Sutherland County Committee approves over £67K for local projects

COVID-19 County response commended

At the first meeting of The Highland Council’s Sutherland County Committee since COVID-19 lockdown, local Councillors met virtually online and approved two Dornoch Common Good Fund applications exceeding £67,000 which will directly benefit the local area.

Members approved £27,365 to Dornoch Heritage SCIO for the second phase of the Historylinks Museum extension project; and £39,760 to Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) for the first phase (40 car and 6 coach space) parking works of their Project Curlew Masterplan which will see the transformation of the former Dornoch slaughterhouse site – subject to match funding. The DACIC parking project is part of a larger 5-phased project to bring the long-derelict site into community ownership and different use. When completed it will include a community centre, curling rink, multi-use games area, and a golf driving range.

Committee Chair, Cllr Richard Gale said: “The Historylinks Museum is a fantastic place and offers a great facility to locals and visitors and keeps the history of Dornoch and the surrounding areas alive. This is an excellent project and I commend the endeavours of the very committed voluntary group that runs it. This extension will be a real boost to the museum and its volunteers to help display many more exhibits providing a bigger draw for tourists to the local area.”

He added: “The DACIC Project Curlew is an excellent proposal which will also benefit Dornoch and the surrounding areas. DACIC are taking back ownership of what is effectively a derelict waste piece of land and have ambitious proposals to seriously improve the area and offer new facilities for community and visitors.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander Jason Gardiner gave an update to Councillors on the work of the Fire Service.

Committee Chair, Cllr Richard Gale welcomed the work of the SFRS in the Sutherland area, he said: “The work that the Fire and Rescue crews are achieving is very welcome, and I thank them very much for all the efforts that they put into Sutherland and across Highland. I’m particularly delighted with their work in schools, which is so important, and I hope that they manage to continue that. I’m impressed with the process of having drivers trained to drive ambulances and it’s great to see cross-agency working which is so important. I’m delighted that the community safety aspect of SFRS work has continued and the statistics presented are very encouraging which is all down to the work that crews put into our local area.”

Paul Senior, Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning provided Members with an update on the plans and preparations underway to prepare for the return of pupils and staff to Sutherland schools in August.

Mr Senior said: “Previous investment in chrome books and IT has really paid off for Highland and has enabled our Education to respond well during lockdown. As a region, Highland Education is well positioned in comparison to other local authorities that have not invested in their IT.”

He thanked all staff for their hard work in IT, transport, catering, early learning and childcare, and facilities and cleaning and said: “I am keen that we recognise the whole school system including teachers as it comes together in readiness for August with the management of risk and safety of our staff and pupils at the forefront.”

Cllr Gale said: “I would like to express my gratitude for the teaching staff who have worked very hard to prepare for the different scenarios for the return to school. They have done a tremendous job and I would like to pass on our thanks to them for that. We look forward to working with Mr Senior not just as ECO for Education and Learning but also as lead ECO for Sutherland.”

Ward Manager Phil Tomalin presented a report on the Council’s humanitarian response to COVID-19 across the region and within Sutherland; followed by updates from the Head of Strengthening Communities at HIE, Angela Simpson; Ellen Linsday of BADAG, Brora; Marion Macdougall for North Connections in Tongue and Jim Johnston, Bettyhill Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council on the third sector response.

Councillor Gale thanked all the speakers for their updates and said: “It’s really important that we get a full understanding of what can be achieved in communities during an emergency. Sutherland always steps up to the mark across the County, when we are faced with a challenge by responding positively, flexibly and in a bespoke manner for each of its communities across the County. Every organisation involved has done what was needed in their own community and we are very grateful to each and every one of them for the work that they have done over this very difficult and challenging time. We have had a lot of support from HIE, and the work of the third sector and community organisations has been phenomenal. We thank you all.”

Joanne Sutherland, Highland Council’s Roads Operation Manager summarised the activities undertaken by the Area Roads Team during the COVID-19 lockdown period. She said: “We have had a huge turn out from our staff, who have been extremely co-operative and willing to work. We have a very good team who have done very well. In addition to their own work they also assisted the Council’s Waste service and helped with humanitarian food deliveries and supported the wider Council as well.

Councillor Gale thanked Joanne for the report and extended his thanks to the roads teams who have showed great flexibility and commitment during the lockdown period.

9 Jul 2020