Strachur Community Council
Minutes of Ordinary Meeting
Held 19.30 on Wednesday 16th October 2019
Strachur Memorial Hall
Members present: Archie Reid (Convener), John Fleming, Isabel McGladdery, Kirstie Reid, Iain Wilkie (Secretary).
Also in attendance: PC Laura Evans, Heather Grier (PPG), Bill Dickson and Jeff Wilson (Strachur & District Community Development Company), Bob Darracott (representative for Ward 1 on the Board of the National Park) and one member of the public.
1. Convener’s opening remarks:
Archie welcomed everyone to the meeting.
2. Apologies and declarations of interest:
Ceci Alderton and Cllrs Blair, McNeilly and Reid apologised for non-attendance (although Cllr Reid had submitted a report by e-mail). There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes for the Ordinary Meeting held on 14th August 2019 were agreed as accurate.
4. Matters arising.
a. Knotweed on A886 verges.
Cllr Reid had received this response from Roads: “The Knotweed should be tagged with a cane and some tape - the operator then knows not to cut between these two markers. It is usually the same operator that uses the machinery and therefore becomes aware of the problem areas. This area will be left until it has just flowered and then will be dealt with. This treatment will draw the chemicals back into the root system of the Knotweed and will be a much more effective method of dealing with the species.” Iain agreed to find out whether it was the responsibility of Argyll & Bute Council or the Invasive Species Group to tag the knotweed.
b. Electric vehicle charging points.
Cllr Reid had forwarded the following information from Roads:
“The Scottish Government has made a commitment to funding electric vehicle charging infrastructure and we expect funding to continue, however this is at the discretion of the Scottish Government. Please see below links and the Switched on Scotland Action Plan.
The £40,000 is only available within the spend of the £150,000 allocation (i.e. if we use the £150k then we have nothing left, if we spend £110k we can use up to a max of £40k). We are waiting on full tender and client costs before we can look at any other spends.
At present we do not take bids from communities, however we are happy to look at suggestions and will ultimately look to delivery EV charging points in the best locations we can to support our roads infrastructure.”
With regard to this last point, Cllr Reid had also stated that, if the Community Council decided their preferred site, he would ask Argyll & Bute Council if a charging point could be located there, if enough money was left in the budget. The Community Council was grateful for this offer and it was agreed that we should seek residents' views on the preferred site for an EV charging point.
c. VMS signs.
Cllr Reid had reported that at the A83 Taskforce meeting in June, BEAR had said there was a fault in the solar panels. They had undertaken to repair these, but they were still not displaying messages. A new liaison person from Transport Scotland – Neil MacFarlane - had attended the Cowal Transport Forum. The VMS signs were raised there. Neil had known nothing about them, but promised to contact BEAR and find out for us. In response to an e-mail, Neil had replied that he would ask BEAR for comments. If one did not already exist, he intended to have a drawing prepared that showed all the VMS and sign box locations, and to ensure that an incident response matrix would be in place and everyone had sufficient resources to fulfil it. Cllr Reid had heard nothing further.
d. A815 speed limit: request for speed checks at the Filling Station stretch.
PC Evans reported that Traffic Officers would conduct checks as and when they were able. PC Evans outlined two new initiatives: (1) Go Wheelie Slow, which would involve displaying speed restriction stickers on the wheelie bins of properties along the A815 from the Filling Station to Laurel Bank Villa, and (2) Community Speedwatch Strachur, which would allow members of the public to become recognised volunteers who would check vehicle speeds at designated locations and pass information to the police. Members expressed an interest in these schemes and it was agreed that we should pursue the first by determining the level of interest among relevant residents and that the second should be publicised in Newsletter and Facebook articles.
e. Antisocial camping at St. Catherines.
PC Evans informed members that she had alerted relevant police personnel to the problem at St. Catherines. Iain had written to the possible land-owner of the Old Ferry Inn, St. Catherines on 23.8.19 re the erection of 'No overnight camping' signs, but had received no reply. Archie offered to speak to him directly and suggested that Rural Watch signs might help.
f. Lephindrissach school site.
Iain had been in communication with Mr Dave Clarke (Argyll & Bute Council). Mr Clarke had stated that the Council was unable to commit funds to clearing stones form the site due to the current financial situation, but would not stand in the way if the Local History Society wished to do this. Members felt it was unfair to suggest that the Local History Society should sort out a problem caused by the Local Authority. Iain would respond accordingly.
g. Scottish water issues.
Iain had still received no response from Scottish Water after initially contacting them on 30.7.19 when a case number was assigned by their Customer Engagement Centre, and sending reminders on 23.8.19 and 23.9.19. This would be pursued.
h. Manse Gardens.
Iain had written to Rhona McLeod (CEO THA) on 28.8.19 to convey the Community Council's disappointment at the lack of response from THA following the meeting with Gail Gourlay on 24.6.19 and to enquire if THA had on any occasion asked Police Scotland for a pro-active disclosure for Manse Gardens tenants. Ms McLeod had replied on 30.8.19 expressing surprise that a response had been expected and indicating that no pro-active disclosure had been requested.
Heather Grier summarised the contents of a detailed report that had been prepared by Ian Asher and herself and sent to THA on 7.10.19. This (1) reviewed the history of events at Manse Gardens with particular regard to the change in status from sheltered to amenity housing - its causes and consequences, and issues surrounding problem tenants, including their negative effects on other tenants and THA's handling of problem tenants, and (2) requested that THA reinstate Manse Gardens to sheltered housing.
i. Late bus service on Cowal Games Saturday.
Iain had written to West Coast Motors on 21.8.19 to complain about their decision not to provide a late service bus to Strachur on Cowal Games Saturday for the second year in a row. Neil Stewart had replied on the same day, stating that the decision had been based on there having been "almost no use [of the late bus] in previous years… with only two passengers in 2017". At the Cowal Transport Forum on 23.9.19 Archie had questioned if West Coast Motors had advertised the late bus service during the years when its use was so low. Martin Arnold of West Coast Motors had said he would look into getting the late bus reinstated.
j. Strachur public payphone.
Iain had submitted a case for retaining the public payphone, together with a letter signed by Strachur residents, to Argyll & Bute Council and to the National Park on 17.8.19. A resident had suggested to Iain that, if the payphone is not retained, the kiosk could be used as an all-denominational chapel.
k. Strachur recycling point.
Iain had asked for a larger black bin to be installed at the recycling point on 23.8.19 and 23.9.19. He was informed by Andy Dinely on 24.9.19 that the Council would not be installing a larger bin because, when this had been done elsewhere, it had just attracted more rubbish. However, Mr Dinely said that he would look into the possibility of getting the black bin emptied more often.
l. Heron Park.
Following a complaint from a resident about a derelict vehicle in the Heron Park car park, Iain had contacted Jeff Wilson on 23.8.19. Jeff reported on 27.8.19 that the police had removed the vehicle and would be taking further action.
m. How good is your place? Online survey.
Iain had submitted a response on behalf of the CC on 27.9.19.
n. WWI Memorial plaque.
The plaque was now in place. It was hoped that its installation would be recognised at an event involving the Local History Society and children from the school, preferably on a Thursday when the Hub was in session.
5. Police Report
PC Evans reported that there had been 26 incidents in Strachur over the previous two months, 11 being road traffic related and one a call to Manse Gardens. One crime report had been generated: an arrest for a Section 38 incident and resisting arrest.
6. Health Report.
a. Community Connections Event.
Kirstie had attended the above information event in the Burgh Hall Dunoon. There were various agencies dealing with health and well-being at this. Details were given of the SSEN Priority Service register which is free and easy to join (phone 0800 294 3259). It is aimed at people who are over 60, or who have a disability or need electricity for medical equipment at home.
b. Conversation Café.
Kirstie told members that this is the new name for an open meeting that is being held in Cowal Community Hospital dealing with "our hospital " on Wednesday 6th November at 2 p.m. Kirstie expressed her concern that she had to find out about this important meeting from Facebook and neither she nor any of the other Cowal Community Councillors were contacted directly about this.
Kirstie gave a brief description of what Crossroads Caring For Carers does and urged any unpaid carer to get in touch with them to see what help and support they are entitled to. Kirstie said she could forward a presentation on this to anybody who is interested.
d. Places of safety.
Heather Grier had attended a meeting with Mike Russell MSP, Jean Freeman (Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport) and Chief Inspector Douglas Wilson (Area Commander for Dunoon). Items discussed included places of safety: although there is a suitable room in Cowal Community Hospital, there are no trained staff and consequently the police are having to detain vulnerable individuals in cells and/or transfer them to Lochgilphead; this should not be the job of the police. Whilst it was recognised that pressure needed to be put on the HSCP, this was in a financial context where savings of £19 million had to be made by 2023.
e. Mental Health Crisis Team.
PC Evans mentioned a proposed restructure of NHS/Local Authority Services in relation to Mental Health that would be able to provide a telephone triage and, if required, a face-to-face service may also be provided. The implementation date for this was not yet known.
7. Secretary’s Report.
Since the last meeting eight articles had been submitted to the Newsletter. Four referred to consultations on: two land issues; How good is your place?; community food growing strategy; and local tourist tax. The others referred to: funding for electric vehicles and charge points; SSEN priority services register; supporting communities fund 2020/21; and community reserve volunteers.
Responses on behalf of the CC had been submitted to the consultations on payphone removal and How good is your place?.
The main correspondence (in addition to any mentioned elsewhere) had been with Forestry & Land Scotland regarding potential community benefits from the Feorline Hydro Scheme, Strathlachlan. When this started operating there would be a community benefit of £5,000/MW installed. As the current approval was for 99kW, this would amount to £495 per annum.
Venues had been booked for the 2020-2021 session.
Iain had attended:
a. A meeting at the Lephindrissach school site with Susan Gaffney and Donnie McVicar on 16.8.19.
b. A meeting of the Community Fund Committee on 27.9.19.
8. Treasurer’s report.
The bank balance stood at £2,369.90.
9. Transport update.
Archie reported that CalMac would be employing security men on the late night Gourock-Dunoon boat due to incidents of antisocial behaviour.
At the meeting of Cowal Transport Forum on 23.9.19 he had raised concerns about the lack of disabled parking at Hunter's Quay as a result of the car park being occupied by contractors. Captain McLundie of Western Ferries would look into this.
Western Ferries and CalMac passenger figures for Cowal Games had been significantly lower than in previous years, possibly because of bad weather.
There had been a complaint about a convoy of timber lorries on the B8000. This had been caused by a broken down lorry.
Jeff Wilson told members that Forestry & Land Scotland had a budget of £200,000 to maintain roads. Work, including widening, had started on the Barnacarry to Strathlachlan stretch of the B8000. There was a new layby close to Sunfield, which was intended to facilitate nearby timber extraction work.
Iain had been in communication with Anne Liens. There had been little progress over the summer. The mayor of Sournia was still enthusiastic and would possibly visit Strachur in December during a hunting trip to Sutherland.
11. National Park Update.
a. Ardentinny fish farm proposal.
As mentioned previously, the National Park required an Environmental Impact for this proposal. No application had been lodged.
b. Flamingo Land, Balloch.
The application had been withdrawn after the National Park board recommended rejection. It is possible that a revised application will be submitted.
c. Camping issues.
The National Park and Forestry & Land Scotland were committed to reviewing informal campsite management. Managed campsites had been around 90% full in August; 21% of the bookings were for motorhomes, a figure that was likely to increase.
d. National Park Rangers Service.
The service had been successful in generating volunteer activity, especially during the summer. A boost in Scottish Government funding will help to improve the coordination of volunteer activity.
Archie said that it would be good to see more ranger activity at Loch Eck.
a. Community Fund.
Jeff Wilson told members that the Community Fund had received applications for funding from Strachur Young Gardeners, Strachur & District Youth & Drama Club, and Strachur & District Piping Association. All three applications had been successful.
b. Dangerous Dogs Act.
Jeff Wilson said that the Dangerous Dogs Act was being reviewed. The intention was to set up a National Database and to keep all Local Councils informed of Dangerous Dog Notices.
c. Open Government.
Heather Grier informed members that the Scottish Government had set up a panel to look at Open Government. She had attended the first meeting on 14.10.19. A survey would be distributed asking for feedback about complaints to Public Sector Authorities and it was hoped that the Community Council would participate.
13. Date and location of next meeting.
The next meeting would be at 19:30, Wednesday 11th December 2019 in Strachur Memorial Hall.
Secretary, Strachur Community Council