Action Note - Ward Forum - Dingwall and Seaforth (Ward 9)
Meeting held on 28th October 2009
Present: Cllr’s Peter Cairns (Chair), Angela MacLean, Margaret Paterson, Martin Rattray; Dingwall Community Council, Nigel Greenwood; Muir of Ord Community Council, Tom Davis, Vic Clouston; Conon Bridge Community Council, Alister MacKinnon; Ferintosh Community Council, Colin Craig; Maryburgh Community Council, Jamie Dunsmore; Northern Constabulary, Chief Inspector Mike Coats, Acting Inspector David Greenlees; Highland Council, Bob Cameron, Corporate Manager, Liz Cowie, Ward Manager, Andy McCann, Economy & Regeneration Manager; Business Gateway, Donald Mackenzie; HISEZ, Brian Weaver; HIE Inner Moray Firth, Archie McCreevy; Dingwall Business Association/DDEG/Dingwall Community Council, David Lynch; Highland LEADER Programme, Liz Whiteford; Tulloch Woods Residents Association.
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. Apologies were received from Cllr. David Chisholm and Angus Christie, Maryburgh Community Council.
Item 3 - Good News Items.
- Transport Seminar being held on Saturday 31st in Dingwall Academy 9.30 – 12.30. Cllr Angela MacLean is the lead on this. The aim is to form a Local Transport Forum to give the community a voice on local transport issues and also to looking at progressing green travel initiatives. A Travel Diary Project is proposed. Free event, please come along.
- Dingwall Streetscape Project. Stakeholders meetings are working very well with issues being raised and addressed every two weeks. Information on Stakeholders meetings are provided at the Dingwall Service Point and on the Dingwall website www.dingwall.org.uk
- Scottish Government National Conversation debate will be hosted by the Highland Theological College on Monday 2nd November 6.00 pm for 6.15 pm. Places have to booked. Contact the Ward Manager for details.
- The Dingwall Conservation Area Appraisal has commenced. Andrew P. K. Wright has been appointed as the consultant. This is a joint project between Dingwall History Society and Highland Council. Outcomes to be reported at Ward Forum.
- Congratulations to Dingwall Gaelic Choir on their phenomenal success at the recent Royal National Mod in Oban lifting the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield and also in achieving the highest marks for Gaelic.
- Congratulations also to Highland Alternative Music and the young people of Ward 9 on a great performance on Saturday 24th October at Eden Court. ‘Past, Present and Future’ was an event supported by the local Cllr's in terms of the funding. It is hoped to bring the event to Dingwall.
Cllr. Paterson asked if she could highlight the changed route for the parade on Armistice Sunday. The route was outlined and it was asked if it could also be put on the Dingwall website. This was agreed.
Item 4 - Action Note from Previous Meeting. The Action Note was approved, however Alister McKinnon, Chair of Conon Community Council flagged that he still had had no information from Housing Services from the previous Forum.
Item 5 - Main Topic. Cllr. Peter Cairns outlined the topic and introduced Archie McCreevy, Operations Manager, Highland and Islands Enterprise Inner Moray Firth. AMcC detailed difficult times but that Highland has had successes. He outlined the criteria usually employed by large scale inward investors. Population is usually key to this. Investors need to be targeted. It also helps if businesses have local connections (e.g. family, holidays, local business links). A USP is needed (unique selling point). A key attraction is the flexible hardworking workforce and the area being seen as ‘green’. It does not overcome the aspect of lack of critical mass however. HIE have to take inward investors through the positives and the infrastructure. In terms of the Dingwall and Seaforth Ward, can be assisted by both HIE and the Council. One key issue is the lack of available land for development. It was confirmed that there is demand in Dingwall for service industries but land availability is a problem in terms of progressing development. Muir of Ord Industrial Estate is very close to capacity. The agency for inward investment is Scotland Development International. SDI staff are working locally with HIE. Question from Cllr. Paterson and Alister McKinnon, Chair, Conon Community Council on land availability and vacant plots on Dingwall Business Park. AMcC advised that all were under option or in private ownership. He further advised that consideration has been given to extending the business park to the west. Alister McKinnon, Chair, Conon CC, asked if there was scope for development in smaller communities such as Conon and Maryburgh. AMcC responded yes. Tom Davis, Chair, Muir of Ord CC asked about the Muir of Ord Industrial Estate and land availability. AMcC responded that landowners had to release land and this would have to be zoned for development to take place. He said that there were also infrastructure issues. Cllr. Paterson said that she was aware that HIE had been approached locally by firms who would be classed as ‘light industrial’ and asked why these firms were not being encouraged to develop in Dingwall. AMcC responded that some of the plots on the Business Park are owned by local businesses and that land is a key issue in progressing such enquiries. AMcC said that HIE also had to be aware of competition for existing local businesses. Business Parks were established for new businesses so the criteria surrounding that needed to be clarified. Tom Davis, Chair, Muir of Ord CC, said that businesses locally felt that they had to be put through hoops to get any assistance from HIE and also that HIE really need to be far more aware of local needs than they are at present. Colin Craig, Ferintosh CC, stated that commercial and industrial uses should be kept separate from housing and asked that this be clarified in zoning for development. There should be input to local plans and local plans could be influenced to identify more land. Cllr. Cairns referred to land and light industrial use. AMcC said that there was nothing to stop opening up to light industrial uses. For Phase 1 of the Dingwall Business Park, Ross and Cromarty District Council had progressed development and Phase 2 had been progressed by HIE with a focus on “clean uses”. No other industrial sites are available in the town. And there was an aim to keep a corridor open for clean uses. End of session.
Donald Mackenzie, Business Gateway. (Presentation available by accessing the Ward 9 web page - ‘current documents’. Contact details for Business Gateway are contained in the presentation.)
An excellent presentation was given by Donald Mackenzie, Business Gateway Manager. He clarified that Business Gateway has taken over some of HIE’s functions but that HIE are still responsible for large account management. Business Gateway is interested in absolutely everyone and will give advice to all. New starts and pre-starts are provided with a totally free service. There is full access to Business Gateway via the website and the ‘walk-in shops’. Individual meetings can also be set up to suit the client and enquirer. Business Gateway is very conscious that having local knowledge is an advantage and it is appropriate to have information available at a local level. Business Gateway also has access to high quality support for key and specialised areas. DMcK said that a lot of young people were coming forward with very good business ideas and that there was a real drive to support this area. A statistical overview of contact to date was given. The floor was then opened to questions.
Cllr. Paterson asked why there had been an initial slow start and what had caused this. DMcK said that there were a number of factors. Business Gateway had had a ‘soft launch’ but was now seeing steady growth. Individual Development Officers had had to establish local contacts and to build business contacts. The PSYBT scheme had also had to be promoted. After very slow demand initially, there had been a dramatic increase in requests for services. There had been a poor demand for training courses initially but this was now moving forward at a great pace. DMcK felt that it was now a lot clearer and that there was a much higher level of contact. A plus factor was the profile of, and access to, the national database. It was felt that contact with schools was very important. DMcK again emphasised the willingness to talk, and the freely available service. Good links with Highland Council were highlighted and that this can be promoted with enquirers to show that Business Gateway can cut through red tape and help with the public sector. There are very good links with HISEZ and this was emphasised as a positive for businesses. Cllr. Cairns thanked Mr. Mackenzie for an informative and beneficial presentation.
Dingwall Business Association. A presentation was given by David Lynch, Chair of Dingwall Business Association and the Greenhouse, and an overview of success to date with those ventures outlined. (Document to be made available on the Ward 9 Web page.) The objectives for the proposed project for the Mill St Depot were outlined including the community garden, community composting, timber reclamation and furniture reclamation. Project length is estimated to be three years; thereafter the aim is that the project is self-sustaining. The floor was then opened to questions. Alister McKinnon, Chair Conon Community Council, asked about Dingwall Business Association and if was there an opportunity for other businesses outwith Dingwall across the Ward to join. DL said that the group were definitely considering associate membership. Currently the objects of the group meant that the area was defined as Dingwall but that he would contact Mr McKinnon direct after raising the matter again with the Business Association. Cllr. Cairns said that the message was very strongly ‘reuse’ as opposed to ‘recycling’ and that the Mill St Project worked in well with the Council’s strategic objectives. There is also a higher priority for reusing in terms of government targets. Cllr. Cairns thanked Mr Lynch for the information and presentation which had been most informative.
Brian Weaver, HISEZ. BW outlined that HISEZ is a community interest company and gave background to the work carried out. He then detailed that a social enterprise has to 1) have clear social purpose 2) that profits go back into the social enterprise and 3) that it must trade. HISEZ gives support to new and existing social enterprises and encourages them, through support, to operate in a businesslike way. In Highland contact and support can be quite diverse and different. The example was give of Ness Soaps who started off small and now have a turnover of £100,000 per year. They had incrementally grown from very small beginnings. Self sustaining is the goal, making it last and becoming permanent.
It was then outlined that all village halls can be social enterprises (the social purpose aspect). Community Energy companies also in generating their own power. Good advice is offered and also support. HISEZ has a Network of Business Advisors; Karen MacLean Yule is based in Culbokie so is a local person to contact. Mr Weaver finished his presentation by highlighting that the Eden Project was actually a social enterprise. The floor was then opened to questions.
Bob Cameron, Corporate Manager made an observation regarding procurement and that this could be looked at to see if there are elements that can involve social enterprise.
Cllr. Cairns asked if, from a regeneration point of view, Dingwall Community Council could access funding for development of the Town Hall and that if it could then become a social enterprise. Action Point: Ward Manager to investigate this.
Brian Weaver advised that there was a forthcoming meeting in Ullapool to attract interest in halls and there was a possibility of this being rolled out across the area.
In terms of the Dingwall Common Good Fund, Bob Cameron clarified that funds are currently being targeted at repairing the balcony and addressing issues in the hall. He confirmed that Dingwall Common Good is very small in terms of the financial pot.
The Chair thanked Brian Weaver for a very informative presentation.
Item 6 - Community Safety Northern Constabulary. CI Coats gave an overview of crime statistics and advised that overall crime had gone down. Detection rates are high and are sitting at over 66%. In terms of serious crime there is a 100% detection rate. Rural break-ins were highlighted and the success in detection of this. The work of the Public Protection Unit was also detailed. Anti-Social Behaviour at Mill Bank Road. An operation had been run as a result of the last Ward Forum with the Community Resource Team. This had proved successful. CI Coats outlined the Street Football programme and again highlighted problem areas that are being targeted and that initiatives are proving to be very successful. There was very much an education and engagement message being promoted. Local feedback is that there is a difference and that young people’s involvement in the Drug and Alcohol Forum is important. Cllr. Paterson highlighted Government cutbacks and the impact on young people, for example with the Cadet movement. Tom Davis, Chair, Muir of Ord CC, said that in terms of figures reported, those that go forward to the Fiscal are different from the detection rates. With regard to the local parking issue at Bridaig, this had been raised at the Dingwall CC meeting. CI Coats said that the Police are trying to resolve this and that they have been allocated spaces at the Council car park and that these are being used. CI Coats recognised that there are problems and that they are trying to address this with staff. Friday and Saturdays are pressurised due to the volume of Officers on duty. CI Coats did point out that car parking in the area to the rear of the Police Station is not illegal if there is no residents’ parking scheme. Vandalism can be an issue for Officers parking their cars far removed from the Police Station. Cllr. MacLean asked if the Police have a policy on green travel and sharing transport in terms of ‘Travel to Work’. CI Coats said that wherever possible the Police do try to encourage these initiatives. However ‘Travel to Work’ can be difficult as shift patterns make it hard to implement. Use of bicycles was discussed as had been piloted in Inverness. As officers cover Dingwall, Alness and the Black Isle it would prove difficult to try this out.
A request was then was made by CI Coats to have the Community Safety item at the beginning of the agenda so that if issues arise, the Police could leave after giving the report. This was agreed by Forum members.
Item 7 – Current Consultations. Community Council Boundaries. These were discussed by the Forum. Colin Craig, Ferintosh CC, advised that they were happy with the current boundaries. Alister McKinnon, Chair, Conon CC, said that their boundaries had been reviewed and were now felt to be correct. Maryburgh had also been reviewed and it was not felt that there was any need for further review. Dingwall Community Council could consider review. BC clarified that the boundaries had been set in 1975 and said that Community Council membership can be positively affected by changing boundaries thus encouraging bigger and broader membership. Action Point: It was agreed that where appropriate, all CC’s discuss this issue at forthcoming meetings. Closing date for responses is the 23rd of December 2009.
Item 8 – Discretionary Budget. An overview was given by the Ward Manager.
Item 9 – Public Questions. Morag Black, Tulloch Wood Residents Association.
- Request made for the dog bin to be relocated at Robert’s Bridge.
- ₤600 had been given to the Residents’ Association for dog bins. TWRA were looking for help in finalising locations for the bins. There was also concern about possible additional costs. The Ward Manager offered to contact the Dog Warden with regard to this.
- Right of Way issue. TWRA asked why they had not been consulted. Nigel Greenwood, Dingwall Community Council, responded that the issue had been ongoing for quite a considerable time and would have been before the Tulloch Wood Residents’ Association was constituted. He advised that the Community Council are actively trying to resolve the issue. NG also advised that he had a meeting set up with the Director of Planning and Development in order to bring the matter to a conclusion.
- With regard to the issue re dog bins, it was agreed to take matters to the Ward Business Meeting and then to respond to TWRA.
Date of Next Meeting. Confirmed as 9th December 2009 at 7.00pm in the Council Chamber. Apologies were submitted in advance by Colin Craig, Ferintosh Community Council.
Topic for Next Meeting. Cllr. Cairns suggested that each of the Community Councils bring forward the key issues that they see as relevant for their own communities. This was agreed.
Amendment to Action Note: The proposed main topic has been deferred to allow for a presentation and discussion on the Winter Road Maintenance Programme.