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Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Achnacarry Community Council held its October meeting recently at Kilmonivaig Church Hall when the following topics were discussed (taken from the minutes):
- Police: Sgt Nick Hough stressed the importance of engaging with the community. Speeding and risky overtaking on the straight at Inverroy on the A86 continues to cause significant concerns for local residents. Despite requests Transport Scotland have repeatedly failed to produce the much awaited Inverroy Road Safety Report so the chairman has initiated a Freedom of Information Enquiry and Kate Forbes MSP has contacted their chief executive so hopefully the Inverroy residents will finally get to see the long-awaited report. In the meantime Sgt Hough will speak to the Road Policing Unit and ask them to target the area in the hope that increased surveillance reduces the risks to local residents.
- Planning: As statutory consultees the community council is only given 14 days to make representations after applications are published. This has meant that its sub-committee has to regularly examine the Highland Council Planning Website, research, take advice, prepare, circulate and then submit its contributions all within the time limits. Community Council chairman John Fotheringham commented: ‘I am extremely grateful to successive sub-committees and indeed to all my fellow councillors for their support and comments to aid our work. It is a testimony to their diligence that on the rare occasions that we have submitted an objection they are invariably unanimous. Although we have had a number of kind comments from both the planners and Highland councillors, our diligence has rarely met with a positive conclusion as the planning system continues to favour developers. We are heartened that the Scottish Government is moving to empower communities so change is coming.’
- This month the community council had to consider the major development opposite Spean Crescent – 39 residential units and a retail unit, and after due consideration it submitted a contribution broadly supporting the proposal, but with a request for enforceable conditions relating to road safety, tree loss, protected species survey and a parallel park application. An application for change of use to facilitate a Clay Pigeon Shooting Club was not supported due to insufficient information. An application for a two-bedroom house and agricultural shed 750 metres south-west of Glenspean Lodge was approved as was a building to accommodate a charcuterie business at Allta Bhruais, Spean Bridge. Also a 12m streetworks pole and ancillary equipment at Memorial Hall, Roy Bridge. The council has also submitted two objections to retrospective applications which followed our stated policy of not rewarding those that breach planning rules.
- Matters arising: Highland Council – Councillor Ben Thompson had followed up the broken drain cover in Bohenie Road near to its junction with the A86 in Roybridge, but found it was in the trunk road curtilage so it is BEAR Scotland’s responsibility and it is dealing with it. Following a complaint from a resident the community council reported a noise issue at Highbridge. The trees on the path between the A82 and Altour Gardens have been pruned. Concerns by a local resident about the care and maintenance of the Roy Bridge Primary School Building have been passed to Highland Council, but the decision to use the building as the Roy Bridge polling station suggested that the building was being maintained. The chairman has thanked the staff at Carr’s Corner and Charles Kennedy House for their support and assistance over the past four years. The chairman has thanked BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland representatives for their engagement and assistance over the past four years.
- Street naming – Highland Council has decided following a consultation with the residents of West Tirindrish that the proposal to change the name of the street from the A86 to the Shinty Pitch will not now take place. Changing a street name is an unique and challenging operation and it appears that everyone involved has learnt valuable lessons. The Community Council has been approached by the HSCHT and Highland Council about street naming at Tigh Aran. The communtiy council has put forward various names, but Highland Council has insisted on one name only. Accordingly the community council selected Ferguson Court as its agreed name honouring the founder of Ferguson Transport. This was unanimously approved with the exception of the chairman who as a director of the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust did not take part in the selection process as it could be seen as a conflict of interest.
- Fort William 2040 – Both the chair and vice-chair attended the Fort William 2040 Workshop and Exhibition on September 25. Although the vision remains positive, many of the ideas are just in their infancy and there is no guarantee that they will actually develop. Housing, the new hospital, tourism and leisure opportunities all appear on track, but inaction on the alloy wheels factory is a concern.
- BT rural telephone boxes – As requested at the last meeting the chairman had responded to Highland Council’s Review of Rural Telephone Boxes confirming the community council’s desire to retain Bohuntin, Gairlochy and Tulloch. Residents from Gairlochy had expressed a similar view but if unsuccessful would like to consider adoption. To do so a charity would have to adopt it and with SSE Stronelairg funding, available alternative uses could be explored. The council has now had a follow up and the chairman will respond.
- Highland Small Communities Housing Trust Conference and AGM – The chairman attended the conference, and listened to interesting contributions from Planning Aid Scotland, and Community Land Scotland. It appears that the recent Planning Legislation enacted in Scotland will give communities like this one an opportunity to set up local place plans. Such plans may either be produced by the community council or a community-controlled body like the SCIO. At the AGM John Fotheringham was re-elected as a community director for 2019/20.
- Treasurer’s report: Expenditure this month was chairman’s expenses £173.23; secretary’s honorarium £250.00; Community Council Gifts – £91.47; Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Achnacarry SCIO – £100 received from Clydesdale Bank; Kilmonivaig Church Hall rent of £100; Roy Bridge Hall rent £20. Leaves a current balance of £3226.12 of which £2442 is the balance left over for further allocation of micro awards. The balance of the SSE Micro Award funding after any awards made that evening will be transferred to SSE and held by them until the new community council has formed.
- Any other business: The chairman has asked the local Fire and Rescue Service if they would take responsibility for the Spean Bridge Village Christmas Tree and it has agreed. Ian Langley asked if the chairman might write to CJ Lang owners of Spar about the irregular opening hours of the Post Office facility in the Spean Bridge shop. The chairman thanked, and made presentations to the retiring members of the community council – Brian Donald, Liz Fotheringham, Dana MacLennan and Ross MacLennan, and he in return received a gift and thanks from his fellow community councillors. Each retiring community councillor had also received a personal letter of thanks and appreciation from the chairman.
- Private meeting: The community council duly considered applications and made the following awards to: Roy Bridge senior citizens £500; Christine MacDonald for Roy Bridge Christmas lights £168.98. On completion of the awards the community council approved the return of £1773.02 to SSE with a breakdown of current expenditure this calendar year to be held for the new community council.