Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Annual General Meeting held on

Monday 23rd November 2020 at 8.00pm

via Conference Call

Followed by General meeting, also via

Conference Call

1. Present: David Fraser (Chairman), Pam Lucas, Dianne Fraser (Vice Chair), Fiona Urquhart (Planning Secretary), Dominic Thierry, David Ferguson (Treasurer), Stuart Ross, and Val Cooper (Secretary)

Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Nicky Maclennan, Soirbheas.  

Apologies: Councillor Helen Carmichael, Stuart McLeay and Gordon Watson.

2. Minute of Previous AGM

The minute of the AGM on 24th June 2019 was approved at the routine meeting following the AGM on 26th August 2019.

3.  Chairman’s Report – David Fraser

The Community Council meet 10 times a year on the 4th Monday of each month except December & 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, Glenurquhart Care Project and the shinty club. 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 was 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.

We are very pleased with the recent road improvements at Balnain, the path clearing between Milton & Drum and the drainage cleaning in these areas. The new pedestrian crossing at the Health Centre has been installed thanks to Councillor Margaret Davidson. We continue to push for improved maintenance In Drumnadrochit and Lewiston.

On flooding the Drumnadrochit flood defence scheme is now approved and work is due to commence in 2021. The issue of surface water flooding in the area of Balmacaan and Lewiston has been discussed with Highland Council and Scottish Water.

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.

We are very pleased to be part of two new joint working community projects. The first is the group looking at cycleways and paths in Glen Urquhart and that is led by Gordon Watson. The second is working with the shinty club and GURCA on proposals to redevelop the area by the old shop to from community space and affordable housing

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 and a community led planning exercise to take a long term view of development in the Glen. It is hoped these will proceed in 2021

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.

4. Treasurer’s Report – David Ferguson

The main treasurer’s report was issued in April 2020.  The monthly report is as per reported by David Ferguson and recorded in the minute of the routine meeting on 23rd November 2020.

5. Election of Officers

Chairman – David Fraser (proposed by Dianne Fraser / seconded by Pam Lucas)

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

Treasurer – David Ferguson (proposed by David Fraser / seconded by Dominic Thierry)

Planning Secretary – Fiona Urquhart (proposed by David Fraser / seconded by Dominic Thierry)

Acting Secretary – Pam Lucas (proposed by David Fraser / seconded unanimously)

Minute Secretary – Val Cooper (proposed by David Fraser / seconded unanimously)

5. Any other business

There was no further business and the AGM closed at 8.20pm.

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday 23rd November 2020 at 8.20pm

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), Dianne Fraser, Pam Lucas, Fiona Urquhart, David Ferguson, Dominic Thierry, Stuart Ross and Val Cooper

         Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson and Nicky MacLennan, Soirbheas.

          Apologies: Stuart McLeay, Gordon Watson and Councillor Helen Carmichael.

2.       Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 26th October 2020 were approved as a correct record. (Fiona Urquhart / Dianne Fraser)

3.       Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 – Glen Urquhart Signage – moving slowly, a reminder has been sent to Bear Scotland to get final approval for locations and once approved Russell Fraser has a contractor ready to undertake the work.  Action – David Fraser

Items 3 and 9 - Roads Actions – The following will all be addressed at the forthcoming meeting with John Taylor – Old Kilmore car park, gulley work at Balnain, Pitkerrald road flooding, Balmacaan flooding, Divach bridge repairs.  Action – David Fraser

Item 9 - Speed Surveys – The 50mph Milton speed survey results are not yet available, once received these will be shared with GUCC.  Work is also currently taking place with regards to the erection of reminder signs for 30mph limit in the village.  

Item 3 - Balmacaan Flooding Issues – update information to be added to the community Facebook page.  Action – Dianne Fraser

Item 3 - Bear and Transport Scotland – To continue to pursue a response re drainage and rock removal on A82, and village surface water issues.  Action – David Fraser

Item 3 - Littering – Dominic Thierry confirmed that he had received a response to his letter to Highland Council.  The response refers to the Environmental Protection Act and penalties but no details of charges which have been brought upon anyone, to difficulties in identifying people who are littering, and affirming that enforcement is only part of problem, educating the public is important and they are working to address the absence of signage currently designing posters for erection in trouble spots.  Dominic agreed to act as the GUCC contact for this work.  It was also agreed that Dominic should provide a holding response to the letter and that GUCC would consider key littering hotspots for the location of such signage, and provide a fuller response to Highland Council towards the end of January.   GUCC members should therefore start to collate a list of appropriate locations for signage and provide this to Dominic before the end of January.  The ongoing issues with flytipping along the stretch of road from the top of Culnakirk to Fanblair was also discussed and it was agreed that this should be included in Dominic’s response.  Action – All / Dominic Thierry

Item 7 – Balnain FLS Buildings – Response received from FLS, David Ferguson will discuss this with the Mens Shed group.  Action – David Ferguson

Item 10 – To co-ordinate community and GUCC response to Local Development Plan and Housing in the Countryside consultations and to make details of the consultations available on the Facebook page and GUCC website.  Action – David Fraser / Fiona Urquhart

Item 11 - FLS Overnight Camping – FLS are reviewing their policy (eg directing campers from Polmaily to Balnain, and no overnight camping signage in Balnain) and will provide a response in due course.

Item 13 – Bunloit Estate – Fiona Urquhart and Dominic Thierry had met with Jeremy Leggat at Bunloit and had a very interesting and informative tour of the estate.  Plans for the area include restoring larger patches of native highland rainforest, which is currently in danger of disappearing completely, deer management, boreholes for water extraction, erection of eco housing for on site staff, construction of an education building.  Reintroduction of native animal species is not planned, building works will be in collaboration with Makar using on site timber, and it is hoped for the project to become a Trust in due course.  Mr Leggat was reminded of the ongoing issues with the water supply and the road and he is aware of these.  Community consultations are now postponed until next year when he has more information and can have in person discussions with the community.  Thanks were passed to Dominic and Fiona for visiting and it was agreed that GUCC would be guided by the community on their thoughts for this, and through any planning applications submitted.  

Item 14 – Local Boundary Commission – Members unanimously agreed that a response be submitted rejecting the proposal to reduce the number of Councillors for Ward areas, and also rejecting the proposal to remove part of the South Side of Loch Ness Ward to become part of Inverness.  Action – David Fraser

4. Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following report:

Our bank account holds funds for the Community Council and Cnoc an Burraidh burial chamber restoration works.  In the last month, we have had one invoice from KK Art & Conservation Works, for restoration work carried out at Cnoc an Buraidh (£5,497.0), a donation of £1000 was received from the “1745 Association” for Cnoc an Burraidh, so the new balances are as below:

Community Council  (no change from last month) - £7,500 is “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place Planning & Margaret Davidson will advise how and when to spend.  The balance is £10,060.19
Cnoc an Buraidh
balance = £24,707.25 - £5497 + £1000 = £20,210.25
The new total balance is £10,060.19 + £20,210.25 =
Members were in agreement that a small gift be purchased for Dan Luscombe as an acknowledgement for his continued website work, which had increased during 2020.  
Action – Val Cooper

5. Police Report

The following report was received in advance of the meeting:

Road Safety – 1 x fixed penalty for careless driving.  1 x fixed penalty for straddling solid white lines on the A82.  A number of static speed checks carried out with several persons warned regarding their manner of driving.  Police also stopped and provided advice to numerous drivers in the area in relation to the Police Scotland winter safety campaign.

Public Protection – Police continue to monitor local compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines. There has been one reported incident over the reporting period which was resolved by providing relevant advice.
Drugs / Alcohol Misuse – No incidents of note.
Crimes of Dishonesty – No incidents of note.

6. Glen Urquhart Active Travel & Cycle Ways

Dianne Fraser advised that Gordon Watson has secured £99 from Soirbheas for survey costs, the results from the High School have been received and results from the primary school are awaited.  Schools are very supportive of upgrades for paths and pavements and a letter of support from the High School Parent Council has been received.  A potential funding opportunity from Cycle Scotland has been identified.  Margaret Davidson advised that she is continuing to push for an upgrade of the Balnain footpath.

7. Forest and Land Scotland (FLS) Updates

Confirmation had been received that felling work would commence in Balnain Forest, close to car park area this week.  The bridge at Craigmonie is not yet complete.  GUCC recorded their thanks to Sandra Reid, the local FLS Officer, for keeping us updated and looking after our local interests, this is very much appreciated.

8. Flood Alleviation Schemes

David Fraser confirmed that there has been slippage in programme for works, and a separate contract for tree cutting will be out in the Spring.  It was agreed that GUCC continue to monitor progress and timescales, and it was unfortunate that the community will have another winter without the work having been completed.

9. Roads / Drainage

A82 – As per previous actions in item 3 above, no new issues.  The new speed sensors in various locations on the A82 were in situ and a further one is to be added at Lewiston junction.

A831 – The recent resurfacing work at Balnain was a very positive improvement and members acknowledged the excellent job undertaken.  Clearing of the blocked drains at Balnain remains an issue and will be raised at the forthcoming meeting with John Taylor.

Village Surface Water – A key part of this is the Balmacaan area which relies on some work being undertaken by Scottish Water, the engineer was not convinced by the quality of the data from investigatory works, and this will therefore be re-done before any work commences.  Flooding hot spots will be addressed with John Taylor at the forthcoming meeting as per Item 3 above.

10. Local Development Plan

David Fraser advised that the Local Plan was considered by the Inverness Committee last week, and the two key areas highlighted for future development for the GUCC area are the Springfield site and John Fraser’s land between the health centre and up towards Balmacaan Road, Springfield being the preferred option, and they would not be proposing to include both sites in the Local Development Plan.  The next stage will be public consultation, but details of this are yet to be confirmed.  It was agreed to ask if they can do a community consultation at some point in the not too distant future and in line with current COVID regulations.   It was also agreed that further information was required in relation to house numbers for the development areas.  GUCC may have to deal with the Local Development Plan before the next meeting at the end of January, and would encourage some kind of opportunity for the public to see the plans and ask questions.  GUCC would endeavour to raise awareness and generate debate locally too.

11. Planning Applications

20/04431/FUL - Erection of house, land 50m east of Drumalin, Balnain – It was agreed that a response be submitted raising concerns about ongoing roads and drainage issues in the area.  Action – Fiona Urquhart

Community Hub – The recent GUCC planning applications for solar panels on the Hub was noted.   

Springfield – The outcome of this application is still awaited.  

Highland Housing Alliance (HHA) / Old Scotmid Site – Margaret Davidson and David Fraser are continuing discussions with HHA.  Assuming a partner approach to this development going forward, the community will apply to the Town Centre Fund for money to demolish the old shop, which if successful, would have to be done before the end of March 2021.  David Fraser will progress this application and will provide an update on the meeting when available.  Action – David Fraser

12. Littering

As per Item 3 above.

13. Correspondence

Trail Running Event on Great Glen Way: 8 May 2021 – noted.

Rural Housing Survey – response required.

Emails from Flat Earth Society – noted.

Tourism and Infrastructure Plan Consultation – response required. Action – Fiona Urquhart

14. AOCB
Proposal to change Ordnance Survey Map to Cnocan Burraidh – Support had been received from the Heritage Group and GURCA to formally change the Ordnance Survey details from “Cnocan Burra” to “Cnocan Burraidh”.  GUCC members were also in full agreement with this.  

Local Council By Election - rescheduled for 11th March 2020.

COVID case in Balnain Primary – The recent confirmed case and resulting closure of the school for 2 weeks was noted.  The Head Teachers and Education Department have managed the situation extremely well, and pupils are receiving work online.  

15. Details of Next Meetings
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 25th January at 8pm, arrangements to be confirmed.  

David Fraser thanked all members for their involvement over the past year, and in particularly difficult circumstances.  GUCC had continued to function throughout this time, dealing with many issues, and endeavouring to continue communications with the local community as much as possible.

Meeting dates for 2021
all meetings commence at 8.00pm via conference call until further notice

                                       Venue to be confirmed

Monday 25th January  Craigmonie Centre

Monday 22nd February  Balnain Hall

Monday 22nd March    Blairbeg Hall

Monday 26th April   Craigmonie Centre

Monday 24th May   Balnain Hall

Monday 28th June AGM  Blairbeg Hall

July     no meeting

Monday 23rd August   Craigmonie Centre

Monday 27th September   Balnain Hall

Monday 25th October  Blairbeg Hall

Monday 22nd November  Craigmonie Centre

December     no meeting

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