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Minutes of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council

 

Seaview Hotel

 

14 January 2019 at 6.30pm

(including public meeting on JOG fund proposals)

 

  1. Those Present

 

                                    Councillors                    Eric Green                     Chair

                                                                        Bill Mowat                     Vice-Chair

                                                                        Thomas Meikle              Treasurer

                                                                        Mark Gibson                 Secretary

                                                                        Barry Butler

                                                                        Beatrice Farmer

                                                                        Henry Gunn

                                                                        Ann Shearer

                                                                        Highland Councillors      Andrew Sinclair

                                                                        Willie MacKay

Apologies                     Carole Whittaker

                         Nicola Sinclair (Highland Councillor)

 

There were several business owners and members of the public also present for the public meeting and the following Community Council Meeting

           

1

Public Meeting

The meeting had been called by the Community Council in order to gather feedback on proposals put forward by Heritage GB to establish a John o'Groats Development Fund, the proceeds of which would be  to make improvements to the “end of the road” which benefited locals, visitors and all businesses there.  The fund would be based on receipts from parking metres placed at the “end of the road” car park.

Some principles were established:

  • All residents of Caithness (anyone with a Caithness postcode) would be eligible for a parking permit and would be exempt any car park fees
  • The metres for visitors outwith Caithness would only operate seasonally (i.e. May to September)
  • An ongoing review of the proposals in action and immediate suspension if it began to prove detrimental
  • That the allocation of funds is jointly managed by Heritage GB, the Community Council and The John o'Groats Development Trust

Suggestions by people present at the meeting included:

  • Free parking for coaches
  • Clear and simple signage explaining what the receipts from the car park metres was being spent on within the community
  • A low all day fee and a mechanism to avoid year by years rises
  • Consideration of an overnight fee to deter overnight car park camping by motorcaravans.

The public reception of the proposals was on the whole very positive with the proviso that all the profits are ploughed back into improving John o'Groats and that the money is not used to fund the existing obligations of Heritage GB or Natural Retreats.  It was also noted that the communications needed to be well managed to ensure that Caithness residents knew that they would be exempt from any charge.

Following this consultation the Community Council agreed to send a letter to Heritage GB to initiate further detailed discussions.  It was also agreed to discuss mechanisms for wider sharing of the proposals at the next meeting.

 

 

Business of the Ordinary Meeting

 

1.  Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 26 November 2018 at Canisbay Village Hall

 

1.1 There were no proposed amendments and the Minutes were agreed.

1.2  Any Matters Arising would be picked up in the main agenda

 

2.  Chair's Report

2.1 Councillor Green had no specific report to make and that issues to be raised were be covered elsewhere on the agenda.

 

3.  Treasurers Report

3.1 Councillor Meikle noted that the Community Council currently had £1226 in the bank.  It was noted that Mey Hall had increased their hourly charges for rental. 

 

4 Secretary's Report

4.1 It was noted that planning permission for a new Manse at Dunnet had been applied for. No objections.  It was also noted that Highland Council were now sending out planning lists to the Community Cuncil on a regular basis.

 

5.  Infrastructure and Transport

5.1 Memorial to those lost at sea.   The anniversary of the George Roe disaster was approaching and it was suggested that a permanent memorial might be appropriate.  It was agreed to explore this and refer to the Development Trust.

5.2 It was also noted that in addition, more general information about the ships and lives lost along this coast should be available.  Councillor Gibson noted that this information could also be digitised for wider communication and information.  Again it was noted that this should be referred to the John o'Groats Development Trust in the first instance.

5.3  It was agreed to get a quote for gravel to resurface the car park at John o'Groats Village Hall.

5.4 It was noted that Councillor Whittaker would shortly be launching the next stage of the Bus Campaign. This would be to gather more information.

 

6.  Community Council Review

6.1 It was noted that Highland Council plans for the Review included eliminating Dunnet and Canisbay community Council and Sinclair's Bay Community Council and creating a new Community Council in their stead.

6.2 There was a spirited debate on this issue and the plan was universally opposed.  Both Community Councils were very active and represented  natural communities.  To destroy what was working well in order to instate a failed plan from several years ago was not an improvement but a grave detriment to the localities, the populations and to the existing Community Councils.

6.3 It was noted that Councillors Gibson and Whittaker had attended a consultation event in Wick and put forward this point of view in writing and that Councillor Mowat had done the same in Inverness, apparently to no effect whatever.

6.4 It was felt that any momentum gained in the current communities would be lost.

6.5 Highland Councillor Sinclair noted that the proposals were not set in stone and that he had received the message very clearly.  He noted that he was attending a full Council meeting in Inverness later that week on this topic.

6.6 Councillor Gibson agreed to write to all Highland councillors in Caithness rasiing the dismay and concern of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council.  ACTION: Councillor Gibson

 

7. Any Other Business

 

7.1 Richard Armitage, the John o'Groats Development Trust Development Officer introduced himself to Councillors.  He noted that he would generally work from the Seaview Hotel in John o'Groats on Thursdays and Fridays of each week in order to be available to local residents.

7.2 Development Plan - Councillor Green Welcomed Richard and noted that it was time to review the Community Council Development Plan.  It was agreed to spend a small amount of time at the next meeting to discuss the plan.

7.3 Power Cuts – Councillor Farmer raised the intermittent power cuts which had been plaguing the area. Apparently the problem had been a faulty transformer near Mey which had now been fixed.  However it was speculated that a number of transformers might now be nearing the end of their working life.  It was agreed to write to SSE asking what their maintenance plan was.  ACTION:  Councillor Gibson

 

NEXT MEETING

 Monday 25 February 2018 at 7.30 pm.   Britannia Hall Dunnet  

 

The meeting closed

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