Strachur Community Council
Minutes of Ordinary Meeting
Held 19.30 on Wednesday 11th December 2019
Strachur Memorial Hall
Members present: Ceci Alderton, Archie Reid (Convener), Isabel McGladdery, Kirstie Reid, Iain Wilkie (Secretary).
Also in attendance: Jeff Wilson (Strachur & District Community Development Company), Susan Gaffney and Fiona Campbell (Strachur & District Local History Society), and six members of the public.
1. Convener’s opening remarks:
Archie welcomed everyone to the meeting.
2. Apologies and declarations of interest:
John Fleming, PC Laura Evans and Cllrs Blair, McNeilly and Reid apologised for non-attendance. There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes for the Ordinary Meeting held on 16th October 2019 were agreed as accurate.
4. Matters arising.
a. Knotweed on A886 verges: who is responsible for tagging stands of Japanese knotweed?
Iain had been informed by Iain MacGregor that in previous years the Invasive Species Group had both marked the locations of JK stands and shown these in person to Argyll & Bute Council employees.
b. Electric vehicle charging points.
Residents had been asked in Newsletter and Facebook articles to let the CC know their preferences for EV charging point locations. Responses had been received from the Development Company and two residents. According to these, the preferred locations were firstly the Heron Park car park and secondly the Filling Station. Iain would convey this information to Cllr Reid.
c. A815 speed limit.
i/ Police initiatives.
The two police initiatives - 'Go Wheelie Slow' and 'Community Speedwatch' - had been publicised in articles in the Newsletter and Facebook. No expressions of interest in the latter had been communicated to Community Councillors or PC Evans. Iain had estimated that 60 bin stickers would be required for the former. Archie said that these would be bought through PC Evans as part of a bulk order for all participating CCs.
ii/ Dangerous driving at school crossing, A815.
Jeff Wilson reported that on 10.12.19, when he was driving from Dunoon towards Strachur and slowing down in advance of the school crossing, he was overtaken by another vehicle which then went through the crossing at speed, even though the lollipop man was on duty.
d. Lephindrissach school site.
Iain had e-mailed Mr Dave Clarke (Argyll & Bute Council) to express the CC's view that it was unfair to expect the Local History Society to clear the stones from the site. Susan Gaffney reminded the meeting that there was e-mail correspondence showing that Argyll & Bute Council had agreed to remove the stones after completion of the work at Lephinchapel bridge. Iain had been informed that there were at present no Council funds to remove the stones. It was reported that the owner of the land was intending to contact the Council and demand that the stones be cleared from the site.
e. Scottish water issues.
Iain had still received no response from Scottish Water, even though Cllr Gordon Blair had intervened on 10.11.19 and had been promised a reply within one working week.
Other Scottish Water issues were reported:
i/ There had been a serious break in the mains pipe which had left High Hall without water from the morning of 7.12.19 to the afternoon of the next day.
ii/ There were complaints about the frequency of pipe breaks in Forest View and the fact that, even though breaks had been reported in the morning and no matter how serious they were, repairs tended not to begin until the evening, allegedly because Glasgow took priority. Iain would forward these comments to Scottish Water.
f. Antisocial camping at St. Catherines.
Archie reported that he had spoken to the landowner and that he (the landowner) had no objections to 'No overnight camping' signs being erected in the vicinity of the Old Ferry Inn. Iain would inform the resident who had first alerted the CC to the problem of antisocial camping at St. Catherines.
g. WWI Memorial plaque.
There had been an event recognising the installation of the plaque on 7.11.19. This had been attended by children from the school who had participated enthusiastically. Archie thanked Fiona Campbell for organising the event.
h. Strachur public payphone.
Iain told the meeting that BT had agreed to retain the public payphone, although there would be another review, probably after another two years. BT had repaired the phone and cleaned the kiosk, and the kiosk would be repainted in 2020.
i. Manse Gardens: update.
On 12.11.19 Rhona McLeod (CEO Trust Housing Association) and Gail Gourlay (Director of Customer Services THA) had a meeting first with Manse Garden tenants and then with Ian Asher, Heather Grier (both representing the Patient Participation Group) and Iain (representing the CC). Ms McLeod summarised the past two years at Manse Gardens and stated again that the change from sheltered to amenity housing status had been triggered by the withdrawal of funding by Argyll & Bute HSCP. Although Heather questioned if that really had been the main reason, Ms McLeod and Ms Gourlay were insistent that this was the case and that, since HSCP had effectively stopped commissioning THA to provide sheltered housing, they had had no alternative. Ms McLeod said that, since the change of status had taken effect, things had been "bumpy" and THA now thought it was time to consult tenants and other stakeholders about the future. There were four options:
1. Retain the current situation for at least two years.
2. Seek new partners (or sources of funding) to increase the service provided.
3. Transfer the site to another local housing provider.
4. Dispose of the properties.
Ms McLeod was asking for views from all interested parties and would report to the THA board in February 2020.
5. Police Report (received from PC Gerard Finan by e-mail).
Over the previous month there had been seven incidents, none generating crime reports.
New drug driving legislation is now in place allowing Roads Policing officers to test drivers using mouth swabs to ascertain if they have used controlled drugs before driving. Currently their driving must be impaired. However, now simply the presence of the drugs in their system is sufficient to report them to the PF.
The festive drink driving campaign is now under way.
6. Health Report.
a. Meeting with the HSPC.
Kirstie reported that it was agreed by all that communication between the HSCP and the Community Councils was not great and needs improved. Days before our meeting they had been given the e-mail contacts of all CC chairpersons and would now be communicating directly with CCs at the same time as our elected members. The HSCP will work with us to improve the communication between us and them.
b. Cowal Community Hospital.
i/ Bed Numbers.
Bed numbers at CCH are currently: 11 beds on the ward (including the four palliative care beds) and two 24 hour beds in A&E (patients can only stay in these beds for 24 hours or less).
ii/ No Bypass A&E.
CCH is classed as a NO BYPASS A&E. That means that all ambulance patients must go via CCH A&E before being transferred to other hospitals if appropriate (examples were given of why this was raised).
c. Crossroads " Caring for Carers".
Kirstie attended the AGM and was informed that, although they receive some funding from the HSCP, they have to do a lot of fund-raising to carry out the activities and duties outlined in the Carers Act Scotland Strategy. (Kirstie has some copies of this document if anyone wants to see it). In Cowal they support 209 adult unpaid carers and 121 unpaid carers aged 5 - 24 years.
7. Secretary’s Report.
Since the last meeting 11 articles had been submitted to the Newsletter. Four referred to consultations, which were on: Argyll & Bute Council Budget 2019; Local Development Plan 2; Remote Rural Communities Bill; Effectives of Control of Dogs Act 2010. The others referred to: Remembrance Sunday (two articles); preferred sites for electrical vehicle charging points; two police speeding initiatives; Argyll & Bute Youth Awards; reprieve for the public payphone; and Police Scotland Community Survey.
The main correspondence (in addition to any mentioned elsewhere) had been with:
i/ a resident concerning the Feorline hydro scheme and new laybys planned for the B8000 near Sunfield;
ii/ another resident, Forestry & Land Scotland, and the Argyll Timber Transport Group concerning timber traffic on the B8000;
iii/ the previous resident and Argyll & Bute Council concerning signage and lack of advanced notice of roadworks on the B8000
8. Treasurer’s report.
The bank balance stood at £2,263.90.
9. Transport update.
Archie had nothing to report, as the December Transport Forum meeting had been cancelled because of the General Election.
Iain suggested that, once it is working again, the Variable Message Sign at the A815/A886 junction could be used to remind drivers of the 40 mph speed limit. Archie agreed to bring this up at the next meeting of the Transport Forum.
10. Twinning proposal update.
The school in Sournia had sent a video for the children in Strachur Primary School.
Local residents Hamish and Loraine Stewart, who had been holidaying near Sournia in November, had had an affable meeting in the mairie (Town Hall) with the mayor and deputy mayor of Sournia, as well as Anne Liens (our contact in the area).
On 1.12.19 the mayor of Sournia and two companions made an impromptu visit to Strachur whilst on a hunting trip to Sutherland. They were collected from Tarbet and offered hospitality by Tom and Vivien Hill and Leif Brag.
11. National Park Update.
a. VE Day: 75th anniversary on 8.5.20.
Susan Gaffney and Fiona Campbell outlined various ideas for celebrating this event, which they hoped would involve the whole community, and sought advice on how to proceed. It was suggested that in the first instance an e-mail should be sent to all organisations and individuals who might be interested in participating. Potential funding sources were suggested, such as the Community Fund, Community Council, and Argyll & Bute Council. Iain offered to look for others and to submit an article to the Newsletter and Facebook.
b. Proposed residential housing development.
Amongst the members of the public in attendance were five residents who live near the site of the proposed residential housing development beside the A886 opposite the Post Office. Planning permission in principle for 18 residential units was granted in 2013 and renewed in 2016, and an application had now been submitted which provided specific information on building design. The residents were concerned about a number of aspects of this proposal including: the density and design of the buildings; the absence of a play area for children in the plan; whether the existing infrastructure (mains water, sewerage, power) and medical services could cope with a further 18 households; adverse effects on local biodiversity; and the potential threat to a right of way. It was also noted that there appeared to be little demand for houses in the area, as evidenced by building plots that had remained vacant for years and the slowness with which properties sold; this led to the suspicion that the development could end up being marketed as holiday homes. Residents were advised to individually register their concerns to Argyll & Bute Council. The CC would also submit comments.
c. Location of speed limit sign on A886.
A member of the public pointed out that the pavement on the southeast side of the A886 extends beyond the start of the 40 mph speed limit by around 270 m. This results in pedestrians being put at risk from vehicles approaching the 40 mph limit at excessive speed. He wondered if Argyll & Bute Council would consider extending the 40 mph speed limit to where the pavement started (at 'Allt Darach'). Iain agreed to make enquiries about this.
d. Road signs at A815/A886 junction.
A member of the public asked if the semi-derelict road sign at the A815/A886 junction was going to be replaced. Iain stated that replacement of the sign had been a long-standing issue and that he would pursue this with Argyll & Bute Council.
e. Support for 'Argyll Rally'.
The CC had been asked to provide the organisers of next year's 'Argyll Rally' with an e-mail showing support for the event, which would pass through Strachur and Strathlachlan; no financial assistance was being sought. It was agreed that such an e-mail should be provided.
13. Date and location of next meeting.
The next meeting would be at 19:30, Wednesday 15th January 2020 in Strathlachlan Community Centre.
Secretary, Strachur Community Council