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News about and concerning the local area

23 January 2020Report of Performance of the Highland Council

Periodically the Accounts Commission, acting for the Scottish Government assess the performance of the Highland Council. Their latest report is now available HERE.

The summary findings of the report are:

1 The Commission accepts the Controller of Audit’s report on Best Value
in Highland Council. We endorse the recommendations set out by the
Controller of Audit in his report and expect the council to act upon
them and demonstrate improvement in the next 12 months.
2 We are disappointed with the progress made by the council since our
previous Best Value audit in 2010.
3 We are concerned in particular that the council is not demonstrating
that it is financially sustainable. In recent years the council has a poor
record of meeting budget gaps, and thus it is critical that it meets
a forecast budget gap of up to £77.3 million in the two years from
2020/21. Recent improvements in financial governance and controls
will be vital in delivering this requirement.
4 We note with concern the Controller’s conclusion that the council is not
demonstrating all aspects of Best Value, but we acknowledge that there
has been an increase in the pace of the change required to do this. We
underline that the council needs to get better at its self-evaluation to
be clearer about how it can improve. It is disappointing for example
to note poor service performance, not least in the priority area of
education.
5 Difficult decisions lie ahead for the council, requiring effective
leadership. We therefore urge elected members to continue to work
constructively together with officers and communities. Recent changes
to decision-making and scrutiny structures will be integral to this, as
will members making use of better quality performance information to
fulfil their responsibilities.
6 We note recent and ongoing changes to senior officer team and
structure and we encourage the collaborative leadership required with
members to maintain an increasing pace of change. The ownership
and involvement of all staff in continuous improvement is another vital
element in moving forward.
7 The Commission acknowledges the significant challenges of the
geography and diversity of the Highlands. Given this context, we urge
better progress by the council to work with its partners in delivering
their community empowerment and locality planning obligations.
8 The nature of the Controller’s recommendations are significant and it
is vital that the council takes these forward to deliver Best Value. The
Commission will therefore maintain a close interest in how the council
moves forward. We ask the Controller of Audit to monitor this through
the annual audit and keep the Commission informed accordingly.

21 January 2020Community Market 1st February Fortrose Academy Theatre

21 January 2020Time to enrol for Fortrose Pre-School?

18 January 2020A9-B9161 Munlochy Junction Meeting

FRCC has been invited to attend a meeting to discuss the safety of the Munlochy Junction on the A9. FRCC will attend. Please send any points of concern to either Tom Heath at anisotropics@btinternet.com or directly to Kate Forbes MSP

 

 

11 January 2020A little money to help the Community

09 January 2020Minutes of December FRCC meeting approved

Approved minutes of the December FRCC meeting are available for download HERE

20 December 2019Consultation on No26 Bus Route Timetable

Stagecoach have invited indiviiduals and representative bodies to comment on proposed changes to the 26 Bus timetables. The consultation was advertised on the FRCC facebook page and elsewhere and on the basis of comments received sent in the following response:

In retrurn we have received the follwoing email from Stagecoach which makes interesting reading. We may make a further response dependent on further comments from the public.

18 December 2019Draft Tourist Strategy for the Black Isle is now available

The Black Isle Tourist Team are continuing their excellent work to develop a strategy for sustainable tourism in the Black Isle. Their draft strategy is available as a Power Point Presentation in the "DOCUMENTS - > miscellaneous > reports" folder of this site which may be accessed via the DOCUMENTS/MINUTES tab.

16 December 2019Fortrose Library Christmas Opening Hours 2019

16 December 2019Proposed |Changes to Library Opening Hours

Fortrose Library are proposing changes to their opening hours and are looking for your opinion. A form describing the proposals and asking for your response can be downloaded from     documents/consultations/library-hours.pdf

10 December 2019Collapse of Gabions on Rosemarkie Beach

The majority of the foreshore around Chanonry Ness is owned by the Common Good Fund. The Common Good Fund is the responsibility of its Trustees who are collectively the elected members of the Highland Council. The Trustees the advice from "experts" who are usually Highland Council employees. The Community Council has no authpity in matters relating to the Common Good but as a matter of courtesy are usually contacted by the Trustees for our views on local matters. We also make a point of notifying the Trustees when see problems with Common Good Assets.  We were notified in early November of small scale damage to a gabion basket close to the newly installed section by the Rosemarkie Campsite and on 9th November wrote to the Trustees advising them of the damage and of the danger of collapse if no action was taken. The issue was discussed by the Highland Councillors and advisers at a ward meeting soon after but no action was taken. We monitored the situation and wrote again on 27th November to say that the damage had spread and a large section of the defences were in danger of total collapse.  The collapse occured three days later as reported in our third letter of 30th November

The failure to take early action will cost the Common Good many thousands of pounds but given a) the limitation of the organisational structure of the Common Good b) The severe financial restrictions of the the Highland Council c) the poor financial state of the Common Good Fund caused by underutilisation of its main assets (the Campsites at Fortrose and Rosemarkie) and d) the ownership structure preventing local action it is not surprising that the coastline is collapsing and that the coastal defences are becoming ever more ineffective. 

The only encouraging news in this story is that the Highland Council are now trying to organsie a meeting with all interesting parties in an attempt to address the situation.

26 November 2019Children's Trail of Discovery

Children’s Trail of Discovery
St. Andrew’s Church, Academy Street, Fortrose


Elizabeth Harker of The Arts Society Highland is responsible for devising Children’s Trails of Discovery in The Highlands, the aim of which is to encourage children and adults alike to explore places of worship, to look at them with fresh eyes and learn more about their treasures, whether stained glass windows, architecture or simply the purposes of various items within the building. The Trails are somewhat like a treasure hunt, they inform, but are also tremendous fun and hopefully the experience will inspire participants to visit other places of worship.
The latest Trail of Discovery to be launched was at St. Andrew of Scotland’s Church Fortrose on Friday 8th November 2019 and was attended by about 40 young students from Fortrose Academy, two members of staff and about 20 members of the congregation. Two of the admirable illustrations used in the Trail were done by students from Fortrose Academy, to whom certificates were presented by The Arts Society Highland.
Canon Mel Langille, Rector of St Andrew’s, welcomed everyone and once instructions on how to proceed had been issued the children set off with their Question sheets to explore the church. On completion of the Trail, Canon Mel recounted his Sunday school days where his class was banished to the boiler room for bad behaviour. On the day of his ordination he visited the boiler room for a quiet time, when he spied a paper aeroplane lodged behind the boiler. He remembered the day he and his friends had ripped up their Sunday School lesson books and made paper aeroplanes. The one he found years later had his name written on it, so he put it in his pocket where it stayed for his ordination. These fond memories beautifully led into a creative and fun request to make paper aeroplanes out of the Question sheets and so the airborne planes officially launched the Trail of Discovery.
The Trail is available in the church (which is open every day) for every visitor to enjoy at their leisure. Question & Answer sheets, together with clipboards and pencils are available in the church. It is recommended that young children be accompanied by an adult when doing the Trail which takes about 30 minutes.
Trails of Discovery are already available to enjoy in Dyke and Edinkillie churches. Other churches in the Inverness area are due to be “discovered” in the near future.


Diana Hamilton-Jones
The Arts Society Highland - Young Arts

14 November 2019FRCC Consultation Response - New Lease for Fortrose Campsite

FRCC has responded  to the Consultation by the Highland Council on the Proposal to dispose of, by Lease, of Fortrose Caravan Park. The response may be downloaded HERE. Our response  reads:

Sarah Murdoch

Common Good Fund Officer

Highland Council

Glenurquart Road

Inverness IV3 5NX

 

1st November  2019

 

Dear Sarah,

 

Consultation response: Proposal to dispose of, by Lease, of Fortrose Caravan Park

 

Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council:

 

1)         Has no objection to a new lease being issued to the existing tenants provided that it can be demonstrated that the rent payable is the market rate.

2)         Objects to the proposed 30 year lease and believes that there is no business case for a lease of longer than 10 years.

3)         Believe that the consultation is unnecessarily limited by a failure to disclose the full terms of the proposed lease.

 

The following notes apply.

a)         There is no doubt that the existing tenants operate a successful site and since taking over the lease in 2015 have made significant improvements to the site in terms of service provision.

b)         The scale and cost of these improvements in relation to the rental income from the site will generate a short payback period and the investment was considered worthwhile by the existing tenants when they knew their lease had only 10 years to run.

c)         There is no information available to Consultees regarding any future proposed investment by the tenants and no justification that any such investment would not payback within a short period.

d)         In the absence of any justification for the necessity of a longer lease for investment purposes FRCC see no justification in the new lease being longer than 10 years. 

e)         The proposed lease is stated as including 5 yearly rent reviews to the higher of RPI or market rent. It is suggested that the rent be adjusted annually upwards in respect of RPI with a 5 yearly adjustment if market rent exceeds the escalated RPI adjustment.

f)          It is suggested that the tenant could have additional security at five yearly intervals by being offered a five-year extension to their lease when they accept the five yearly rent review.

g)         It is believed that the existing tenants “Bought” the remaining period of the current lease from the original tenant and subject to the unknown terms of the proposed new lease would like to similarly sell on their lease when they choose to retire. If this is correct then it indicates that the new tenant believed the site to be worth more than the rent asked by the Highland Council.

h)         FRCC believes that any new lease should prohibit the sale of the remaining period of an existing lease to a third party. In the event of an existing lessee relinquishing the lease it should revert, in its entirety to the common good.

14 November 2019October approved Minutes now available for download

The new Community Council for Fortrose and Rosemarkie net for the first time last evening and amongst other matters approved the Minutes of the October Meeting. They are available in the Documents/Minutes section or HERE

 

11 November 2019Community Minibus?

Help Provide Minibus for our Community

The Press and Journal is running a promotion whereby they are offering a 17 Seat Minubus to a good Community cause. The details (taken from a copy of the P&J) are shown in the pictures below. In principle FRCC could apply but the reality is that we probably don't have the resources to support such a project. We'll discuss this at the meeting of the new Community Council this Wednesday. In the meantime however, to give any applicant in our area the maximum chance of winning, we would ask any P&J readers to save their tokens from next Monday; at the same time we would ask any local organisations who apply to let us know and we'll post it here anyone to help anyone saving the tokens decide where to send them.

31 October 2019New Community Council annouced

Members of the new Fortrose and Roseamrkie Community Council have been announced in the statement below:

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