Strachur Community Council
Minutes of Ordinary Meeting
Held 19.30 on Wednesday 12th June 2019
Strachur Memorial Hall
Members present: Archie Reid (Convener), John Fleming, Isabel McGladdery, Kirstie Reid, Iain Wilkie (Secretary).
Also in attendance: Cllr Alan Reid, Ian Asher (PPG), Heather Grier (PPG), Bob Darracott (representative for Ward 1 on the Board of the National Park), Jeff Wilson (Strachur & District Community Development Company) and seven members 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 and McNeilly apologised for non-attendance. There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes for the Ordinary Meeting held on 17th April 2019 were agreed as accurate.
4. Matters arising.
a. New road signs at A815/A886 junction.
Cllr Reid had been informed by Roads that “We have replaced the poles. However, we have not had the resources as of yet to erect the new signage. This is due to recent budget decisions and the reduction in staffing levels.”
b. VMS signs at A815/A886 junction.
Cllr Reid had been informed that Council staff had been trained to operate the VMS signs here and at Rashfield, but that there was a fault with their solar panels. BEAR were responsible for repairs and had said this would be done soon.
c. Speed limit on A815 through Strachur.
Iain had asked Paul Farrell (ABC Traffic Development Officer) on 29.5.19 for an update on discussions with Police Scotland re traffic management issues. On 30.5.19 Mr Farrell had sent the results of a traffic survey conducted from 10th - 13th May NW of the Filling Station. This showed daily averages of 38.46 - 39.27 mph and Mr Farrell had stated that, as these did not exceed the 40 mph speed limit, "no further speed reduction is required at this location". On 30.5.19 Iain had responded pointing out that our argument was that the 40 mph is too high for the conditions of the road and had asked for a breakdown of the figures. No response had been received as yet.
d. Twinning proposal from Sournia, France.
A special Community Council meeting had been held on 16.5.19. See item 10 below.
e. Old picnic benches near Post Office.
Iain had informed the member of the public who had enquired about removing the benches that he could go ahead. The benches had subsequently been removed.
f. Memorial plaque.
Archie was waiting for the Hall Committee to give permission for the plaque to be attached to the gable wall at the Memorial Garden.
g. Manse Gardens.
Archie had e-mailed Marion MacAskill, THA on 25.4.19 regarding concerns about Manse Gardens, and again on 10.5.19 following the publication of an article in the Dunoon Observer. See item 12a below.
5. Police Report (received by e-mail from PS David Hardie).
There were five crime reports since the date of your last meeting. There were two road traffic crimes; two counts of a breach of Section 38 Criminal Justice Licensing Scotland Act 2009 - Threatening and Abusive behaviour (one domestic related); and one count of vandalism.
There were also 17 incidents during the period. It should be noted that 14 were to Manse Gardens, mainly neighbour disputes. Of these, one led to the arrest of a male for threatening and abusive behaviour (the other section 38 crime report).
6. Health Report.
There was nothing to report.
7. Secretary’s Report.
Since the last meeting five articles had been submitted to the Newsletter on: Twinning proposal; Update on twinning proposal; Strachur Community Council AGM; Consultation on short-term lets; Consultation on Castle Lachlan Estate New Woodland Creation.
A response on behalf of the CC was submitted to the consultation on the Castle Lachlan Estate NWC.
The main correspondence (in addition to any mentioned elsewhere) had been with:
a. Various individuals re Manse Gardens.
b. Various individuals re Castle Lachlan Estate NWC.
c. Anne Liens and Yvon Crambes (mayor of Sournia) re twinning proposal.
Iain had attended:
a. Hall Committee meeting on 30.4.19.
b. Final meeting of the Cowal Out of Hours Group on 1.5.19. This was a poorly attended meeting at which it was reported that Phil Cummins, Head of Adult Services (East), had given instruction for the group to cease and that "The OOH Service has been removed from the current savings plan."
c. Meeting in Strathlachlan Community Centre on 8.5.19 re Castle Lachlan Estate NWC.
d. Meeting at Manse Gardens with Jennifer Wallace, THA Head of Housing & Support Services on 14.5.19, re concerns of tenants about antisocial behaviour (see item 12a below).
e. PPG meeting on 28.5.19 re Manse Gardens.
Iain had organised and chaired a special CC meeting on 16.5.19, which was held to discuss the twinning proposal.
8. Treasurer’s report.
The bank balance stood at £2,121.60.
9. Transport update.
There was nothing to report.
10. Twinning proposal update.
a. Minutes for the Special Meeting held on 16.5.19 were agreed as accurate.
b. The Dunoon Observer of 24.5.19 had published a brief report on the above meeting.
c. Following the above meeting Iain had enquired about groups and organisations in Sournia that might have equivalents in the Strachur area and had received the following information from Anne Liens:
Agricultural College: none near Sournia, but there is an active young farmers' association.
Local historical society: none near Sournia, but Sournia has a museum of daily life (link with 'The Smiddy'?) and 30 minutes from Sournia there is a museum of prehistory in Belesta.
Youth & Drama Club: no equivalent in Sournia.
Sports clubs: rugby is very popular in the Sournia area.
Gardening Club or Flower Show Committee: an association in the nearby town of Ille sur Têt organises an annual plant and flower show.
Walking or mountaineering clubs: there are several walking or hiking clubs in the Sournia area; more information can be supplied if there is any interest at our end.
SWRI: no equivalent in Sournia.
Country Dancing Club: there is a local 'cobla' (group of musicians and dancers specialising in the 'sardane' - a Catalan dance).
d. The Youth & Drama Club had expressed an interest. They have a video of a drama set in Strachur, which might be of interest to the children of Sournia's Primary School.
e. Gordon Neish had expressed an interest in exploring a possible link between his band 'Dr Hip and the Blues Operation' and the Sournia band 'The New Jack'.
f. Yvon Crambes, the mayor of Sournia, had requested contact details for the Primary School Head Teacher, a representative of The Hub, and someone involved in deer-stalking. Iain had sent him relevant information.
g. Iain had been informed that Yvon Crambes may visit Dunoon at the time of the Cowal Games in August of this year.
h. It was agreed that the next stage would be for Iain to disseminate the above information to all potentially interested parties, and that ideally a twinning committee should be set up by representatives of interested groups.
11. National Park Update.
Bob Darracott reported that there had been no relevant planning applications since the last meeting.
Regarding the Ardentinny fish farm proposal, no formal planning application had been lodged yet and it had still to be decided if an impact assessment would be required.
Carol McGinnes, Forestry & Land Scotland Regional Manager (Central), would be attending Community Council meetings to provide an update on FLS's strategy.
The National Park had made grant funding available for small-scale tree planting.
Following complaints about littering and antisocial behaviour at Loch Eck, the National Park would install signs advising on good camping practice and giving contact details for reporting complaints etc.
a. Manse Gardens.
Amongst the members of the public attending the Community Council meeting were six tenants from Manse Gardens who expressed their concerns about (1) the behaviour of a small minority of other residents in the complex and (2) Trust Housing Association's attitude to their concerns. As a result of antisocial behaviour, the police had been called out repeatedly to Manse Gardens over the past two months (see item 5, Police Report). Part of the complex was a 'no-go area' where most tenants and their visitors faced intimidation. In view of the state in which it had been left, a recently vacated property was described as being a possible fire and public health hazard. A meeting between tenants and THA at Manse Gardens on 14.5.19 had been very unsatisfactory. Tenants felt they had not been listened to and that their treatment had been "disrespectful".
Archie stated that the Community Council sympathised with the law-abiding tenants of Manse Gardens, but was also concerned about the adverse effect the antisocial behaviour and resulting police activity was having on other residents of Strachur and on the reputation of the village as a whole, especially at a time when the village was in the early stages of discussing a twinning proposal with Sournia in France.
Heather Grier reported that at the PPG meeting on 28.5.19, which Iain had attended, it had been agreed that Heather should send a letter to the THA suggesting that representatives of the PPG and CC should meet with THA to discuss issues raised by Manse Gardens tenants. This was sent on 7.6.19 and a reply from Rhona McLeod (THA CEO), which welcomed such a meeting, had been received on 12.6.19.
It was pointed out that THA has a three-stage 'Complaints Handling Procedure': after stages 1 and 2, which the current complaints appeared to have gone through, tenants had the option of taking their concerns to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or Scottish Housing Regulator.
After discussion, it was agreed that Manse Gardens tenants should submit a joint letter to the Community Council, signed by as many tenants as possible, which itemised their complaints. This would provide the Community Council and PPG with background information needed for further discussions with THA.
b. A815 road works.
Cllr Reid informed the meeting that there would be surface dressing work on the A815 from Strachur to St. Catherines starting on 18.6.19.
c. Vegetation encroaching on A886 and A815.
Archie noted that trees, shrubs and other vegetation were overhanging and/or narrowing the the A886 (single track section) and A815 (from filling station to Medical Practice). Cllr Reid offered to follow this up.
ACTION: Cllrs Blair/McNeilly/Reid
d. Community bus.
Ian Asher stated that the new community bus would arrive on Friday 14.6.19, but that the formal handover would be delayed until the meeting of The Hub on Thursday 20.6.19. Archie said he would attend.
e. A886 verges and Japanese knotweed.
Iain MacGregor (IM) requested that, when the A886 verges were being cut, the Japanese knotweed should be avoided. Cllr Reid agreed to pursue this.
ACTION: Cllrs Blair/McNeilly/Reid
f. Invasive Species Group.
IM informed the meeting that the ISG no longer had funding. They would continue to provide free labour but depended on donations to purchase herbicide. In response to Archie's reminder that the Community Council could provide support, IM stated that the CC would be approached only as a last resort. Cllr Reid offered to make enquiries regarding possible sources of funding.
ACTION: Cllrs Blair/McNeilly/Reid
g. B8000 and Castle Lachlan Estate NWC.
It was reported that Strathlachlan residents and other regular users of the B8000 were concerned that the road might be damaged by heavy vehicles involved in the new forestry scheme. It was hoped that, once the initial earthworks were completed, Scottish Woodlands would use internal roads and avoid using the B8000 as much as possible. A watching brief would be maintained.
h. Lephindrissach school site.
Jeff Wilson reported that, following bridge repair and other works at Lephinchapel, the site of the school had been left covered by a layer of gravel. It was not known if further clearance of material from the site was intended. Iain would make enquiries.
i. Scottish Water issues.
Jeff Wilson noted that Scottish Water had left signange at the B8000/Leanach junction after the completion of work on installing a pressure reducing valve. Also, there was excessive growth of shrubs at the pumping station at the A815/A886 junction; these were not supposed to exceed a height of 4 ft. Iain would follow this up.
j. Electric vehicle charging points.
A resident had asked for information on when rural areas were likely to be supplied with charging points for electric vehicles. Cllr Reid agreed to do the necessary research.
ACTION: Cllrs Blair/McNeilly/Reid
k. Appreciation of Community Council activities.
Iain MacGregor wished it to be minuted that he appreciated the good job being done by Strachur Community Council, especially when in many areas of Scotland and the wider world CCs and comparable organisations were falling by the wayside.
13. Date and location of next meeting.
The next meeting would be at 19:30, Wednesday 12th August 2019 in Strathlachlan Community Centre.
Secretary, Strachur Community Council