Minutes September 2022
Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council
26 September 2022
at Britannia Hall, Dunnet
Eric Green (Chair)
Mark Gibson (Secretary)
Barry Butler (Treasurer)
Guest: Willie MacKay, (Highland Councillor)
Apologies: Bill Mowat
1) Minutes of previous Meeting and Matters Arising
These were agreed with Amendments. Proposed: Henry Gunn: Seconded: Barry Butler
In matters arising Councillor Whittaker noted that sh had not seen any update following the
meeting with the transport minister on the 14 th June 2022 which included a question raised
by the D&CCC. Highland councillor Willie Mackay noted that he had attended the
meeting and felt that it had not been handled very well and was far too short to enable it to
deal with such important issues. Councillor Whittaker agreed to check if there had been a
n answer to the question raised by the D&CCC and if not the Community Council agreed
to raise it instead as a Treat Official.
2) Chairs Report
Councillor Green welcomed everyone to the meeting. He raised Autumn vaccinations in
Canisbay and noted that the surgery was not carrying these out. He would request an
official answer as to why.
3) Treasurers Report
The account balance stood at £1524.03. No monies had yet been received in respect of
the latest financial year. Councillor Gibson would write to the Ward Manager to find our
Councillor Butler also confirmed that we were only receiving statements from the bank if
there had been transactions on the account. This was, at the moment saving us a fee.
4) Secretaries Report
Councillor Gibson proposed a vote of thanks to the organisers of the Mey Games. It was
another excellent games despite the weather and the games was an asset to the area.
Councillor Gibson noted the Opening of the 8 Doors Distillery visitors centre in John
O’Groats and that the distillery should be congratulated on their design. Agreed.
Councillor Gibson noted that he had posted a message of condolence to the King on
behalf of the Community Council and that he and Councillor Whittaker had also signed the
Book of Condolence in Canisbay Kirk.
Councillor Gibson noted that the transfer of assets of the Village Hall to the John O’Griats
Development Trust was underway.
Councillor Gibson noted that the John O’Groats Car Park fund would be meeting shortly to
discuss options for spend over the coming months. It was agreed that the community
Council was in favour of developing further the pathways and trails, particularly towards
the Ness of Duncansby. It was also noted that the Community council should also look to
obtain funding for extra benches around the area to improve the experience for both
visitors and locals. It was agreed that Councillors come to the next meeting with ideas on
where those benches might be situated.
Councillor Gibson noted the application to Foundation Scotland for IT kit had been
approved. Councillor Butler agreed to speak to councillor James on taking this forward.
Councillor Gibson noted that Highland Council figures showed a potential population fall in
Caithness of 21% by 2040. Councillor Green noted this as a disaster waiting to happen.
|it was also noted that poor transport (a problem across the Highlands) also made it
difficult for young people to work in places like John O’Groats if they did not have a car.
5) Transport and Infrastructure
Councillor Whittaker updated the Community Council on the recent Airport Consultative
Committee Meeting with the headlines as follows:
* Passenger numbers on WCK-ABZ route are below expectations. Eastern have
introduced a new schedule after stakeholder consultation and have had some
improvement with the evening flight, in particular on Fridays, but the first morning one is
still disappointing. The pax profile post-Covid is also now different. Formerly it was about
74% business, now it is 35%. This represents a loss in revenue per pax numbers (because
leisure pax choose advance booking and lower fares, whereas business ones book full
fare). Eastern are approaching businesses to understand why
* Performance and reliability. During the first three months of renewed operations, ontime
performance was 92% in April, 87% in May and 88% in June. Reliability was and is
extremely poor across the whole country, with baggage handling at ABZ being the major
issue affecting this route. Weather cancellations were approximately 10 across these
three months (including a couple that circled but were unable to land).
* Connectivity of non-air services is another issue. The example of having to endure a
journey between ABZ and Edinburgh was mentioned, and Trudi Morris raised the issue of
car hire, which she maintained comes up a lot (many hire companies sold their fleets at
the start of the Covid pandemic and lockdowns).
* Raymond Bremner added that WCK-EDI is off the table until WCK-ABZ proves itself. It
was stated later that Loganair offered the same service as before, which had failed, which
might be the reason but I am unable to confirm it.
A separate mention was made of aircraft de-icing. HIAL de-ice the airport itself, but the de-
icing of aircraft falls to Far North Aviation. At present they only have the one customer
base (but they only ever had two when commercial flights from WCK were operating fully!)
and the kit plus the de-icing fluid are expensive. This, to me, represents a risk of a higher
rate of flight cancellations during the winter period in any weather that features rain falling
at low temps – which only have to be about 3 degrees C or just lower, or snow.)
Eastern Airways. Most of the thrust of this was how Eastern is committed to this route,
wants to make it work, at a time of extreme difficulties for commercial aviation and in
particular small regional operators. However, he stressed that they are flexible and want to
hear from potential customers what barriers might prevent them from using the route.
* ATMS (Dougie Cook) HIAL have been forced to undertake a Strategic Spending Review.
The original ATMS programme is closed. The ATMS Committee is wound up. There is a
five-year hold on the programme. Trudi Morris stated that so many lay people were
misguided in thinking that this programme was a downgrade of WCK airport. It was even
reported as such on the BBC. And they were wrong.
* WCK has no staffing issues, but onward connectivity is affected by staff shortages
elsewhere (as already mentioned). Pax nos are, naturally, up, as they had none via
commercial flights last year. Aircraft movement is up, due to an increase in ferry flights.
* At this point I asked for my thanks to Far North Aviation to be passed on, for once again
posting interesting aircraft that stop at WCK on social media, as it has generated a lot of
* Viking in Germany has gone into administration, so the helicopter that was operating has
ceased flights. Hopefully heliops will be back to the relevant offshore installations in 2-3
years but this is still being sorted out.
* There was then reports on various airport infrastructure elements, all of which were fairly
positive. The cafe concession hit a setback when the invitation to quote was interpreted
more as an advert for staff so, after feedback, they are making the packs simpler.
ATC is down to four but they are recruiting.
Councillor Whittaker concluded by saying that she thought the biggest concern she took
away from the meeting is that, apparently, the local Chamber of Commerce is in complete
denial about the revamp of ATMS at WCK meaning a downgrade of the airport to the
status of the other “minor” ones in the HIAL stable, despite the airport being considered a
lifeline to the far north of the Scottish mainland. Not only did they not go public on it, they
hold the view that whoever did is “misguided”. I think this concern should be shared by
D&CCC.) Certainly the whole D&CCC view taken was that the review would have led to
an effective downgrade. D&CCC had been prepared to go to the press on this matter had
not the plug been pulled on the plans before we could do so.
Councillor Green noted that he had attemHis mother Charlotte Charles said she had now
copted to book a flight from Wick on several days around one date some time in advance
and found that he had been unable to do so. He found this very strange than every seat
would be booked so far in advance. He had sisnce sought alternative travel arrangements
and suspected that many others would do the same.
Councillor Whittaker noted that onward connections from Aberdeen were also a problem.
As well as connectivity by public trasnport once you get to the onward airport.
Councillor Butler also noted that connections and links were a problem.
Highland Councillor Willie Mackay wished to make the comment that Councillor Whittaker
had produced a report that was the finest he had ever heard from a Community council
and that it should be commended. He shared concerns and also noted that he had felt a
lack of engagement from the MSP at the meeting.
6) Area Plan
Councillor Green noted that he would update everyone on the plan at the next meeting.
7) Dunnet and Canisbay Community Practice
It was noted by a number of councillors that they had been hearing of some issues relating
to the practice since the Covid pandemic. These issues included apparent difficulties in
obtaining face to face appointments, in obtaining tests, tests results and prescriptions. It
was agreed to write to the practice and ask the practice manager if she would be prepared
to attend a future meeting to discuss these concerns and the future direction of the
8) Any Other Business
Councillor Farmer raised the issue of potholes between Dunnet and Brough.
Councillor Green raised the safety of the road near Auckengill and the number of
accidents and near misses. Highland Councillor Willie Mackay also said that he had been
working to address this.
Councillor Green concluded by stating that it was not his view, or the view of the
Community council, that the Association of Community councils be used as a consultative
body by public organisations. The AOCC was for information sharing and not consultation.
The use of it as such undermined the powers of community councils.
Date of Next Meeting 24 October at the Seaview Hotel, John O’Groats.