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January 2007

Minutes of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council meeting held in Crossroads School on Wednesday 10 January 2007
John Green - Chair
Chris Hobson - Vice Chair
Irene Hendrie - Secretary
Keith Muir – Treasurer
Eric Green
William Sinclair
Anna MacConnell – Caithness Partnership
Ronnie Macrae – The Highland Small Communities Housing Trust
John Green welcomed everyone to the meeting. There were no apologies for absence.
1   Minutes of the last meeting had been circulated to all members and were adopted. Proposed - Eric Green
Seconded - Keith Muir
2   Affordable Housing
Ronnie Macrae of the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust gave a talk on the role of the organisation. Set up in 1998 it is funded by the Highland Council, Highland and Islands Enterprise and Communities Scotland and looks to helping smaller communities get the best results from the housing system. It is represented on the Housing Development Forum where officers from all the interested agencies meet to discuss housing. It has a healthy budget for this and for the next financial year. The affordable housing process is always demand led and the trust usually begins by carrying out a survey to establish demand and will look at Council House waiting lists, Housing Association waiting lists and gather information from the community. It can offer help and advice in drawing up an action plan and a variety of solutions for housing shortages.
The council agreed that there was a need for more affordable housing in the area. There is extensive development going on in the towns in Caithness and this could have the effect of drawing families away from the community. School roles are dropping in both Canisbay and Crossroads schools and very little of the council housing in our community has not been purchased. The council agreed to go ahead with an initial survey to establish demand. Ronnie Macrae would request approval for this at the February meeting of the Housing Development Forum. The survey would follow a predetermined format although there may be scope for some alteration. Surgeries and drop in days might also be held as part of the consultation process. The Trust would report its findings to the council once the survey was complete, possibly before the end of March 2007.
3   Caithness Partnership – Rural Action Research Proposal
Anna Mac Connell outlined the two main roles of the Caithness Partnership - encouraging the agencies to work together and involving communities in the decisions that agencies take. The partnership has recently been awarded a grant from the Carnegie Trust to carry out research on methods of involving rural people in community planning in Caithness. She felt that North Caithness would be a good area to use for the trial as it had until recently had no community council and had therefore been underrepresented in the past. She proposed that the Partnership could work with the council who would appoint suitable people in the community to carry out the surveys. They would be given training, would plan a variety of events, stage the events and evaluate the results over a period of one year. Council members would over the next few weeks try to find suitable candidates and report the names of those willing to participate at the next meeting.
4   Constitution
The model constitution recommended by Highland Council was adopted and signed by John Green and confirmed by Wullie Sinclair and Keith Muir. Irene Hendrie would forward it to Ian Hargrave for ratification.
5   Meetings
The council agreed that meetings would be held once each month with the exception of July August and December. Any additional meeting would be arranged as required.
6   Community Awards
The council agreed that there were several groups or individuals in the community who deserved recognition for their work. Irene Hendrie to submit nominations as follows:
  • A prominent member of the Dunnet and Canisbay Day Care Group - Community Leadership
  • A prominent member of Dunnet Badminton Club – Sports Achievement
  • Scallywags Nursery – Best Community Project
The Draft Regional Transport Strategy for the Highlands and Islands is currently out for consultation. The council was disappointed to see that Caithness did not feature at all in the proposed programme of improvements. This was particularly surprising considering the current need for economic regeneration in the county. Having considered the draft strategy the council agreed to write to HITRANS before the end of January 2007 making the following recommendations:
  • A9 North Road Berriedale Braes crossing – this project should be rescheduled from a medium to short term project. The design, preparatory works, land purchases etc should be carried out now so that the project would be ready to begin in 2012.
  • A99 Latheron to Wick trunk road – this road is sub standard and one of the most dangerous roads in Scotland and should be a top priority for upgrading.
8   Planning Matters
Chris Hobson had read the document relating to planning matters for community councils and was concerned about some of the content. John Green explained that the planning process was being revamped and there would likely be some new guidelines issued later in the year.
9   Vandalism
William Sinclair had been approached by a member of the community about recent vandalism in John O Groats. Irene Hendrie would write to Northern Constabulary to request a visit at a future meeting from a community liaison officer.
10 Website
Keith Muir would look into the possibility of having a website for the community council.
11 Next Meeting
To be held in Castle Arms Hotel, Mey on Wednesday 14 February at 7.30 if permission is given by John Murphy. Irene Hendrie would arrange this and distribute posters. Meetings are open to the public.
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