To be agreed at the meeting on 21/1/15


Strachur District Community Council

Minutes of General Meeting

Held at 19:30 on Wednesday 3rd December 2014, Strachur Memorial Hall


Members present: Archie Reid (Convener), John Fleming, (Vice Convener), Isabel McGladdery (Treasurer), Jean Donaldson, Kirstie Reid and Les Earle (Secretary).


Also in attendance: Cllr Alex McNaughton and seven members of the public.


1. Convener’s opening remarks: None other than a welcome to the meeting and the introduction of a new Community Councillor, Kirsty Reid. Also now on the SDCC is Ceci Alderton.

2. Apologies and declarations of interest: Ceci Alderton sent her apologies. There were no declarations of interest.

3. Minutes: Minutes for the meeting held on 22nd October 2014 were adopted as accurate.

4. Matters arising:

a. The wall around the church is in need of repair. It is an A+B responsibility. Some repair work to the gate area has been undertaken but not the wall. Officers reported to Cllr McNaughton that the work had been done, he is to seek clarification as to what was done against what needs doing.

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 reported that ACHA was now dealing directly with the resident.

c. Under Health Report at an earlier meeting Iain McGregor suggested that the proposed whistleblowing code of conduct be fully notified to NHS staff. Heather Grier offered to chase-up and report. (First raised 22/1/14). Heather said that all staff are informed of the relevant policy as part of their induction.

d. Archie had raised with the Post Office Company the question of the temporary status of our PO’s opening hours (MP and MSP had also been engaged). No firm answer had been forthcoming and he will persist in pressuring them for an answer but note item 12 later in the agenda.

e. Iain McGregor raised the following outstanding points:

i.   Roadside ditch on Strathlachlan Hall brae (first raised Jan 2012). Now that the water main is on hold A+B have included this job on their list, Cllr McNaughton to monitor progress.

ii. Strachur head tank Japanese knotweed infestation (first raised at CC10/10/12, but taken up with Scottish Water since at least 2010). Treatment (singular, not the monthly promised) took place in November.

iii. The need for a new water main, Strathlachlan. A circular argument of inaction has taken a grip. The 4” water main is not deep enough (according to Scottish Water’s current standards) 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. Some residents were concerned at the thought of road closure Cllr McNaughton stated that no such closure could take place without consultation. Iain now has a letter (and, separately, Les) to say that the main will not be replaced during the current round of capital spending. The next round is 2015 – 2021! The main has again burst this week.

iv. Strathlachlan roadsigns, (first raised at CC meeting on 10/3/10. Cllr McNaughton says that the job had now been allocated but still no date fixed. It was reported that some signs already erected have now disappeared, Cllr McNaughton to investigate.



5. Health report: Heather Grier was able to give the meeting a comprehensive update on developments in the area of health locally.

The Patient Participation Group (PPG) had met the previous Monday and had a wide-ranging discussion that, amongst other things, touched on the problem of getting people better educated about having a power of attorney.

The continuing problem of posting blood samples while the Post Office was part time and closed over holidays and bank holidays was again raised. Although a new centrifuge has been installed at the surgery the time taken for samples to reach the analysis location often made them worthless and patients had to be recalled for a fresh samples to be taken.There are also issues at the lab in Paisley due to high volumes now being processed there.

A talk had been given to local sixth formers at Dunoon grammar on general health issues but in particular Reshaping Care for Older People.

The PPG had conducted a patient satisfaction survey and it resulted in responses from 60 residents. The surgery can be pleased with the results as there was general satisfaction with the service provided.However, though there were some questions over the opening hours particularly in relation to Thursday closing, the PPG has asked Dr Coull to split the closure over two days The main issue for the practice rested with the under-funding , initiated at the time of the new GP contract negotiated between the then Westminster Government and the BMA in 2004. Although recently the practice funding had been increased, it can only be used for locum cover.

Touched on for future consideration was the problem of parking at the surgery, the possibility of evening opening and home visits. The last point revolves around the issue of defining “clinical need”.

Generally GP numbers have been falling in rural areas, a problem recently highlighted on Reporting Scotland recently. It was agreed by all that keeping the surgery was essential.

The PPG was working on a web page to be included on the surgery’s website.

Heather reported that in relation to mental health there was no “place of safety” in Dunoon Hospital meaning that a mentally distressed person had to be detained by the police if they were a danger to themselves or others – not ideal. It appears that there is a facility at the hospital but no appropriately trained staff available, in fact there are no trained personnel in Cowal, and a retrieval team has to come over from Lochgilphead.

The PPG was working on the production of a newsletter in order to keep the community informed of developments in the field of health.

In response to the rumours of bed cuts at Dunoon Hospital, Heather was able to quote an email from Garry Coutts, Chair, NHS Highland, “I can confirm that there are no plans to reduce the current number of inpatient beds at Cowal Community Hospital.”

Reported comments of Alex Neill (former Health Minister, Scottish Government) seemingly contradicts the planning issued by Greater Glasgow & Clyde (GG&C) with the opening of the new Southern General Hospital. GG & C wish to see an intermediary service provided locally, but there are issues with an apparent reduction of services at the local hospital. Related to this is the change of procedure in which persons previously assessed at Dunoon are now routinely referred straight over the water.

The Highland and Islands Patient Travel Scheme is under review with a switch of resources to rural rather than urban areas a possibility. A general discussion followed in which it was agreed that the current lack of co-ordination locally meant that the buses/ferries made attending Inverclyde for an early morning appointment nigh-on impossible. One elderly lady missed 14 appointments. It was disputed in the meeting as to whether there was a McGills bus capable of making an 8:30 appointment. [Clarification from McGills needed.]

[Cllr Alex McNaughton apologised for having to leave the meeting at this point.]

The Argyll and Bute Partnership booklet and associated questionnaire on Reshaping Care for Older People would be going to the surgery. An initial print run of only 5,000 for a population of 90,000 made it a rare document but more are now available. It is hoped that as many as possible questionnaires are completed by 31/1/15. In an attempt to spread the word a Communication Café will be held at the Memorial Hall 14:00 to 16:00, 20th January for people to drop in and chat about health provision issues. A similar event has already been held at Manse Gardens.

The shadow Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Board (operational 1/4/15) to replace the former two track (NHS and local authority) approach has started a series of unsuccessful public meetings to explain the changes. The Communications Group had no input as to timings or locale and the advertising seems to be scant which is probably reflected in the figures of attendees - at the Queens Hall, 2/12/14 only one member of the public attended, Lochgilphead 2, Oban 13.

Iain MacGregor had discovered a Palliative Care Option Appraisal leaflet and feedback form but health officials seemed unfamiliar with it, Heather said she would find out what its role and function was. [Les subsequently discovered that feedback had to be made by 24th June 2011! The leaflet is now redundant.]


6. Police report: PC Eddie McGunnigal was not in attendance, there was no report but a reminder was given for people to log on to Rural Watch and receive updates. Similarly the facebook page had proved very successful with recent positive outcomes for holiday home owners at Loch Awe and Loch Lomond.


7. Secretary’s report:

a. The “dragons teeth” associated with the school crossing have been a disappointment in terms of impact (has anyone noticed them?). In correspondence with the A+B they are of the opinion that their programme of works has not yet been completed so it would be inappropriate to seek a new traffic monitoring exercise at this moment. Les is on the lookout for instances when the speed step-down drops from 60 to 30 mph – Colintraive and Tarbet noted so far.

b. As noted previously Les has been in contact with the Chairman of Scottish Water and it has been confirmed that Strathlachlan water main will not be considered until the 2015/2021 round of capital expenditure. Nearer the time strong representations will be made to ensure this subject is not overlooked.


8. Treasurer’s report: The current balance stands at £2034 and the no significant expenditure is anticipated. A hip flask had been purchased and given to piper Calum Paterson as a token of the CC’s thanks for his years of participation in the Remembrance service.

The accounts for the grant obtained for the Queens’s Baton Relay celebrations have now been signed off by the Lottery Fund.

9. Transport update: The reduction in the Glendaruel service was to be monitored and raised at the next meeting of the Transport Forum, the date of which was postponed to 10:00, Friday 23rd January, 2015.


Also to be raised is the failure of the bus companies to integrate their timetables with the new school hours. In some instances a mini bus has been slotted in to cover gaps but this is a “school only” bus and paying passengers are not accepted. The integration of the bus service with ferries for hospital appointments is raised elsewhere in the minutes.


10. Local Development Plan (LDP): The Main Issues Report issued by the Scottish Government’s Reporters has now been issued and makes no changes to the LDP issued by A+B despite 148 representations made by residents of Strachur district.


11. Memorial Hall Charges: At the Hall AGM of 16th November the need to address the declining reserves of the Hall was addressed by a revision of the whole system and rate of charges. At the meeting it was agreed that the SDCC should be moved from its current band of £6.30ph to the Public Bodies band of £20ph from 1st January 2015.


At this, CC, meeting the proposal was roundly rejected and it was pointed out that any reserves that the SDCC had accumulated were as a result of Community Councillors not claiming expenses other than for long distance travel. It was further pointed out that two other halls in the Strachur district could be used for the statutory meetings of the CC and that the proposed rate was wildly more expensive than either hall. It was agreed that Les would write to the Hall Committee to offer to pay £10ph, a figure more in line with the charges of other halls in the area.


12. The Post Office: The continuing saga of the Bay PO’s “temporary status” has often been logged in the minutes of the CC. A new aspect has been added to the threat over the continuance of the PO in that it has been reported that there are steps being taken to convert the status from PO Community (a salaried post of postmaster) to PO Local (a commission based post). If this change is successful the very viability of the PO would be threatened and any prospect of a five/six day service lost.


As noted in these and earlier minutes the part-time nature of the PO does not meet the needs of the surgery or some local businesses and it is now reported that steps are being taken to extend the days of opening. At this moment the outcome is unclear but it is to be hoped that a meeting proposed for Friday 5th December will clarify matters.


13. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Consultation (LL&TT): In response to instances of anti-social camping and wanton destruction on the east of Loch Lomond the LL&TT introduced management zones to provide clarity for the police and the rangers when dealing with people acting unlawfully. On the back of these arrangements it is proposed to extend the management zones to the west and Arrochar. A consultation process is now in hand, contributions to www.thisisyour park by 12th January.


In the planning for this consultation both Archie and Les had corresponded with LL&TT to say that excluding Loch Eck (within the boundary of LL&TT) from the management zone proposal would make it the subject of displacement camping. Several instance of anti-social camping at Dornoch Bay and Jubilee Point were cited. These comments seem to have been overlooked but it was agreed that they would be made again as part of the current consultation.


14. Any other business:

a. Jeff Wilson of the Strachur and District Development Co Ltd informed the meeting of the DevCo’s current thinking on a number of issues:

i. it is their intention to extend and improve the car park opposite the Hall while working to keep out commercial vehicles.

ii. the development of a Community Hub is being investigated.

iii. the development potential for a small scale housing site alongside Heron Park is not, at this moment, a realistic prospect.

iv. the DevCo has been approached to support the creation of a community poly tunnel and the applicant had been asked to investigate the likely support for such a facility. A lively and favourable discussion followed in which the success of the Glendaruel and Kilfinan tunnels was cited.

Archie thanked Jeff and the DevCo for keeping the Community Council informed of its proposals.

b. Iain McGregor reported that the National Park had yet to reply to his request to co-ordinate their Japanese Knotweed eradication plans with that of the local volunteers..

c. Recycling: A+B seem intent on defying the EC in April of 2015 with the introduction of co-mingling of waste for recycling (at least in the rural areas, Dunoon will stay as is). Again it was noted that virtually every community in Strachur District had a different set of criteria for what constituted waste for recycling!

d. Confusion over Strachur being a sub district of Cairndow for postal purposes. Nobody (UK Parliament says it’s devolved, Scottish Parliament says UK responsibility) wants this issue. Cllr McNaughton to enquire who at A+B is dealing with this. It was thought that the improved technology mentioned at an earlier meeting had eliminated most of the egregious examples of emergency services going astray.

e. Iain McGregor reported that it would appear that the harvesting of Lephinmore East was unlikely to be sent via Portavadie and that increased (heavy) traffic was likely to impact on the B8000. Les had made representations to the owners on this issue and would continue to monitor developments/applications in this regard.

f. Les was complimented for his efforts to get the work of the SDCC into the newsletter.

g. The facebook page has now been launched under the title, Strachur District Community.


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


Les Earle, Secretary, Strachur District Community Council