Nairn River Community Council
Comhairle Coimhearsnachd Abhainn Narann
Minutes of the meeting held on 23rd January 2019 at Nairn Community and Arts Centre
NRCC Members Present:
Tommy Hogg, Mandy Lawson , Hamish Bain , Iain Henderson, Iain Bruce, Steven Bain , Simon Noble
John Dolan Nairnshire Telegraph
Apologies Members Veronica McKinnon John Hume
Cllr Heggie, Cllr Fraser, Cllr Saggers
It was noted with concern that for the second time in recent months none of Nairn's 4 elected Highland Councillors were present
All are ‘ex officio’ members of Nairn and Cawdor Ward Community Councils
Absent Paul McIvor
Meeting recorded by T Hogg and J Dolan
Declarations of interest
No interests were declared
Minutes of last meeting 21 Nov 2018
Simon Noble had supplied by email a number of amendments
Changes were approved to the account of Simon’s report of his own comments re questions asked of Councillors re proposed parking charges. Additional changes proposed to comments from Brian Stewart re CC procedure, were not approved as the procedures Brian had referred to were not his personal view, but quoted from Community Council scheme of establishment.
The following was also added to the Nairn Common Good section : ‘Clearly funds are being accessed but the decision making process is not currently transparent and there needs to be more community input ‘.
Minutes Proposed Steven Bain Seconded M Lawson
Minutes of joint meeting with WSCC 19 Dec 2018
Amended to note that Iain Bruce was not present at meeting.
Proposed Steven Bain Seconded Hamish Bain
Presented online by Veronica Mackinnon
was £ 7458 new figure in current account
Noted that around £500 was spent Apr - Dec 2018 on meeting cost alone ..half our operational budget, so no surplus for other spend
We have cut meetings planned for 2019 to 6 plus AGM but have already run 2 extra events eg DM presentation , and it is already clear that pressure on agendas and public consultation workload for CCs means more meetings will likely be needed in 2019.
It was noted that a £250 annual stipend was approved in 2017 for Secretary/Minute Taker. It had not been claimed/paid out in 2018, but was still available.
Planning Matters ( Hamish Bain Vice Chair)
Hermitage/St Olaf land, Cawdor Rd revised social ‘FIT’ housing application for 10 cottage style houses at The Manor.
Plans have already been approved for 12 flats at front of same site, closer to Cawdor Road
NRCC has applied to Planning and had statutory consultee status confirmed and have till end Jan to respond.
Info obtained by Secretary from Albyn housing and Dr Baker re the revisions to the previous plan for FIT homes shared in a presentation with NRCC last year. The development is now relocated to back of site. It won’t be ready made flexible ‘pods’ any longer but ‘semi detached cottages’ as previous developer no longer in business. Th pilot FIT flexible ‘pods’ built at Alness did not function as well as hoped so this has been learned from and once a new developer is confirmed the Nairn FIT homes are likely to be supplied in ‘long panels’ and craned in. They should also have a similar high insulation/low energy profile as previous design.
Agreed that Hamish will draft and circulate a submission from NRCC to be sent to e planning before end January .
Supportive of FIT homes model, but main objection is to a third of the trees being removed, particularly a large sequoia. Des Scholes recalled an objection some years ago when this tree was under threat from a previous plan
There is also some concern re over development on the site with 12 flats approved already.
A planning application was also noted re height restrictors to be installed at McDonalds drive thru site
No objections from NRCC to this..
Updates since last meeting
1/Deaths of CC members
Members noted the sad and sudden loss of member Aidan McCormack and death of former member Leslie Boulton
Members attending Aidan’s funeral were moved by the large turnout, and many personal tributes, reflecting his wide interests and many passions in life. Iain Bruce said a few words in memory of a good friend and colleague.
2.Community Planning Partnership ( 10 am 21 Jan) Simon Noble was there but not as NRCC rep
Weekday meetings are proving difficult for working members to attend.
Next meeting Cawdor Tues 26 Mar 4pm. Volunteers needed to represent NRCC.
Secretary to share dates and request members availability to attend key local meetings in future
3.Nairnshire Committee - CC members have not been invited by our Councillors to attend this to date and do not receive papers, but we intend to send reps in future. All meetings are public and HC policy is that more decisions for Nairn will be made locally in future.
Upcoming dates were shared by Paul Oldham ( member of the public). Next one is 13 March 12 June 11 Sept all 10.30 in Nairn Courthouse ( tbc) Public welcome
4.Consultation on Revised Highland CC’s Scheme now live
Secretary shared summary of proposed changes.( below)
Review of Highland Scheme of Establishment of Community Councils Process – 2018/2019
Proposals for Revision
1/ Boundary Changes – minor revisions in a few areas
Nairn and Nairnshire not affected ( NRCC represents 5505 residents largest of 5 Community Councils in Nairnshire)
2/Moving Outwith the Area – members who move can retain membership till next election
3/Coopted Members and Abeyance- if numbers of elected members falls below half CC can continue with coopted members as long as there is a quorum( 4)
NRCC has 2 vacancies from 12, 6 elected and 4 coopted members
4/Increasing Cooption – CC’s can coopt up to 4 members, previously a third of members NRCC is already at this maximum
5/Associate Members – after Nov 19 elections CCs to consider which local groups to offer associate (non voting) membership to
6/Youth Membership – from Nov 19 CC’s have the option for 2 additional places for Youth Members 14-18 yrs old- for up to 2 years.
7/ CC Elections Nov 19 to offer electronic ballot if technology available
8/ current Code of Conduct to be retained particularly in relation to Declaration of Interests (already as part of NRCC standing agenda)
9/Financial Formula – in future all CCs to get a core grant, with an additional amount for rural CCs no change expected till Apr 2020. Total budget for 150+ Highland CC’s is £88,000 -average £500 per year
5.Community dialogue with Highland Council Following 2 meetings with new CEO Donna Manson in Nairn, further community meetings with senior HC staff and local Councillors are expected in February to progress key issues such as Links Development and Common Good oversight
6. Highland Council Budget Engagement -
We have no new information on Highland Council budget due to be set 14 February and not a single elected Nairn Councillor is present today to brief us .
As NRCC next planned meeting is not till March 20 it is likely by then that any consultation period will be over and that budget matters affecting Nairn will be approved at Council meeting 7 March, or Nairnshire Committee 13 March.
Secretary noted that CCs are again left in the dark exactly as last year when we were faced with proposals to impose Parking Charges with no advance information or consultation. Despite being asked about this at every meeting since then Nairn Councillors have provided no detail whatsoever on what Parking Charges might mean for Nairn and thus have absolutely nothing to consult on. The absence of any Councillors today at our CC was noted as not inspiring confidence in the new culture of openness and collaboration which the new CEO has promised us in Highland.
Key themes from Highland’s budget engagement with public
This last includes popular support for a tourism levy and better ‘enforcement’ (of traffic and parking regulations etc) However there is no mention of any public support for the parking charges scheme mooted last year which was so unpopular with locals here in Nairn
Theme 4 of the budget report is headed
‘Addressing different local priorities and local needs’ and covers some key points relevant to local CC’s /communities
Areas for potential action include:
• A review of current disaggregated budgets and potential new areas for disaggregation.
• Agreeing a new policy for local budget disaggregation based on the principle of budget subsidiarity.
• Reviewing the Council’s operational structure in order to support local engagement and decision making and providing greater local management support to staff.’
( for more on this see budget engagement paper No 15 tabled 13 Dec Highland Council)
Action Nairn Cllrs still to respond to CC questions re Parking Charges.
Questions from public
Member of public Sheena Baker suggested that CC meetings need to stick to a tighter agenda prioritising action to address community concerns. It is for the Chair to keep meetings moving and not get bogged down in complex procedural matters in which the public are not interested.
(Note from Secretary )
Most CC agenda items, begin as concerns raised by members of public. Almost all of these are matters for which Highland Council and/or their planning partners have some responsibility. Tonight at the January meeting, we had not a single Nairn Councillor in attendance to listen, be answerable or provide updates( written or oral) from Highland Council . This makes it difficult to progress key agenda items at meetings.
Community Councils exist principally as a communication forum for local community concerns, but we also must operate within strict procedural guidelines prescribed by Highland Council
There is really little point shooting the messenger in this arena, if the message is sometimes a little boring.
However we take Sheena’s honest feedback seriously, and as we would like to attract younger people and new faces to join CCs in future, we welcome any suggestions to make meetings more enjoyable, and more productive, making sure that local concerns and views raised are effectively communicated to the people and agencies who can help us address them.
Meeting ended 9 pm - no time to cover further public questions or AOCB - key points deferred
Next Meeting 20 March 2019