Agendas, reports and minutes

Nairnshire Committee

Date: Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Minutes: Read the Minutes

Minutes of Meeting of the Nairnshire Committee held in the Chamber, The Court House, High Street, Nairn on Wednesday 28 November 2018 at 10.30 am.


Mr L Fraser, Mr T Heggie, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr P Saggers

In attendance:

Ms L Cowie, Ward Manager, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey
Ms S MacLennan,  Housing Manager (South), Community Services
Mr S Taylor, Administrative Assistant, Chief Executive’s Office

Also in attendance:

Mr G Morrison, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (Item 3)

An asterisk in the margin denotes a recommendation to the Council.  All decisions with no marking in the margin are delegated to the Committee.

Mr T Heggie in the Chair


Prior to the commencement of the formal business, the Chair advised that the press would be allowed to record the meeting since it was a committee meeting held in public and was not webcast.

The Chair then drew attention to several key initiatives which were progressing within the Nairnshire area during the year ahead, including Nairn Business Improvement District (BID); the Nairn Links Development Framework and project proposals by Nairn PLAY.  He advised that he had held discussion regarding wider projects in other Authority areas and within Highland with a view to developing specific areas of interest and that this would be focused on the inclusion and wellbeing of citizens.  He highlighted that improving local outcomes and reducing inequalities within the community would be addressed along with other issues in partnership with the Community Planning Partnership.  He drew attention to two local projects at the War Memorial and the pathway and parking at the Riverside which had recently been completed by local contractors to a high standard and concluded by highlighting the positive direction the community was heading in as a result of the hard work and focused effort being made across services.

Members welcomed the significant achievements which had been made over the previous year and the moves being taken by the Council towards further localism.  The role of Nairn BID in the upcoming consultation on car-parking within Nairn was highlighted and it was emphasised that any changes to current parking arrangements should be based on the consensus of public opinion.


1. Apologies for Absence

There were no apologies for absence.

2. Declaration of Interest
Foillseachaidhean Com-pàirt

The Committee NOTED the following Declaration of Interest:-

Item 5 – Mr L Fraser (non-financial)

3. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Local Committee Performance Report for 2018-19
Seirbheis Smàlaidh agus Teasairginn na h-Alba – Aithisg Coileanaidh na Comataidh Ionadail airson 2018-19

There had been circulated Report No N/17/18 dated 18 October 2018 by the Local Senior Officer for Highland (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service).

In discussion, the following points were raised:-

  • It was highlighted that the number of deliberate fires within Nairnshire attended to by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service during the month of April accounted for a quarter of the total figures for the whole of the Highlands during the same month;
  • In welcoming the information provided which indicated that there had been no reports of deliberate fires within Nairnshire during September, further information was sought, and received, regarding the Service’s approach to educating young people on the actions of deliberate fires;
  • In welcoming the report and the work being undertaken by the Service in relation to education and home visits, concern was expressed regarding an increase in the number of unwanted false alarm signals and further information was sought, and received, regarding the actions being taken to address this;
  • Across the Highlands there was recognition of the pro-active joint working approach bring taken by the Service in conjunction with Police Scotland within communities to raise awareness and provide education on preventative measures and the Service was commended for this; and
  • It was emphasised that premises owners had to take responsibility for how they managed fire alarms within their buildings.

Having thanked the Local Senior Officer for his report, the Committee NOTED and scrutinised the Area Performance Report.

4. Nairn Common Good Fund – Audited Accounts, Annual Report 2017/18 and Quarter 2 Monitoring 2018/19 Report
Maoin Math Coitcheann Inbhir Narann – Cunntasan Sgrùdaichte, Aithisg Bhliadhnail 2017/18 agus Aithisg Sgrùdaidh Cairteil 2 2018/19

There had been circulated joint Report N/18/18 dated 14 November 2018 by the Depute Chief Executive/Director of Corporate Resources and Inverness City Area Manager.

In discussion, the following points were raised:-

  • In highlighting the scrutiny role of the Council’s Pensions Investment Committee, the work undertaken by the Council’s investment team was commended and it was emphasised that the Council was one of the few local authorities with a surplus on its pension fund;
  • Attention was drawn to the good performance of the Council’s pension funds and common good funds over the previous reporting period and the view was expressed that the Council’s investments over the long terms would continue to grow and provide further income;
  • The Common Good Fund was in a healthy position in comparison to previous years and the work undertaken by staff in relation to preparing and investigating issues arising from the Common Good Fund was commended;
  • In highlighting the £6k reduction arising from the revaluation of the River Fishings rates, the work undertaken by Mr John Prince, Nairn District Salmon Fishery Board, in reducing fishing rates by £200 per year following a successful appeal to the rates assessor was commended;
  • In highlighting the ongoing work being taken beyond local level in relation to statutory legislation and consultations being undertaken, the Nairn Common Good Fund was in a good position to deal with any changes or developments in legislation; and
  • In commending the research and investigation work undertaken by the Ward Manager and dedicated Business Support staff in Nairn in relation to the Common Good Fund, it was emphasised that this work had helped the Council on a wider level to deal with issues arising in relation to potential legislative changes and the potential impact on other common good funds.

The Committee NOTED the Nairn Common Good Fund Annual Report for 2017/18 and the position of the Nairn Common Good Fund and outturn as shown in the Quarter 2 monitoring statement against budget.

5. Housing Performance Report – 1 April to 30 September 2018
Aithisg Coileanaidh Taigheadais – 1 Giblean gu 30 Sultain 2018

Declaration of Interest: Mr L Fraser declared a non-financial interest in this item as a Sub-Contractor for the Housing Service in Nairn but, having applied the test outlined in Paragraphs 5.2 and 5.3 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, concluded that his interest did not preclude his involvement in the discussion.

There had been circulated report No N/19/18 dated 9 November 2018 by the Director of Community Services.

During discussion, the following points were raised:-

  • In response to a request, Members were advised that a report providing further information on overall housing demand in the Nairnshire area and the Highland Housing Register would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee in March 2019; and
  • In highlighting a significant increase in the number of re-lets within Nairn and Cawdor, it was reported that the higher than normal turnover in houses was due to increased availability arising from new housing developments and new houses coming onto the market in Nairn and that future housing developments such as at LochLoy might see this trend continue; and
  • In highlighting the potential opportunity for the Council to purchase back vacant council houses, further information was sought, and received, regarding the Council’s “off-the-shelf purchase policy” and the investigation of potential properties to purchase.

During discussion regarding Universal Credit, concern was expressed that the roll-out of the Universal Credit system had resulted in an increase in rent arrears and that some claimants had been left without an income for lengthy periods.  It was emphasised that Council-wide arrears of £2¼m could impact on future budgets and action was required across the Highlands to address this.  In response to a request for further information on how the Housing Service could help tenants experiencing difficulties with income, the Housing Manager (South) explained that tenants could visit Council Service Points where staff would be able to provide assistance and signpost them to the appropriate specialist advice agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.  She also advised that the Department for Work and Pensions had an advice line which people were encouraged to contact and drew attention to a full report that was submitted to the Council’s Equalities Working Group on welfare reform and the Council’s position and that this was available on the Council website.  During further discussion, a request was made for anonymous examples of the experiences tenants had faced under the Universal Credit system to be included within a future report.

In concluding discussion, the Chair emphasised the need to look at the provision and accessibility of affordable housing in the Nairnshire area and commended the work undertaken by housing staff within Nairnshire. 

The Committee NOTED and scrutinised the information provided on housing performance for the period 1 April to 30 September 2018.

6. Minutes of Previous Meeting

There had been circulated and were NOTED Minutes of Meeting of the Nairnshire Committee held on 12 September 2018, which had been approved by the Council on 25 October 2018.

The meeting concluded at 11.20 am.