Governance and finance
Accounts presented to 2017 AGM here.
A copy of the CC's governing document can be found here.
2017 AGM Chairs report
Welcome to my review of the last 12 months. FCC goes into this year’s AGM in a stronger position than last year with an increase from seven to eight community councillors. Early in the year we did lose Carlton Rocke, a very long standing councillor and Treasurer and we thanked him for all his efforts over nine years. FCC has been fortunate, however, to have been able to co-opt fresh enthusiasm and skills in the form of Margaret Kinsman and Becky Richmond and we thank them for putting themselves forward. FCC now has five elected members (the minimum allowed) and three co-opted members (the maximum allowed).
Our key statutory role is to represent residents’ views to public bodies. In the review below, I have prioritised those representative activities and then moved on to review our additional activities.
Representation of Residents’ Concerns
The issues that you have raised this year and on which we have lobbied have included the following: excessive speed on roads (this remains the top priority of residents) and, in general, unsafe roads (poor and hazardous signage, verge management, junction issues, lack of pavements, potholes, inadequate passing places, poor visibility, hazards for cyclists and pedestrians, poorly lit bollards); flood damage to houses; poor access to public transport; poor broadband.
What success we have on these issues depends on how specific is the issue and whether the barriers to progress involve either /or both changes in legislation and significant financial support.
On the specific issues, we keep the police focused on regular speed checks outside our schools and many drivers have been warned, fined and charged; flood defences have been built; new bollards have been installed; confusing signage has been removed; potholes are filled (sometimes!); faulty street lighting has been replaced.
On the specific issues that require project work over months and years to achieve improvements the work ongoing there includes: improvements to the dangerous junction at Crask (this project is virtually ‘shovel-ready’ now with the design work complete and planning permission obtained); a safer route to Culbokie Primary School (has reached its final consultative stages before implementation); a community transport initiative (Ferintosh Bus Link) is now in place and being used; continuing to support the terrific efforts of the Culbokie Action Group to reinstate commuter bus services.
On the more general issues, our role I believe is to make sure we add your voice consistently and persistently to the wider chorus of concern, knowing full well that it may be years before any signs of improvement become obvious. The top three issues we pursue in this way through our councillors, MSP’s, MP and directly to the authorities are: superfast broadband provision; care in the community and the safety of our residents on the roads. Are there any glimmers of progress?
On broadband, two of our local MSPs have been activated successfully to initiate a BT investigation specifically into the challenges of the FCC area. On the wider UK political front, the dearth of good broadband to rural areas has high profile.
On care in the community, we have been successful in helping increase the numbers of local carers. In addition, our local MSP has updated us on new legislation that in 2018 will enact stronger statutory support for carers.
On road safety, we failed to win political support for a trial 50mph zone on the Black Isle. We are following closely the national interest in 20mph zones.
Representation through responses to Consultations
In the past 12 months, we have responded on your behalf to consultations on the following:
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Redesign workshops dealing with Highland Council’s budget shortfalls; Phone Boxes; Charges for Public Toilets; Port of Cromarty Firth community consultations; Ship to ship oil transfer proposals; Education governance review; Commission on Highland Democracy; Bus Timetables; Localism agenda; Deprivation; Landscape Sensitivity; Polling Stations; Scottish Planning System; Local Fire Plan review.
Representation through responses to Planning Applications
In the past 12 months, we have reviewed 23 planning applications (4 we objected to; 3 we made comments; 2 we supported; the remainder we made no comment).
Connections with other Organisations
FCC has an appointed Trustee on both the Trustee Boards of Findon Hall and the Culbokie Community Trust. FCC is represented at the informal grouping of the seven Black Isle Community Councils. FCC has an appointee on the local committee for the LEADER Programme. FCC is a member of the Highland Third Sector Interface.
Other FCC Projects
I reported last year that FCC took the unusual step of deciding on a single priority project which we named as ‘Support for those who need Support’. We have pursued that project by gathering knowledge of what is available and have come to the conclusion that there is a need for a signposting service. We have obtained support from the NHS for such a role that would enable a resident in need of support, but confused by ‘the system’, to speak with a locally informed team of volunteers who would help signpost to someone who can help.
As reported above, we also took our own initiative to put together a community transport service (Ferintosh Bus Link) and have also helped to increase the number of local carers.
Helping to address the top concern of speeding, the Culbokie Speedwatch initiative has continued throughout the year helping to dramatically reduce the speed of vehicles entering the village.
Unfortunately, some considerable time has had to be spent this year on fending off the demise of FCC itself. With no-one coming forward to replace me as Chair, FCC has had to make every effort over the past year to publicise the potential dissolution of FCC. With Becky Richmond coming forward very recently, I am delighted, of course, that that particular project has come to a very satisfactory conclusion.
Support is much Appreciated
I would like to record my sincere thanks to all those residents that help us in so many ways to do what we do. We also receive terrific support from our Ward team of councillors and manager. Finally, my thanks go to my colleagues on the FCC for their time, patience and views that help to keep me on track and motivated.
Bruce Morrison, Chair, Ferintosh Community Council, 8 May 2017