Minutes 19th August 2015

Draft, to be agreed on 21st October 2015

Strachur District Community Council

Minutes of General Meeting

Held 19:30 on Wednesday 19th August 2015, Strathlachlan Community Centre

Members present: John Fleming (Vice Convenor), Isabel McGladdery (Treasurer), Iain Wilkie and Les Earle (Secretary).

Also in attendance: Cllr Alex McNaughton, Stewart Miller and Charlie Collins (both of the Cowal Way), PC Stephen Carr and two members of the public.

1. Vice Convener’s opening remarks: In view of the items on the agenda John changed the order in which they would be taken to allow visitors to get away before the ordinary business of the meeting.

2. Apologies and declarations of interest: None except for a declaration of interest by Iain Wilkie, noted below, it arose from discussion not included in the agenda.

3. The Cowal Way.

Stewart Miller and Charlie Collins gave an introduction to the two year project to enhance the facility of the 57 mile path from Portavadie to Inveruglas. The work done so far has revolved around placing tenders for the infrastructure improvements and they were happy to report that the contracts had been won by local businesses but, sadly, the foul weather this summer had prevented heavy machine work.

The next phase was to: improve the signage, rebrand and advertise the path, launch the new website, involve the local community and businesses. Already many local accommodation providers were on board. The aim was to advertise the elements of the path to encourage those without the time and equipment to tackle the path in stages. Eight footfall counters had been installed to provide a baseline measurement to judge the effectiveness of the project, it was hoped that there would be a threefold increase in usage.

Questions were asked about:

Signage, currently very poor at Portavadie – the intention is to have waymarkers sufficiently close and obvious to allow the whole path to be undertaken without a map.

Would the guide to the Cowal Way be in printed form or electronic – both, though the web page and app would be more readily updated and be free or low cost. A charge would be made for the printed guide (other than leaflets.).

Diversions – forestry work would inevitably lead to the partial closure of some parts of the Way. By closely liaising with the Forestry and updating the website walkers could be kept informed.

Stewart and Charlie were thanked for their presentation and they left.

4. Police Report, including Rural Watch.

PC Stephen Carr of Loch Goilhead was available to give the report and as a leading light in the adoption of the predominantly web based Rural Watch gave an informative talk on its benefits. Recently an alert had been issued on the subject of bogus “Microsoft repairs” and at least two people had thanked Stephen for the warning as they had subsequently received such calls. Similarly, information from the public via Rural Watch had led to the arrest of two people at the Rest, they were wanted in connection with theft.

The question of Rural Watch signage was raised and Stephen was able to give a positive response as to their availability. It was felt that this was an expense that the CC could lawfully undertake and it was agreed that Les would seek the views of the community via the newsletter/facebook for us to consider at the next meeting. Stephen promised more detail would be sent via email.

Since 1/5/15 there had been 44 calls to the police from the Strachur district and five of those calls had been associated with crime: 1 housebreaking, 1 breach of the peace arrest, 1 assault arrest, 2 careless driving offences. The absence of speeding figures was explained by the fact that work was now being undertaken by a dedicated unit, these figures would be presented next time.

The Mobile Office had been off the road for a while but would be back in operation shortly.

Extra money had been identified that would now enable the police to undertake patrols with the Forestry Rangers in areas of sensitivity to casual camping.

A discussion re the speed limit at the school crossing took place and Stephen asked to be informed when A+B had finished their work and he would notify his colleagues to enable them to undertake a traffic survey comparable with that done in October 2013 (Les to forward details).

Stephen was thanked for his report and he left.

5. Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBC)

A brief (confused) introduction was given as to the LGBC’s proposal for A+B and what the A+B Council had suggested in response. The following note reflects the actual position not Les’ confusion.

LGBC – suggested placing Strachur and St Catherines in Mid Argyll while removing elements of the National Park from the Strachur boundary to ensure it (the National Park) remained in a single Ward. Strathlachlan would be in the newly formed Ward, Bute.

A+B – suggested, among other things, moving the boundary of Strachur to the south of Mid Letters and incorporating Strachur and St Catherines in the newly defined Lomond North thus negating the removal of the National Park from its borders. As before the reduced Strathlachlan would now be in Bute.

Cllr McNaughton explained that the LGBC, who to that point had been criticised for an unrealistic mathematical approach, were legally bound to follow the formula of 3-4 councillors per ward and 2,000 electors (+/- 10%) per councillor. In addition their review encompassed the whole of Scotland, it wasn’t just us. Les explained that he was still investigating as to why they had given themselves the added burden of trying to fit the National Park within a single ward.

It was generally agreed that to add West Cowal to the Isle of Bute was impractical – the current councillors did not want it and the residents of the mainland would probably feel under-served by councillors who would almost certainly be elected by the islanders. A+B has since suggested that the Isle of Bute remain a single ward even though this does not accord with the mathematical formulation.

At this stage it would be inappropriate for the CC to state a position without first seeking the views of the community Les is to produce something for the newsletter and facebook page and it’s to be hoped that we can consider a draft response at the next meeting (the day before consultation closes.)

That said concern was expressed over the potential loss of the historic name Cowal that was much used in tourist activities and by businesses.

Alex emphasised that it was important that people participate and urged everyone to make their views known to LGBC.

6. Minutes: Minutes for the meeting held on 17th June 2015 were adopted as accurate after a correction to 11c where “garage” should be replaced by “filling station”.

7. Matters arising:

a. Church wall repairs, the relevant officer has now inspected the repair and is of the opinion that the work is complete. Some doubt was expressed that the wall has not been touched, just the gate post. Cllr McNaughton will continue to pursue officers on this topic.

b. Cllr McNaughton had reported the decrepit road signs around the junction of the A815/A886 and officers had raised the necessary order – nobody was certain as to whether the work had been done yet.

c. Les touched on the response from A+B Roads, raised earlier in the Police Report.

d. Interlock had offered an alternative day for the assisted bus. Les had no response from the community and a subsequent survey of passengers favoured leaving things as they were.

e. A response re the Lephinmore West forestry plan had been submitted raising objection to their using the B8000 for logging extraction.

8. Health Report: Heather Grier was not present to give a report.

9. Secretary’s report: Covered in Matters Arising and throughout the agenda.

10. Treasurer’s report: The current balance stands at £2288.

11. Transport update: In Archie’s absence Cllr McNaughton reported that a survey was to be conducted re the routing of buses in and around Dunoon centre. Current, experimental, changes meant that the Co-op was not necessarily covered on some routes that had previously had the benefit.

12. Any other business:

a. Iain MacGregor reported that Scottish Water now admitted that they failed in previous years to actively control the Japanese knotweed around the water tank in Strachur but had produced a schedule on how they would tackle the job in future. Les too had received a copy of the strategy and now all we await is action.

b. Les had received no comments from the public re the planning application behind the Creggans but had a question for Cllr McNaughton. Given that the application was for the construction of seven houses on a segment of a plot for 44 houses how would A+B enforce the 25% affordable housing element? Alex replied that the requirement for affordable housing had been suspended for two years following adoption of the plan.

c. Information re the planning application for the change of use of the White Elephant shop (from retail to holiday let) was distributed.

d. When asked Les reported that no response regarding the wind turbine application north east of Strachur House had been received. (Iain declared a potential interest as land adjacent to his house might become relevant to the construction of the turbine.)

13. Date of next meeting: 19:30, Wednesday 21st October 2015 at the Strachur Memorial Hall.

Les Earle, Secretary, Strachur District Community Council

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