Monday, June 08, 2015

Tim Smith, Chair of Cawdor Community Council, steps down at AGM - also as a member of the Council

The Community Centre meeting room at Cawdor was quite packed tonight, there was quite a programme on the agenda, over and above the AGM. A contentious planning application had brought in a number of residents from Culcharry. A bright airy evening which saw the committee lined up in front of the windows with the colourful oil seed rape in the field between the school and the road through the village as a backdrop. Tim delivered his chairman's address in which he announced his intention to stand down. Replacing Tim in the chair is Meg Robertson but only on a reluctant temporary basis until the elections in the autumn.

Tim's reflections are worth a read and he doesn't limit himself to parochial affairs but analyses the bigger picture for community councils and local democracy in Scotland and also what restoring the Nairnshire ward link with Nairn in boundary changes might mean for Cawdor and the western parts of the County. 

Here's what Tim had to say:

Cawdor and West Nairnshire Community Council
Chairman's Report 2015

We come to the close of another interesting and varied year for the Community Council at Cawdor and a time for all of us to reflect and absorb the events of the last 12 months.

In that time we have all gone through a Referendum, a once in a lifetime event or not dependent who on the political map you listen too. We have also just gone through the General Election process which saw sweeping gains for the SNP and fundermental changes to the political map here in Scotland.

On a more local level we have seen the impact locally that Community councils together with the general public have been able to achieve when they work as a cohesive body, such as the planning or indeed not at Nairn, together with a greater public image. Finally the advantages of some Councils combining and aligning themselves as one body and the benefits that scale bring to a local issue and resolution.

I mention all of the above in my opening statement as all will have to a greater of lesser degree an impact on the way Community Councils do business in the future. Hopefully as a result of the political change in Scotland there will be more devolution of powers to a local level allowing Local Community's to effect change and be in charge of their respective destinies when dealing with local issues. That too brings more accountability and responsibility and Community Councils need to reflect on that in any decision making process.

On a local level we are currently debating the Ward boundaries of the Highland council to which we have aligned ourselves to Nairn, given the benefits that delivers regarding schooling and local healthcare. It's not all win win, as we may as a result lose some local discretionary funding and perhaps focus as Nairn Councillors will be predominantly promoting Nairn issues as opposed to the more rural ones.

This year we were able to deliver various projects to the community. Flowers to the village, and some more Christmas lighting. We also managed courtesy of Steve, Mark Lewis and Derek to deliver a more balanced lighting on the village Christmas tree.

We also contributed to the Memorial Bench around by the village pump. It is a tranquil area that enhances the centre of the village and gives many the time for quiet reflection. 

Whilst talking of lighting. In November in conjunction with the Community Centre we managed to light up the whole of the village and surrounding areas with our bonfire event which was very well organised by the team and supported by local farmers. It was very well attended and received very positive comments from the community.

The natural light of the bonfire would have assisted when we all suffered a number of power outages earlier in the year as a result of the extreme weather. The event and the mechanics of how to respond to such an event and what support the community and indeed companies can supply was highlighted and various work streams are on-going as a result to give greater resilience should a similar event happen.

As I write this report various work streams are being undertaken regarding planning, safer routes to school and recycling to names but a few.

Whilst an independent body the Community council by default works quite closely with Cawdor Estates. Rachael Bromby from the estate has engaged very positively with the council and has bought a new pair of eyes to the proceedings. Very helpful and pragmatic I am sure her presence at the estate has allowed us to collectively move forward on projects quicker than in the past.

The assistance we have received from our local councillors Kate Stephens and that stalwart of the community Roddy Balfour have been second to none. They have both worked tirelessly behind the scenes to assist the council in projects and provide valuable advice. It is slightly unfortunate that by aligning ourselves to Nairn we will potentially lose their valuable services so I would like to thank them for all the work they have done, both current and historical.

Looking forward the main item on the agenda will be the commission of the Tom Nan Clach wind farm and the community benefit that will bring. Whilst it is not set to start generating until 2018 there is a lot of work to be carried out in advance of that, together with the mechanics of how we deliver and use the financial benefit to the community from it.

All the current Community Councillors will have to stand down this year as they have all completed the statuary four year term and then look to seek re-election if they want to. There is some new much needed blood coming into the community so I'm sure that will add another dimension to this process with the benefit being the community.

I have served as chair for the last four years and have thoroughly enjoyed that time. It has allowed me to gain more knowledge of the local community and those who live in it.

What their issues and aspirations are. I have always been somewhat frustrated by the number or rather the lack of number, of people who attend our meeting. However the last couple have had better attendance and hopefully that will be a continuing trend. I, as the others will step down but won't be standing for re-election as chair. I have a number of work commitments that I feel impact on my ability to devote the time needed to be a chair of the council. Another perhaps younger set of eyes is probably required. I also feel that my sense of humour might impact on the proceedings if I was chair for a further four years.

In closing I would like to thank my colleagues on the council for the support they have given me, together with the hard work they have put in to promote and undertake projects for and on behalf of the community over the last four years. In particular I would like to thank Fred Treadgold who stood down from the Council this year after ten years valuable service, and Tommy Fraser who has stood down due to work commitments. Finally to Jenifer Walker who as secretary has kept things on an even keel and taken on various work streams to successful conclusions. It makes the chairs job so much easier.

Thanks once again Regards
Tim Smith 

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