Cromarty Firth Ward Forum
Action Note of Meeting 25th March 2010
Cllr Mike Finlayson
Cllr Martin Rattray (Chair)
Cllr Carolyn Wilson
Sally Cartwright, Alness Community Council
Joan Ross, Alness Community Council
John Edmondson, Ardross Community Council
Marion MacKay, Invergordon Community Council
Jaki Gardner, Invergordon Community Council
Fiona Dendy, Kiltearn Community Council
Helen Williamson, Saltburn &Westwood Community Council
Norma Young, Saltburn & Westwood Community Council
Chief Inspector Mike Coats, Northern Constabulary
Helen Ross, Ward Manager (Cromarty Firth Ward)
Kenneth McIver, Head teacher, Alness Academy
Sandy McGregor Head teacher, Invergordon Academy
Eleanor Neil, Head Teacher, Park Primary School
7 members of the public attended
1. Welcome and Introductions
Cllr Rattray opened the meeting and welcomed everybody. Cllr Smith’s apologies were noted.
2. Feedback from the last meeting held on 10th December 2009:
Feedback from Ward Forum held on 10.12.09 was circulated. In addition it was noted that the meeting with GPs that took place in January was useful and members also got some interesting contextual information, e.g. that the centre served a population of approx 13,000. It was noted that the Health Centres have now tried to introduce a new system, but this seemed to have caused additional problems. A further meeting with GPs is therefore to be sought, meantime anyone who is unhappy with the wait to get an appointment or such like is encouraged to complain direct giving as much detail as possible.
3. Community Safety –
Chief Inspector Coats gave un update on policing issues in the areas. He noted that police priorities include:
Anti social driving. Road safety, including drink driving
However it was also noted that the police cannot and will not criminalise young people simply for hanging about.
Overall Chief Inspector Coats noted that Ross & Cromarty remains one of the safest areas to live, and in this police area the crime rate is down approx 11% on last year while the detection rate is up 3%
During a period of questions and answers the following points were noted/actions agreed:
The traffic warden does have a patrol plan but if a particular issue crops up the plan can be adjusted.
Shore Road between Invergordon and Alness continues to be regularly patrolled.
Procedures around closure of snow gates was raised – it was noted that Tecs notify the police when a snow gate is to be closed and the police do a patrol in case anyone is between the closed gates
Litter is an issue in communities that can be expensive to address, and both litter and dog fouling tend to be high on list of local priorities. Problem not just caused by young people, but people of all ages. Ch Insp Coats confirmed police would be happy to support a focussed campaign against litter
The Community Works Officer to be asked to contact the traffic warden re disabled parking bays re the need for some to have the marking refreshed.
Use of mobile phones while driving is targeted sometimes using unmarked cars. Chief Inspector Coats agreed to provide basic figures on this if required, eg if members doing press coverage to highlight the issue.
4. Education and Young People
Sandy McGregor, Acting Head Teacher of Invergordon Academy gave a short presentation about Invergordon Academy. The latest school newsletter was also circulated. Some of the key points noted included:
The school received an excellent HMIE inspection report in April 09
1 area in which they want to school to develop is around work and links with feeder primary schools. Gavin Mackenzie (Active Schools Co-ordinator) is heading a Health & Wellbeing project involving senior pupils who are community sports leaders.
A ‘health passport’ scheme has been developed – under this primary pupils will do a number of tests , e.g. monitor heart rate, and these are then monitored through to S1
Curriculum for Excellence – the school has done an audit across all 1st year courses and departments have undertaken to check where there are links/overlaps and also to look at common skills required. It was noted that the current P78s will be the first cohort to go right through entirely on the new system
The school is looking at how the week is structured and at timings to try and ensure there is time allowed for PE & PSE for senior pupils
There is an emphasis on social relations and access to learning
Overall it is a very exciting time for the school but there is lots of change to be managed
The Government have produced a parents toolkit which the school is at the early stages of using
The school is involved in the Highland Literacy project. At present senior boys are working with P7s and the project is proving both popular and beneficial
The parent council is an important element and is very supportive
There is a new ICT contract in place with Fujitsu as the provider. The school had some concern re number of computers that would be supported under this new contract – Cllr Wilson undertook to check the position as her understanding was that the contract would not result in any lesser number of computers being supported.
Ken MacIver, Head Teacher of Alness Academy then gave a presentation about Alness Academy and circulated the School Report for 2010/11. Alness, like Invergordon, has teaching and learning and the new curriculum for excellence as a major focus - lots of change as noted by Sandy McGregor, and Alness are also looking at the structure of the week.
Some key examples of what the school has been doing were noted. They included:
Alness Academy achieved an ECO Schools Green Flag (the first school in Highland to do so)
Transition trip – this involved a 3 day residential for all new S1 pupils. It was a very positive experience for them which gave them a good start to their first year and a chance to get to know staff and each other
Raising achievements and expectations is an important task
The school works on joint projects with associated primaries – that last one focussed on numeracy, the coming one will focus on literacy. The school is involved in the Bridge to Employment Project which aims to encourage pupils to consider studying science, technology, technology, maths and engineering courses
The school runs an Achievers Scheme which rewards those who have put in a great effort.
South African Cultural Exchange – following a visit from some of the Gods Golden Acre Zulu Community a group of girls are now fundraising towards an exchange trip due to take place in July 2010
Seismometer – the school is now part of the British Geological Schools Seismology project
An Easter Study programme is in place to support pupil study
A new Bike Club skills track has been completed and a new project repairing old bikes for use is in place
Eleanor Neil, Head Teacher of Park Primary noted that the school has also been involved with Eco schools work, the health agenda etc. The links to Invergordon Academy are strong and the new link via the Active Schools Co-ordinator are proving very successful.
Janette Douglas, Youth Development Officer in the Alness Associated School Group area outlined some aspects of her work very briefly. She noted she is based in Alness Academy, and works closely with the school. She has also been involved in developing the transition trip through which new S1s have been able to take part in John Muir awards as well as building relationships with each other and with staff.
During the open discussion that followed the new ICT contract was discussed. Concerns were raised around:
the number of computers in schools that could be supported under the new contract
where schools had invested very heavily in ICT in previous years and had a high no. of computers, would the ICT refresh be on that high scale?
The level of investment in ICT in primaries.
the timescale for appointments and start dates for ICT technicians
If a Parent Council raises money for a piece of equipment such as an interactive white board, will this be supported under the ICT contract?
As members of the ICT working group Cllrs Rattray and Wilson undertook to take these issues back and get feed back.
5. Discretionary Budget
Ward 7 Budget Print 25.03.10 on spend to the end of the financial year circulated. It was noted the budget was fully spent and had funded a very wide variety of type and size of projects
Eplanning – it was noted that the eplanning service is now launched. This is an initiative which means planning applications can be submitted on line and also allows anyone to view, track and comment on any planning application on line. More electronic planning applications are being made, but any submitted on paper are now scanned in so they can also be viewed and tracked on line. One query was raised about this system the search engine does not appear to be working. This will be raised with the Area Planning & Building Standards Manager. A request was also made for a change to the contact for Saltburn & Westwood Community Council – this will be passed on to the Service.
Alness Transition Town Group – noted this group are launching their Home Energy Project on Friday 26th March at the Westend Community Centre from 12.00 – 2pm, all welcome.
Village Halls meeting – due to take place on April 13th at 7pm in the Council Chambers, Glenurquhart road, Inverness
7. Date of Next Meeting
The next Ward Forum is due to take place on Thursday 22nd April 2010 in Alness Heritage Centre, Alness. The topic is ‘Community Priorities’ and input from each Community Council is requested. The next meeting will then be on Thursday 17th June 2010 in the Ardross Community Hall. Cllr Sandy Park, Highland Council Convener, Cllr David Alston, Budget Leader, Alistair Dodds, Chief Executive and Alan Geddes, Director of Finance and Depute Chief Executive will all attend for this meeting which will focus on the Highland Council budget consultation.