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Minutes of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council

Mey Village Hall

24 September 2018 at 7.30pm


Those Present


                                    Councillors                    Eric Green                     Chair

                                                                        Bill Mowat                     Vice-Chair

                                                                        Thomas Meikle              Treasurer

                                                                        Mark Gibson                 Secretary

                                                                        Barry Butler

                                                                        Beatrice Farmer

                                                                        Henry Gunn

                                                                        Carole Whittaker

            Apologies                                            Ann Shearer

                                    Highland Councillor       Andrew Sinclair


                                    There were two members of the public in attendance.


1.  Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 23 April 2018 at John o'Groats Village Hall


            1.1  Agreement of Minutes


                        The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed


            1.2  Matters Arising


                        Matters arising would be picked up in the agenda items


2.  Chair's Report


2.1  Scam Mail


Councillor Green reported that the Police were warning about an increase in Scam mail sent to people in Caithness.  Councillor Whittaker suggested that councillors should alert people locally to this situation.


2.2  Community Broadband


Councillor Green updated the meeting with the latest position on the community broadband scheme.  This was eagerly awaited by local residents and businesses.  BT have confirmed that a connection with their systems will be made in the next few weeks and it was hoped that a launch even could then be arranged in late Autumn.


3. Treasurers Report


3.1  Accounts Update  The Community Council had a balance of just over £1200.  The cheque to Auckengill Hall Committee had now been cashed.


Councillor Butler noted that there was some money available from the Association of community Councils to spend on discrete projects in the area.  It was agreed that councillors considered projects for this spend and would report back at the next meeting.


4 Secretary's Report


4.1 Correspondence Received


Planning:   The Highland Council no longer send out details of planning applications to each Community council.  We now have to manually search the website.  There is one applicable application this month.  It was discussed and no objections raised.


Speeding:  Andrew Sinclair has raised a constituents concern about cars speeding through Brough.    It was noted that speed warning signs could help the problem but that they cost around £1600 each.  However they could be moved from village to village within the community council area as the need arose.  It was agreed to explore funding options.


Bus Service:  Andrew Sinclair has raised a constituents concern about the 80 bus service not connecting properly with the 77 service.  Discussion on this was deferred to the Transport Issues Agenda Item.


Fire and Rescue:  The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) are currently rolling out a Community Asset Register which aims to encourage local communities to engage with the emergency services during larger or protracted emergency incidents.


In order for communities to assist, SFRS are encouraging any members of the public who have specialised equipment or skills to register, this could include boats, 4x4s, drones etc.  Once registered this will allow the emergency services to call on them should their asset be required.  There will never be any obligation placed on the volunteer to attend should it not be suitable.  Any out of pocket expenses will also be covered.


Signpost at John o'Groats  After publicity in two national and one regional newspaper and formal contact from the Community council, it had been agreed that the sign post in John o'Groats would be cleaned and refurbished in the off season.


5.  Transport Issues


5.1  Caithness Transport Forum


Representatives of the Community Council attended the Forum at Wick Airport.  It was noted that the service from the airport is deteriorating with several services being cancelled quite often.  There was no opportunity for a day return by air any-more.  One reason for this was cost as a crew would have to stay in Wick overnight.  Councillor Green noted that an aircrew used to be based in Caithness and that should be reinstated.


Councillor Meikle noted that the Air Discount Scheme was under review in 2019.  More people needed to get engaged in the matter.  Councillor Green agreed that we needed to rattle some cages of MPs and MSPs.  This should be done in conjunction with other local community councils.  A freedom of Information request on the number of cancelled flights would be a start.  If the service becomes unreliable then fewer people will use it.


5.2  Bus Issues


Councillor Whittaker ran through the actions she had carried out in terms of the 77 bus service.  A petition signed by over 900 people had been sent to Stagecoach.  Councillors Whittaker, Farmer and Gibson had also attended the Caithness Bus Users Group meeting in Thurso in September.  It was noted that there were several mentions of the Thurso through to John O'Groats and the various problems including bus links not happening and incorrect or unclear timetables and even drivers insure of the route.


Councillor Green added that the service was becoming unreliable and had a lot of problems.. He suggested contacting and working with the Disabled Access Panel.


Councillor Gunn noted that the bus does not stop at Canisbay Kirk any more.  It seemed to be a rural service that does not stop for passengers.


Councillor Gibson suggested that councillors think about what a pragmatic bus route and service covering the area might look like.  In that way the community council could approach Stagecoach with a workable solution.  This was agreed.  ACTION: All councillors.


Councillor Gibson had also drafted a letter to Highland Council on behalf of the Community Council asking for the 77 service to be classed as a public service obligation.  This was agreed.  ACTION: Councillor Gibson to send the letter to Highland Council


6. Community Council Review


6.1 Drop in Session  Councillor Gibson and Councillor Whittaker attended the drop in session in Wick.  Some of the proposals could represent a threat to local democracy in that they might remove the ability for community councils to be democratically elected or they might make councils too large to properly allow local representation.  The Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council made its feelings felt on some of the suggestions and called for Community Councils to remain democratically elected bodies with a reasonable (not too large) geographical coverage.


6.2  Further Actions   Councillor Gibson agreed to look at a paper setting out the reasons why the status quo was the most viable and best option.  ACTION: Councillor Gibson

Councillor Green agreed to find out the next dates of meetings of the Local Planning Partnership and raise the matter there.  ACTION:  Councillor Green


7. Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust


7.1  AGM   Councillor Mowat attended the Annual General Meeting in Inverness on behalf of the Community Council.  He brought back documentation on the work of the Trust to share with Councillors.  He noted that the Trust was a registered charity with a practical purpose.  Councillor Mowat also noted that there was a lack of local housing and key worker housing in the Dunnet and Canisbay area.  The Trust worked with local organsaitions to look at a variety of options.


Councillor Green stated that the Community Council would need to look at the demand for such housing and demonstrate it existed before help could be obtained.  It  needed to be tied into the local development plan.  It was agreed that the Community Council would have an agenda item to look at the plan. This matter also needed to be keyed into the work of the John o'Groats Development Trust. ACTION:  Councillor Gibson to add an Agenda Item  to look at local plan

Councillor Mowat asked the Community Council to agree to join the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust.  This was agreed.


8.  Association of Community Councils


8.1  Councillor Butler attended the meeting in Halkirk on 4th September.  He reported that there was very poor attendance from other community councils.  The AGM is on 4th December.


9. Health Service Review


9.1  Community Consultation   It was agreed that the next meeting of the community council would discuss the proposed NHS changes in Caithness.  This would again be an open meeting and members of the community encouraged to attend.  Posters advertising the meeting would be put up around the community council area.


10.  Any Other Business


10.1  The Community Council website is now up and running thanks to the efforts of Councillor Butler.  Agreed minutes are being published on the website and a link to the Community Council e-mail address.  Dates of the next meeting and agenda are also published.


10.2  Welfare Cabinets  Councillor Farmer raised the fact that these cabinets, to be used in the event of power outages, had been installed but no-one knew about them.  Even priority customers were not informed.  It was agreed to look at our procedures in the event of a major event.


10.3  War Memorial   Councillor Gunn asked approval from the Community Council for the addition of a name to the war memorial.  This was unanimously approved.


10.4  Interpretation panels  Councillor Mowat noted that this was some way off at present but asked for the matter to be kept live.  Councillor Green asked Councillor Mowat to compile a list of areas ane events where a panel might be appropriate.



There was no further business.



29 October 2018 at 7.30 pm.   Mey Hall


The meeting closed




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