Kilmallie Community Council holds meeting via video link

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Kilmallie Community Council held its April meeting recently and due to the coronavirus pandemic, this was done by remote video link.

Present were community councillors Carol Anne Campbell, John Hutchison (chair), Russell Leaper and Ann Moffat (part of meeting due to technical problems). Highland Council representatives Allan Henderson and Denis Rixson also took part along with three members of the public.

The minutes of meeting on February 24 were approved. The March meeting of the full community council had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation, but some members had met via Zoom link to test the feasibility of this as a way to hold future meetings.

Given the current focus on addressing issues associated with the COVID-19 situation and the difficulties of many activities, it was agreed that no further action could be taken on some of the ongoing issues identified at the previous meeting. These will be revisited at future meetings.

Treasurer’s report: The balance available at April 24 was £1,345.76. Russell Leaper noted that an application for £2551 had been sent to the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund to cover two issues of the newsletter and some additional expenses related to the COVID-19 support
group. Subsequent to the meeting we were informed that the application had been successful.

Update on COVID-19 support group and any further action required:
Carol Anne Campbell  outlined the activities of the group which aims to provide support to anyone needing it as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The group is mainly shopping and collecting prescriptions for vulnerable people. So far there have not been large numbers needing help probably
because most people are being helped by friends and immediate neighbours. The council has not become aware of anyone needing help who is not getting it. People had been directed to the group from the Highland Council help line which seems to be working well.

Changes to the way that Highland Council considers planning applications:
The council had received concerns about a new Scheme of Delegation adopted by Highland Council that potentially allowed all planning decisions to be decided by just the planning officer and chair of the planning committee. Russell Leaper noted that his understanding was that this scheme was not going to be applied. Hence it was agreed that no further action was required. Denis Rixson noted that the issue does highlight a more general concern that with much of the normal council business suspended decisions were being made without the usual scrutiny. There is a need to put systems in place to allow normal levels of scrutiny even with new methods of remote working. However, subsequent to the meeting Russell Leaper realised that he had misunderstood and the new scheme remained in place even though it was not being applied in practice. Thus there will be a need to revisit this issue.

Plans for future issues of newsletter: The current situation of lockdown and social distancing make the newsletter potentially more important than ever to provide information and entertainment. The funding applications will ensure that the council is able to print and distribute at least two more copies of  the newsletter. It was agreed to start putting content together and make a decision on a publication date depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops, but aiming for early June.

Nevis Centre consultation: The consultation on the future of the Nevis Centre has been moved on-line and individual responses are encouraged.

Council services: Allan Henderson outlined some of the difficulties of currently providing services such as grass cutting, given large numbers of staff absences and requirements for safe working because of coronavirus. Community council members thanked the council workers for their efforts to maintain waste collection and other key services.

Date of next meeting: The remote Zoom meeting seemed to work well for most people although there were some problems. The next meeting will be by Zoom on Monday May 25 at 7.15pm.