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Initiative At The Edge - Meetings


Present: Andrew Gunn, Carole Darmady, Elizabeth Cameron, Magnus Henderson, Nan Bethune, David Henderson, Emma Sanderson, Peter Sutherland, Iain Gunn, Alex Calder, J. Bain, Pauline Bain, Stan Fraser, Neil Buchanan, Kelvin Worth, Patty Niemann, G. Lyon, Elaine Rowan, Ivor Muir, Alison Gunn, Helen Budge, Ian Hargrave, Niall Smith, Archie MacNab, Hugh Donaldson, Eann Sinclair, Anna MacConnell
Apologies: Sue Steven, Colin Sutherland, Katrina MacNab, Sue Reeves

As the first meeting of the Steering Group and with office bearers yet to be appointed Ian Hargrave acted as Chair. Hugh Donaldson, Initiative at the Edge National Co-ordinator, explained that the Initiative process is accepted by the Scottish Executive and local authorities as a model of community planning. Initiative at the Edge steering groups has the ability to reinforce the democratic voice of the community councils. The Initiative provides back up and support in the form of a Local Development Officer combined with wider agency support and input. A local development plan must to be produced. This Plan provides the steering group and partnership members with a plan of action. The LDO’s post can be full-time and for three years duration, based in the area, and his/her work will be to assist the Steering Group and other voluntary bodies in the area to carry out the actions in the Plan. In addition, as part of the IaaO network there is the opportunity to share and exchange information and experience between all the Initiative areas across the Highlands and Islands.

Usually when an IatE steering group complete their Local Development Plan it would be run past the local community planning partnership. However, in the case of South East Caithness this in not necessary for now, but the Plan will eventually form part of a wider community plan for Caithness.

There may be continued support for the community to carry out development work in the area beyond its 3 years of full involvement in IatE, as there is usually a 2 year follow-on period. It is hoped that there would be strong enough local structure in place for the work to continue beyond that.

There is a need to firm up membership of the SE Caithness Steering Group. 12 people had come forward at the initial public meeting and all those present with an interest would be considered as members for now. Office bearers were appointed as follows: Iain Gunn, Chairman; Andrew Gunn, Vice Chair; Carole Darmady, Treasurer. The secretary’s role could be carried out by the Local Development Officer but until the Officer is appointed Anna MacConnell, CASE, will act as secretary.

A draft constitution will be circulated along with a draft job description for the LDO’s post to be discussed at the next meeting. Once a job description is agreed the recruitment of an LDO could take place. The agencies have funding in place for the post and it was suggested that the partner agencies, CVG and a representative from each of the local community councils should be on the interview panel. Caithness Voluntary Groups already provides a service to community organisations relating to the employment of staff (training, pay-roll, line management etc.) and would be happy to look after the LDO post for the Steering Group but it is up to the Steering Group to decide who they want to manage the post. It was felt that the LDO must be based in the area in an office that is publicly accessible and becomes a community resource providing information, research materials etc and local point of contact. Once the constitution is adopted a bank account can be opened in the name of the SE Caithness IatE Steering Group.

The community councils and other voluntary bodies have already provided a “wish list” of projects and issues that might be addressed through the Initiative. It was felt that as many members of the community should be involved, or at least be given the opportunity to be involved, in prioritising ideas and various methods for doing this were discussed from workshops to public meetings. Copies of the “wish list” ideas have been incorporated into a sample document under thematic headings, but this is just a starting point for later discussion and more work is required to identify the most appropriate themes for the area. The Steering Group will considered potential themes at the next meeting once development plans from other areas are circulated to allow the group consider the most appropriate format for SE Caithness.

As was indicated at the previous meeting in Lybster, Helen Allan (HC) is to carry out a consultation exercise with young people in the area. The youths would be asked to consider the existing “wish list”, add ideas of their own, prioritise these and this would be fed back to the Steering Group.

· Two local businesses were requiring advice – a member of CASE staff will be put in touch with them.
· The Rural Challenge Fund opens for bids in May
· It might be useful to have a skills audit and training needs analysis carried out in the area
· Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to be asked to include information about Initiative at the
   Edge with the housing needs survey questionnaire which is being circulated in the are in early March
· There are no representatives from Latheronwheel on the Steering Group – efforts to be made to
   encourage participation from that community
· There is discussion locally about Rumster Forest and the potential for a community buy-out – to be
   inserted into the ideas list

Lybster (venue to be confirmed) Tuesday 1st March at 7.30pm.

For more information about IatE visit the website www.initiative-at-the-edge.org.uk

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