Action Note from Caithness Joint Wards Forum (Thurso, Wick and Landward Caithness) held on Tuesday 8th March 2011



Councillor David Flear (DF) – Chair
Councillor Robert Coghill (RG)
Councillor Willie Mackay (WM)
Councillor Donnie Mackay (DM)
Councillor John Rosie (JR)
Jean Lipa (JL) – Thurso Community Council
Bob Earnshaw (BE) – Thurso Community Council
Coreen Campbell (CC) – The Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council
Neil Buchanan(NB) – Berriedale and Dunbeath Community Council
Donald Henderson (DH) – Tannach and Distrct Community Council
Elizabeth Henderson (EH) – Tannach and District Community Council
John Green (JG) – Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council
James Macdonald (JM) – Watten Community Council
Alan Roberts (AR) – Bower Community Council

In attendance

June Ross (JuR) - Principal Waste Management Officer (Strategy), Highland Council
Andrea Wotherspoon (AW) – Waste Management Assistant, Highland Council.
Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss (MR) – Northern Constabulary
Inspector Angus MacInnes (AM) – Northern Constabulary
David Sutherland (DS) – Caithness Wards Manager, Highland Council

Robbie Mackintosh – Ward Manager’s Team, Highland Council
Alex Macmanus – Ward Manager’s Team, Highland Council

Gordon Calder, Press Reporter and 9 members of the general public

1. Apologies

Catherine Patterson – Milton Residents Association
Janet Mowat – Halkirk Community Council
Councillor Bill Fernie
Councillor David Bremner
Koreen MacDougall – Caithness Partnership

2. New Waste Management Procedures from 4th April 2011 – June Ross

Waste Management Presentation Mar 11


Salient points from presentation

All households will receive calendars to cover the next 2 years commencing on 4th April 2011 with colour coding of when the various bins should be put out.
Overflowing bins will not be collected
Waste Management Officers will accompany Refuse Collectors over the initial period to speak to service users who do not follow the new procedures.
Fines would be the very last resort.

All recyclables need to go in the blue bins loose as they are hand sorted.
Rural bins were collected once a month but from 4th April will go onto 14 day cycle.
Plastic bottles carrying the PET1 and HPD logos are the only ones that can be recycled at this time.

Tetra packs cannot be recycled at this time. There is a Tetra pack collection skip at Janetstown Recycling Unit. There are only 5 of these Units in the Highlands and are serviced by a separate Company.
Blue boxes can be retained to encourage recycling of glass and act as a storage unit prior to householders delivering to Bottle Banks.

Commercial Users have been visited by Waste Management Officers to discuss individual Company needs. This will be reviewed in 3 months time.
Locally based Waste Management Officers will be available to offer free advice.
A letter drop by Waste Management Officers will be done to householders in Communal Flats.

£430 average to each household in discarded food. There is a website on how to save on food bills and waste.
Clean paper should go in the blue bin and cardboard should be flattened to help with space. Sticky cardboard is acceptable.
New Blue bin contents would be taken to a central sorting point in Falkirk.
Caps should be removed from plastic bottles to help with the hand sort
Government legislation would be required to ensure that in the future there was only one type of plastic used for bottles, etc.

We all need to support recycling. In the Year ending 2010 103,000 tons were put to landfill. Total cost per ton of dealing with this waste including the tax is £117.21. Total bill of just over £12m.

Suggestion from floor that as Supermarkets now deliver goods to households could they not also pick up discarded multipack packaging from these houses.
Council recycling rate is at present 35% by 2025 it is expected to be 75% so a long way to go.

Pilot scheme running in Culbokie to target total recycling. Rate is running at 67%
AW is visiting schools on a regular basis to drive home the recycling message as this has to be a complete change of way of life for many.

£1.8m is being spent on building a new cell at Seater Landfill Site
Members would look for feedback from JuR/AW in 3 months time.

3. Community Safety – Northern Constabulary.

Main news is proposed amalgamation of Scottish Police Forces. Northern is well placed to meet challenges going forward because of their Chief Constable. From a personal point of view MR is concerned that a single force would reduce local initiatives.

MR would wish that all the local Community Councils respond to the consultation on the future structure of the police in Scotland.
Northern has highest crime detection rate and responds to most incidents.
Foster partnership working which included Coastguard Service during the winter storms.

Over the winter period there have been no serious incidents although the A9 had to be shut and MR would like to publicly thank the Council and Transerv Crews for all their work during a difficult period.

Driving ambition event will be held once again this year to cover all 6th year pupils and homely catch them before they start to drive.
The new Chief Constable starts work in April and he will be taking a tour around the area.

Detection rate in up10% from last year and there is a reduction in number of reports being received. The police need people to come forward with information as they are aware of whom the perpetrators are they just need the evidence.

Two officers are seconded to a vandalism task group. One business in Wick has £10,000 worth of damage caused to their property and machines and has had to spend up to £25,000 to increase their security. In all these acts of vandalism has caused this Company to be £35,000 out of pocket. This is totally unacceptable. Youths have been charged.

Police had tried to visit all Community Council meetings but at times due to manpower they have been unable to do this. A pilot police surgery has been held in Lybster with another planned in Castletown at the end of March.

From 1st April a Rural Beats Liaison Officer will be operating out of a mobile police station which will tour from Bettyhill along the coast towards John O’Groats, down as far as Helmsdale then back up the Strath out to Kinlochbervie and then to Durness. It is hoped that this mobile unit would shadow the mobile bank and perhaps the mobile post office and the mobile library service. AM would be investigating this.

Question was asked why the camera vans position was advertised in the press with the reason being that it is part of the agreement that it would encourage people to slow down if they knew where the camera was.

Comments from the floor included the apparent reduction in general driving standards being witnessed over the county, the issue over gun licences being recorded over the whole of the police beat area and the request that the police surgeries be advertised.

Question asked about following the closure of Lybster police station and the reduction in police numbers whether this would have an effect on the policing of Caithness. MR advised that the new Chief Constable was against beaurocracy.

Question raised on why police are seldom seen on the streets. MR advised that police are on the go usually when law abiding citizens are in there beds because that is when their customers are on the go.

DF and JG are due to meet with the Transport Minster over issues on the A9 and they may well bring up the matter about the camera van being placed on straight bits of road where safe overtaking could take place i.e. The Mound.

The deterrents to those who are under the age of 16 and commit crimes are not very effective. Most of the responsibilities lie with the parents as children develop their own characteristics from the ages 3 to 4 and this is when good parenting should be at its most evident.

Thurso Community Council is unhappy at the traffic lights at The Toll and would like the sequence to be looked at and changed. This junction is now no longer suitable for the volume of traffic that is using it. The Police are in dialogue with Transerv.

Question asked on how successful the A.N.P.R. vehicle has been.  AM reports that there is a low detection rate which is good. The national average for no insurance is between 10% and 15%. Local A.N.P.R. car checked between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles with a failure rate on 0.25%

4. Ward Discretionary Budgets

Ward Manager is confident that 100% spend will be made from the 3 Ward budgets for this year ending31st March 2011.

DF advised the meeting that the Landward Members had just agreed earlier in the week £8,000 to the Dunbeath and District Day Care Centre to help them upgrade their kitchen facilities.

Next years budget per Ward will be £10,000 less as these monies will be used for the classroom assistants. JR reminded the meeting that it was with the robust intervention of the Caithness Members at Glenurquhart Road that the Classroom Assistant posts were retained for the time being.

WM was delighted to see so many varied recipients of money from the Landward Ward Budget.

5. A.O.B.

Councillor Flear reminded the meeting that the Caithness and North Sutherland Low Level Waste Fund should be ready to receive community applications in August this year.

6. Question and Answer Session

Q1. - Can you explain how the Education Culture and Sport (ECS) committee decided to start the review of the School Estate in Caithness?

A1. - In relation to the School Review, the related Committee report to the ECS Committee on the 13th January 2011 addresses this question. Basically the prioritisation criteria focus on a number of aspects including – building Condition, building Suitability, working occupancy and attempting to achieve improvement for the maximum number of pupils. The decision to begin the review in Caithness was informed by these factors.

Councillor Bill Fernie, Wick Councillor and Chair of the ECS committee has confirmed to local Members that he would be more than willing to attend any Parent Council meeting to answer any questions and explain the ongoing review.

The Caithness members are happy with how the ASG review process works.

It should be remembered also that the Associated School Group (ASG) review actually began in Lochaber and not Wick and Thurso and that Alness, Invergordon and Tain ASGs will be next.

Q2. - How will this review affect the Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE)?

A2. - The impact on GAE is a hypothetical question as no decisions have been taken at this stage. I think that the questioner is referring to the fact that if 2 smaller schools are amalgamated to create a school with 70 pupils or more, then there may be an adverse impact on the GAE calculation. If this situation arises then the appropriate advice will be sought at that time

Q3. - What are the educational benefits of being educated in an age-appropriate peer group?

A3. - The educational benefits of being educated in age-appropriate peer group are that classes are configured on the basis of having more pupils at the same age and stage as opposed to having composite class configurations that comprise of pupils at different ages and stages. This objective could be achieved by creating schools of a certain school roll that will facilitate the creation of single stage class

Q4. - What changes in pay and conditions have been agreed for Councillors and top officials to help balance the Budget?

A4. – Following a report in December last year the Council have agreed a management review which will save £1.35m per annum. Councillors and staff have accepted a 2 year pay freeze.

Q5. - Can you tell us how TEC Services have found £25,000 for another children’s playground in Thurso?  Over the past couple of years Tannach & District CC have tried with practically no success to have the items they removed from Thrumster and Haster returned or replaced.  The answer was always "There is no money".  We were told that items which could be refurbished would not always go back where they came from as there were so many in the same position as ourselves and it was fairer to let everyone have one or two items.

The result is that a group of local parents approached the CC for help to set up a group to raise money to regenerate the play park in Thrumster.  They too would have been delighted to be given £25,000.

A5. - There is an allocation in the capital programme, £150k for the entire Highland Council area or £50k / Area. While this funding is welcomed, it is not sufficient to cover all the needs identified and we try and allocate funding for projects which attract additional funding.

In the case of Thurso the project was supported by all the Ward Members and they contributed funding from their discretionary fund and the local community also made efforts to raised some funding.