Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Annual General Meeting held on

Monday 27th June 2016 at 8.00pm

in Blairbeg Hall, Drumnadrochit

1. Present: Pam Lucas (Chairman), Fiona Urquhart (Planning Secretary), Peter MacDonald (Treasurer), David Fraser (Vice Chairman), Ken Fraser, John Duncan, and Val Cooper (Secretary)

Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Ann Fraser, Glen Urquhart Rural Community Association, Constable Scott Maclean, Police Scotland, Cliff Green, STAG, and 2 members of the public.  

Apologies: Stuart Ross and Councillors Helen Carmichael and Jean Davies.

2. Chairman’s Report – Pam Lucas

A feature of the work of community councils is that whilst each project or issue has a beginning, few of them have an absolute finish, so each annual report seems to cover recurring themes.  At times this can feel frustrating, but it is more positive to view it in terms of continuity and a long term commitment to life within our community. As always, a number of issues have come to the fore.

As with other parts of the Highlands, Renewable Energy is a topic which produces a range of opinions. During the last year an application to build a wind farm at Beinn Mhor, Tomich has been refused and an appeal has been dismissed. An application to build a wind farm at Cnoc an Eas, Kilmartin has been refused by Highland Council and the applicant has until August 9th 2016 to lodge any appeal. A further wind farm application was made for Druim Ba. This has been directed straight to the Scottish Government and the outcome is awaited. Although GUCC objected to all three of these applications, the CC does not routinely oppose renewable developments. We are actively supporting applications for a number of small hydro schemes on the Rivers Coilte and Enrick. Community benefit deriving from renewable projects is administered by Soirbheas, a community company with charitable status. GUCC is currently engaged with Strathglass CC and Soirbheas in a review of objectives and procedures aimed at reflecting the many changes of scale and legislation which have taken place since the company was set up in 2009.

Loch Ness Homes has permission in principle to proceed with a mixed commercial and residential development. The CC has maintained communication with the applicant and a detailed planning application is expected to be lodged in the early autumn of 2016. Prior to this, there will be a drop-in public exhibition of the full plans on Tuesday, August 30th from 3.00pm to 8.00pm in Blairbeg Hall. Once submitted, the plans will also be available on the Highland Council e Planning web site with hard copies on view in Glen Urquhart Library. In addition, they will be discussed at a CC meeting; please check the website for meeting details. This is an important application which will result in huge changes to Drumnadrochit. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in this further consultation process and to feed back their thoughts to the CC so that public opinion can be reflected accurately.

The Glenurqhart Centre continues to co-ordinate a stake-holder group which is working on the possibility of building and managing amenity housing on land which is now in the ownership of, and adjacent to, the Centre. The CC is active on this group and is looking forward to bringing the initiative to a positive conclusion. It is important that provision is tailored to the specific needs of potential tenants. To this end, the project co-ordinator will be consulting with the Glenurquhart Centre, both staff and service users.

The Drumnadrochit Health Centre opened in November 2015 after years of work and lobbying by the CC, the Drumnadrochit Medical Practice, the Patient Participation Group and Councillor Davidson. David Fraser was invited to carry out the opening ceremony which reflected the leading role he had taken in bringing the project to completion. The new facility makes it possible for a much wider range of services to be available in the community without patients needing to travel to Inverness. It is hoped that pharmacy and dental facilities can soon be made available.

Road safety is an ongoing issue. Frequent work is done on the A82, and some of the lay-bys have been upgraded to a high standard but the overall condition of the road surface and lying water continues to be a source of dissatisfaction to road users and this is frequently fed back to BEAR Scotland. A by-product of the Loch Ness Homes development in Drumnadrochit will be the construction of a roundabout on the A82, so too will be increased pressure to have the speed limit reduced to 30mph from Drumnadrochit Hotel to Borlum Bridge. Flooding in the area of Drumnadrochit Post Office is a hazard and a considerable nuisance which is frustrating to all concerned, not least the businesses affected, that thus far very little significant progress has been made in addressing the causes of this very unpleasant problem. Sewage backing up from drains is never acceptable and Counsellor Davidson continues to convey this to BEAR Scotland on our behalf. Flooding is an increasing safety issue on the A831 in the Kilmichael area and the CC is communicating with Highland Council to ensure that the needs of residents of Kilmichael and users of the A831 are given the significance they deserve – see flooding report below. Also on the A831 the CC, residents of Balnain and Highland Council are discussing the possibility of reducing the speed limit to 30mph in the vicinity of Balnain Primary School.

GUCC is working with Highland Council on 3 key areas of flood management.  At Kilmichael a scheme has been developed to help reduce, but not eliminate, the number of times the A831 gets flooded. This will involve some sediment removal and partial re-opening of the old river beds and, subject to SEPA approval, it is expected that the scheme will be implemented before this winter. The main scheme for Drumnadrochit has also progressed with the appointment of a Consultant with the aim of constructing the scheme in 2018. The problem with surface water flooding at the top of Balmacaan Road is an ongoing project and the Council are assessing options.  Highland Council supported by the CC will continue to consult on the options under consideration.

Police Scotland provides input to the CC, with officers attending most meetings. This input is appreciated and it offers an opportunity for members of the public to highlight any matters which are of concern to them.

Community council elections took place throughout the Highlands in November 2015. Several serving members decided to stand down, and this is an opportunity to thank them for their hard work over a number of years. We did, however, welcome a new member and look forward to their contribution.

Two other new things have been establishing a Facebook page and a website. We are grateful to Fiona Urquhart for setting us up on Facebook and to a member of the community for building and maintaining our website. Within hours of these being up and running we were all asking ourselves how we ever managed without them!

GUCC meets on the fourth Monday of each month except for July and December and meetings are open to the public. The venue rotates between Balnain Hall, Blairbeg Hall and the Craigmonie Centre. Please see the website and Facebook for more details, agenda and approved minutes.

GUCC members wish to express condolences to the family of Tom Barr who passed away in June. Tom was a long serving member of the CC and brought with him a wealth of experience in dealing effectively with local and national government organisations. Although he retired from the CC many years ago his interest in community matters never waned and as recently as 2 years ago he was providing quiet effective guidance when we were seeking approval for the Health Centre

On behalf of GUCC I want to recognize support from our Aird and Loch Ness Ward 13 Highland Councillors, especially Margaret Davidson. I am grateful to CC members for their work and support throughout the year and in particular I want to thank Val Cooper, our minutes secretary, for compiling and circulating papers and generally introducing order into our meetings. Currently members are; John Duncan, David Fraser, Ken Fraser, Pam Lucas, Peter MacDonald, Stuart Ross and Fiona Urquhart. Contact points are:

3. Treasurer’s Report – Peter Macdonald

The audited receipts and payments account, bank reconciliation, and balance sheet for year ended 31 March 2016 were circulated to members.  The closing balance of £1567.80 was approved.  The accounts would now be sent to the Highland Council.  GUCC thanked Peter Macdonald for having again kept such careful accounting throughout the year.

4. Election of Officers for the forthcoming year

Chairman – Pam Lucas (proposed Fiona Urquhart / seconded John Duncan)

Vice Chair – David Fraser (proposed Ken Fraser / seconded Fiona Urquhart)

Treasurer – Peter Macdonald (proposed David Fraser / seconded Fiona Urquhart)

Acting Secretary – Pam Lucas (unanimous proposal)

Minute Secretary – Val Cooper

5. Any other business

It was confirmed that the 2015 AGM minute had been approved at the routine GUCC meeting on 24th August 2015.

There was no further business and the AGM closed at 8.15pm.