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Minutes of June 2014 Meeting 

Dunnet & Canisbay Community Council

Held in John O’Groats Village Hall on 11th June 2014

Those Present:           John Green, Chairman

                                    Christopher Hobson, Treasurer

                                    Bill Mowat, Member

                                    Barbara Hiddleston, Secretary

                                    Ann Shearer

                                    Eric Green

                                    Willie MacKay, Highland Councillor

There were five members of the public in attendance.

The Chairman welcomed all those present to the meeting.

Apologies:      As there was full attendance of the Community Council members, there were no apologies.

Minutes of Previous Meeting:

1.1.      There being no corrections John Green proposed the Minutes be accepted, which was seconded by Christopher Hobson.

2.         Matters Arising.

2.1.      John O’Groats Hall 1914-1918 War Memorial. This project was almost completed, as the final soldier had been identified. Those Members present will be emailed with the final list.                                                                                               Action Barbara

3.         Stroupster Wind Farm

3.1.      Work had begun on preparation on the route to carry the equipment materials for the wind farm.

3.2.      Lyth Wind Farm nr Lyth, Wick.  As a result of the inspection by the Independent reporter, The Chairman informed those present that the application for the Lyth Wind Farm had refused. 

3.3.      Proposed closing of Polling Stations: Britannia Hall, Dunnet & Canisbay Hall, Canisbay.

3.3.1.   The Chairman had inspected the Canisbay Village Hall and found that there was disabled access, but the lights and the heater used on the day of the European Elections were not all working. After discussion it was agreed that these could be repaired and was not sufficient reason for the hall to be closed as a Polling station.

3.3.2.   It was confirmed that Councillor MacKay would be making full representation on this matter to the full Council Meeting in October.

3.3.3.   In the meantime, Eric Green agreed to raise the matter of the heater and lights to a Committee member of the Canisbay Hall.                                       Action Eric   

3.3.5.   Christopher Hobson pointed out that there had been no reaction whatsoever to the email he had sent to John Bruce, Elections Manager regarding this matter.

3.4.      Query regarding the Issuing of Brown Bins for Garden Waste in Town, and not in the Country.

3.4.1.   The Chairman agreed he would pass on the answer to this query to the Auckengill community where it had been raised.                                        Action John             

3.5.      Christmas Lights – application for funding

3.5.1     The Chairman reported this was in hand

                                                                                Action John

3.6.         Proposed tidying up outside the Canisbay Doctor’s Surgery area.

3.6.1      This area which is outside of the Surgery walls in Canisbay is to include the west side and east side of the surgery turn-in.

3.6.2      The Chairman reported he had obtained a quote for of £1179.60 which would entail scraping the area then cover with hard-core.

3.6.3.     After much discussion, it was agreed that this repair would not be long lasting, because it was a much used area as a car park particularly by the staff of the surgery. It was proposed that as more permanent solution, the area should be tarmacked as well which was accepted the Members present.   

3.6.4.     As this would be a higher cost and whilst the Community Council would pay for part of the bill it was proposed by Eric Green and agreed by the Members present that as the area is regularly used by the Practice Staff, the Canisbay Surgery should be approached to make a contribution.                                                                                                                   Action Barbara

3.6.5      The Chairman informed those present that a source of funding could be obtained from the Landward Discretionary Fund.

3.6.6.     He agreed he would obtain a quote to have the area tarmacked.                Action John

3.7          Access improvement work at Dunnet Head and Dunnet Bay.

3.7.1      Councillor MacKay had as yet had no reply to the query as to progress of this project which he agreed to pursue                                                                                             

4.            Chairman’s Report (Correspondence)

4.1          Proposed New Highland Council Boundaries.

4.1.1      The Chairman informed those present of the proposed cut in Highland Councillors, which would lead to change in the boundaries. There were 80 Highland Councillors at present, and it was proposed to reduce the number to 72. It had been suggested that Caithness should lose 2 of its 8 Highland Councillors, the 2 being  our Landward Highland Councillor, and divide the County into East and West Caithness and we had been asked for our opinion.

4.1.2      This proposal motivated much debate saying the County needs all its Highland Councillors to cover such a scattered area with Communities with such diverse needs and that to create an East/West divide was not conducive to a united Caithness.

4.1.3      The discussion resulted in the proposal by the Secretary that there should be no cuts in Caithness and that the status quo should be maintained, which was agreed by all the Members present.

4.1.4      The Chairman agreed to send a letter with our resolution                                             Action John

5.            Treasurer’s Report

5.1.1      The Treasurer reported the balance stood at £3006.49 and there were no outstanding bills.

5.1.2.     He had drawn up a set of accounts, once audited and submitted, the Community Council would receive it dues.

5.2.         Sign for Dwarwick Pier.

5.2.1      The Secretary proposed that a sign be made for Dwarwick Pier and erected on the fork of the road leading down to the Pier. At present it is not clear for visitors which road to take at the fork and several visitors have ended up in a private drive.

5.2.         This was seconded by the Chairman who agreed that the Community Council would pay for the costs, and the Treasurer agreed to organise this matter.                             Action Chris

6.            Planning Lists.

6.1.         These were noted.

6.2.2      The question was raised as to why weren’t all planning applications put onto the planning

lists sent out to the Community Councillors

6.2.3      The Chairman agreed to send this query to Mr. Vic Hawthorne, Highland Council Planning, who is responsible for these lists.                                                                          Action John

6.3.         Natural Retreats: The New Plans for John O’Groats.

6.3.1      These O’Groats plans are available on the Highland Council Website Ref. 14/01808/PIP

6.3.2      The Chairman reported that he had attended a meeting of the local stakeholders last evening which discussed the far reaching planning in principle application by JOG2, which is Natural Retreats.

6.3.3.     From the meeting it was clear the plans will radically change the character of John O’Groats.  The main changes proposed would affect the principle of the iconic concept of ‘the end of the road’ that John O’Groats has become as an important tourist attraction.  This would come about by removing the turning circle at the top of the harbour to a lesser position.  This would also take away the space for the coaches to pick up the summer visitors off the Ferry.  It would also relegate the service bus stance, which summer visitors use to reach the ‘end of the road’.

6.3.4.     The change of use of the car park to a retail outlet.  This car park provides easy car and coach parking at and access the visitors’ dream of coming to John O’Groats, to the young and elderly alike. To remove it would put the elderly at a disadvantage and discourage the tourists from coming.

6.3.5      It would appear that Natural Retreats are not really interested in tourism for the general public, only for their own visitors. Also they are not prepared to take into consideration how important John ‘Groats is to all tourists and to the local economy. Nor are they interested in local businessmen, in spite of making inroads by having meetings with them for so-called consultations.

6.3.6.    There then arose heated discussions by the members of the public in attendance on these proposed changes and frustration was expressed at not having any real say in what they wanted.

6.3.7      The closing day for objections is on Friday 27th June. So after much discussion, the Chairman proposed that the Community Council would register an interest to become a Statutory Consultee which was unanimously agreed. This would enable them to act on behalf of the Community, and object to these plans.   He agreed to pursue this matter as quickly as possible.

6.3.8.     In the meantime it was also agreed to write to JOG2 and request they withdraw their application and carry out a more in depth consultation with the community and the stakeholders.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Action John & Barbara

7. A.O.B

7.1.         Canisbay Church Gate & Dunnet Children’s Playpark

7.1.1.     Ann Shearer brought to attention to all those present regarding the state of disrepair of the Canisbay Church Gate, and also the cemetery which had the appearance of being neglected. The Chairman pointed out that these were the responsibility of Highland Council.

7.1.2      The Chairman also brought up the bad state of the equipment of the children’s play park in Dunnet, which made the park unusable for some time.  In spite of sending pictures and contacting Stuart Bell, he had as yet neither received any acknowledgement of his email nor had action been taken to enable the play park to be used.

7.1.3.     Councillor MacKay agreed to pursue these matters.

7.2.         Windfarm Community Funding;   Community and Renewable Energy Scheme. (CARE)

7.2.2      Eric Green put forward this Scheme which gave grants to provide a consultation paper on how to find out what the community would like to use the money from the Stroupster Windfarm.  This was not in conflict with Foundation Scotland.

7.2.3.     After much debate, those present agreed that such a scheme would be of great assistance, and it would be discussed further at the next meeting.

8.         Date of Next Meeting.

            The next meeting will be held on the Wednesday 27th August in Canisbay Village Hall.  at 7.30 p.m.



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