Strachur District Community Council - Minutes of General Meeting

Held after the AGM at 19:30 on Wednesday 16th April 2014, Strachur Memorial Hall


  1. Members present: Archie Reid (Convener), Isabel McGladdery (Treasurer), Jean Donaldson and Les Earle (Secretary).


Also in attendance: Cllr Alex McNaughton, PC McGunnigal, five Directors of the Strachur & District Community Development Company Limited (including Douglas Currie - Chairman, Jeffrey Wilson – Secretary, Ken Finlayson – Finance Director) and five members of the public.


  1. Apologies: John Fleming (Vice Convener)


  1. Declarations of interest: None.


  1. Minutes: Minutes for the meeting held on 12th March 2014 were adopted as accurate.


  1. Matters arising:


a. The wall around the church is in need of repair. It is uncertain as to who has responsibility, Church or Council? Cllr McNaughton is to follow-up. Cllr McNaughton was able to report that A+B had responsibility and that the wall will be repointed and new gate posts put in place. Isabel was able to confirm that workers had been seen surveying the wall.

b. The land to the rear of 62 Forest View persistently floods and local residents want to know who owns the land to seek a remedy. (First raised 22/1/14). Cllr McNaughton says that he is still awaiting confirmation from ACHA.

c. A member of the public asked if the trees either side of the road from the Hall to the church could be pruned as they interfered with the street lights and buses/lorries in the centre of the road forced cars into the insecure edge of the road. Cllr McNaughton reported that the pruning would take place as soon as the equipment (already on scheduled use) was available.

d. Under Health Report at an earlier meeting Iain McGregor suggestion that the proposed whistleblowing code of conduct be fully notified to NHS staff. Heather Grier offered to chase-up and report. Heather was due to meet with Derek Leslie 23rd January. As reported Mr Leslie has now retired, Heather was due to meet with the temporary replacement, George Morrison, 13/3/14 and would recommence enquiries. [Item held over.]

e. Loch Fyne - Marine Protection Zone (the Scottish Government’s consultation). Archie has made the representations formerly agreed and he is to liaise with Crawford Grier who is co-ordinating a wider range of responses. Archie reported that he had written to the relevant CC’s. It proved impossible to set up a meeting so a joint Strachur/Lochgoilhead CC contribution was submitted supporting the principle of the principle of a protection zone.

f. Iain McGregor raised the following outstanding points:

i.   Roadside ditch on Strathlachlan Hall brae (first raised Jan 2012). To be addressed when the watermain (iv, below) has been sorted.

ii.   Newton road end, dangerous culvert (first raised at CC 13/6/12). Cllr McNaughton reported that this had now been fixed.

iii. Strachur headtank Japanese knotweed infestation (first raised at CC10/10/12, but taken up with Scottish Water since at least 2010). Cllr McNaughton says this will be done at the appropriate season – those nearby will have to monitor and raise the alarm if not started.

iv. The new water main, Strathlachlan. A circular argument of inaction has taken a grip. The 4” water main is not deep enough and keeps bursting, the lack of depth makes it unsuitable for driving through a new liner, only trenching and burying is appropriate but this would lead to an unwanted road closure. Iain attended a site meeting, 13/3/14, and reported that it was inconclusive and that a further meeting was to take place next Wednesday23/4/14. Some residents were concerned at the thought of road closure Cllr McNaughton stated that no such closure could take place without consultation. Les is to write to Scottish Water to ensure that we are kept in the loop.

v. Strathlachlan roadsigns, (first raised at CC meeting on 10/3/10. Cllr McNaughton says that the roadsigns had now been agreed (no date as to commissioning yet.)


  1. Health report: in the absence of Heather Grier there was no report.


  1. Police report: PC Eddie McGunnigal was in attendance and reported as follows:


a. Since our last meeting, 12/3/14 there had been 26 calls to the police two offences of speeding in St Catherines reported.

b. PC McGunnigal presented to the meeting copies of leaflet entitled Doorstep Crime – Beat the Bogus Callers.


  1. Treasurer’s report: The current balance in the bank is £2443. Since the last meeting the only expenditure had been for the hire of the Hall.


  1. Secretary’s report:

a. The current position regarding the works associated with the school crossing was explained. The road markings were awaiting the arrival of the specialist machine for the centre marking, supplementary safety markings would be done in parallel with work at Succothmore. The relevance of this is that once the markings are complete (inc dragons teeth) fresh traffic survey information can be taken to check the effectiveness of the improvements and to meet with road engineers to press for the further improvements originally outlined in the letter of 26/1/14.

b. Les had been asked to enquire into the possibility of placing an electronic noticeboard at the Bay junction to assist motorists when the Rest closed. The priority for A+B was, at present, placing such signs to control the “one way” option at Hell’s Glen/ Military Road. However, one mobile unit had been obtained and was to be placed at the Cot House. Attempts to obtain a further unit for the Bay junction were continuing.

c. The promised article on Rural Watch had been written and appeared in the newsletter.

d. The relative of a person with links to, and a fondness for, Strachur had asked if it was possible to donate a bench or have a plaque on an existing bench. Les (having found the landowner) has directed the request to them.

e. Assistance has been provided in making the grant application to Celebrate (the National Lottery) to fund the Queens’ Baton Relay Gala Day. Despite initial wobbles the application was at least being considered.

f. A request was made to A+B to clean our road signs before the Gala Day. There was no reply but the signs miraculously appeared from beneath their grime (except one, which a public spirited individual might do – no ladder required).


  1. The Emergency Plan: Jean Donaldson is leading on this item and she reported that the risk assessment portion of the exercise is still underway. Having made useful a useful contact with the Royal Voluntary Service the range and scope of volunteers has grown considerably.


  1. Community Action Plan: The Community Survey forms are in the process of being delivered and some have now been returned. An advert for the post of Community Agent (temporary and on a consultancy basis) had been placed and short list prepared. The candidates will be interviewed on the afternoon of our next steering group meeting, 29/4/14.


12. Transport update:

a. The Saturday morning bus from Strachur to Dunoon is to be reintroduced as a 7:55 service next week.

b. The new timetables will be published before the end of the month.


15. Any other business:

a. Planning - gabion basket breakwater, St Catherines (opposite Kildonan). The appeal against refusal of planning permission and subsequent enforcement notice have both been dismissed. (A further appeal against the enforcement notice is still possible

b. Hydro Schemes. Douglas Currie (Chairman of the Strachur & District Community Development Company Limited – hereafter, SDCDCL) thanked the CC for the opportunity to address the meeting. Essentially Douglas wanted to know what the current position was in relation to the hydro schemes and he outlined the history of the SDCDCL’s involvement and expressed disappointment that they had not been able to play a greater role.


Douglas said SDCDCL had first lodged an expression of interest with the developer of the scheme, Gilkes, around two years ago in the hope that they could become shareholders in the scheme. After initial meetings and correspondence, and for no known reason, Gilkes said they wished to deal solely through the Community Council.


Les replied with a summary of the current situation. Planning permission had now been granted for the Glenbranter scheme and now Gilkes had to undertake a series of formal legal steps and consultation before commencement of work, work that is itself constrained to June – August, in some future year.


In relation to Coire Ealt, work on site starts in a few weeks and will be over in August. The CC will be the recipient of the Community Benefit (CB), £2,500pa. [Inflation has raised this figure to £2,700 but for the purposes of discussion everyone used the £2,500 figure.]


It was asked why the CC had “ignored the option to buy-in” to the Coire Ealt scheme. Les replied that the CC had not ignored the option. CC’s are funded by grant and that money is for the sole purpose of administration, to buy shares in the scheme would require the CC to incur debt – which is beyond its powers. Taking out loans of, potentially, hundreds of thousands was clearly not, in reality, a prospect that could ever exist – the CC simply did not have the power.


Disappointment was expressed by members of SDCDCL that an opportunity had been, in their estimation, missed. Douglas took the opportunity to point out that we were all on the same side and that now was the time to reflect on the future and specifically the Glenbranter scheme.


Jean was able to say that the Glenbranter Residents’ Association would be holding a meeting to discuss how they wanted to proceed and would be calling on interested bodies to participate in that meeting.


The discussion had exceeded twenty minutes and Archie said he would take one more question and then close the matter.


A Director of SDCDCL had a further question on the life of the turbines. Les had in mind that it was 25 years. [In fact the 25 years refers to the timing of its first major overhaul. The design life of the turbine exceeds that of the lease.]


Douglas, in conclusion, reiterated that we were all working for the greater good of the community.

c. The Post Office still have not got back to Archie re the “temporary” status of the Bay Office. He will chase them for a reply. He was now trying to get the MP involved.

d. It is hoped that Sir Charles MacClean will be available to address a future meeting on his proposals for two wind turbines to operate in conjunction with his hydro scheme

e Les was asked how he had got on trying to get the traffic survey data from A+B. Les reported that A+B said that the data was the property of Police Scotland and not theirs to make public. It was agreed that Les would write to PS.


16. Date of next meeting: 11th June 2014, 19:30, Strachur Memorial Hall.


Les Earle, Secretary, Strachur District Community Council