Committees

Minutes of Meeting of The Caithness Committee held in Town Hall, Wick on Monday 29th  September, 2003

 

Present:


Councillor David C.M. Flear (Convener of the Caithness Committee in the Chair)
Councillor William N. Fernie
Councillor John H. Green
Councillor Tom Jackson
Councillor Alastair MacDonald
Councillor Donald Mackay
Councillor Katrina MacNab
Councillor Roger Saxon
Councillor Graeme M. Smith


In Attendance:

 

Mr. Ian Hargrave, Acting Caithness Area Manager
Mrs. Helen Allan, Area Community Education Officer
Mr. Stuart Bell, Area Community Works Manager
Mrs. Dawn Grant, Area Children and Families Manager
Mr. Alf Gunn, Principal Environmental Health Officer
Mr. Graham Nichols, Area Community Learning and Leisure Manager
Ms. Annette Sharland, Area Education Manager
Mrs. Fiona Sinclair, Area Solicitor/Administrator

 

Caithness Committee


(Chairman – Councillor Flear, Convener)

 

1. Apologies for Absence

 

Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillor William A.  Mowat.
 

2. Confirmation of Minutes

 

There were circulated for approval Minutes of Meeting of the Caithness Committee held on  25th August, 2003 and Special Meeting held on 15th September, 2003.   These were held as read and were approved.


3. Approval of Minutes

 

There were circulated for approval Minutes of the Meeting of the Caithness Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee held on 15th September, 2003.     These were held as read and were approved.    


4. Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 – Licences Granted

 

There was circulated report (CC/215/03) dated 15th September, 2003, by the Area Solicitor/Administrator, advising Members of the licences granted under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 during the period to 15th September, 2003.

 

The Committee noted the terms of the report.


5. Executed Deeds

 

There was circulated report (CC/216/03) dated 15th September, 2003, by the Area Solicitor/Administrator, advising Members of deeds which had been signed and sealed during the period to 8th September, 2003.

 

The Committee noted the terms of the report.


6. Proposed Committee Meetings 2004

 

There was circulated a proposed timetable of Committee meetings to be held during 2004.

 

The Committee approved the proposed timetable. 


7. Caithness Voluntary Group

 

Mr. Niall Smith, the Coordinator of the Caithness Voluntary Group,  addressed the Committee on the services of  the Caithness Voluntary Group.  Mr Smith advised that Caithness Voluntary Group is a company limited by guarantee, and a registered charity.  It has 150 member organisations, of which 20 are represented on the Policy Committee which guides the work of the organisation.  The organisation, which has a staff of eight, provides a variety of benefits to local voluntary groups, including office services, equipment loans and advice.  In addition the CVG, along with the Highland Council’s Community Education Section, supported the Caithness Federation of Village Halls.  He advised that the CVG endeavours to promote partnership working for voluntary groups. 

 

Following discussion, the Committee agreed to provide financial support to the Caithness Voluntary Group during the current financial year, by providing a similar sum to that expended in the last financial year.    


8. Dounreay’s Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste

 

There was circulated to the Committee a copy of a consultation paper by  UKAEA on “Developing the Long Term Strategy for Managing Dounreay’s Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste”.   The Convener remarked that he was pleased that the Highland Council had a significant involvement in the consultation process and invited the Committee to note the terms of the consultation paper.  The Committee agreed to take no further action on the paper, pending further consideration at a meeting of the stakeholders, in which individual members were to be involved on 16th October. 


9. Civic Receptions

 

There was circulated report (CC/217/03) dated 16th September, 2003, by the Acting Area Manager, inviting the Committee to agree to host two small civic receptions.

 

The Committee agreed to host civic receptions for the Tchaikovsky State String Quartet, which is to perform and hold workshops in Thurso, and for the Viking Surgical Club, an association of surgeons with links to Iceland and Norway,  as detailed in the report.    


10. Operation of Discretionary Fund

 

There was circulated report (CC/218/03) dated 16th September, 2003, by the Acting Area Manager, inviting members to refocus the future operation of the Area Discretionary Fund.  

 

Mr Hargrave’s report suggested that the Fund be used under three main headings.  These were as follows: major Caithness commitments such as the Caithness Partnership; individual Ward projects suggested by Councillors; and disbursement of funds to external organisations involved in activities which support the Council’s overall aims and objectives.  He suggested that all decision making regarding the expenditure of the Fund be undertaken by the Area Committee. 

 

Mr Hargrave also invited the Committee to consider an individual application for funding from Castletown In Bloom. 

 

During discussion, individual members expressed concern that some community groups were too dependent on the Area Discretionary Fund, and expected to receive an annual award.  The Committee agreed that the Members Working Group discuss policy in relation to Area Discretionary Fund expenditure at its next meeting, and submit a report for consideration at a future Area Committee meeting.  The Committee further agreed to defer consideration of the application from Castletown in Bloom until a later meeting.
 

11. Thurso Public Space CCTV

 

There was circulated report (CC/219/03) dated 9th September, 2003, by Kenneth McCorquodale, Policy Officer, on the current provision of public space CCTV in Thurso and elsewhere in the Highlands.  The report gave advice on available funding for these services and outlined current development pressures.

 

The Convener welcomed Mr McCorquodale, Alistair Angus, Chairman of the Thurso CCTV Group, Sergeant Crawford of Northern Constabulary, Councillor Drew MacFarlane-Slack, and Jean Boyle, Caithness Project Officer, to the meeting.

 

Mr McCorquodale explained that there is currently no Scottish Executive funding for CCTV systems, although the Scottish Executive make money available for Community Safety.  Accordingly, local authorities have to develop community safety plans, and decide the level of priority to be given to CCTV in their community safety strategies. 

 

In the Highlands, there are problems with existing CCTV systems in Fort William, Nairn, Dingwall and Inverness.  These systems are all a number of years old, and due to advances in technology may have to be replaced rather than repaired.  Mr McCorquodale said that the systems cannot be developed unless more money becomes available.  He explained that an important dimension, in relation to the Thurso system is that it is monitored by volunteers, although it is unlikely in his view that a system operated by volunteers will be sustainable.  Mr McCorquodale said that systems should be operated using public funds. 

 

Sergeant Crawford explained that the system was a great success from a public policing point of view, as it was felt that the system prevented crime, and that more crimes could be detected because of it.  He also said that it increased people’s feeling of safety in the areas in which it was operational.  However, he advised that it was impossible to measure the success of the system in numerical terms. 

 

The Committee agreed that the Area Convener write a letter to the local MSPs seeking assurances that Scottish Executive funding will soon be available to enable CCTV systems to be installed in local communities where these are required. 

 

The Committee noted the developments with regard to public space CCTV in the Highland area, as outlined by Mr McCorquodale in his report, and agreed to award a grant of £1,000 to Thurso CCTV Co Ltd from the community safety CCTV budget, in order to support the continued operation of the system through the current financial year.  The Committee also agreed in principle that the Highland Council should adopt the Thurso CCTV system at sometime in the future, bearing in mind the resource implications which this decision involves. 


12. The Future of the Caithness Partnership

 

There was circulated report (CC/220/03) dated 21st August, 2003, by the acting Area Manager and Director of  Planning and Development  examining the  structure and outputs of the Caithness Partnership in relation to the current objectives and priorities of the Highland Council and its community planning partners.   The report set out the proposed way forward as a basis for dialogue with strategic partners, and other Caithness community interests.
The Committee noted that the Report was to be considered at a meeting of the Caithness Partnership on 30th September, and agreed to endorse the document.


Education, Culture and Sport


(Portfolio Chairman – Councillor Roger Saxon)

 

13. Education, Culture and Sport Service Plan , Caithness Area – An Update on Progress

 

There was circulated report (CC/221/03) dated 15th September, 2003, by the Area Education Manager and Area Community Learning and Leisure Manager on the progress achieved in the delivery and development of the Service in Caithness during 2002/03.

 

Miss Sharland and Mr Nichols highlighted the considerable progress that had been made in delivering the Service Plan over the year.  Councillor Flear suggested that the Area Committee meet with the local Youth Forum, and Mrs Allan agreed to provide a date for a meeting later in the year.  Other suggestions from members for improvements to the Plan included a suggestion that links with Europe and the provision of European languages be improved, and the suggestion that the allocation of resources to provision of adult basic education be increased.  The Committee noted that the Plan would be updated and brought back to the Committee for further consideration in November. 

 

Subject to the foregoing the Committee noted the progress made in implementing the provisions of the Service Plan.


14. Booking Request for “Cottle and Austen Circus” – July, 2005

 

There was circulated report (CC/222/03) dated 11th September, 2003, by the Area Community Learning and Leisure Manager seeking Members consideration and approval of booking requests for “Cottle & Austen Circus” to take place in Caithness during July, 2005.

 

The Committee noted that the Circus does not involve performing animals, and on that basis agreed to negotiate terms for bookings of land at Riverside, Wick.  With regard to the site in Thurso, the Committee agreed that it would suggest to the Circus company that an approach for the site at Millbank Thurso, be made to the Caithness Rugby Club, lessees of the site, and that in the event that this area was not available to negotiate terms for the site of the old engineering works.


15. Caithness Heritage Fair, 2003

 

There was circulated report (CC/223/03) dated 15th September, 2003, by the Area Community Learning and Leisure Manager on the plans for the Caithness Heritage Fair due to take place in Wick on 4th and  5th October, 2003.

 

The Committee noted the progress which had been made in arranging the forthcoming event.
 

16. Caithness Youth Conference

 

There was circulated report (CC/224/03) dated 12th September, 2003, by the Area Community Learning and Leisure Manager on the proposal to hold a Youth Conference in Caithness.

 

Mrs Allan advised that the event will now take place on 16th rather than 9th November, as had been outlined in the report.  The Committee noted that the activities which were to take place included music, craft and video workshops, and that more serious issues, such as alcohol awareness, and disability awareness were also to be considered.  The Committee noted the terms of the report, and at the request of Councillor Flear, invited Mrs Allan to give further consideration to the introduction of a workshop on drugs awareness.

 

At this point, the meeting broke for coffee, and when the meeting resumed, only the following officials were in attendance:

 

Mr. Ian Hargrave, Acting Caithness Area Manager
Mr Stuart Bell, Area Community Works Officer
Mrs. Dawn Grant, Area Children and Families Manager
Mr. Alf Gunn, Principal Environmental Health Officer
Mrs. Fiona Sinclair, Area Solicitor/Administrator.


Housing and Social Work


(Portfolio Chairman -  Councillor Fernie)

 

17. Proposed Changes to Posts

 

There was circulated report (CC/225/03) dated 15th September, 2003, by the Area Children’s Services Manager, outlining proposed changes to the posts of part-time Social Worker (Children and Families affected by Disability) and part-time Keyworker (Children and Families affected by Disability), the proposal being to join these two posts to create one full-time post of Keyworker which would create a more attractive post and allow other professionals to apply in addition to Social Workers.

 

The Committee approved the proposed alteration to the staffing structure, and noted that it will now be considered by the Resources Committee.

 

Mrs. Dawn Grant left the meeting at the end of this item of  business. 


 Planning, Development, Tourism and Europe


(Portfolio Chairman – Councillor Smith)

 

18. Developing Caithness Honey

 

There was circulated report (CC/226/03) dated 12th  September, 2003, by the Area Development Manager, on  a new initiative to develop the Caithness honey business through practical beekeeping training at Thurso College.

 

On the recommendation of the Portfolio Chairman, the Committee agreed to defer consideration of the item until the outcome of further consultation with the local honey producers, who had reservations about the proposals, had taken place. 


Transport, Environmental and Community Services


(Portfolio Chairman – Councillor John H. Green)

 

19. Speed Limit – A882 Wick

 

There was circulated report (CC/227/03) dated 16th September, 2003, by the Area Roads and Community Works Manager, advising Members of the requirement to make a 30mph Speed Limit Order to replace the existing Trunk Road Speed Limit Order, which is about to be revoked.

 

The Committee approved the advertising of the proposal to make an Order, and subject to their being no unresolved objections, agreed that the Order be made. 


20. Public Toilets Winter Opening Hours

 

There was circulated report (CC/228/03) dated 16th September, 2003, by the Area Roads and Community Works Manager, on a change in winter opening hours for public toilets.

 

The Committee agreed to amend the opening hours of the public toilets at the Tanyard in Thurso, to 8 am to 5 pm from 1st October to 31st March each year.   The Area Convener requested that a report be submitted to a future meeting on the opening hours of toilets generally, in particular because of the differences in the opening hours of toilets with and without attendants.   The Committee agreed to ask the Area Service Manager to produce an appropriate report for a future meeting. 


21. Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Initiative

 

There was circulated report (CC/229/03) dated 16th  September, 2003, by the Area Roads and Community Works Manager, proposing that match funding for an ERDF bid to construct flagstone footways in Pulteneytown be found from the Area’s revenue allocation for road maintenance.

 

After discussion, the Committee agreed the use of £140,000 from the road maintenance allocation, phased over three years as match funding for an ERDF bid for works in Lower Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Initiative.  


22. Construction Consent Application –  U11 Dunbeath to Mullbuie Road

 

There was circulated report (CC/230/03) dated 16th September, 2003, by the Area Roads and Community Works Manager, advising Members that the developer of the wind farm at Buolfruich, Dunbeath, has applied for consent to improve the public road from Dunbeath to Houstry, to facilitate delivery of construction materials.  Objections had been received, and the letters of objection were before the Committee.  The Committee noted that in cases where objections are received the applicant is entitled to a hearing.  In this case the applicant had not elected that a hearing be held.  The Committee agreed to grant the construction consent subject to conditions as detailed in the Committee Report.

 

Agendas

Minutes