Minutes of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council
Britannia Hall, Dunnet
23 July 2018 at 7.30pm
1. In Attendance
Councillors Eric Green Chair
Bill Mowat Vice-Chair
Thomas Meikle Treasurer
Mark Gibson Secretary
Apologies Ann Shearer
Highland Councillor Andrew Sinclair
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting and Matters Arising
2.1 The minutes of the meeting on 25th June (including the AGM) were AGREED
2.2 The Highlands and Islands Small Communities Housing Trust. It was agreed that it would be good to make a nomination for this. However it was recognised that involvement would entail a considerable amount of travel. Individual councillors to consider if they wished to be nominated for this and to notify the Secretary if interested. RESOLVED
3. Chairs Report
3.1 The Health Service Redesign plans would soon be decided and various consultations, including with the Community Council would then be commencing.
3.2 A request had been received from a charity organisation to see if a welcome could be arranged at the end of a Lands End to John o'Groats Challenge. It was noted by Councillor Mowat that an end to end cycling record had also recently been broken and that there should be a resolution of congratulation to the individual on behalf of the Community Council.
4. Treasurers Report
4.1 Annual Audit It was noted that the Audit of Account was now complete
4.2 Auckengill Cheque It was noted that a cheque had been reissued to pay for rental of Auckengill Hall.
4.3 The current state of accounts was £849.52 in credit
4.4 Small Works Councillor Green noted that quotes had been received for repair to surfaces outside the doctors surgery in Canisbay and the unmade road to Duncansby Ness. These would be circulated to Councillors (by e-mail) for approval. ACTION: Eric Green to circulate repair quotes.
5. Secretary's Report
5.1 Correspondence received included a general update on the Priscilla salvage operation; information to householders not on a mains water supply in drought conditions; a list of BEAR Scotland road improvements; notification of formal publication of the CASPLAN; consultation on the Winter resilience programme and forms to complete following the AGM. ACTION: Councillor Gibson would forward the necessary AGM paperwork to Highland Council
6. Bus Campaign and Further Actions
6.1 Councillor Whittaker reported that Stagecoach had done a partial u-turn in regard to the 77 service from Wick to John o'Groats. This was quite surprising given that the company had been previously adamant that the service would cease to run beyond Keiss. Councillor Whittaker reported on various letters and meetings she had in regard to this issue and suggested that at least part of the change of mind could have been to do with the Recent Islands Act.
6.2 Councillor Mowat agreed that the new Islands Bill required formal consultation on any actions which might adversely affect Island Communities. The curtailment of the 77 bus to Gills Harbour would fall into that category as it would limit the travel options of Orkney residents.
6.3 Councillor Whittaker stated that the current plan for the 77 bus was still far from ideal. It would appear that the service would reduce to two buses a day each way Monday to Friday only (the Saturday service being dropped). This was not useful for people relying on the bus and working on Saturdays. There would be a review after twelve months. This was just a stay of execution not a full victory.
6.4 Councillor Whittaker noted that for some local businesses, the loss of this bus could be a disaster in terms of getting their employees to work. On circulating the petition there had been interest from businesses from Wick to Gills and even to Orkney in taking hard copies for people to sign. Councillor Whittaker was asking for the petition to be left in place for now and noted that the campaign would continue.
6.5 Councillor Green noted that the Community Council should still resolve to formally ask Highland Council to subsidies the Route from Keiss to Gills. Agreed. ACTION: Councillor Gibson to draft a letter.
6.6 Councillor Green noted that should the 77 be withdrawn then there would be no bus connection between the Airport and one of the best known tourist destinations in Scotland. He also noted that Caithness suffered from some older buses and that it would be more efficient on some routes to run 12 seaters rather than large coaches.
6.7 It was resolved to look at putting correspondence received on the bus service and other related information on the Community Council Website.
7. Planning Applications
7.1 Natural Retreats It was noted that Natural Retreats had reapplied for planning approval on land in John o'Groats. This was due to time limits placed on approvals before work needs to start.
7.2 The Community Council had opposed the original planning application on the grounds that the local community had not been properly consulted. It was agreed that because no further consultation seemed to be forthcoming then the original reason for objection remained. ACTION: Councillors Gibson and Green to draft the objection
7.3 Meygen It was noted that tidal power had the potential to radically alter the landscape in terms of land based infrastructure which might be needed to support the scheme when/if it significantly expanded. The Community Council would need to keep a close eye on the situation to ensure that there was no detriment to the landscape, environment, local employment and businesses (including tourism).
8. Inverness City Region Funding
8.1 There was frustration that very little of the Inverness City Region money seemed to be finding its way North of Inverness. Councillor Mowat asked how much of this money would be coming to Caithness and if there was anything that we could do.
8.2 Councillor Green stated that he would share the project list via e-mail but that most of the money had been earmarked for spending and was going on projects which it could be argued had only a marginal benefit to people living in Caithness. A lot of money was going on road construction in Inverness which would enable the City to be bypassed when travelling to Fort William. Most of the extra funding for the Highlands and Islands University seemed to be going to the Inverness Campus and not being shared out equally to other sites. It all seemed to be cut and dried and signed off. ACTION: Councillor Green to e-mail list of City Region Projects to Councillors.
8.3 Councillor Green did note that the Region had an ambitious plan to build 5500 new homes in the next five years. There were fewer and fewer available sites in Inverness itself so some new homes would be built in the wider region. However it was noted that Caithness already has a number of vacant properties and low demand.
9. Any Other Business
9.1 Public Toilets Councillor Farmer raised concerns about the public toilets at Dunnet beach. A local resident was concerned that the toilets might be closed and that this would be a big blow for the area. Dunnet was a very popular spot. It was agreed to clarify the position of the toilets and ascertain if they were on a closure list. ACTION: Councillor Gibson to write to Highland Council.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Reply received 24 July 2018 stating that the toilets are owned and operated by Highland Council and are not scheduled for closure. RESOLVED
9.2 Community Broadband Scheme Talks were still ongoing with local landowners about the siting of masts. BT will be making the connection into their infrastructure at the end of September.
9.3 Association of Community Councils It was noted that the next meeting would be in September. Councillor Butler to attend on behalf of Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council.
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be on Monday 20 August at 7.30pm at John o'Groats Village Hall