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Community Council Meeting Minutes 2006

MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

HELD ON 10TH OCTOBER 2006 AT 7:00 P.M. IN HOWWOOD VILLAGE HALL

PRESENT

Nick Walker, Chair; Andrew Wilson, Secretary; Bill David, Treasurer; Christine Scarsbrook, Grace Weir, Linda Smith, Douglas Paxton, Jackie Mackenzie, David McKie, Robert Scarsbrook.

APOLOGIES

Norma David, Margie Stewart.

IN ATTENDANCE

Judith McClary, Ken Macdonald, Craig Crawford, Rosee Macdonald, Gordon Weir, R Crawford, N Crawford, K Hailey, John A (illegible), Derek Parker, Robert Nicol, Robert Nicol, Nan Atherton, C McGee, Iain Mactaggart, Irene Mactaggart.

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME

Nick Walker, Chair, welcomed Community Council members and members of the public to the 2006 AGM of Howwood Community Council.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING AND MATTERS ARISING

The Minutes of the 14.10.2005 AGM, which were agreed in principle at HCC meeting in Nov 2005, were adopted – Proposed, Grace Weir and Seconded, Linda Smith. There were no matters arising.

CHAIRMAN’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR

A year ago, following the nomination/election round for a new four year term for Community Councils, twelve members were declared – many new to the Community Council. Since then Margie Stewart has joined by co-option also. I said at the last AGM that we were looking forward a busy year. We have not been disappointed!

The usual ups and downs of Community Council life have occurred again but with some new developments. There has been the Fête – again very successful. There were the Scottish Evening for Pensioners, Bulb Planting, the Village Spring Clean. There have been issues to address in roads, planning and antisocial behaviour. We have dealt with Council, Government and other consultations. All this has kept your CC occupied.

New things or novel aspects of old things are worth noting. We have established – after a very prolonged spell of correspondence – a regular system to link with Renfrewshire Council’s Roads Division. Four times a year, a senior person from Roads attends the CC so we can discuss the accumulated roads problems. At long last, we have real feedback on progress and we are clear that they understand our current concerns. Partly resulting from the consistency of our efforts, and in part due to the Council’s decision to borrow money for a concerted short term burst of urgently needed road works, Howwood has seen some important roads improvements – for example full resurfacing in upper Bowfield Road up to and beyond Greenacres, and the Beith Road back towards Johnstone, and progress on Midton Road pavement.

In Planning, the biggest issue has been the proposed windfarm at Ladyland Muir. The proposal is due to be finalised and an application is expected next month. We intend to respond but have not yet decided what to say; we have been gathering relevant information and we circulated Howwood with a leaflet informing residents of the proposal and giving background information. A few people has responded with their thoughts; it would be useful to hear your views. Our paper is available if you need a copy, on the village website, www.Howwood.com or through Andrew (CC Secretary) or Linda (at Howwood PO).

In a similar vein, in our recent village survey, we were looking for your opinions on a selection of topics, including speeding, Howwood walks and the new shop. Please keep your thoughts coming in. We have 73 responses so far (from approx. 670 households). We aim to represent the views of Howwood as best we can, but that needs you all – and everyone not here tonight – to let us know what you think about things that affect the village. Unfortunately our Councillor has little contact with us, but we try to keep him informed of villages views as much as possible as well as dealing directly with Renfrewshire Council departments, Members of the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments, Strathclyde Police and other key people and organisations.

We have had a number of people attend Community Council meetings either to raise specific concerns or simply to see and hear what goes on. I hope this will continue and increase. And I would like to encourage people to become more involved in CC work. Thank you.

SECRETARY’S REPORT

The action to be taken, following Community Council meetings, normally means letters to be written/e-mails to be sent. A successful outcome from these letters does not always happen (however one may judge success), and there is nothing more frustrating than not getting any answer at all. That has been a problem when dealing with the Roads Department, which takes up the lions share of any correspondence. There has been a significant improvement since Scott Allan was designated as our contact person. Perhaps it is coincidence, but recently Bowfield Road as far as the County boundary, and Beith Road between the village and Spateston have been resurfaced, a new pavement made from Beith Road towards the Hospice, and improvements to the pavement long Midton Road and Bowfield Road. Is it from all our nagging Who knows. Measures have not been introduced to tackle speeding traffic, nor has there been a road safety campaign; both of which we had wanted, we will continue to push for both, and for any other identified issues, particularly safer access to and from the A737 at Elliston Grill. The most recent survey has given us useful information with which to lobby MSPs with, since A roads are the responsibility of AMEY, who are answerable to the Scottish Parliament.

SECRETARY’S REPORT (Cont.)

As before, the CC has responded to several consultations: there have been ones for Community Planning, Citizens Advice, Glasgow Airport, Big Lottery (large and small grants), Scottish Communities Regeneration, Proposed Planning legislation, Renewable Energy. My thanks to people who have given up their time to attend and/or respond to these. Sometimes it seems that decisions have been taken long before any consultation exercise, but one thing is for sure people will never know your view if you do not tell them, so in general its worth going to these things. From going to them myself, I am convinced that the way to get things done for our community is to take the initiative, apply for grants and improve what we can. It is time consuming and at times frustrating, but the days of sitting around cap in hand waiting for someone else to do it are gone, and it is pointless to expect Councils to do much other than maintain what is already there, they simply do not have the money.

There is money to do things, and Government gives every indication that it wants communities to come forward with their ideas and projects and apply for it, so that is what we should do. Our most recent application, has been successful: Awards for All have approved a grant of £2,975 to go to the CC, to be spend on electrical works so we can have Christmas lights at the top of the "Triangle" opposite the end of George Street. The bad news is that the actual amount of money that will be needed is much more, so we may not have them for this year, but I am not giving up yet.

A significant consultation that the whole community responded to was the proposed Boundary changes for the next set of Local Government elections in May 2007. There were over 120 letters of objection to Howwood becoming part of the Johnstone "Super Ward". Our pleas were ignored, and so we will be in with much of Johnstone and Elderslie, with 4 elected Councillors. As I said in the newsletter, the effect on us will depend on the quality of elected representative we get, and whether they take any interest in our community. It would do no harm to seek their views now, on how they intend to engage with us, when and if they are elected.

Planning. The CC has written regarding potential housing in the car park of the Howwood Inn, the redevelopment of Thorntree Cottage, a new house near Midton Farm, and a change of use for part of Midton Wood to become a Pet Crematorium. Unofficially there seems little likelihood of the Pet Crematorium going ahead, which is a relief. A major planning application is likely to go in this Autumn for an unknown amount of wind turbines between Lochwinnoch and Kilbirnie. They will be clearly visible from many houses in Howwood, as well as the affect they will have on their immediate environment, which is the Muirshiels Country Park. Our chairman Nick Walker, prepared a very thorough and balanced paper on the subject, which has lead to him being directly involved in Renfrewshire Council's fact-finding on this, and the Community Council Forum's forthcoming meeting will be on this very issue.

Unfortunately much of our communication with the Environmental Services Dept. has been to repair damage done to the park and virtually everything in it. The vandalism became acute with the arrival of one particular family in the village, who soon developed a following. This resulted in many phone calls, letters and efforts to get evidence, to put a stop to their behaviour which was ruining our park, and the lives of their neighbours. Eventually a Public Meeting was called in an effort to co-ordinate complaints; it is frustrating that more cannot be done to stop the offenders, but I would like to thank our Community Police Officers Tracy and Andrew for their efforts and to the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team. At present the problem is not as bad, but it has not gone away.

There is encouraging news about the Village Hall, we wrote expressing our concerns about its overall lack of maintenance, and the lack of cooking facilities. There is now an extraction system for fumes, and hopefully the gas cooker will be soon re-connected, and the kitchen back in full operation.

On a more positive note: the correspondence for the Spring Clean, Scottish Evening for Senior Citizens, Spring Bulb Planting, Remembrance Day, and Fete, become easier with each year. Later this year we are holding a St Andrew's Family Ceilidh. These are the very things that help keep Howwood Community spirit strong, and I am glad to do the
necessary admin for them.

The Paisley Express has carried stories on our behalf thanks to Derek Parker, and CC business is regularly mentioned in the Gazette's Howwood column.

The Secretary took questions from the floor:

Question was asked regarding estimate for Christmas Lights. Secretary advised that estimate from Renfrewshire Council (RC) had been based on an old costing which was now well out of date.

A comment was made from the floor regarding the missed opportunity for traffic calming when the resurfacing and re application of the white line markings were carried out in Main Street. The view expressed was that the marking could have been redesigned to deter speeding traffic. This matter will be raised at the November 2006 regular meeting. Police were thanked for their efforts to control speeding through the village.

An expression of appreciation was made from the floor to the Community Council and in particular to the indefatigability of the Secretary for pursuing so many issues on behalf of the community.

TREASURER’S REPORT

Audited accounts for the year ended 31 August 2006, showing a balance of £5,559.35 credit, were presented to the meeting.

Three main events took place during the year – The Scottish Evening for senior citizens which provided a meal and entertainment, was well received. Costs for the evening amounted to around £500. The Glasgow Wind Band was invited to give a concert in Howwood Parish Church during June. Positive feedback received from both the public and the band. The band is keen to return to Howwood next year as they enjoyed the atmosphere of the venue. The annual Village Fete was a success with the weather being kind this year. A fair amount of funds were raised at this event.

A request for funds was received this evening from the Guides. This request will be considered at the next regular meeting in November 2006.

A question was raised from the floor regarding who may apply for funding from HCC. Treasurer responded that any community organisation within the village may apply for funds.

A further question was raised from the floor regarding use of HCC funding towards the installation of the proposed new Christmas Lights. HCC agreed to consider this matter.

MEMBERSHIP & OFFICE BEARERS

Chair advised that there were currently 13 CC members out of the maximum 21 allowed and therefore there are 8 vacancies. Villagers were invited to come along to regular meetings and to apply for membership.

The current office bearers have indicated that they are willing to continue in office at this time. This matter will be discussed at the next regular meeting in November 2006.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Bulb planting will again take place this year. Dates are weekend of 28/29 October 2006. Meet at Triangle at 2PM each day. All welcome.

Remembrance Day will take place on Sunday 12 November 2006. Villagers are invited to attend this special day of remembrance. Meet at the war memorial at 12:30 PM.

St Andrew’s Family Ceilidh will be held in the Village Hall on Saturday 25 November starting at 6:30 PM. Tickets are available from Christine Scarsbrook, Andrew Wilson, Linda Smith at the Post Office, Grace Weir and Jackie Mackenzie. Children are most welcome. Entertainment will include a contribution from pupils of Howwood Primary School.

OTHER BUSINESS

A suggestion was made to hold AGM on an alternative evening in 2007 to avoid conflict with the dance group using the lesser hall. This will be considered for next year.

A question was raised regarding the grass cuttings from the Triangle area causing a hazard to pedestrians. Chair responded that HCC will endeavour to address this matter.

Traffic speeding was raised as a concern. Chair advised that the matter had been raised with RC Roads and HCC were awaiting a proposal for traffic calming measures within the village.

A question was asked on the criterion for using the child play areas at Torbracken and Linister ‘new’ houses. Clarification was requested on public use of these areas. Chair advised the HCC would have to seek advice on this matter.

Vandalism at the park was raised as a concern and a suggestion was made to install CCTV to help tackle this problem. Chair advised that RC had been contacted on this matter in the past but RC were not keen to install CCTV. HCC will continue to review this matter.

NEXT MEETING

Regular Community Council meetings are second Tuesday each month. Next meeting Tuesday 14 November 2006, 12 December 2006 etc at 7:30pm in Howwood Village Hall.

Next AGM October 2007.

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