Action Note - Ward Forum - Dingwall and Seaforth (Ward 9)
Meeting held on 15 April 2009
Present: Cllr’s Peter Cairns (Chair), Margaret Paterson, David Chisholm; Dingwall Community Council, Nigel Greenwood; Muir of Ord Community Council, Tom Davis; Conon Bridge Community Council, Alister MacKinnon; Maryburgh Community Council, Angus Christie; Northern Constabulary, Chief Inspector Mike Coates, Inspector Matthew Reiss; Highland Council, Gary Westwater, Head of Construction, June Ross, Principal Waste Management Officer Strategy, Liz Cowie, Ward Manager; RoWAN, Carol Masheter; Energy Saving Trust, Rob Snaith.
Item 1 - Welcome
Cllr. Cairns opened the meeting and made introductions. The format of the Ward Forum was explained and the topic for the meeting outlined.
Item 2 - Apologies
Cllr. Angela MacLean; Highland Youth Voice Rep’s; Ferintosh Community Council, Colin Craig.
Item 3 - Good News Items
- The proposed centenary celebrations for Conon Bridge were outlined. Cllr. Cairns wished the Community Council every success with the proposed events.
- There had been a very successful Cadet Event held in Dingwall with 110 Cadets from all over the United Kingdom ‘Beating the Retreat’. Over 500 people were on the High Street to watch the event.
- Dingwall Business Association. A successful informal meeting had been held on 2nd April at the National hotel. The next meeting would be held on 22nd April in the Council Chamber, Dingwall, to formally set up the organisation.
- Dingwall Green Bag launch. Hugely successful already with over 400 bags sold.
Item 4 - Action Note for Previous Meeting
All actions were noted.
Item 5 - Main Topic: Waste Not Want Not - How to Improve Life for Communities in Ward 9.
June Ross, Highland Council. June Ross, Principal Waste Management Officer, Highland Council (JR) gave an outline of her role and an overview of the service provided by the Council particularly in relation to Ward 9. Details were given of the new blue bin recycling service throughout the Ward. Waste awareness is very high in terms of work priority for staff. In 2002 95% of all waste went to landfill sites. This has now been reduced to 33% (recycling centres and recycling points have been particularly successful in reducing the overall percentage). By 2025 the target is 70% of all waste to be recycled with 5% to landfill and 25% to heating. The focus now is very much to reduce waste and reuse items. The importance of charity shops and organisations such as Homestart and Blytheswood in recycling and reusing items was highlighted.
Reference was then made to changes to the bulky uplift system and the introduction of charging. In April 2008 there were 1,332 requests for bulky uplift items. In April 2009 this had dropped to 140 requests. In terms of fly-tipping there had been 79 reports of fly-tipping in 2008 and this had reduce to 61 in 2009 over a comparative period. JR said it was early days and that the bulky uplift charges may impact but Highland Council staff were very happy to offer advice on other options. Advice was always given through the Service Centre before any bookings for bulky uplifts were taken. Highland Council are encouraged that people are changing their attitudes. The Dingwall recycling centre has been extremely successful and is very busy. 72% of what comes into Dingwall is recycled. In Inverness the percentage is 68%. At the site the education process continues with information on how to use the skips and how to be effective in recycling is given. There are also education packs available. A lot of work is done with schools and members of staff are available for talks to community groups, schools etc. There is a wide range of advice, information and help available. In terms of local community recycling, Muir of Ord had 98 tonnes of waste recycled from the local recycling point. The recycling point at Tesco had 144 tonnes. There is a big reduce, reuse message being conveyed by Highland Council. Cllr. Cairns thanked Mrs Ross for her informative and useful contribution.
Carol Masheter, Rowan. Carol Masheter (CM) gave an overview of the work done by RoWAN as an organisation and how they compliment the work done by Highland Council. Communities focussed on by RoWAN at present are Ullapool, Alness, Dingwall, Invergordon and Tain. CM then outlined the master composter scheme. There are currently 17 volunteers and RoWAN is still recruiting. The volunteers will help with advice and information on composting and will meet with anyone who wishes to make enquiries about this scheme. There is Government funding to help towards zero waste targets. Schools, businesses and households are all involved in this. Waste audits had been carried out in schools. Rowan staff are returning to schools in three months to assess progress toward the zero waste scheme. New initiatives in waste reduction with local businesses had taken off. The example was given of Macdonald Hardware in Dingwall who were linking up with businesses to supply paint for apprenticeship schemes. The selling of compost bins was highlighted locally. Food campaigns are very important in terms of food waste reduction. A third of all household waste is food and there is a huge drive to reduce food waste produced. Some households have been taking part in trials with food diaries being kept. This has raised huge awareness of how much food is actually being wasted. CM referred to the “love food, hate waste” campaign. More information on this and any of the other schemes is available from Rowan. CM then went on to discuss unwanted mail schemes and advised that Rowan also promote information on how to deal with this. Details were given of Rowan’s contacts, web links and also the offer to give talks to local communities and schools. Cllr. Cairns thanked Mrs Masheter for the very interesting information.
Gary Westwater, Highland Council. Gary Westwater, Head of Construction, gave an overview of energy management and improvements to construction processes in Highland Council. In terms of new builds, repairs and dealing with contractors, there are huge drives being pushed forward in Highland Council to improve the energy efficiency agenda. The energy management team works with colleagues across Highland Council to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. This includes design teams. The Chief Executive’s Service is producing policies across the board to give a framework to improve Highland Council’s performance. The council is constantly looking for appropriate new technologies and also seeking out grants to support introduction of these. Energy awareness training is also offered. There are environmental, social and financial reasons for this and there is the aspect of emissions reduction and targets set by government to be considered. Britain is now a net importer of energy so there are real and immediate issues to address. Eradication of fuel poverty was also referred to. Highland Council has issues to address as a landlord. All homes are to be warm, comfortable and emissions are to be reduced. There are concerns about rising costs and reducing budgets however there is a carbon reduction commitment. Using renewable energies to heat Highland Council buildings has to be looked at. GW did highlight that Highland is disadvantaged due to where located in terms of accessing low cost energy sources. 60% of Highland Council buildings use electricity. 69% more energy used in Shetland as opposed to London. Highland Council is somewhere in between this.
GW then gave an overview on the work that is being done with highland schools. The number of biomass boilers was detailed with Dingwall Primary being highlighted as a local example. 32 schools are having solar panels installed. Children are involved in monitoring the usage to bring them on board with the whole energy message. Wind turbines are also being installed. The Co-operative will assist with grants and information and this can be sourced online. Air source and wind source systems are also being used. Solar water heating (in terms of domestic use) is now being installed. Solar panels in swimming pools are currently being looked at. Highland Council also has a new scheme for “Green Ambassadors”. Green ambassadors help in increasing awareness and saving energy across the Highland Council and are the local champions for these schemes. Energy labelling now applies to houses and large buildings and GW gave an overview of this. Energy performance certificates also now have to be displayed. Cllr. Cairns thanked Mr Westwater for his contribution. Further information would be made available through links to be posted on the Ward Forum web page.
Rob Snaith, Energy Saving Trust. Rob Snaith, Micro-Renewables and Microgeneration Specialist. Due to limited time, Rob Snaith (RS) gave a brief overview on the organisation. The EST is a non-profit organisation that provides free impartial advice tailored to suit consumers. Advice can help save money and fight climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from homes. RS detailed that advice is also offered to small and medium sized enterprises. EST work in partnership with many organisations and are happy to assist and help wherever possible. Cllr. Cairns thanked Rob Snaith for his contribution.
Cllr. Cairns opened up to the floor for questions. He asked if the Forum had any outcomes they wished to see detailed and asked Forum members to consider objectives for their individual communities. Nigel Greenwood, Chair Dingwall Community Council. Would Highland Council fit any of the technologies detailed into older properties as well as new ones? GW responded that this would be assessed and would be based on need. NG then referred to the new Dingwall Academy and asked would technologies that had not been fitted now be looked at for the school? GW responded that it would depend on the scope of the individual PPP project. The payback period for photo voltaics is 25 years at present. Cllr. Cairns then floated the idea of community skips. JR advised that Highland Council used to have community skips but unfortunately with non-appropriate dumping in the skips this had had to be looked at. Skips were not now in accordance with waste reduction strategies. With waste transfer systems and the provision of recycling centres such as Dingwall, the need for community skips was no longer as important. The dumping of hazardous waste had also caused big problems with community skips. JR said that they are looking at “having a man with a truck on a Saturday” but that community skips would not be re-introduced. Question from Cllr. David Chisholm. When are the whole Ward getting blue bins? JR responded that in some parts of the Ward there were blue bins whilst other areas of the Ward still had the small blue bin and brown bin system. Some of this was related to the vehicles being used and advised that when the current vehicles came to the end of their leases the proposal is to move over completely to the blue bin system. She did ask for details on any areas that had been missed and asked for anyone to contact her direct with details. Cllr. Chisholm then posed a question for GW and asked how the disposal of light bulbs is dealt with? JR advised on this. The aim is to have a container for Televisions and also to introduce for the same for light bulbs. At the moment the public are being asked to to store bulbs if possible. A list is being co-ordinated by JR and again she could be contacted for details. Cllr. Margaret Paterson asked for information on what is happening with dumped and abandoned vehicles. JR responded that there should be producer compliant schemes and take back schemes. In terms of abandoned vehicles Police can make some basic enquiries and if cannot find the owner then tickets can be put on cars for 7 days. Northern Constabulary will work with the council to deal with issues. Cllr. Paterson then asked about litter issues on areas that are privately owned. Ian Wilson, Education and Enforcement Officer, would be the contact point for this.
Cllr. David Chisholm. ECS are responsible for large areas of land. How do Cllr.s and the Ward Forum get ECS to clean up specific areas? The example was given of the ex landfill sites at Dingwall and at Muir of Ord. JR to provide staff contacts for Cllr. Chisholm. The Pescanova site in Conon Bridge was also highlighted. A lot of fly-tipping is now going on. Someone seems to have access and is dumping waste. JR asked if SEPA had been approached as SEPA deals with private ground. Planning could also be contacted. Alister MacKinnon, Chair, Conon Community Council. Mr McKinnon referred to the Stornoway Centre and detailed the range of what was being done there. JR thought that there had been European funding for that particular initiative. Cllr. Cairns the closed the item and thanked all for their contributions.
Item 6 - Community Safety: Northern Constabulary
Chief Inspector Mike Coates gave an overview of his role. Originally from Beauly C.I. Coates has a good local awareness of the area which he felt was key in the role. He stated that he was totally accessible and encouraged communities to contact him direct to progress issues. Local information and feedback was imperative to positive policing. He outlined a number of initial ideas for area policing, for example every weekend would be fully covered. There would also be targeted operations which would be over and above the regular policing. An overview was given of the area and policing issues. It had been exactly one year since the force review. Good news from one year ago is that figures are down considerably across almost all classes. Proactive work has increased and correspondingly incidents and events are down. Assaults 11 down to 4, housebreaking 1, thefts have increased marginally to 10. Vandalism is down. Child protection issues are down. Drug searches are up from 8 to 13. Number of road accidents is fairly consistent however. Police seizures of vehicles not licensed - 8 vehicles in one month. Cautious downturn in crime noted. With high speed traffic issues the trend has continued upwards from 102 to 111. Unmarked cars are being trialled again. Every officer in the force is also a Road Traffic Officer and can deal with road traffic issues. C.I. Coates wants to see both marked and unmarked cars on the road and feels that enforcement is the best way forward. This was endorsed by Forum Members. On the issue of gathering youths, this had been highly targeted and significant improvements have been seen. Cllr. David Chisholm asked if those present felt that as a community we are less tolerant and what was perhaps perceived to be normal behaviour in the past is now seen to be disruptive and unacceptable. Discussion was held around this but the increase in bad language and noisy gatherings late on and lack of respect for not only themselves but other people was highlighted. Cllr. Margaret Paterson raised the issue of dirt bikes in Dingwall particularly in the area of Maggie’s Wood becoming a nuisance. This is becoming a real problem with those using the pedestrian paths and those dog walking feeling threatened. A number of close incidents had been reported. She asked what could be done in terms of this. CI Coates said that this really needed to be addressed with the parents. However the Police were working locally to gather information and to improve the situation. Working with local tenants groups and parents groups was key in this and education was a real factor. He was however realistic in terms of the difficulties Police faced in accessing the area given the location and the paths not being readily accessible by Police in vehicles.
Under-age drinking is down. Targeted operations do work. More visible policing is popular with the public. The new shift pattern is designed to meet European Working Time Directives and also to improve life/work balance. This was still being assessed for effectiveness. Cllr. Peter Cairns asked if the Ward would welcome further initiatives in Muir of Ord. There was a definite yes to this and this was noted. Cllr. Cairns asked about communities being local “eyes and ears”. CI Coates stated that this was definitely a positive way to work and working with community councils was very important. The Police had responded to requests for targeted initiatives in the Conon Bridge area and both Alister MacKinnon and Tom Davis affirmed that this had been successful. In terms of policing there were two new recruits for the Black Isle, one based in and around the Muir of Ord area and one in Fortrose. Cllr. Cairns thanked CI Coates and Insp. Reiss for attending the meeting.
Item 7 - LEADER
LC gave an update on the Dingwall and District Development Partnership. The forthcoming free funding fair and LEADER launch scheduled for the 25th of April was outlined.
Item 8 - Consultations
The Scottish Government model Community Council Scheme was discussed. Dingwall High Street Streetscape Scheme was also highlighted.
Item 9 - Discretionary Budget
An overview of Discretionary Budget spend was given by Cllr. Cairns. The budget for 2008/2009 had been allocated and it was confirmed that the budget would remain at £59,659 for 2009/2010. Applications for the new financial year allocation were welcome.
Item 10 - Public Questions
Fiona Sutherland, Station Road, Dingwall. There are no kerbside or onsite recycling facilities for flats in Dingwall and the question asked was why this should be the case? The nearest recycling initiative for flats appears to be in the Moray area. JR advised of a meeting being held on 20th April to look at this issue. She asked if Fiona Sutherland could provide her details and she would report back directly to her on this. Facilities for flatted accommodation were being looked at and there was a trial scheme being run at Raigmore flats in Inverness over the next few weeks. There were 5,000 flatted properties in and around Highland so it was a significant issue. Fiona Sutherland also raised the problem of people dumping in the area. Awareness raising and education were key to improving this.
Question from member of the public re energy efficiency
Are there any plans to help Council tenants with wind turbines or solar panels?
GW responded that Highland Council are focussing on bringing all HC properties up to the Scottish Quality Housing Standard. All houses have to be surveyed and Highland Council have to deal with these by rank. Highland Council will have to look at all buildings and whilst individual houses may not be considered these issues would all be looked at on the round. The member of the public present offered to be pilot. Gary Westwater said that the issue with wind turbines is the type. Smaller wind turbines are becoming more suitable and available. Larger turbines are without doubt more suited to exposed windy areas. Website details to be given for this. When surveys are carried out it can show a different picture. Performance can also be affected if site too close to buildings. Also in terms of cost benefit and cost recovery these can be longer term in being effective.
General question from Tom Davis, Chair of Muir of Ord Community Council. TD asked what the outcomes were of the recent meeting with Network Rail with regard to the Muir of Ord bridge situation. PC updated on progress in undertaking essential soil analysis tests. The project was moving forward.
Item 11 - Topic for Next Meeting
It was agreed that the topic for the next meeting be ‘Planning and Enforcement’ with Cllr. David Chisholm in the Chair.