No River CC meeting seems to be complete these days without either the Lochloy grass cutting problems on the agenda or debate at some point on Lochloy related issues – namely the lack of planning enforcement. A resident of Lochloy present on Wednesday night told the regular River CC monthly meeting:
“But surely when planning permission was granted in the first place something should have been put in place to ensure that the planning regulations were upheld.”
The Westies Chair, Rosemary, who was also at the meeting then intervened: “Mr Chairman could I actually ask our ex Provost Liz over there. She’s been an elected councillor for some years. When you saw these things weren't happening at Lochloy did you do anything about it?
Liz replied that she had meetings with planning officers and that she thought the problem had been lack of enforcement.
Rosemary followed this up: “Well would you see if there is some way out of this because surely if things aren't complied with then it’s the fault of what was put down in the first place? Therefore you should have been shouting it to the rooftops.”
There was some more debate and then Liz got another chance to say more: “The last time I actually went and arranged a meeting with planning officers the files had been archived that had the conditions in them and they took them back out and they started collecting the monies again for the bridge across which I think that the council is now trying to deliver. But it has…I mean, that site has been a nightmare.”
Simon Noble then said: “It is quite easy to be critical of the councillors in relation to this but actually it’s also easy to be critical of the council officers but what happens with things, particularly where they drift over a long period of time, is that you get people that go off sick, you get people who leave. Other people come in. The documents don’t get picked up at the right place. So there need to be mechanisms that ensure there is an accurate record of what needs to be reviewed.”
Rosemary seemed exasperated by Simon’s viewpoint and interrupted: “But those mechanisms are there, they are there already, they’re just being absolutely ignored. It’s been ignored up there and nobody’s shouting about it!.”
Simon came back: “You’re asserting that but I haven’t heard that the mechanisms are there and the point has been raised before. There’s been kind of nods of heads there’s been various other things but there’s not been an absolute assertion that the mechanisms actually exist.”
Rosemary wasn’t finished yet, she added: “Well I presume the Highland Council work with some mechanisms that are supposed to work if they grant applications and say the proviso is the bridge must be built for people, then there must be a mechanism that it should have been.”
Simon also had more to say: “The point that I’m trying to get to is that if there is a mechanism that also includes local people that have a vested interest. In other words, for example, people that live on the Lochloy development, they will have a vested interest in that. People who live in Nairn South, if that goes ahead, people who live there have a vested interest in making sure that the planning conditions are complied with and they are involved in that mechanism. It gives it a greater likelihood of succeeding…
There was a sharp interruption from Rosemary: “Well I don’t share your enthusiasm and I think that whatever mechanism you put there will still be ignored.”
Stephanie, the secretary of River CC then spoke: “I wrote about the bridge in Lochloy and I have a reply which referred me back to a huge consultation document from ages ago and when I read it through – it took me ages to read through. It virtually said they weren’t going to do it.”