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Caithness News Bulletins 2004

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Highland Council - Caithness Committee - Notes

26 January 2004

New Pedestrian Crossing At South School, Wick
Caithness councillors rejected an objection to the position of the proposed new pedestrian Crossing at South School, Wick at their meeting on Monday 26 January.  The new crossing is to be set up at 33/35 Roxburgh Road outside South School under the Safer Routes To School programme. A guard rail will also be erected to lead children to the crossing. One member of the public had sent in a list of objections but these were rejected for a variety of reason including the cost, which would have to be incurred in moving the position of the crossing to another location.

Caithness Mental Health Support Group - New Web Site Funding
The Caithness Committee of the Highland council has agreed to assist the Caithness Mental Health Group in setting up a new web site with a grant of £758.98 towards the total cost of the project of £100. The web site will be specifically aimed at people with mental health problems in the area and new computer equipment is to be purchased to be located at the group's own premises. Members of the group will in due course update the web site.

Boys Brigade
the Caithness Committee agreed to hold a civic reception in honour of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Boys Brigade. The reception will be held in October 2004.

Wick Players
The Caithness Committee of Highland Council agreed to give a grant of £1500 towards assisting with the purchase of new premises. Mention was made of the outstanding success of Wick Players in recent years in winning several prestigious drama competitions for plays at both local and national levels.

Thurso Caravan & Camping Site.
A special license was agreed for the opening the caravan site in Thurso to support the Caithness Country Music Festival, which is to be held nearby.

Women's Refuge, Wick
the Caithness Committee have agreed to the transfer of land at Green Road to Pentland Housing for the development of a Women's Refuge.

New Equipment At Thurso And Wick Fitness Suites
Graham Nichol area manager of Education, Culture and Leisure services informed the Caithness Committee of highland Council that Fitness equipment at both Thurso and Wick leisure centres is to be replaced within the next few weeks. New arrangements are being put in p-lace under a leasing agreement that should see an improved level of service from the fitness suites. The new equipment will be selected within the next two weeks and h he hopes it will be installed within the next six weeks. Increased usage partly due to the increasing popularity of the High Life membership card had resulted in more people using the facilities but much of the equipment dated from 1995. The committee welcomed the new equipment.

Caithness Committee Moving Fast To Look At District Heating Scheme For Wick
Following a meeting of interested groups and individuals on 10 and 11 December in the Town Hall wick to discuss the possibility of a n district heating system for Wick the Caithness Committee has agreed to send a small delegation of three people to look at a successful heating scheme working in Lerwick. The proposal has been under discussion since last year when the new development was proposed that might take advantage of funding that was available. The proposed new heating system would use biomass as the main fuel. A key element of the proposal is that the new heating centre would reduce energy costs of heating buildings for both business and home users. Detailed deign and network proposals are already in progress and the plans are likely to be ready in February. The Caithness Committee was told that there might be a window of opportunity to reduce costs of installation of much of the pipe work around parts of Wick when a new water pipe system is installed. This work is to be carried out by Scottish Water as part of its renewal programme in Scotland. The main source of fuel might be tress from the forests in the north of Scotland, which are relatively close to wick.

Sinclair & Girnigoe Castles
The Earl of Caithness delivered a short progress report on the work that has been undertaken to date at the castle. A very detailed report has been prepared with proposals on the way forward. The Earl thanked the council for its previous and ongoing support for the project that aims to uncover much more of the history of the castle. Already many myths about the castle have been dispelled including the notion that there were two castles. In fact the whole site was one castle, which had major, works carried out at certain times giving the appearance to later generations of two castles. The earl has been successfully fund raising and recent donations totalling $250,000 from American sources mean that work can get underway on securing part of the castle, further archaeological work and the provision of disable access all the way into the castle itself. The woo will take several years and be carried out in stages. There will be a viewing platform contracted so that members of the public will be able to see part of the construction work and the archaeologists working on the site. The earl indicated that the castle is probably the best example of a medieval castle in the Highlands and once the restoration work is completed will maintain the ruin in away that it will survive for a very long time to come and building the features that make it possible to view it from outside and within safely. longer term it is proposed to build a visitor centre at the car park at Noss - well away from the castle itself but providing all that modern visitors look for in the way of faculties - shop, toilets, and information making it a much more attractive spot for bus tours and others coming to Caithness but without intruding on the site itself. He praised the work of Iain Sinclair and there Wick society for building the road out to the castle and for much of the impetus to get the project underway of the past few years. David Flear, convenor thanked the earl for his presentation and hoped that the council could continue to support the project.

Road and Bridge Maintenance
Richard Guest, Area Roads and Community Works manager delivered a detailed report of the current position with regard to roads and bridges in Caithness and the Highlands. Over the past few years’ roads had been deteriorating due to the reduction in spending on repairs. The situation in Caithness was that at current levels of expenditure roads in some parts might not have work carried out for over 80 years. Obviously the roads would not last and something would need to be done to address the problems long before that. A Bridge survey is to be carried out to assess the condition of all bridges. Many require some work to maintain them and again this was not being carried out at a rate to keep them up to the best standards. Whilst none were dangerous the failure to carry out minor works would lead inevitably to larger problems and expense in the future.  No decisions were taken at the meeting regarding future spending.  The problem is not confined to Caithness or the Highlands but is one that all areas of Scotland are having to consider with the Scottish Executive.