Lochalsh Community Council
Auchtertyre – Avernish – Balmacara – Kirkton – Reraig – Glaick
Tuesday 21st June 2022– 7.30pm
Present Adrienne Sowood, Tim Sowood (Chair), Emma Bennon, Sarah Longley, James Merryweather, Patrick Logue (Cllr), Roz Birch (HC Senior ranger)
Apologies Siobhan Barker, Holly Philp, Susan Pettie Lynne Crawford,
Tim welcomed everyone, particularly Roz and Patrick, noting that the meetings today (this AGM and the business meeting to follow) are our first face to face meetings for two years.
Minutes AGM 2021 – Approval
Proposed – Emma Seconded – James
Chairperson’s Report 2022
Over this last year, whilst we have been emerging and moving on from the pandemic constraints, considerable effort by our members has been focussed on three major issues, the safety of fast traffic and the bus shelter on the A87, the roadside environmental problems associated with fouling, litter and wild camping, and the proposed seaweed farms in Loch Alsh. We have had the first of two major beach cleans organised by Siobhan and Roz, and which was very well supported. Our barrel planting and maintenance, currently under way again after getting a grant from Highland Council, is being done by volunteers young and old. We will now have 22 barrels across the area. Emma has worked hard and has many volunteers establishing the new community garden in Auchtertyre. We have been aware for some time of the lack of an accessible defibrillator in our area and Siobhan has done sterling work in acquiring full funding and training, and locating it at the Spar in Reraig. Four of us have attended the Lochalsh Collaboration meetings with Emma and Susan taking active roles in producing the Community Action Plan due to be launched over the summer. James and Sarah have made regular talented and interesting contributions to the Community newsletter which we still deliver to every house in our area.
In the years I have been Chair (and Adrienne secretary) we have had many ups and downs. Despite edicts from the powers that be that Community Engagement is an important priority, I have found, from experience over those years, Community Empowerment has a long way to go yet at our grass roots level. We have experienced high handed intransigent attitudes and unhelpful responses from official government national and local bodies paying, in cases, only lip service to our concerns.
However, our closest contacts, ward managers Robbie Bain and more recently Dot Ferguson, and our new senior ranger Roz Birch have been exceptionally helpful and understanding. We have also been well represented by our Councillors Biz Campbell and, previously, Audrey Sinclair whose guiding hands have seen us through many issues. At national level we have had excellent support from our MP Ian Blackford and our MSP Kate Forbes in the difficulties we have had with Transport Scotland. Ian’s commissioning of the Safer Road Foundation gave new impetus to the ongoing issues on the A87 and we are most grateful to them, particularly their Executive Chairman, Michael Woodford for their continuing efforts.
Most satisfying during my and Adrienne’s tenure as Chair and Secretary, is the way, particularly in recent years, that our membership has flourished. We now have a vibrant, active, much younger membership which bodes well for the future of Lochalsh Community Council. Lockdown was almost a catalyst for this and subsequently the projects, issues, community involvement that have, and are being developed is most encouraging. Adrienne and I are not going away, just stepping down from our roles as secretary and chair and will be around and, hopefully active until the next CC elections in November 2023.
We thank you all for the support and contributions you have made over the years.
Tim Sowood -Chair
Lochalsh Community council AGM - 21.06.2022
203 - cleared 8th April 2021 to Beth’s Cafe for providing Community Food Bank catering.
204 - cleared 20th July 2021 to Loch Duich Plants
205 - cancelled.
206 - cancelled
207 - cleared 2nd November 2021 to Loch Duich Plants.
208 - cleared 28th October 2021 To Roddy for repairing the community benches.
209 - cleared 27th October 2021 for LCC website
210 - cleared 11th November 2021, Donation to Auchertyre Primary school to help with buying waterproof for the nursery children.
211 - cleared 15th November 2021, Donation to Balmacara Hall committee for Christmas lights in the square.
212 - cleared 15th November 2021,secretary expenses
213 - cleared 15th November 2021 Chair’s expenses.
We have had quite an active year despite being reduced mainly to zoom meetings. In some ways this made meetings more accessible but nothing beats sitting down with colleagues and I think perhaps we have all found getting used to IT in a way we’ve never had to before was quite tricky for some, particularly in light of the poor internet connections that many of us living here have. To that end all members of the council are to be commended for their dedication in what has been quite a difficult time. We had hoped to continue in some way melding zoom with our face to face meetings but this has not been possible due to lack of facilities and community empowerment issues. We have been unable to share community spaces such as schools and colleges.
It was therefore excellent to be able to use Kirkton Hall, the only community hall within our council area, yet we will face rental charges for this. Currently the Highland Council grant doesn’t cover the expenses of the Treasurer, Chair and Secretary together with our public liability insurance, this is before we even think about venue hire for meetings and is unsustainable. We will have to look at other fundraising avenues if the grant is not increased for these basic requirements. It must be remembered that we are all volunteers with families and busy jobs, to ask even more of our members may lead to a reduction in numbers as the pressure is very high.
We were particularly thrilled to support Beth’s Cafe with a community grant during the pandemic. It made a big difference to a lot of people.
Many of our members also worked voluntarily as part of a community response to the difficulties faced and I know that their efforts helped an awful lot of people, not just in our community council area, but others too.
It was also great to help primary school and to receive the lovely cards from the little ones was wonderful.
Balmacara Hall Committee put on a brilliant community event last Christmas, the first get together for everyone. Seeing the lights was great. Sadly they were vandalised after the event, but I believe were reparable. The event was thoroughly enjoyed.
I would like to thank the previous Treasurer for guiding me through the changeover and the Chair and Secretary for supporting me in this role.
But most of all I want to thank everyone in Lochalsh Community council for their admirable and continued hard work.
Adoption of Audited Financial Statement of Accounts
Proposed Tim Seconded James – the FS was adopted
Election of Office Bearers
Chair – James Merryweather; Proposed Tim, Seconded Emma
Vice Chair – Emma Bennon; Proposed Sarah Seconded Adrienne
Secretary -Siobhan Barker ; Proposed Adrienne Seconded James
Treasurer -Emma Bennon; Proposed Sarah Seconded Adrienne
note Siobhan had already indicated willingness to stand – unable to attend at last minute due to car problem
Lochalsh Community Council.
Accounts for the year ending 31st March 2022.
THE USUAL MEETING FOLLOWED
Lochalsh Community Council
Auchtertyre – Avernish – Balmacara – Kirkton – Reraig – Glaick
Meeting held on : Tuesday 21st June 2022
Time: Following AGM held at 7.30 pm Venue:Kirkton Hall
Present James Merryweather (Chair), Adrienne Sowood, Tim Sowood , Emma Bennon, Sarah Longley, Roz Birch (HC Senior Ranger), Patrick Logue (HC Cllr)
Apologies Lynne Crawford, Holly Philp, Siobhan Barker
Approval of previous minutes 17th May 2022 - Approved
Matters arising from minutes of last meeting.(not covered by Agenda items)
Table Tennis table/ Kirkton Hall, in hand -we’ve only just got use of the Hall.
Community Garden, in hand
Press release WHFP week before last was good. Thanks Emma.
Tim has written and circulated emails to TS and HC to continue the pressure and update them on the changing circumstances.
We gave Patrick the background of the unresolved issues with the A87 over many years and how now The Safer Road Foundation has taken up our case. Emma said it was hard to believe that someone of Michael Woodford’s calibre was being ignored. James reminded us of the long history of this problem and the power point presentation he did previously but which was not taken notice of. Sarah will also write to HC again about the bus stop as her daughter will be catching the school bus to Plockton next term. There was also mention of another resident’s dog being run over and the difficulty of crossing the road particularly with a small child in a buggy.
Emma gave the background of the GSF application to Marine Scotland to Patrick. The deadline for objections has been extended to 7th July to take account of the changed layout of Nostie Bank. Objections on behalf of LCC have ben lodged and we are aware of many individual objections by residents, particularly from Avernish where the issues of visual impact, navigation and damage to the local economy were some of the matters raised. James said he was changing his view on the acceptability of the scheme. He is particularly concerned about the amount of hydrogen peroxide from fish farm treatments which could affect the toxicity of the seaweed produced. Emma again expressed her concern regarding the misinformation from GSF particularly wrongly claiming support of local experts and fisherman.
Toilets, Wild camping etc
Roz Birch gave a very detailed overview of her team’s activities in our area including addressing the issues of alfresco toiletting, wild camping etc. and applying the Scottish Outdoor Code working with both tourists and residents.
This is her summary -
Access Ranger Role - primary responsibility is to engage with the public, visitors, communities, landowners, and grazing's committees about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and ensuring that everyone is accessing the outdoors responsibly. Alongside the engagement we will also inform visitors about the Road Traffic Act 1998 and resting overnight in laybys and what is allowed. A key element is collecting data to fully inform further tourism management and identify where additional tourism and infrastructure support is needed. The data collected from 2021 was previously shared with yourselves and highlights the following key issues impacting residents of the Lochlash Community Council Area:
Reraig to Kyle A87 laybys - high toileting, littering and fly tipping sites. Used often for resting overnight in laybys.
Auchtertyre Junction to Loch Carron Viewpoint laybys - high toileting and littering. Used often for resting overnight in laybys.
Reraig Layby - Overnighting in residential area. Requesting all to follow Traffic Road Act 1998 & NO Camping signs added (just spotted these have now been removed, so I'll replace them ASAP).
Action taken so far for the Lochlash Community Council Area:
Signs at various laybys in the area with directions to toilets (2022).
Visitor Waste Operative and myself litter pick in laybys (2021 & 2022)
I undertake toileting data collection and clearing, with Environmental Health if needed (2021 & 2022)
Data was shared with Tourism Committee and other Highland Council Teams to inform further funding bids and other infrastructure developments (2021 & 2022)
Sharing the public amenities QR code for quick access to the map of toilets across Highland either managed or funded by Highland Council (2022).
Distributing the Wester Ross Biosphere Touring Guidance leaflet (2021 & 2022)
Distributing NatureScot's Wild Camping and responsible access leaflets (2021 & 2022)
Sharing data with Wester Ross Biosphere to help inform their actions for the south of the region of Wester Ross. (2021 & 2022)
Data in context, even though there are sections of the A87 from Morvich to Dornie, Reraig to Kyle and A890 Auchtertyre all the way to Strathcarron with toileting issues, the majority of the problem for the Lochlash Council Area as a whole, are between Bun Loyne Junction and Kintail. In Autumn 2021 I suggested several sites to Public Amenities as options for the comfort scheme, these include:
Shield Bridge Cafe / Campsite - is now on the comfort scheme for 2022 as nearest the key issue areas.
I am continuing to liaise with landowners around Cluanie to see if further amenities could be developed in this area and thus also reduce the pressures on Lochlash.
Additional suggestions for the area as discussed:
Public Facilities are non-statutory. Provision will continue to be challenging as there is no statutory responsibly to spend public money on provision. It would be worth seeing if this 'non-statutory' status could be reviewed through MSPs, MPs and Councillors as a change to the status could ensure more money can be spent on provision and maintenance of public facilities.
Work with Kyle and Lochlash Community Trust to set up road signs with distances to public amenities and services within the area, especially as private toilets are not featured on the QR code map. If there is an option to extend the opening hours at Kyle this would also be useful. Signs to comfort scheme places are difficult as they are often seasonal, but Broadford is 24hrs and could be signposted in Lochlash for tourists and workers travelling through outside of normal opening hours.
Work with Wester Ross Biosphere as the area's Destination Management Organisation to explore if there is a more joined-up approach to preventing roadside toileting and other tourism impacts where a plan could be developed in collaboration with KLCT and Community Councils in the area. Could there be scope to look at developing a site for Motorhomes, coaches/tour buses and HGVs with toilets and other facilities that reduces the pressures on existing sites?
A very detailed and helpful report with plenty of suggestions we can persue. We thanked Roz for coming tonight and her dedication in trying to improve our area.
James is shortly having a telephone meeting with Debbie Sutton to discuss the issues and possible solutions he, and others, have raised in recent correspondence. It was suggested that Debbie might come over to a meeting which Roz would also be happy to attend.
The next Beach Clean will be on this coming Sunday 26th June between 10 and 3, once again organised by Roz and Siobhan . It will be on the beach fronting Balmacara House and will be on Facebook.
Nothing further to report.
Teacher Number update Auchtertyre Primary
Patrick reported that he had been in touch with the parents. The concern is that pupil numbers have dropped to just two below the threshold meaning the loss of one teacher.
Balmacara Community Trust
Following our meeting with BCT earlier this month and contact with KLCT, we agreed on the following statement to clarify the CC position re acquistion of the Balmacara Woodland Park. Siobhan was due to present on behalf BCT but due to difficulties with her car was unable to do this. However Emma, Tim and Adrienne were at the meeting when Mike Shucksmith asked for our support.
Lochalsh Community Council Meeting 21/6/22
Agenda item – Balmacara Community Trust
Minute will include the following agreed statement
Balmacara Woodland Campsite
Lochalsh Community Council is totally in favour of this site being taken into public ownership and will support any suitable project to achieve a Community Asset Transfer from Forestry and Land Scotland.
We are aware of the interest of Balmacara Community Trust and Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust in this site. We believe that two competing bids would indicate a divided community and be detrimental to both. We therefore feel that some way forward should be sought with one scheme which both of the Trusts and the Community support.
BCT have asked for our support which, of course we will give as the local Community Council. We understand there will be a need for more people to participate and while we cannot commit individual members to this, we would encourage everyone to join BCT (it’s free!) and those who can, to offer help in whatever way they are able.
We will let both Trusts have copies .
At the meeting on 14th June attended by Emma and Tim, the plan for introducing and launching the CAP was agreed. Basically it is to make the community action plan and supporting documents public as soon as they are ready, and to raise awareness about the community action plan at local events such as 23rd July, Balmacara Gala Day, Sat 20th August, Open day at the Plock, 10th September, RNLI day –and others. The Big Launch will be in Dornie Hall – 24th Sept.
We are currently in the process of community planting of 22 barrels across our area. It was good to have children and residents involved (see Facebook for pictures).
See AGM minutes from earlier meeting tonight
Nothing in our area this month.
Correspondence (not covered above)
All the following have been circulated since the last meeting
Community Resilience briefings 21/5, 2/6, Dot Ferguson
Funding emails 17/5,24/5, 25/5, 26/5, 26/5, 27/5, 31/5, 1/6, 6/6, 8/6, 10/6, 10/6 Julie Wileman
Strategic Plan consultation – Scottish Fire 30/5
Community Ownership round 7/6
SLCVO newsletter 7/6
It was noted that Susan Pettie has had to resign due to relocating to Glasgow. She will be back…..
At the end of the meeting Tim and Adrienne were presented with a beautiful framed pen and ink drawing of Snowdrops (by Sarah) and a delightful watercolour painted card signed by members in appreciation of their contributions as Chair and Secretary of the CC over many years.
Date of next meeting
Tuesday 20th September 2022 Kirkton Hall at 7.30pm