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Community Council Meeting Minutes 2002

MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON TUESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2002

PRESENT

David Bottomley, Ken Macdonald, Rosee Macdonald, Jean Mitchell, John Anderson, Gordon Weir, Linda Smith, Robert Scarsbrook, Brian Young, Bill David, Nick Walker, Andrew Wilson, Danny McAlister, Millar Leon.

IN ATTENDANCE

Alex Hewetson, Amish Amin, Norma David, Marie Phillips, Michael Koetsier, Elizabeth Dempster, Fergie Phillips.

APOLOGIES

David McKie, Grace Weir, Susanne O'Brien, Tom Currie, Evelyn Currie.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The Minutes of the 8.1.2002 meeting were accepted (pro. Ken Macdonald, sec. Robert Scarsbrook) but P.C. Stewart Russell had indicated that he would wish to question the minute of his Police Report; in his absence it was agreed to accept the Minutes and raise the issue again at the next meeting if necessary.

POLICE REPORT

In P.C. Russell's absence there was no report and no issues were raised to be passed on to him.

MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES
Howwood Wildlife and Woodlands

David Bottomley reported that the Howwood Wildlife and Woodlands Public Meeting on 29.1.2002 had been successful with an attendance of about 40. The tentative plan for the group is threefold: to maintain contact with the Community through Newsletters, web site and so forth; to provide educational meetings with invited speakers and Guided Walks; and to look into the conservation-based management of local sites. Others who had attended the Public Meeting agreed that it had been an excellent event.

Roads

Councillor Nimmo explained at the previous meeting that the road at the triangle (outside "The Cottage") had been repaired and should not flood. However, during two storms since the last meeting the road has flooded. There are also concerns about the extremely poor surface of the back roads to Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch. It was agreed to write to Cllr Nimmo to express concern about these ongoing issues, and seek information about when they might be addressed. It was noted that work to reinforce the narrow bridge has begun.

Play Park

Andrew Wilson reported having met with Marie Phillips and Elizabeth Dempster to discuss setting up a Play Park Group. Forms for Grant Applications, received from Cllr Nimmo, have been passed on to Marie and Elizabeth, but before setting up the Play Park Group it was agreed that a Public Meeting should be organised to gauge local interest. Marie agreed to contact Play Group, Mothers & Toddlers Group and School. Andrew agreed to organise a date for the Village Hall and to draft a circular to advertise the Public Meeting. Norma David and Andrew agreed to be the CC representatives on the Play Park Group when it is convened.

History of Howwood

John Anderson and Danny McAlister have contacted John Gray who is happy to talk on the history of Howwood, perhaps as an evening event during Fete Week. John, Danny and Bill David agreed to lead a sub group of the CC to look into arranging this and the possibility of developing a Village History Booklet. They plan to co-opt other relevant people. Alex Hewetson mentioned that Awards for All may be a source of funding under the heritage criterion. Alan McNiven at Renfrewshire Council has experience of making applications to the Awards for All Programme and can advise local groups.

Newsletter

Rosee Macdonald circulated the first draft newsletter. She has already organised a number of CC Members and others to assist. It was agreed that CC Members and their contact details (with their consent) should be included in the Newsletter as part of public information. Anyone with comments, information or suggestions should contact Rosee directly.

Web Site

David McKie is organising a domain name through the Communities Internet Project and will require information to put on the web site. It was agreed the Newsletter would be a useful beginning, as well as contact information for members of the CC. Robert Scarsbrook agreed to be deputise for David.

Alex Hewetson indicated that Renfrewshire Council's Computer Initiative is expected to include Community Councils and is likely to involve the provision to each CC of a laptop computer, printer and related equipment, as well as technical support and training. Formal details of the project will be circulated within the next few weeks.

CONSTITUTION AND FINANCIAL RULES

We had a long discussion on the Constitution, led by Alex Hewetson, who is Renfrewshire Council's Community Council Liaison Officer. He had received suggested amendments to the constitution following our last meeting.

An additional clause stating that Community Council Members who failed to attend three consecutive meetings without apologies or six consecutive meetings even with apologies should be contacted to establish the reason for absence from meetings and to discuss their continued membership of the CC. In the absence of an adequate explanation, the CC may terminate membership. Alex indicated that Renfrewshire Council would agree to this amendment.

Regarding membership, Alex indicated that ambiguity in Renfrewshire Council's Scheme for Community Councils and Draft Constitution regarding "total membership" would be formally clarified. The Council is not prepared to revise the total maximum membership allowed for each CC, which was agreed following a long period of consultation which ended in summer 2001. He reminded the CC that it is possible to co-opt people indefinitely for specific reasons (such as a representing a church, group, etc.) and that these co-optees could raise the number above the maximum formal membership of the CC, but would be ineligible to vote. Sub-Committees and Working Groups of the CC may likewise co-opt members and for those purposes, co-optees would have voting rights but not on the full CC. Community Councillors expressed concern that we are unable to alter our maximum membership given the interest in Howwood in belonging to the CC but acknowledged that the opportunity to influence this decision had passed. We agreed to write to formally request consideration of raising the maximum membership of Howwood Community Council when Renfrewshire Council next reviews the Community Council Scheme.

Alex raised a number of other issues. The CC will receive 12 free hall lets in each year; these may be used for a full CC, Sub-Committee or Working Group but any meetings in excess of 12 must be paid for at the usual rate. We were reminded also that meetings of the full CC and Sub-Committees (although not Working Groups) must be open to and held in public, which has implications for venue and notice of meetings. The possibility was raised of using a room in the Village Hall (such as the lounge) at no cost when other activities were on in other parts of the hall which would be open anyway. Alex was unable to give a decision on this issue.

Regarding the antique table and chairs, Alex reminded the CC that Community Councillors are jointly and severally liable. Therefore activities put on by the CC require public liability insurance and assets such as the table and chairs require specific insurance. Bill David reminded the meeting that public liability insurance is taken out by the CC during the Fete but Alex suggested that we consider joining the Association of Scottish Community Councils, membership of which includes a limited public liability insurance which is extensible for specific purposes on the payment of a small extra fee. We agreed to look into this issue. It was also agreed to clarify the insurance situation with the Kirk, which has custody of the table and chairs.

Renfrewshire Council can provide training and development on a number of issues, such as the work of Committees and the planning application challenge system. They can provide contact with other agencies such as West of Scotland Water. They can advise on grant funding, such as the Awards for All Programme. In the first instance Alex would be the point of contact.

There is a plan to reconvene the Community Councils Forum for Renfrewshire. He asked for opinions and ideas about the Forum to be sent to him directly, and we agreed to discuss this at the next meeting.

Financial rules were discussed primarily by Ken Macdonald, the CC Treasurer. Renfrewshire Council has a prescribed format for accounting and record keeping and for the submission of accounts, and Ken has set up an automated system to produce accounts which would be acceptable to the Council on an annual basis and will also provide a more detailed breakdown for our own use.

CORRESPONDENCE

Nick Walker listed the correspondence received; this included information about grants and mementoes relating to the Golden Jubilee, information on CCs consulting on Planning Applications, a Flood Prevention Leaflet and detailed information relating to each Renfrewshire Council Committee. If anyone requires specific information relating to any of these issues, they should contact Andrew Wilson. Three other items required specific consideration.

The National Farmers' Union wrote about the field behind the cottages on the right at the end of the village on the way to Johnstone. The farmer uses this field for silage and he complains a number of residents have gates in the fence and use the field for dog recreation and other purposes which render it unsuitable for his purpose. We agreed to acknowledge the farmer's concern but advise direct contact with the residents.

A feedback form from the Howwood Wildlife and Woodlands public meeting concerned the accumulation of rubbish and the poor maintenance of the George Street area and the lane from Bowfield Road to George Street. This is a topic which is raised frequently at the CC and has already been discussed with Cllr Nimmo.

The last month's Planning Application Registrations revealed only two in the Howwood area, both affecting East Gavin Farm, the first is retrospective Planning Permission for two stable blocks, the other is for erection of an Orange Telecom Mobile Telephone Mast on the farm. We have no complaint regarding the stable block construction but need further information regarding the mobile phone mast.

SCOTTISH EVENING

Bill David reported that the Scottish Evening had been moved to Saturday 23.3.2002, starting at 7.00 pm. The change of date was to suit Bobby Stevenson and his band. The school dancing group, Guides, Brownies, Nicola & Karen Lafferty, Russell Weir and Bryce Lamont have all been invited to participate. Norma David will organise advertising slips to be distributed through Linda Smith at the Post Office. John Anderson agreed to cook. Tickets will cost 75p each. Raffle prizes are required and contact has already been made with the Bowfield Country Club, Railway Inn, Howwood Inn and Fred Storrie's shop. Bill circulated a paper for people to indicate what help they are able to give. Bill, Robert Scarsbrook, Brian Young and Andrew Wilson will co-ordinate the event.

COUNCILLOR'S REPORT

Councillor Nimmo was not present at the meeting.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Comments Box

There were no comments for this meeting. As there have been no comments for a number of months, Norma David will make a poster for the Post Office to remind people of this facility.

Water

John Anderson raised the issue of the increase in the water rates expected in the next financial year. This reflects a reduction in the subsidy which was agreed when the Water Authorities were set up in Scotland. However, there were concerns expressed about the quality of water in the village and in particular the strong chlorine taste and smell which occurs from time to time. It was agreed to write to West of Scotland Water expressing concerns about water quality and inviting a representative to attend the CC, offering dates of meetings for the next few months.

School

Elizabeth Dempster raised the issue of the school size. The Education Department has told her they are aware Howwood Primary School is probably too small for the size of the village but for the current academic year no local residents applying for a place in the school would be refused. Apparently the Council is not in a position to make such a guarantee for the future. Temporary classrooms have been added to a school in Johnstone over a weekend, and we wonder if a similar development would be possible at Howwood School should it become necessary. Elizabeth has a letter from the Education Department and agreed to pass it on to the CC. We agreed to consider inviting representatives from the Education Department of Renfrewshire Council to attend a CC meeting but felt that we should clarify the issues already raised and survey the village to clarify how many children might expect to begin at Howwood School over the next few years. At the next CC meeting, a Working Group might be set up to look into this issue in more detail. It was agreed that we write to Renfrewshire Council to ask their position on Howwood School.

NEXT MEETING

TUESDAY 12 MARCH 2002 AT 7.30 PM IN HOWWOOD VILLAGE HALL.

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