Nairn River Community Council

Comhairle Coimhearsnachd Abhainn Narann

Minutes of the meeting held on 23rd January 2019 at Nairn Community and Arts Centre

No

Notes

Action

1

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

2

Declarations of interest

No interests were declared

3

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

4

Treasurer's Report

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.  

5

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..

6

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

  • Sept – Nov 18  email/online survey of CCs  got 92 responses from 67 CCs ( less than 50%)
  • Sept 18 local Drop in sessions (2 Nairn town CCs did not receive any invitation to Nairn one)
  • Nov 18 CC workshop at Highland HQ  45 delegates from 42 CCs ( less than 1 in 3 represented)
  • Jan 19 Council meetings approve review and consultation process  
  • Jan – Mar 19  3 month consultation on proposals /revisions
  • April /May 19– final amendments to revised Scheme
  • June 19 Special meeting of Council approves revised Scheme

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

  • efficient processes
  • flexible and sustainable workforce
  • income generation

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

  • Strong support for enabling greater community involvement in priority setting locally and building on opportunities to collaborate on shared local priorities.
  • Communication and dialogue were common themes and the importance of listening and feeding back to communities on what action is taking place.

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.

7.

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.  

8.

Meeting ended 9 pm  - no time to cover  further public questions  or AOCB - key points deferred

Next Meeting 20 March 2019

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