Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday October 28th 2019 at 8.00pm

in Balnain Hall, Glen Urquhart

            1. Present:  Pam Lucas (Chair), David Fraser, Peter Macdonald, John Duncan, Ken Fraser, and Val Cooper (Secretary)

Also present: Graeme Ambrose, Loch Ness 360 Challenge, Sandra Reid and Paul Hibberd, Forest & Land Scotland, Andrew Slight and Roy Haston, Scotmid, and 7 members of the public.  

Apologies: Councillors Margaret Davidson, George Cruickshank and Helen Carmichael and Fiona Urquhart.

Pam advised that this would be her last meeting as Chair, and thanked David and Val for covering the position during her absence.

Members noted with great sadness the recent tragedy on the A82 and a card from GUCC had been sent to the Morrison family.

2. Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting on 23rd September 2019 were approved as a correct record (Peter Macdonald / David Fraser).

             3. Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 – Erection of signs for Glen Urquhart – David Fraser and Russell Fraser have met to agree locations for signage and this is progressing.

Item 3 – Old Kilmore Car Park – David Fraser will again contact Highland Council to establish if they will be taking ownership of the car park.  Action – David Fraser

Item 3 – Paths – The creation of safe pathways through the beechwood is still being pursued.  Action – David Fraser / Margaret Davidson

Item 12 – Funeral Delays – Ken Fraser had spoken with local undertakers who had confirmed that the delays between deaths and funerals was often as a result of the Highland Council restrictions of accepting funerals only between 10.30am and 1.30pm, and given that many families prefer a later start time to allow for travel etc, this leaves very restricted availability.  It was agreed that this issue should be raise with Highland Council.  Action – David Fraser

Item 12 - Local Community Council Elections – David Fraser advised that the cut-off date for nominations for the community council was the following day, with a further 2 days for withdrawal of nominations.  

4. Treasurer’s Report
Peter Macdonald reported that the balance stands at £9,710.78, comprising £19.27 in available funds for the Council, £1,340 in reserve for the Council and £8,351.51 held for Cnocan Burraidh.  £15 has been paid in hall rent and £4,926 towards the cost of new railings for the Cnocan Burraidh project.  No Highland Council grant has been received.  Action - David Fraser to check with Ward Manager

5. Policing Update
No officer was present at the meeting however the following report was submitted shortly in advance of the meeting, and is therefore included in the minute, but was not discussed at the meeting.  

It was noted that there was an ongoing police appeal for information in relation to the accident on the A82 on Friday and anyone with information is encouraged to make contact with the police.

Road Safety - Several periods of road safety patrols have been carried out with the following results; 1 driver cautioned and charged, 6 fixed penalties have been issued, 1 person arrested for drunk driving.  There have been several Road Traffic Collisions in this area since the last meeting.  The most recent RTC resulted in a fatality, enquiry is currently ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident.  Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends at this sad time.

Public Protection - There have been a small number of incidents of minor disturbances in the area but no persons needed to be reported for this.

Drugs / Alcohol Misuse – No incidents of note.

Crimes of Dishonesty - Overnight on of the 4th into 5th October the Chip Shop and the bowling green were broken into with money being stolen.  Enquiry is still ongoing in relation to them with forensic enquiry being progressed.   Between 1700hrs on 20/10/10 and 0900hrs on 21/10/19 persons unknown have attempted to gain entry to the Computer Shop within The Courtyard.  No entry was gained but damage was caused, enquiries are still ongoing.  It is requested that anyone with information regarding these incidents please contact Police Scotland on 101.  At this stage there is no evidence to indicate the crimes are related.

6. The Loch Ness 360 Challenge – Graham Ambrose

Graeme Ambrose, Visit Inverness Loch Ness was welcomed to the meeting and provided the following update on the 2020 Loch Ness 360 Challenge:

- The event will take place on 29th, 30th and 31st May 2020, comprising a choice of 3 different events; an ultra-marathon - 129km continuously in 24 hours on the Loch Ness 360 route, or a mountain bike event on the same route, or the third option to do the event over 3 days undertaking a marathon each day.  The event starts in Dores, then to Drumnadrochit, then to Fort Augustus, and back to Dores.  
- The event is challenging and includes strict criteria for entry.
- The event will be supported by No Fuss Events, based in Lochaber, and sponsored by SSE.  Numbers are restricted to 100 for each event.  Given that this is the first year of a new event numbers are being kept low, however if demand is there for the running events they could be increased.  It is not anticipated that there will be any increase on the number of entries for the biking event as higher numbers would have a detrimental effect on trails.
- Entry is £100 for each event, or £150 for the 3 marathons.  
- The event launched 4 weeks ago, and demand is high, with 80 places filled for the ultra running event, 60 for the bike, and 30 for the 3 marathons.  
- There is a lot of work on the ground to be done, finalising routes, speaking to landowners, recruiting marshals, arranging signage etc.  
- There will be no road closures, as the event is mostly off road.  The only areas where access to public roads is required will be at west link on to the Great Glen Way, and through Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus.  These areas will obviously involve more marshals and co-ordinated safety measures.  
- Opportunities are available for local sponsorship / advertising, and for local groups to provide marshals in exchange of donations to their cause.  There will also be spaces for vendors at the end points for each day.
- Loch Ness 360 has been developed around sustainable tourism, and encouraging visitors to stay in the communities around Loch Ness.  This event will help to raise the profile of local businesses and attractions, and will hopefully become an annual event.  
- Lots more information is available on the website and local groups interested in helping out should contact   
- This is a non-profit making event, and any profits made will go back into the trail around the area and repairing any damage.  Individuals are also welcome to raise money for charities as they wish.  

      Graeme was thanked for the information provided, wished well in his continued planning, and would be welcome to attend future GUCC  meetings with updates

7. Forestry & Land Scotland (FLS) – Paul Hibberd & Sandra Reid
Paul Hibberd and Sandra Reid were welcomed to the meeting and provided the following update on works within the area:

Snowman Rally – The date has now been agreed as 7th March 2020, this hopefully avoids the potential for inclement weather at the usual time of mid-February, and also avoids the possibility of disturbing nesting birds, and busier recreational use during the April date which had been proposed.   Paul would be meeting with Andy Jardine to discuss details including the route, and the creation of spectator spaces.  FLS need permission to fell trees over 10cm diameter, this usually forms part of their Land Plan but may be a complicating factor to work through in terms of felling to create spectator areas.  It was understood that Andy Jardine would be liaising with locals in terms of volunteers fundraising through car parking and refreshments, and the arrangements for this is usually advertised in the rally programme.  Peter Macdonald would continue to liaise with Andy Jardine to provide local knowledge and key contacts.

Flailing - Concerns had been raised by members of the community regarding the way in which timber is being cleared along the forestry tracks, the flailing and thrashing which has been undertaken recently is very unsightly.  Paul Hibberd advised that this had been undertaken by a contractor, and the issue had been raised internally, and agreement reached that this was not the standard of work they would want to see on these routes.   

Affric Kintail Way – Progress is being made, with funding being secured and planning issues being addressed.  If parts of the Snowman Rally run along the Affric Kintail Way then repairs in those area would be prioritised.  It was suggested that signage be erected on the route to advise users when works are taking place in the area, this is currently not the case for all parts of the route.  It was confirmed that the footpath which had been installed behind the Shenval bus shelter and was washed away overnight, had been a temporary track, and the permanent Affric Kintail Way track would be of a much higher spec build.  

Craigmonie Woodland – It was confirmed that all the felling has been completed, however all the timber was not yet out, and approximately 100 tonnes remains in situ.  Extraction had been halted due to pollution concerns, with run off into the river.  It is hoped to get teams in to start repairing the area within the next month or so, although this is weather dependant.  This site has been problematic and has taken longer than anticipated for which FLS are apologetic to the community, and it is hoped that the work will be completed by Spring 2020.   It was requested that if this work looks to be taking longer than the anticipated completion of Spring 2020, that FLS should look at ways of mitigating that and resource and prioritise the area when the weather permits.

Additional Agenda Item - Scotmid
Andrew Sleight, Press and Social Media Manager and Roy Haston, Regional Business Manager, Scotmid were both welcomed to the meeting and provided the following update on the Drumnadrochit store:

- Scotmid Co-operative will have been in operation for 160 years on 4th November, and as part of this will be running a Community Heroes initiative in each store.  Nominations for a member of the community worthy of this award should be passed to the store manager as soon as possible.  In addition each store has been tasked with raising £160 pounds, which will amount to around £20k nationally for their charity of the year, which is Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.  Scotmid also runs a Community Connect initiative which can provide funding of up to £15k for local causes.  This year the Glen Urquhart Care Project is one of 3 shortlisted in the region.  Community Grants are also available, with possible funding of up to £500, to date Glen Urquhart Primary School has received funding.
- Scotmid are considering carefully any applications received for rental of the currently empty commercial units alongside the store.  Any lets cannot be short term and cannot detract from the main shop.  GUCC advised that feedback received from the community is that the rental costs are prohibitive, and rather than having the units sitting empty, it would be more commercially viable for Scotmid to look at alternative means of rental, eg lower rates / shared units etc.  
- Last year Scotmid employed approximately 12 members of staff, this has since increased to 26, with all but the manager being local employees.  Staff retention rates have also been good.  The store is performing well in terms of profitability, the launch day had been very successful, and tourist use has also been high.  
- It is noted that a large percentage of shoppers are doing large shops at the store, this has resulted in additional trolleys on site, and consideration is being given to a conveyor belt checkout.
- GUCC noted that comments have been received from the community including Glen Urquhart Centre / Supported Housing users that access within the store is often difficult, the aisles are very narrow, especially for mobility / wheelchair users, and that this is made worse when shelf-stocking, trolleys and displays are within the aisles.  Comments had also been received that signage and lighting, particularly upon the entrance into the store, were poor, and were causing difficulties for visually impaired users.  It was suggested that there might be charities / support groups who would be able to do an audit of these features.  The Scotmid representatives welcomed the feedback, and advised that they would pass the comments to the appropriate teams within their organisation.
- The percentage of the shop which has been given over to bakery item / alcohol etc has not gone unnoticed, and it was felt that this was not necessarily in keeping with their promotion of healthy lifestyle / good choices for the community.  The store reacts to demand, and while these items sell well, so also do fresh fruit and veg, with the Drumnadrochit store being one of a very small number which has these fresh items immediately at the entrance to the shop.
- There are ongoing safety issues with the car park, and it was agreed that the relocation/realignment of the disabled parking bays, and signage for a one-way system would help alleviate problems.
- The gutter along the front pavement of the shop would benefit from regular cleaning as it is often littered with cigarette ends.
- While the staff facilities within the building are compliant with regulations legally, they are perhaps not sufficient for the increased staffing levels.  The company is limited to what can be done to improve this at present and are endeavouring to make the best use of what is available to them.
- The store is highly successful, and GUCC would strongly encourage Scotmid to consider expansion / relocation of some services into the currently vacant adjoining retail units.  
- A suggestion box within the store would give the opportunity for members of the community to feedback comments on possible improvements as well as areas of success.  Comments are also always welcomed by any of the management team or centrally to Scotmid Head Office.

Andrew and Roy were thanked very much for their attendance, for providing an update on how well the company is operating within the community, and would be welcome to attend future meetings with any further updates.

8. Roads
The condition report for Drum Bridge and Borlum Bridge had been received and would be kept on file.  A meeting is scheduled to take place next week to survey and look at the feasibility of improvements in the Clansman Hotel area.  

9. Planning Applications
19/04117/S42 – Section 42 application for non-compliance with Condition 1 of Planning Permission 17/05848/MSC Erection of 24 houses and associated infrastructure, land 145m north of Smiddy Bar, Lewiston, Drumnadrochit – objection submitted, not compliant or consistent with the local plan.  

It was also noted that the Springfield application has not yet been to the Highland Council Planning Committee, however the response from the Development Officer suggests that he was content with 93 houses rather than 55, with a build rate of more than 10 per year.  This is not compliant with the Local Plan.  GUCC have written to the Highland Council Head of Planning to ask why this differs from the small development of 4 houses which had been proposed for Balmacaan Road and had been refused as it did not comply with the Local Plan.  GUCC have asked for consistency and compliance, and need to understand why there would be a variation in decisions made.  A response is awaited.

10. Correspondence
Ross Watson, Woodland Trust – Notification that rhododendron control would be starting imminently, for approximately one week, and volunteers to assist would be most welcome

11. Any Other Business

It was noted that some members of the Community Council would be standing down having admirably served the community in this role for a long number of years, and for which the community is most grateful.

12. Details of Next Meetings
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 25th November, Craigmonie Centre, Drumnadrochit.  Meeting dates for 2020 are noted below.

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 9.40pm.  


Meeting dates for 2020

all meetings commence at 8.00pm

Monday 27th January  Craigmonie Centre

Monday 24th February  Balnain Hall

Monday 23rd March    Blairbeg Hall

Monday 27th April   Craigmonie Centre

Monday 25th May   Balnain Hall

Monday 22nd June AGM  Blairbeg Hall

July     no meeting

Monday 24th August   Craigmonie Centre

Monday 28th September   Balnain Hall

Monday 26th October   Blairbeg Hall

Monday 23rd November  Craigmonie Centre

December     no meeting