Action Note of Cromarty Firth Ward Forum held on 26th February 2009
Cllr Mike Finlayson (Chair)
Cllr Martin Rattray
Cllr Carolyn Wilson
John Edmondson, Ardross Community Council
Sally Cartwright, Alness Community Council
Fiona Dendy, Kiltearn Community Council
Helen Williamson, Saltburn & Westwood Community Council
Norma Young, Saltburn &Westwood Community Council
Sgt Vince Tough, Northern Constabulary
Inspector Matthew Reiss, Northern Constabulary
Ian Hargrave, Corporate Manager, Caithness Sutherland & Easter Ross
Helen Ross, Ward Manager Cromarty Firth Ward
Caroline MacKay, Highland Council
Pat Sproul, Highland Council
Sandra Kerzten, Ross & Cromarty CAB
Julia Entwistle, Ross & Cromarty CAB
6 members of the public attended
1. Welcome and Introductions
Cllr Finlayson opened the meeting and welcomed everybody.
2. Feedback from previous Ward Forum held on 11th December 2008
A paper noting Ward 7 - Action feedback from 11.12.08was circulated. One action remains to be carried forward – to look into issues raised re the subsidised Ardross taxi service.
3. Leader Funding & Cromarty Firth Local Development Plan
Shona MacLennan, a consultant employed to work on this, attended for the item. Shona ran through the background to the LEADER funding, and provided information she had gathered to date about the profile of the ward – this was information gathered from statistics supported by information gathered in her work with local community groups. There followed discussion about the priorities emerging and all were asked to pass any further comments to Shona.
4. Community Safety
Insp Matthew Reiss gave an overview of recent incidents in the Ward Area and highlighted some statistics in relation to the Ward’s profile as compared to other part of the police divisional area. Insp Reiss also gave an update on the new shift system and how it has been operating and noted that it has been agreed that the police will support a drugs campaign and a road safety campaign in the area in the coming months.
Sgt Vince Tough was introduced and he gave an update on what he has been involved in since joining the area, and how he is approaching the issues that arise. He noted that the new shift system has enabled him to have more of a presence where needed at nights and at weekends, even if incidents occur elsewhere.
5. Credit Crunch and the help available
Pat Sproul led a presentation and discussion, supported by the CAB officers and the Council’s Income Maximisation Officer, Caroline Mackay.
Pat highlighted the extreme effect that debt can have on a person’s life that goes far beyond the simple financial impact. She also gave information on the levels of unsecured debt which people seeking advice from the Councils Money advice team have. She noted that debt can and does affect people in all walks of life. Lack of money can also impact on the local economy as well as the individual – e.g. if people have less money to spend in local shops etc
Pat went on to talk about the help that the Money Advice and the Income Maximisation Team can give ranging from benefits advice and assistance in dealing with creditors or arranging repayments to advising on options. She also highlighted a new booklet produced by the Council called ‘An Essential Guide to Benefits and Money Advice’ This is available from Service Points and is also on the Council’s website.
During discussion the following points were noted and actions agreed:
Cllr Wilson recently wrote to all oil suppliers in the Highland Council area asking them to lower their minimum delivery level to assist those on low incomes
It was noted that people are entitled to cold weather payments at age 60 but that they do have to register for this
Fuel poverty – further information on the definition of fuel poverty and the use of social tariffs was requested and will be provided prior to the next Ward Forum
The Council formed a steering group early on in the economic down turn to look at what help it could provide and has allocated an additional £100k of funding for Money Advice. The new Business gateway is now launched, supported by Highland opportunities
It is important for people to seek advice at an early a stage as possible if they are experiencing difficulties
6. Discretionary Budget
Information on Discretionary Budget spend (Ward 7) (pdf) to date was circulated. It was noted there is still some capacity in the budget but that there were projects in the pipeline and the budget would be fully spent by the end of the year.
7. Date of Next Meeting
The next ward forum is due to take place on Thursday 23rd April at 7.30 in the Averon Centre, Alness