Tuesday, February 09, 2010

River Community Council Controversy - minutes challenged!

The Firhall Bridge issue came back again to the River Community Council with a challenge to the minutes and debate about the custom and practice of River CC voting procedures for decisions made during meetings open to the public.
Suffice to say that most people went away from the last meeting of the council thinking that Murd Dunbar had the support of the council for his popular campaign to enable better access to the Firhall Bridge. However the situation after reading the minutes was confused to say the least and the debate too was shall we say, lively!
It is quite unusual, perhaps for the minutes secretary to challenge the minutes but nonetheless that’s how things went tonight. In fact the minute on the Firhall Bridge was challenged successfully on three points. The Gurn subscribes to cock-up rather than conspiracy theory here.
Over the years this observer has many times seen the River CC invite members of the public present to vote with members and for that decision to then become the Council’s policy. This situation was raised stating that what was happening was that in doing this the Council were de facto co-opting the public into the decision making process. There was agreement that this was the case from one councillor, although another stated that, ‘this had been happening recently but it was wrong.’
So thus the confusion, the subject returned again during the ACOB part of the meeting, there was lively and passionate debate with members of the public failing to see why the Council didn’t want to back Murd. Another vote was called for to clarify the position of the council but this process was never completed as the Council decided that the best way forward would be to gauge the feeling of a public meeting.
Liz MacDonald told the meeting that the Access Panel was now backing better access to the bridge. Soon Murd will take his case to the Suburban Council too, having already won the support of the West CC. Maybe a public meeting on the issue would be superfluous or perhaps just the thing to get the whole campaign up a gear or two. The Gurn fails to see the problem, if Murd eventually gets the go ahead, no Highland Council money would be involved, no one would lose a job and no schools or day care centres would be closed. Other funding would be sourced, perhaps somewhere up the bureaucratic food chain there is someone that can put insurmountable obstacles in Murd’s path but surely that shouldn’t be the job of a local community council.
The Gurn has no wish to dwell on this subject, it is obvious that the newly elected Council is deeply divided on the issue and democracy sometimes comes with hiccups. So let’s move onto the rest of the meeting.
Constable Swan put in an appearance to update the Council on Law and Order issues in the town, quite successful activity again by the local constabulary it seems with the town centre being quieter again during January. There was a request to see if separate crime figures were available for Nairn rather than the entire division itself.
Liz MacDonald reported her progress on trying to get better gritting for the Fishertown by having some areas classified as pavements rather than roads which would perhaps work out with The Fishertown getting some gritting faster than it did last time. It seems she has pinpointed issues which lead to the delay in calling in the help of contractors to clear snow and ice.
There was again concern about the lack of proper facilities to view planning applications in the town. Carol Clark raised issues about the difficulty in replying to notifications when they are issued at times when the council offices are shut etc.
The River CC has more electors than the two other councils combined, 3,797 compared to the West’s 1,072 and Suburban’s 2,653.
Stephanie Whittaker showed the meeting correspondence between herself and the Director of Social Work and the Chairman of Housing and Social Work on Highland Council concerning respite care and MacLean Court Day Care. She felt that the responses were very unsatisfactory. Stephanie feels very strongly on these issues and the meeting mandated her to continue the correspondence in the search of further information.
There was of course debate on the Firhall Bridge as explained above. The meeting was also shown plans for a bungalow at Whinnieknowe. There simply remained a vote of thanks to the former treasurer Margaret MacKintosh, she was presented with a bouquet of flowers and applause for her years of service to the community.
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11.02.10 Please note that Liz has told the Gurn that the Access Panel supported a previous attempt to get ramps at the Firhall Bridge and will soon be looking at the Fairhurst Report.

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