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Initiative At The Edge - Meetings

1ST MARCH 2005

Iain Gunn (Chair) Niall Smith Andy Mohun, Alex Calder Andrew Gunn Alison Gunn, Carole Darmady, Hugh Donaldson, Sue Steven Elizabeth Cameron Neil Buchanan Emma Sanderson, Patricia Niemann Kelvin Worth, Donald Miller, Cllr Billy Mowat, Magnus Henderson, Eann Sinclair, Ian Hargrave, Anna MacConnell


Members discussed the draft constitution and it was agreed to adopt the constitution subject to the following amendments:
1) The name of the group will be South East Caithness Development Group
2) Provision for subject/issue related sub committees to be built in to the constitution
3) Emphasis on support for vulnerable people in the community to be included
A proposed amendment to allow meetings to take place in private was discussed, but it was agreed that any issues requiring private discussion could be remitted to a sub-group to discuss. Although the constitution will not bind the group to advertise meetings publicly the group will adopt a policy of openness and will continue advertise meetings as open to the public.

Once the Development Plan is complete, and depending on its content, the group will consider whether or not to attempt to gain charitable status, company status or any other change of status that may better provide for fundraising and project delivery. It will also be considered whether or not voluntary bodies already existing in the community may be more appropriate organisations through which to progress projects.

Members were happy with the sample job description supplied. Caithness Voluntary Groups will employ the LDO on behalf of the Development Group under the terms and conditions adopted for all CVG employees. The post will be line managed by Niall Smith and the LDO will be expected to be in regular communication with the chair of the Development Group. The group will consider possible locations for offices in the area and Niall Smith will inspect these to assess their suitability for public access and carry out risk assessments for each location. The LDO must be resident within the Initiative at the Edge area for the duration of the contract.

CVG will begin the recruitment process as soon as the finances relating to the LDO post are clarified. The post will be advertised as widely as possible within the local area and through the local press. Members are encouraged to make people aware of the forthcoming vacancy. A shortlist of applications will be selected and interviews carried out by Ian Hargrave, Eann Sinclair, Iain Gunn and Niall Smith.

A successful youth consultation event had been carried out by Highland Council’s Community Learning & Leisure staff. 38 young people had attended workshops in Lybster on Sunday 27th February and identified their priorities for change in SE Caithness. The main issues coming from the consultation were lack of suitable places for the young people to “hang out” and a lack of public transport in the evening. The youths had also voted on the Steering Group’s “wish list” with similar results. The issues raised by the youth consultation will be fed into the Development Plan.

It was agreed that an audit of existing facilities and condition and use of those needs to be carried out. Also, that there is a role for the Development Group in co-ordination of existing facilities, for example, a minibus used during the day transporting the elderly in the community to Day Care Centres might be used in the evening to transport young people to youth events.

A statement to “Maintain and enhance existing facilities” within the Development Plan will encompass issues such as the proposed downgrading of the Lybster Fire Unit and allow this issue to be featured in the Plan.

Using the consultation work carried out to date Iain Gunn and Anna MacConnell will draft up the bones of a Development Plan which will be discussed at the next meeting.

At a previous meeting it had been suggested that Di Alexander of the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust be asked to send out information along with his proposed housing needs questionnaire. If a database of household addresses is created this will be a valuable resource for the Development Group in the future and if provided to Di will allow him to send out the questionnaire more quickly. Carole Durmady will contact the Post Office to determine the cost of a database. Highland Council staff have agreed to email the electoral register for the area to Anna.

The group requires funds to carry out a mailshot and for venue hire costs. The Scottish Executive have provided £10,000 to assist implementation of the Development Plan which cannot be released until the Plan is in place. CASE may be able to provide a small amount of funding to cover initial activities, such as a mail out. Eann Sinclair asked the Chairman to write to CASE requesting this “start-up” amount of £500.

There had been a proposal that it might be useful for some members of the group to visit another IatE area to see projects that have been developed and how the community groups function. There may be an opportunity to do this at a later stage.


  • Rumster Forest– Iain Gunn had been interviewed by a journalist regarding a potential community buy-out of Rumster Forest. Cllr Mowat intimated that this idea had been discussed at a Lybster Community Council meeting and that the impetus for the idea had been discussion of potential for developing of renewable energy projects where the major benefit is gained by the landowner. The group agreed that any moves in this direction should be concerned with safeguarding existing Forestry Commission Scotland jobs in the area. It was confirmed that proposals that had come from Lybster are unlikely to conflict with Wick Heat & Power’s interest in gaining a long term supply of timber for the Wick District Heating Scheme. A feasibility study has been carried out into the potential for redevelopment of the Rumster Outdoor Centre. Jon Priddy, HIE’s Community energy unit would be invited to the next meeting to talk about the potential for community-led renewable energy generation projects.
  • Lybster Fire Unit – several Initiative at the Edge areas have suffered under the recent review of Fire Safety provision in the Highlands & Islands. Hugh Donaldson will ensure that the subject is on the agenda at the forthcoming IatE National Steering group meeting in April. If it can be made a policy issue for IatE then the matter will be taken up by Allan Wilson, Depute Minister for Rural Affairs.
  • Lybster Playgroup – Carole Darmady added another item to the “wish list” – a dedicated premises and outdoor area for Lybster Playgroup.

The next meeting will be held in Dunbeath Village Hall on 22nd March at 7.30pm.

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

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