At last week’s meetings of the West and Suburban CCs in Nairn Academy Dick Youngson (chair of the Subbies) told those present that there had been a meeting with the Highland Council ward manager, Liz Cowie concerning the amalgamation of the Westies and the Subbies and that the meeting went “really quite well” and that they had received confirmation from her that it was now all acceptable but that it had to go to the full Highland Council meeting. This will probably be in June, he said:
“Apart from that there is no restriction on us amalgamating after we get the approval of the full Council and therefore it will probably be at the time of our elections in November when the merger takes place.”
Dick went on then to discuss something else that cropped up at the meeting with Liz Cowie:
“The other thing we have liaised with her on was our joint meetings. She is trying to stop our joint meetings taking place as formal joint meetings of community councils. What she wants us to do if we do get together; they are going to be discussion forums and any decision that’s made – any formal decision currently put forward as a joint decision by the community councils that took part, which really makes it, perhaps there’s a motive there, which almost makes it pointless having joint meetings to make actually decisions around what matters – new roads and things like that, that is the whole point of all our community councils getting together. So I’ve written round all the community councils involved and laid out the proposal that Liz and Highland Council want us to have an association of Community Councils which means setting out a full committee, Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, a bank account and the funds would be drawn from the existing Community Councils – the money from Highland Council and so we would all have to chip in. It becomes so unwieldy and unworkable. There is an equivalent association in Easter Ross and they’re working but I haven’t had any information on how well they are working. And as we mentioned there is a large association in Edinburgh but they’ve got a large number of all the community councils actually in it. Which is rather different, it is a big city one, it’s very useful. So I think, in fact, I feel it is not worthwhile forming an association and going through the rigmarole of having to set up, virtually, another big body which is then scrutinised by Highland Council."
A little later in the discussion Brian Stewart of the Westies said:
“There are at the moment seven community councils, three in the town and they are basically saying: “if there is anything that requires a formal decision, the bottom line is anything that actually has to be voted on, then action of some specific kind and there needs to be a vote. Then they need to seek that each community council has separately agreed on that action. There is no reason why we, River and Suburban can’t separately discuss issues to do with the town bypass or whatever and if we wanted to we could each agree on a course of action but what the Council is saying is that in order for it to be legally valid, each of the existing constituted community councils, if they are going to make a formal decision, has to make a formal decision in their own right. They don’t mind us getting together and talking about things, arguably that is a good thing, but we can’t, as it were, reserve, pass resolutions, take a vote on action as a collective group of two or three because at the moment we haven’t got the constitutional cover to allow us to do that. They are being very precise about the legal requirements.”
Gurnites will recall that there have been many joint meetings of Nairn and sometimes all the Nairnshire Community Councils in recent years in response to the major issues facing the community. Earlier this week the Gurn spoke to a senior member of River Community Council who seemed quite shocked by Highland Council's action - perhaps the situation will be up for discussion at the River CC meeting next week.