Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday 22nd June 2020 at 8.00pm

via conference call

Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, and in line with government guidelines, the GUCC business was discussed and agreed via conference call.  Until restrictions are lifted the Community Council will aim to produce a monthly agenda and report using the standing timetable. If anyone wishes to join the next meeting via conference call please contact any member of the CC.

1. Present: David Fraser (Chair), Pam Lucas, Fiona Urquhart, David Ferguson, Dianne Fraser, Dominic Thierry, and Val Cooper

Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Nicky Maclennan, Soirbheas, Ben Mackenzie, Ross Macdonald and Gordon Watson.

Apologies: Stuart Ross, Stewart MacLeay, and Councillor Helen Carmichael

Thanks were again passed to Dianne for setting up the meeting and to Dan Luscombe for his continued work in keeping the GUCC website up to date

2. Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 25th May 2020 were approved as a correct record. (Dominic Thierry / Fiona Urquhart)

3. Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 - Glen Urquhart Signage – Response received from Bear Scotland requesting details of additional information needed, and final details are now being organised.  

Item 3 - Old Kilmore Car Park – Site meeting to be arranged when restrictions are lifted.

Item 3 - Beechwood Access – Work will commence once lockdown conditions allow.

Item 3 - Craigmonie Paths – Work is scheduled to recommence this week.

Item 3 – Grass Cutting – Some areas have been attended to.  Repairs to Old Kilmore cemetery wall are in the pipeline.  Members were pleased to note that grass has been cut along the A831 but side roads have not yet been done.

Item 7 – Loch Ness Cycle Way – Discussion later in meeting.

Item 7 – Local Multi Use Paths – Working Group has been set up.

Item 8 – Men’s Shed / FLS Buildings – Letter has been sent to FLS from GUCC supporting the Men’s Shed interest in the FLS buildings.  Reply received from FLS advising that it may be a couple of years before any changes are made to this site.  The Men’s Shed group may therefore need to look at other options in the meantime.

4. Annual Report – David Fraser, Chair

“The Community Council meet 10 times a year on the 4th Monday of each month except January & July. All our meetings are open to the public. Due to the Covid Restrictions meetings are currently held on-line. There is information on our website regarding contact details, dates and times of meetings and updates on our activities”.

“The role of a community council is probably best defined by our objectives.

a) to ascertain, co-ordinate and reflect the views of the community which it

represents, to liaise with other community groups within the area, and to fairly

express the diversity of opinions and outlooks of the people;

b) to express the views of the community to The Highland Council to public

authorities and other organisations;

c) to take such action in the interests of the community as appears to be

desirable and practicable;

d) to promote the well-being of the community and to foster community spirit;

e) to be a means whereby the people of the area shall be able to voice their

opinions on any matter affecting their lives, their welfare, their environment,

its development and amenity”.

“These objectives are wide ranging, but at the heart of everything is public participation so please do take part in our activities”.

“The Community Council were saddened by the sudden death of Councillor George Cruikshank and our condolences to his family. George was a good supporter of the Glen throughout his time on Highland Council”.

“The Community Council work closely with a number of groups within the Glen. In particular GURCA, Soirbheas, Chamber of Commerce and Glenurquhart Care Project. This allows for flexibility as to which organisation takes the lead on an issue. It also ensures the community has a strong voice when we lobby for improvements. In March we were able to come together very quickly at the start of the Covid restrictions and coordinate the community response”.

“The range of items we have discussed and moved forward this year include “welcome to Glen Urquhart” signage on A82, A831 and A833, a height restriction barrier at Old Kilmore car park to stop use by mobile homes, discussions with Forest & Land Scotland including Craigmonie footpath restoration and arrangements for the Snowman Rally. The completion of many of these has been delayed by the lockdown. We also get updates on activities such as the Etape Race and proposed Loch Ness 360 event and from the local Police”.

“Road and drainage improvements for all routes in our area are a regular feature as are responses to planning applications”.

“On flooding the Drumnadrochit flood defence scheme is now approved and work is due to commence later this year. The issue of surface water flooding in the area of Balmacaan and Lewiston has been discussed with Highland Council and Scottish Water. It is hoped investigation works will commence before the autumn”.

“The major planning application this year was the proposed housing development by Springfield. At the time of writing no decision had been made by the Scottish Government Reporter”.

“Community Council elections were held in November 2019 and three long standing members stood down namely John Duncan, Peter Macdonald and Ken Fraser. Our thanks to each of them for the many years of voluntary work on behalf of our community. Ken in particular deserves recognition for over 45 years service on the community council, I doubt if that long service record will ever be broken. At the same time Pam Lucas stepped down as chair of the community council but remains a member. Our thanks to Pam for her many years leading the Community Council”.

“We have a number of significant projects that had to be postponed due to the Covid crisis these include A82 road safety issues near the Clansman Hotel, the pedestrian crossing at the Health Centre / Scotmid shop, and a community led planning exercise to take a long term view of development in the Glen. It is hoped these will get started soon”.

“Our thanks as always to Councillor Margaret Davidson who does a tremendous amount of work on behalf of the Glen and ensures Highland Council staff listen to proposals from our community”.

“The work of the Community Council is very much a team effort by members of the community council and others that provide support in different ways, my thanks to everyone involved”.

“Finally a brief word on the community response to the Covid crisis. I am sure this will be covered in greater detail in other reports. More than 100 people volunteered to assist and the liaison between the community groups and health professionals (Care Project, health centre and pharmacy) has been first class. Thanks to this tremendous support we were able to provide a range of measures, appropriate to Glen Urquhart, very quickly and maintain that support for a number of months. Our thanks to everyone who has assisted in this response”.

5. Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following report:

The bank account holds funds for Community Council & Cnoc an Burraidh burial chamber restoration works.  At our last meeting in May, the balance was £27,427.70.  For clarity, the accounts have been split in to two parts;

Community Council funds total £10,111.68

Cnoc an Burraidh funds total      £17,316.02

In the last month, we have had some movement in our account, details as follows;

Community Council (balance = £10,111.68)

£7,500 is “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place Planning and Margaret Davidson will advise how and when to spend.

Our yearly grant from Highland Council has been received (£638.51).  We have had no bills to pay / money going out, therefore, balance held by Community Council = £10,111.68 + £638.51 = £10,750.19

Cnoc an Buraidh (balance = £17,316.02)

Received £14,440 from National Lottery

So new balance for Cnoc an Buraidh = £17,316.02 + £14,440. = £31,756.02

The new total balance is as follows; £10,750.19 + £31,756.02 = £42,506.21

Latest Bank statement issued 12th June 2020, the balance is £42,791.21 (Reason for the difference is that a cheque we issued, has not been paid in / deducted from our account).  David Fraser advised that Cnoc an Buraidh work will commence soon, and he will check re the recipient of the uncashed cheque.  Action – David Fraser

6. Police Report

The following report was submitted in advance of the meeting:

Road Safety - A 25 year old man was charged with driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition on the 21st of May 2020 near to Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit.  Officers have been carrying out static speed checks in the Drumnadrochit area over the course of several weeks with education given to several drivers.  On the 21st of May 2020 a vehicle was found crashed into a tree near to Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit. Officers were able to trace the driver safe and well with no offences identified.  Around the 22nd of May 2020 there were several calls of trees on the road in and around the Drumnadrochit area. Officers were able to assist the roads department of the council and Bear to quickly remove the trees from the roadway. Thank you to members of the public for highlighting these incidents to police.  Officers are aware of issues with trials bikes on the path at Balmacaan woods. Patrols have been conducted when able and members of the public are encouraged to contact police when this antisocial behaviour is observed so a response can be mounted in the hopes of identifying offenders.  If anyone has concerns RE speeding in particular areas please contact your local officers so activity can be focussed on the problem areas.
Public Protection - On the 13th of June 2020 a report of a suspicious incident was noted in and around the Coiltie Crescent area of Drumnadrochit whereby it appears an unknown person(s) have moved items in several gardens overnight on the 12th of June 2020. It is unclear the intention of these actions and extra attention has and will continue to be given to the area.  If anyone has any concerns or information please don’t hesitate to contact police.
Drugs / Alcohol Misuse - On the 24th of May 2020 there was a report of an intoxicated male at the Co-Op Drumnadrochit around 1640. Officers traced this male and provided him medical assistance before taking him home. No offences were identified.  
Crimes of Dishonesty - A 37 year old man has been charged regarding a shoplifting incident at the Co-Op, Drumnadrochit on the 15th of June 2020.  There has also been several reports of persons breaching current COVID-19 regulations. These incidents have been dealt with by officers.  Police Scotland would like to thank the majority of the public for abiding by the government regulations during this difficult time. Any concerns relating to the COVID 19 guidelines should be reported by calling 101.

Please can we remind all Community Councils to pass any requests/information to the section email address

If members of the public have any issues which we can assist with then please inform the Community Council who will pass them on to us.

7. Glen Urquhart Helpline

David Fraser advised that the community helpline was still receiving calls, which are generally now from the same group of people needing support in terms of prescription pick up and shopping.  It was noted that there had been very little demand for the Scotmid food order and delivery service.  Nicky Maclennan advised that the food larders have now been det up, the one at the TIC has been quite busy, the Balnain one is very quiet.  Soirbheas are trying to discourage members of the public from leaving bric-a-brac at the larders, these sorts of items should be kept and donated to charity shops.  They are looking at adding on a facility for vegetable and plant swaps.  Nappies and formula milk are now available and the medical centre might be able to help with the discreet distribution of these items.  Thanks were passed to Soirbheas for setting up these larders and for all those involved in maintaining them.  David Fraser advised that New Start had been going to donate items however this had never materialised, and he would contact them for an update on the situation.  Action – David Fraser  

8. Cycle Ways – Loch Ness and Local

A first meeting of the Working Group has been held and a second meeting is scheduled to work on producing initial trail maps.  The group is working with GURCA to submit a funding bid which would include improvements to the Balmacaan to Health Centre right of way, and bike racks / electric charging points at the Tourist Information car park (Soirbheas are looking into electric charging points for cars).  The Inverness to Fort Augustus cycle way was discussed and it was felt that this would be well used.  Margaret Davidson advised that she had written to the Minister Michael Matheson and to local MSPs, Kate Forbes had indicated her support and has been encouraged to speak to the Minister in the hope of instigating a feasibility study.  It was also agreed to liaise with Sustrans, the charitable organisation working on making it easier for people to walk and cycle, and also with the Inverness Courier walking/cycling columnist.  It was further suggested that FLS could be encouraged to install bike charging points in Balnain forest.   It was agreed that all these items would be taken forward at the next meeting of the working group.  Action – Dianne Fraser  

9. Roads / Drainage

The following points were noted:

- Members were pleased to note that Balmacaan Road has been getting patched

- Highland Council have advised that they will endeavour to schedule gulley cleaning work “before the winter”.  This will include drainage on A831 between Milton and Kilmichael, and at Balnain, thereafter GUCC members are encouraged to keep an eye on problem areas to then be able to advise which gullys might be totally blocked and require their soakaways to be attended to.

- GUCC will re-engage with Scottish Water to look at surface water issues around the village.

- A82 drainage is problematic, especially between the Clansman and Abriachan where water is coming off the hill and going across the road in places.  Pre COVID they had been going to do some of the ditches, and David Fraser will ask when work might recommence.  Action - David Fraser

- Grass cutting on roundabouts was discussed, in particular the Scotmid one on the A82 in Drum, the one at Tomnahurich and from there to the Tesco at Dores Road.  It was agreed that David Fraser would ask Bear Scotland for an update.  Action – David Fraser  

- Margaret Davidson had been in touch with Transport Scotland regarding the installation of a pedestrian crossing at Scotmid and it was hoped that they might be on site soon.  

- Lockblock at Kilmore is continuing to lift in many places – this should be reported on the Highland Council website, but it was agreed that David Fraser would also raise this with Highland Council in the hope of a more long term solution to the repairs. Action – David Fraser

10. Planning Applications

20/01946/FUL – Erection of holiday log cabin, land 50m south of Bearnock Lodge, Glenurquhart – It was agreed to wait and see if there are any neighbour comments before GUCC may or may not comment.  Action – Fiona Urquhart

Polmaily Development – There was a discussion of the properties which were in various stages of construction between Polmaily Hotel and Achtemarack road end, and it was agreed that it would be useful to have an update on the status of this development.  Following the meeting it was confirmed that 23 properties are currently available for sale as holiday accommodation or permanent residencies.

20/01726/PIP - Benleva Application – following discussion at the previous meeting and a number of neighbour objections, a response was submitted by GUCC and a decision on planning is awaited.

Springfield - The planning appeal has been delayed by Covid, and the Reporter will be undertaking an unaccompanied site inspection.   There are no actions for GUCC at this stage.
20/02160/FUL - Erection of a replacement reception building and the siting of five holiday pods, Ancarraig Holiday Cottage Park, Bunloit – it was agreed to wait and see what neighbour comments are submitted before GUCC may or may not comment.  Action – Fiona Urquhart
Evening Licence request from Historic Environment Scotland for Urquhart Castle – 6pm to 8pm – noted.
Scotmid Site – The latest draft of the proposed development at the old Scotmid site was circulated to GUCC and is scheduled to go to the Highland Council Planning Committee next week.  Members were disappointed to note that there had been very little change to the original plans.   It was agreed that Margaret Davidson will go back to the housing development team to advise of the GUCC discussions and suggest that a meeting is held to discuss a way forward and reach a more acceptable proposal for all parties.  David Fraser will contact Highland Housing Alliance advising that the proposed 3 storeys is still too high, requesting conformation of the size of the playpark and the potential to explore other financial situations which would make the most of the number of houses on the site and the unit cost more feasible.  GUCC cannot support the proposal in its current format.  Action - Margaret Davidson and David Fraser

11. Correspondence

Bhlaraidh WindFfarm – email received regarding extension and comments requested by 15th July.

12. AOCB

Flood Prevention Scheme – It was noted that this is now progressing and it was hopeful that work will commence later this year, in the autumn.  GUCC welcomed this major piece of infrastructure for the community.

Scotmid Shop – Members of the community had raised concern that 2m social distancing is not easy within the Scotmid shop.  

COVID 19 Restrictions – Members discussed the plans for returning to school and opening the area back up to tourists.  Businesses around the village are working hard to ensure that when visitors do come back to the area, that social distancing will be implemented while also ensuring that the community feels safe.  If any businesses are opening up before the guidelines permit, the police want to be informed so they can deal with it accordingly.  Many of our local attractions are out of doors which is an advantage however it is still important to build confidence and protect people as well as we possibly can.   The possibility of providing safe meeting places with sanitisation so people can feel protected while beginning to meet up was discussed, to help those who are beginning to feel trapped and suffer from feelings of isolation.  The local Reliance Group will be looking at the possibility of hand sanitiser being readily available in more areas eg bus stops around the village, and other ways of making it easy for people to do the right thing.  The High School are working on a range of scenarios for returning to schools, and if the distancing is dropped to 1m by August this could make a big difference to the time children are able to spend in school.  The main issue affecting the High School is transport and it is hoped that parents will be able to help where possible.  
Affric Kintail Way – Members were pleased to note that the bridge has now been installed at the top of Kerrow Brae.

Soirbheas Photo Competition – Members of the community are encouraged to vote for the entries submitted, these will be available via the Soirbheas webpage and social media.  

13. Details of Next Meetings
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 24th August 2020, arrangements to be confirmed.  GUCC will continue to deal with planning applications and other issues over the summer.

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 9.30pm.