Nairn River Community Council

Comhairle Coimhearsnachd Abhainn Narann

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 Sept 2018 at the Nairn Community and Arts Centre

No

Notes

Action

1

Members Present:

Tommy Hogg, Mandy Lawson , Hamish Bain , Veronica Mackinnon, Iain Henderson, Iain Bruce,Steven Bain ,

Apologies Simon Noble,  Cllr MacDonald , John Hume

Absent Members- Aidan McCormack, Paul McIvor

No Highland Councillors were present

Also Present  Iain Bain ( Nairnshire Telegraph)

8 members of public including 4 members Nairn West and Suburban CC

Note ( post meeting)

Minutes , agenda  and papers posted as usual on NRCC website and linked to Nairn social media  a week in advance and meeting  was advertised in Nairnshire Telegraph

However  due to a technical issue meeting papers were not received by email by Councillors/Ward Manager

2

Declarations of interest

No interests were declared

3

Minutes of last meeting July 18 and Matters Arising

re Police report  made in July re suspected badger sett tampering on NA2 Kingsteps site (now approved for housing) . Police investigating found no trace of recent badger activity around the blocked burrows some of which were rabbit holes, so the case was closed. We have received an email from Cllr MacDonald (landowner of NA2)  accusing us of ‘wasting police time’ and ‘vindictive bullying’ . We refute this and as  noted at last meeting were carrying our public duty as a CC in reporting  suspected criminal activity which was notified to members  by a local resident and raised in a public meeting.

Steven Bain proposed the minute and Hamish Bain seconded

4

Treasurer's Report

Veronica Mackinnon reported £ 7737 on account and as new Treasurer will share reports electronically  in future  

5

Action since last meeting ( including correspondence)

  • Planning submission  objecting to  Church Road house
  • SPAC site visit and members decision to approve 115 houses at Kingsteps  8 August 2018
  • Meeting re Harbour traffic calming with HC staff
  • Meeting with Cllr Heggie, Nairn Access Panel and RNIB re  Nairn access issues(after Streets Ahead in Inverness)
  • 13 Aug Nairnshire CCs Meeting with Community Planning - main outcome CC members welcomed to attend/participate in future meetings and subgroups

  • 15 Aug NRCC members private meeting - key points- fewer meetings were  agreed, with tighter format and a report back on joint NNCP meeting with CCs  
  • Links Development - consultations and correspondence  continue with Councillors and Ward Manager re community collaboration in this proposed development

THC has confirmed that it has already appointed a  consultant using 15k of Nairn Common Good funds( without consulting Nairn  communities) to lead on Plan Development.  

  • Office bearers attended WSCC meeting Monday 3rd Sept and agreed to make  a joint response  re Parking Charges proposals
  • Fundraising £50 crowdsourced for ‘civic events’

Action -IB ML and T Hogg to attend Community  Partnership meeting Mon 24 Sept  - Iain Bruce TH and ML to attend

Action -re Links Devpt

joint NRCC /WSCC letter ( on our website ) sent to Councillors and Ward Manager asking for full community involvement and collaboration with local people including Team Hamish charity in progressing Links Development

8

Planning Applications

Church Rd house plan has received objections from Highland  flood team and SEPA  

No other  new applications of relevance to NRCC

Morganti application ( Forres Road) has  withdrawn. No reason given. Could be opportunity for  a Community buyout -   Members  HB TH ML volunteered to develop ideas  and liaise with NICE Trust who could support a community led buyout application to Community Land Fund

SPAC has approved 2 major planning applications on NRCC patch, with split vote carried by Chairman

8 August Kingsteps 115 homes to extend Lochloy estate

5/5 plus Chairman casting vote (Cllr Heggie for , Cllr Fraser  against)

a deferral for review requested by Laurie Fraser was rejected

September MacDonalds drive through and Home Bargains( at Sainsbury site)

8/8 plus Chairman casting vote (2 Nairn Cllrs voted in favour)

A deferral to obtain more developer funds for Balmakeith footpath access was rejected as was  24 hour opening

 

9

  1. Developer Contributions Supplementary Guidance

Highland Council 2018 DCSG  now published, replacing 2013 guidance once approved by Scottish Government

Discussion on how Developer Contributions apply in Nairn  Historic concerns at Lochloy re  consistency of DC application  and changes to Local Plan.  

Kingsteps residents  FOI request June 18  and response from HC circulated. This spreadsheet  shows only  £271,000 on record  in HC accounts for Lochloy infrastructure since 2001 with 66,000 to come, for more than 700 houses. ( less than £500 per home)  

There is no progress on promised Balmakeith Bridge ( for which 2000 per home was agreed) , and no school (cancelled and land relinquished to developer  Springfield in 2014), or shops, at Lochloy as first planned. Residents concerns are also growing re water drainage and sewerage infrastructure capacity and unadopted roads

Latest Highland DC guidance will  require developers to contribute over  £8000 per home for infrastructure including schools and community facilities. Clearly  Lochloy has been sold short in the past and we need to challenge this as a community by

  •  asking our elected representatives to help us
  • Requesting more clarification on DCs for Lochloy to date
  • Ensuring that DC's for current and future Nairn developments comply with new HC guidance

 A letter was shared  from Nairn Concerned Residents Group to Stuart Black Head of Planning.  This confirmed in response to a Freedom of Information request to HC in August) that 2013 guidance currently applies to Lochloy with contributions due  from developers  of £6497 per home.( at todays prices)

New  2018 Highland DC guidance will require contributions of over  £8000 per home for infrastructure including schools and community facilities Once this is adopted the landowner  not the developer will be responsible for payment of DCs. There are concerns that this could have major implications for developments on Common Good Land if Highland Council try to take the funds from  Nairn's  Common Good Fund rather than have them paid by the developer ( since Nairn CG Fund owns the land  not Highland Council) This could mean the town may not benefit  from sale of CG land-as large sums of DCs would be owed to Highland Council with no guarantee of them being reinvested locally infrastructure based on recent track record.  This could be seen as  a form of 'asset stripping' of CG funds which are supposed to be used for the  benefit of Nairn

Re 3 acres of land set aside for a school at Lochloy -it is not clear why this was relinquished by HC to Springfield at end 2014 or who took the decision. LM has found no evidence of any Education or other committee agreeing to this  and no audit trail.

This land was valued at £1.03 m 2008 (the Jack era). At the time this cost was subtracted from DCs as intended for a school -but now that the land is being used by  developer to build more housing where is the money ? Also why did THC change the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan without consulting Nairn people ?  

The £271,000 DC’s recorded in HC account  falls far short of what should be expected for 700 +  houses already built at Lochloy.  Since 2013 DC guidance was published 178 Lochloy homes were consented in 2014 representing around £1 million in DCs and  now 115 more homes are to be built at Kingsteps.

DC’s for the  hundreds of houses built pre 2014 are not  accounted for on the FO since  nothing recorded as collected  pre 2011 ( the date when the John A Jack company went out of business)  Springfield inherited liabilities for unpaid DC’s in 2012  along with consent for 90 homes from a newly registered company called Kylauren( also owned by Jack)

 So where is the money? Nairn seems to have lost out on millions of pounds of Developer Contributions which the town could do with.

LM referred to the recent Highland Council Internal Audit on Developer Contributions June 2018  where Planners  said they had been ‘too busy’ to track DC’s  For this  auditors reviewed 3 sample projects ( given to them by Planners) None were from Nairn.  The report records  admission of a lack of administrative oversight, by HC  but the only outcome was a decision to appoint a Developer Contributions Officer going forward. No other actions were agreed to resolve historic shortfalls.

We need more clarity on current developer contributions - where they come from, what they are spent on, and a proper audit trail for Nairn.  Under the new set up a developer can pay DCs twice per year(instead of at end of building phase)  but who is going to track and enforce that?

Iain Bruce suggested we invite the audit committee Chair  to CC to discuss the matter . LM is sending a further FOI to cover 2 questions which were not answered satisfactorily , and will also write to Highlands Chief Auditor

With such large sums missing this may also be a matter for Audit Scotland to investigate

Priority Action agreed for NRCC was a letter to  Cllr Saggers ( who serves on Audit committee )to  seek greater clarity on the £271 OOO of DCs declared to date on the FOI spreadsheet  What are amounts listed for?  What has been drawn down in past and what is still due from developers?  

Letter to be sent to Chief Auditor/HC

and Cllr Saggers to request clarification of Developer Contributions historic position for Lochloy/Kingsteps and locate missing funds for Nairn  

Check legal ownership  of Sandown whether title in name of Nairn CGFund or Highland Council

11

 Nairn Common Good Fund/Assets - are they working for Nairn? These assets are in stewardship of Highland Council to be used solely  for the benefit of the people of  Nairn

The annual report  and 2018/19 budget for Nairn Common Good Fund was noted as were currently proposed developments being pushed forward by HC  on Common Good land ( such as Links Development and proposed Parking Charges for Nairn and possible Sandown Lands development) which would  affect use of and income generation from Common Good Assets

It was agreed we need greater transparency and local control /decision making on management of  Nairn CG assets

LM  reported on  recent FOI request re Sandown Common Good 10 September asking a range of questions  of THC and local Cllers as CG Trustees for Nairn  about HC’s intentions in proposed review of Sandown.

Cllr Heggie has said that making such a  response is too difficult/complex for Cllrs so he has  passed to the Chief Executive to answer within 20 working days. (still no response by end Oct)

LM  also noted  a response to her request to raise questions about Common Good arrangements at committee  from David Haas - Inverness City Area Manager -He has said that Council Standing Orders do not permit tabling or answering of such questions   Note that David Haas is not  a Nairn CG trustee

He has said that Nairnshire Committee -would need to vote on whether to allow Nairn community to take part in decision making process on Common Good .  If so we may be allowed  to voice opinions on proposals but Nshire Cttee will recommend what goes ahead eg building of houses-...( thus like Parking Charges no genuine public consultation process pre decision is to be allowed) .

IB noted that  this is clearly in breach of the Community Empowerment Act and that we need to challenge our elected members as NCG Trustees

A separate letter has been sent to David Haas - to challenge recent unhelpful responses

Concerns also raised that the  current Sandown review shows evidence of considerable previous discussion and decision making which excluded the public, and  suggests that Nairn is being treated as a suburb of Inverness by Highland Council.

It was also noted that if public information on  Nairn Common Good was adequate and transparent in the public domain and our Councillors doing their job effectively as Trustees  there would be no need to ask these questions

As 4 members WSCC were present - a joint resolution of the 2 CCs was proposed as follows to highlight current unsatisfactory situation for Nairn illustrated by current mismanagement by HC of  Common Good Assets and Developer Contributions

NRCC members wish to note  our disappointment  at a  lack of constructive response to a number of recent Freedom of Information requests  raised by Nairn residents and community groups  with Highland Council and our elected Councillors on matters important to Nairn. We also note with concern  the complete absence of our 4 elected Councillors at tonight's meeting  to discuss two significant subjects of concern to Nairn residents - the use and management of  Nairn's Common Good Assets and collection of Developer Contributions due for Lochloy

We are also concerned at recent obstructive, unhelpful responses we and local residents have received from some local Council representatives in pursuing these and other topics of local importance to the town.

That along with  tonight's total absence of  Councillors (without apology in 3 cases) appears to signal a lack of commitment by our local elected members to do the job they were elected to do, namely to listen to  and take on board local concerns, to stand up for Nairn  and defend the best interests of Nairn people at Highland Council level

We propose to take this matter forward for further  discussion  with our fellow Nairn residents at the WS CC meeting  next Monday 24th  and to develop a joint resolution to further raise these serious concerns with our elected members , Highland Council   and ScotGovt /Audit Scotland if necessary

 Brief discussion followed on alternative models for local governance of CG assets - Steven Bain asked if  Trustees could  be local people nominated to look after Nairn’s interests Concern raised that current Trustees ( our Councillors) are nominal and not legally recognised. It is far from  satisfactory that the whole of Highland Council can  vote on Nairn interests with the town having only 4 from 72 votes

It was noted that other places in Scotland eg Borders Council have established local Common Good Charitable trusts with local trustees who have legal status . It was also noted that ( Inverness City Common Good fund  works very differently from Nairn’s and more like a charitable trust - managed by a board of local trustees and giving funds to local community ventures.

 HC’s continued   failure to publish Nairn’s updated CG Asset Register was queried again. Legally this should be in public domain, and surely  nothing new can be planned for  Nairn’s  CG assets till Nairn public are fully consulted and have proper decision making powers in management of locally owned CG assets.

It was also agreed that despite not being on ‘our patch’, use of Sandown Common Good land  was relevant to NRCC as Nairn Common Good assets were for benefit of  all people of Nairn  

12

AOCB and questions from public  

  • 2017 Community Planning Survey findings now available from Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership  ( copy circulated to NRCC members)  
  • HC Community Council Scheme Review survey now out . all members asked to complete individual survey   ML will gather feedback from members for a collective NRCC response by end Sept  
  • Noted that  whole consultation due to complete end Sept yet we only just received survey just  in time for our Sept  meeting. Further cause for concern re HC  poor management of community consultation processes

Members to complete CC scheme survey and share key points of concern with Secretary

13

Next Meeting

Meeting ended at  9 30   pm

Nairn Community and Arts Centre 7pm Wed November 21st. No October meeting

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