The Council normally meets on the first Tuesday of the month, except for July and August when no meetings are held. The Community Council is an “Open Meeting” to which all members of the public are invited to attend. Meetings are held in the Community Hall.
February 6th, 2018
Core Footpaths: Michael Brown provided a detailed explanation of the current consultation being undertaken by Highland Council on proposals to extend the Core Path Network in the Edderton area, and he went on to explain how comments can be made. Of major concern is the incorporation into the Core Path Network of the newly laid track connecting Casandamff Woodland with the Struie Road (B9176). Not only are there health and safety issues, but there is a risk that such a move would negate much of what was achieved with Fountains Forestry to ensure that heavily laden timber vehicles did not use the U1878 and U1880 single-track roads, or pass close to the school and descend School Brae. Douglas Murray and Iain Imlack from Fountains Forestry were at the meeting and they urged the Community Council to oppose the Core Path extension that would use the newly laid track to the B9176. Michael Brown suggested an alternative extension from Casandamff Woodland via Rhanich to connect with paths on Edderton Hill. Individual comments regarding Highland Council’s proposals were encouraged and the Community Council agreed to make its response after the next meeting. The delay in making a formal response now was to allow contact to be made with the Highways Authority to ascertain that department’s views on a Core Path that would connect to a main road that is considered dangerous due to the high speed that vehicles travel along it. The deadline for all comments is March 30th, 2018.
Broadband: Cameron Warren informed the meeting that his company was now open for orders for this new high-speed broadband service.
Play Park Equipment: Following the unexplained loss of funding by Highland Council, an application is currently underway through Edderton Community Hall SCIO for replacement funding to allow this long-awaited renovation to be completed. Fence replacement will be sourced from the Ward Discretionary Fund, and the new play equipment will be funded through the Leader funding scheme. Highland Councillor Jim McGillivray is very much involved in securing this replacement funding, and his work on this is very much appreciated.
Highland Council Report: Jim McGillivray reported that more jobs are likely to go, despite some newfound financial flexibility. Currently the Highland Council debt stands at nearly £1 billion, an amount that is unlikely to be cleared until 2075. Jim reflected on the apparent unfairness of funding within the Highland Council, with most being centred on Inverness. A comment was made about inadequate procurement by Highland Council that resulted in the unnecessary replacement of vehicles and equipment that on occasions was often not fit for purpose.
Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund: There is currently a vacancy for a Director, which needs to be filled. Anyone interested in becoming a Director of the Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund should make contact with Donald Clarke, Chair of Edderton Community Council. Edderton is entitled to have two directors, though only one vote between them. A Director does not need to be a Community Councillor.
Mobile Post Office: As the current provider of this valuable service, Jason, has resigned, there is now some anxiety about the future of this service that is the responsibility of Potent Solutions Ltd. David Duff of the Post Office is to be contacted urgently to ascertain what steps are being taken to replace Jason.
School Transport: The recent use by Rapsons of a coach that has a leaking roof, whilst the usual vehicle was under repair, was a cause for concern. The same problem had been previously experienced. The Community Council will be contacting Rapsons to convey this concern and to request the use of a more acceptable vehicle at all times.
Date of Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 at 7.30pm.
January 9th, 2018
Police: A written report from the police revealed no crimes or incidents in the last month.
Mobile Post Office: David Duff, the Post Office’s Area Manager for the North of Scotland, attended this meeting and he explained how the Outreach Post Office service is delivered. Mr Duff was made aware of two issues that prevented the Mobile Post Office (Outreach) from operating or not functioning properly, and these related to the failure to provide back up staff and the use of equipment that kept breaking down. In response, Mr Duff explained that staffing was the responsibility of the parent post office. As for inadequate equipment, Mr Duff went on to say that the 15-year old outreach equipment currently being used is to be replaced in the next 3 to 4 months. Mr Duff emphasised that the Post Office was committed to the outreach service that was provided for Edderton and other villages, and he went on to say that if the current parent post office, Alness, was unable to cope or provide the outreach service for Edderton, then an alternative parent post office would be found.
Core Footpaths: Highland Council’s proposal to extend core paths through Casandamff Woodland by utilising the newly laid forestry track to the B9176 Struie Road was viewed with concern, particularly as Fountains Forestry had constructed the track to keep heavily laden timber vehicles away from the village. It was agreed that as this track actually led nowhere it was not an ideal core path, and that if designated as a core path walkers could be placed at risk of injury. Further observations indicated a lack of parking on the B9176 and that any parking on the forestry track would impede forestry vehicles. Iain Imlack of Fountains Forestry urged the Community Council to reject the proposal. Michael Brown suggested alternative core paths within Casandamff Woodland well away from the newly laid track.
Broadband: Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd will be open for orders for the new service from tomorrow (January 10th).
Play Park Equipment: An application for funding to replace the fencing and play park equipment is underway through the auspices of Edderton Community Hall; and Highland Councillor, Jim McGillivray, is giving much help with this. This application is necessary as ring-fenced funds for this long awaited repair had been “lost” by Highland Council; a situation that Jim McGillivray described as disgraceful. It is likely that the VAT incurred can be reimbursed from Highland Council’s relevant Ward Discretionary Fund.
Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund: Following Ewen Simpson’s resignation, there is currently a vacancy for a Director. Edderton has two directors, though only one vote between them. A Director does not need to be a Community Councillor.
Church of Scotland: The current Minister for Edderton, Ardgay, Creich, Croick, and Rosehall, the Rev’d Anthony Jones, is to leave shortly to take up a post elsewhere.
Roads: Highland Council’s failure to grit some of the minor roads was raised and discussed. Of particular concern was the partial gritting of the U1878 between the A836 and the B9176, especially as slippery road surfaces could cause vehicles to slide into the recently excavated and deep drainage ditches.
Date of Next Meeting: Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 at 7.30pm.
December 5th, 2017
Police: A written report from the police revealed that some speed checks had been undertaken around the village, but otherwise there were no incidents to report over the last month.
Roads: Most of the outstanding issues are now in hand, though new and replacement road signs may be a while yet. As for a reduced speed limit on the main road (A836) as it passes through the village, local MP, Jamie Stone, has been invited to attend the next meeting of Edderton Community Council to discuss the impasse with the local authority.
Broadband: Work to erect a new mast on Struie Hill is now in hand.
Mobile Post Office: David Duff, the Area Manager for Post Offices in the North of Scotland, was unable to attend this meeting due to a prior engagement in Glasgow. He will be formally invited to attend the January meeting of the Community Council so that concerns regarding the future operation of the outreach service can be addressed.
Play Park Equipment: An application for lottery funding is being considered, though the beneficiary will have to be a Scottish Charity, such as Edderton Community Hall SCIO.
Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund: Following the resignation of Ewen Simpson as a Director of the Wind Farm Fund, a replacement Director is sought. Edderton has two directors, though only one vote between them.
Date of Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 at 7.30pm – the second Tuesday in the month to avoid New Year Festivities.
November 7th, 2017
Outstanding Local Issues: Graham Mackenzie from Highland Council attended the meeting and endeavoured to deal with the mounting concerns regarding the local road network.
A reduction in the speed limit on the A836 as it passes through the village from 40mph to 30mph is unlikely to be implemented due to guideline restrictions and legal constraints. This news was received with dismay and alternative solutions were suggested. Mr Mackenzie took on board the many points raised and promised to see what could be done to slow vehicles down on this busy road. It was suggested that the Community Council should contact the local MP, Jamie Stone, in an effort to modify guidelines relating to the establishment of road speed restrictions.
Road signs to warn of the junction to Edderton on the B9176 should be in place soon; the delay being caused by illness. In addition, Mr Mackenzie agreed to consider the installation of double white lines at this junction to avoid dangerous overtaking on the bend that has seen several near misses when north bound vehicles have slowed and started to turn right towards Edderton.
Work to improve the road at Ardmore Rock is scheduled to start next week.
Mr Mackenzie was made aware that the passing place signs on the single-track road (U1878) connecting Edderton to the Struie Road and Aultnamain still need to be repaired following the damage caused when the verges were cut fifteen months ago.
It was noted that flooding was occurring on the Rhanich Road.
Footpaths: Disappointment was the reaction to Matt Dent’s response to concerns raised at the previous meeting when discussing the proposal to extend the network of core footpaths. The Community Council will make it clear to Highland Council and Matt Dent that the newly created forestry track in Casandamff Woodland should not be considered as a core path, on the grounds of safety as heavily laden timber lorries were using this track to extract timber. It was pointed out whilst there is a general right of access, it would be wrong to designate this particular track as a specific and core footpath.
Broadband: Cameron Warren explained that because Police Scotland wanted to charge an exorbitant rental for use of the police radio mast on Struie Hill, his company would now have its own mast. A planning application has been submitted and this should be included in next week’s Planning List.
Mobile Post Office: It was reported that the mobile post office was still not functioning properly and it was agreed that this concern should be relayed to David Duff, the Area Manager for Post Offices in the North of Scotland. An explanation as to why there was not sufficient back up staff available when needed is to be requested, as well as an invitation to attend the next Community Council meeting.
Play Park Equipment: Alternative ways were considered in which to fund the repair and replacement of the play park equipment following the unexplained disappearance of ring-fenced funding within Highland Council. Highland Councillor, Jim McGillivray offered to provide help to secure this funding, if assistance was needed.
Planning: There were four planning applications for Edderton within the current week’s planning list, and one of these related to the replacement of the Police radio mast on Struie Hill – 17/05026/FUL. Hope was expressed that any unused plinths remaining on the summit of Struie Hill would be removed to ensure that the area did not become an eyesore.
Date of Next Meeting: Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 at 7.30pm.
October 3rd, 2017
Police Report: Although the police were not present at the Meeting, a note had been received about speed checks undertaken on the B9176 at Aultnamain. It would seem that as far as the police are concerned evidence of speeding had not been obtained. Those present rejected this response, as speeding had been witnessed and sheep had been killed and injured on this stretch of the road. Concern was raised as to where the speed checks had been carried out. If at the entrance to the wind farm, then vehicles would be slowing down at that point if heading north.
An abandoned car at the picnic area on the road connecting the A836 and the B9176 (the U1878) will be brought to the attention of the police.
New Community Councillor: Donna Laing offered to take David Balfour’s place on the Community Council and this was welcomed and accepted.
Mobile Post Office: Jason Headon, who provides the Mobile Post Office service on Wednesdays, apologised for the recent failure to open. This was due to technical problems, post office failures to provide back up staff and personal reasons. Regretfully the service will continue to be closed for three more Wednesdays, with the Mobile Post Office opening for business again on October 25th. An offer by Jason to open the service on a Saturday was reluctantly rejected on the grounds that it would be very difficult to inform everyone.
Footpaths: Matt Dent of Highland Council explained plans to extend Core Footpaths around Edderton. There were four new routes, including the use of the recently constructed timber extraction track in Casandamff Woodland and along the Struie Ridge. A consultation document will be circulated to community councils shortly, though it has already been established and agreed that more core footpaths should be created. The Meeting challenged these plans by reminding Matt Dent that it was costly to maintain paths and that more paths would add to that expense. At the present time it was considered that it was more important to maintain existing paths rather than to create more paths. A suggestion to remove the proposed core path through Casandamff Woodland to Aultnamain was rejected by Matt Dent, even though Iain Imlack from Fountains Forestry and Mary O’Hara were against the creation of this path due to on-going timber extraction and other activities associated with the development of commercial woodland. Despite the concerns raised it was noted that there wasn’t any objection to the path through Casandamff Woodland being used, but that this path should not be designated a core path and subsequently advertised as such.
The footpaths through Balblair Wood had recently been cut. These paths had not been maintained as frequently as in previous years due to usage being considered minimal. The cost of maintaining these paths is funded by a grant from the Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund.
Broadband: It was reported that most of the equipment for the wireless network is now in place and that the new service would be ready for use in about a month’s time.
The Community Hall has benefitted from housing much of the transmission equipment by having a free Wi-Fi facility. Steps are being taken to ensure that television programmes are not viewed within the Hall using the free Wi-Fi, as the Hall does not have a television licence and any infraction would be costly.
Road Signs: Jim McGillivray (Highland Councilor) informed the meeting that the requested signs would be erected in the near future.
September 5th, 2017
Police Report: It was reported that there had been two recent road incidents involving sheep. As a number of strange vehicles had been seen around Edderton, the police requested villagers to be vigilant.
Public concern was again raised over speeding vehicles on the Struie Road (B9176) in the vicinity of Aultnamain, and the police were asked to take a more proactive approach to tackle this problem.
Resignation: Due to an increase in his work, David Balfour has had to resign from the Community Council. As a consequence a vacancy exists for a community councillor.
Broadband: Although an application for a grant from the Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund has now been withdrawn, the Broadband Project is going ahead and should be operational by the end of this year. Considerable criticism was directed at the Community Council over the way that it had dealt with the proposition offered by Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd to provide Edderton with a better broadband service, and in particular to the outlying areas of the village.
Play Park Equipment: Jim McGillivray (Highland Councilor) informed the meeting that ring-fenced money for repairing and replacing play park fencing and equipment seems to have disappeared, but he was hopeful that alternative ways to provide the necessary funding could be found and that he would do all that he could to ensure that the outstanding work is completed as soon as possible. It was noted from comments made that there appears to be a general malaise within Highland Council that has resulted in a failure to deliver its commitments.
Dog-Fouling: This is a growing concern. The Highland Council Dog Warden has indicated that wheelie bins for dog waste will be provided to help eliminate the problem.
Radio Mast on the Struie Hill: There is currently a pre-planning application to replace the existing radio mast with a stronger structure. The new mast would be the same height as the existing mast but broader.
Road Issues: Speeding traffic continues to be a source of anxiety on all local roads. An Aultnamain resident urgently requested Highland Council to erect signs to indicate the concealed entrance at Aultnamain to motorists using the B9176.
The requested advanced warning sign for the junction of the single-track road to Edderton (U1878) and the Struie Road (B9176) is still awaited, despite the installation of a number of new road signs directing traffic to Balblair Distillery, as well as within the village along the A836. Jim McGillivray informed the meeting that it was Highland Council’s intention to erect warning signs for this junction, which is on a bend, in the very near future.
Damage to passing-place signs and bollards caused by last year’s verge cutting along the U1878 is still to be repaired. Jim McGillivray undertook to remind Highland Council.
The Annual Village Clean Up: This took place on Friday, August 25th. It was noted that litter is once again disfiguring the Struie Road and that another litter-picking event will have to be organised for that road. Concern was also raised that the bins outside Edderton Community Hall were not being emptied.
Footpaths: Plans for an extension to the area’s core footpaths were considered to be unrealistic, especially through Casandamff Woodland. Highland Council’s Footpath Officer, Matt Dent, will be asked to attend the next meeting of Edderton Community Council.
Daymarks: Highland Council’s proposal to erect a number of daymark pyramids in order to promote tourism was condemned as a waste of money, and particularly so when cuts to local authority funding has resulted in many services being reduced or axed. Each daymark would cost £3000, plus another £3000 to install.
June 6th, 2017
Prior to the commencement of the evening’s two meetings, David Balfour paid tribute to Reay Clarke who died on May 17th, aged 93. Reay had done much for the village of Edderton during his life. A former Chairperson of Edderton’s Community Council, Reay was also a well-respected historian.
(1) At the AGM that preceded the normal monthly meeting, the Chairman gave a report on the year’s completed activities, which included the restoration of the War Memorial; support for a proposal to build two semi-detached homes at 13 Carrieblair Crescent; and efforts to keep vehicles taking timber from Casandamff Woodland away from village roads. Current issues being pursued included the on-going delay by Highland Council to repair play park equipment; an effort to reduce the speed restriction on the main road to 30mph; and consideration of a project to improve the broadband connection to outlying parts of the community. Failures with the planning process had been a concern during the past year and representations had been made to Highland Council.
The Treasurer presented the audited Annual Accounts, which were accepted.
All community councillors were re-elected unopposed.
(2) Monthly Council Meeting
Road Safety: Concern was raised over speeding vehicles on the Struie Road (B9176) in the vicinity of Aultnamain, as well as within the village, and in Carrieblair Crescent in particular. The police will be asked to monitor these areas, and Highland Council will be asked for measures to improve road safety on the B9176. Jim McGillivray (Highland Councillor) will pursue the latter with Highland Council. Measures sought for Aultnamain were a speed restriction, double white lines to restrict overtaking and signs to indicate the concealed entrance into Aultnamain. The delay in erecting signs on the B9176 to indicate the junction to Edderton was also raised, as well as the reluctance to place double white lines on this stretch of road as it bends round past the Edderton junction. Jim McGillivray will also bring this issue to the attention of Highland Council.
Broadband: A survey is currently underway to ascertain the strength of interest in the Community Broadband Project that is being offered to Edderton by Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd. Disappointingly, the response has so far been slow to materialise, though this is beginning to change.
The lack of any detailed information about costs was a factor that many people had raised, though until the level of support had been established it was difficult to be too precise. An additional factor was that much of the costing for the project was commercially sensitive. Another issue raised was competitive quotes from other companies, especially BT. The meeting was reminded that BT had been approached last winter about its poor broadband service to much of Edderton and after a lengthy delay had replied stating that although 100% coverage for high-speed broadband by 2021 was still the target, BT would find it too expensive to achieve this in the Northern Highlands. BT had further suggested that alternative solutions such as satellite broadband might be a better way forward for remote areas.
A public meeting will be arranged in the Community Hall so that Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd can fully explain its proposal and answer any questions that are almost certainly to be raised. This meeting is now likely to take place in the early part of July, but before then outlying properties that haven’t responded to the survey may be visited and an information sheet may be distributed to these properties using the Newsletter distribution network.
On-Going Local Issues: Whilst work to install floodlighting to the War Memorial was now underway, other measures that were taking an age to complete were discussed. These included the “Smiley Face” speed sign on the Tain side of the village, which despite some remedial work was only partially working. Highland Councillor Jim McGillivray reported that white lining on the A836 within the village should commence this summer, and that white lining on the Struie Road (B9176) is expected to start this month – weather permitting. As for the play park fencing and repairs, Jim McGillivray informed the meeting that this long delayed work should be underway soon, and he passed on apologies from Highland Council for the excessive delay, which had been caused by staff changes.
Poor Condition of Local Roads: A resident brought the state of the A836 between the Dornoch Bridge Roundabout and Ardgay to the attention of the meeting. Ruts in the road and along its edges were making the road dangerous. This situation was made worse by speeding timber vehicles. Although the police have been advised of the excessive speed of timber vehicles, more needs to be done to reduce speed, make the road safer and protect the road surface. All three Highland Councillors present (Deirdre Mackay, Jim McGillivray and Richard Gale) were detailed to take steps to improve road conditions on the A836 and B9176 (particularly on the Dalneich Bridge where a large hole in the parapet could result in a terrible accident), and to reduce the speed of timber vehicles using these roads and hence the wear and tear of the surface.
Other Issues Raised: Dog fouling within the village was an increasing problem. Highland Council’s Dog Warden will be asked to take action.
The Annual Village Clean Up: This will take place on the last Friday in August – August 25th.