belt of Scotland or the North East of England for final disposal..

.. we are investigating building our own Energy from Waste facility at the former Longman landfill site. However, I must emphasise that no decision has been taken on this, and there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed before any decision can be taken.”

Item 13. Any other competent business.  Questions were asked if any progress has been noted with work at Carbisdale Castle and the vague plans for benefits to the community which were proposed following the last change ownership. KC will make some enquiries and report back. KC Action.

Item 14. Date and time of next meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday 10th June at 7pm in Ardgay Hall. This will incorporate the AGM.

Item 14. Beinn Tharsuinn/Beinn nan Oighrean Community Benefit awards. Beinn nan Oighrean. At the private session following the main meeting application by Hair at the Barn was approved with an award of £200 towards training costs. CC has revised the rules concerning training costs allowing for up to four awards in any one year. The Ardgay Christmas Party application received funding of £250. Beinn Tharsuinn. £535 was awarded to the Kyle of Sutherland Gala Week towards this year’s event; Ardgay & District Community Council’s Small Projects Fund also receive funding of £2,000. The Kyle of Sutherland Hub awarded £1,000 towards Hub Holiday and After School Clubs. MG/MT Action.

Meeting closed 10pm.