Minutes of Meeting of The Caithness Committee Held in Band Room, Town Hall, Thurso on Monday 30th May, 2005
Councillor David Flear (Convener of the Caithness Committee in the Chair)
Councillor William Fernie
Councillor John H. Green
Councillor Thomas Jackson Councillor Alastair MacDonald
Councillor Donald Mackay
Councillor Katrina MacNab
Councillor William Mowat
Councillor Graeme Smith
Mr. Ian Hargrave, Area Manager
Mr. Alf Gunn, Principal Environmental Health Officer
Mr. Graham Nichols, Area Education, Culture and Sport Manager
Mrs Helen Allan, Area Community Learning and Leisure Officer
Mrs. Fiona Sinclair, Area Solicitor/Administrator
(Chairman – Councillor Flear, Area Convener)
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillor Roger Saxon.
2. Confirmation of Minutes
There had been circulated for confirmation Minutes of the Meeting of the Caithness Committee held on 25th April, 2005 and Minutes of Special Caithness Committees held on 16th and 17th May, 2005. These minutes 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 11th April, 2005 and Special Planning, Development, Europe and Tourism Committee held on 25th April, 2005. These minutes were held as read and were approved.
4. Caithness Voluntary Group
The Chairman introduced Niall Smith who was to give a presentation to the Committee outlining the activities of the Caithness Voluntary Group over the past year.
Mr Smith explained that the Caithness Voluntary Group is a Council for Voluntary Services in Caithness which assists voluntary and community groups on request, and that the demands on its support in the past year had been similar to previous years. He observed that lots of new groups had been set up, and that assistance had been given to some groups to enable them to become companies limited by guarantee. He said that the Group had been involved in the preparation of a Highland-wide database of voluntary groups. He referred to the relocation of the Group to new offices in Telford Street. He said that there had been a drive to move all workers for voluntary organisations under one roof, and as a result eight or nine voluntary organisations have employees working in the building. He referred to the Group’s activities in the Caithness Partnership in progressing Community Planning by assisting voluntary and community groups to engage with the Community Planning partners to ensure that the voice of the community groups is heard.
Councillor Flear noted that the main funding bodies of the CVG are the Scottish Executive and Highland Council, and said that he considered that the Council’s return for its funding contribution represented a very satisfactory result for the people of Caithness. The Committee agreed to continue to support the Caithness Voluntary Group, and agreed at the request of Councillor Mowat to raise at Council Headquarters the possibility of increasing the support to the Group.
5. Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 – Licences Granted
There had been circulated report CC/114/05 dated 17th May, 2005, by the Area Solicitor/Administrator, advising Members of the licences granted under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 during the period to 17th May, 2005.
The Committee noted the terms of the report.
6. Executed Deeds
There had been circulated report (CC/115/05) dated 17th May, 2005, by the Area Solicitor/Administrator, advising Members of deeds which have been signed and sealed during the period to 13th May, 2005.
The Committee noted the terms of the report.
7. Initiative at the Edge – Caithness South-East
Mr Hargrave explained that a Project Development Officer for the Initiative at the Edge in Caithness South East had been appointed, that the post was funded jointly by the Highland Council, the Crofters Commission and the Enterprise Network, and that the post will be in place until October 2007, and may be extended. The Development Officer will be responsible for the progress of the Development Plan prepared by the Initiative at the Edge Steering Group.
The Committee noted the highly satisfactory progress of the Initiative at the Edge project.
8. Community Safety Action Team
There had been circulated report CC/116/05 dated 18th May, 2005, by the Area Manager, advising Members of recent developments in Community Safety matters in Caithness.
At the request of Councillor MacNab, Mr Hargrave agreed to introduce a link between the Domestic Abuse Strategy Working Group and the Action Team. At the request of Councillor Flear, Mr Hargrave agreed to invite the Action Team to consider the link between provision of food in late hours catering establishments following closure of liquor licensed premises and fire prevention in homes late at night. Councillor Jackson commented that the effect of antisocial noise late at night should also be considered in this connection.
The Committee noted that the Community safety Action Team is continuing to develop its work on local priorities in the context of the Highland Strategy.
9. Byelaws Prohibiting the Consumption of Alcohol in Public Places
There had been circulated report CC/117/05 dated 18th May, 2005, by the Area Manager making recommendations on the one outstanding matter in the proposed scheme, namely proposed exemption periods, drawing together previous decisions taken by Members and clarifying certain other matters. The report detailed the various exemptions to the byelaw suggested by the consultees, and recommended that the exempt periods be restricted to the period between 6 pm on December 31st and 6 am on January 1st.
Councillor Smith commented that he considered the proposed bye-law to be a bad law, and suggested that there should be no exemptions at all. Councillor MacDonald pointed out that the Police always have a little discretion in enforcing the law, and commented that the bye-law would improve the social life in general in the towns. Mr Hargrave reminded the Committee that the Police are in favour of the principle of bye-laws.
Following discussion Councillor Flear, seconded by Councillor Mackay proposed the motion that the Committee agree that the exempt periods be restricted to the period between 6 pm on December 31st and 6 am on January 1st, and that the proposed scheme now be submitted to the full Highland Council for adoption.
Councillor Smith proposed as an amendment that the scheme should not be submitted to the full Highland Council for adoption. There being no seconder for Councillor Smith’s amendment, the amendment fell.
Councillor Fernie, seconded by Councillor Jackson proposed as an amendment that the Committee agree that the exempt periods in the report be extended to include specified outdoor public community events, and that the proposed scheme as amended be submitted to the full Highland Council for adoption.
There being no further amendments votes were cast. Six members voted for the motion by Councillor Flear and two members voted for the amendment by Councillor Fernie. Accordingly, the motion by Councillor Flear became the decision of the Committee. Councillor Smith requested that his dissent be recorded.
10. Wick Massed Pipes and Drums 2005
Mr Hargrave advised that the Committee had previously agreed to support this event in financial terms. In view of the international nature of the occasion, he suggested that a modest civic reception be hosted by the Area Committee in the early evening of Sunday, June 12th with the costs being met from within existing budgets.
The Committee so agreed.
Education, Culture and Sport
(Portfolio Chairman – Councillor MacNab)
11. Caithness Area Education, Culture and Sport Service Plan 2005/08
There had been circulated report CC/118/05 dated 16th May, 2005, by the Area Education, Culture and Sport Manager, presenting the Caithness Area Plan which has been developed from the Education, Culture and Sport Service Plan 2005/2008 and outlining priorities for delivery and development of the service in Caithness over the next year.
The Committee noted that the service improvement objectives detailed in the Plan could all be met from within existing budgets, and noted the terms of the report.
12. Rural Nurseries in Caithness
Councillor Mowat referred to the protesters outside the Chamber who were concerned about the proposed closure of nurseries at Thrumster and Keiss, and advised that he had understood that the matter was to have been discussed by Committee. Councillor Flear advised that the matter was not within the remit of the Area Committee, and that the matter would be discussed by the Joint Committee for Children and Young People at Council Headquarters. The Committee noted the position.
Housing and Social Work
(Portfolio Chairman – Councillor Fernie)
13. Housing Quarterly Performance Monitoring Report
There had been circulated report CC/119/05 dated 18th May, 2005, by the Area Manager, providing Members with information on the Caithness Housing Service’s performance to the end of the financial year in March 2005.
In response to an enquiry from Councillor MacNab regarding difficulties with the Council Tax collection system for people who are in receipt of benefits and making weekly payments, it was remitted to Councillors Jackson and MacNab to discuss the problem with the Area Finance Manager in an effort to reach a resolution.
Subject to the foregoing, the Committee noted the terms of the report.
14. Highland’s Housing Strategy – Caithness Area Delivery Plan
There had been circulated report CC/120/05 dated 18th May, 2005, by the Area Manager, providing an update on the Caithness Area Housing Delivery Plan.
The Committee noted the terms of the report.