Public Meeting of Colonsay Community Council
Tuesday 9th March 2021 at 6pm via Video/Audio Call
Convenor Keith Rutherford
Vice Convener Alex Howard
Treasurer David Hobhouse
Secretary (interim) Jane Howard
All community councillors were present plus Donald MacNeill (minute secretary), Argyll & Bute councillors Robin Currie and Alastair Redmond and approximately 20 members of the community.
KR opened the meeting and asked vice-convenor AH to chair.
Were received from Jan Binnie.
The minutes of the meeting on 9th February 2021 were adopted. Proposed JH and seconded RB
Matters Arising, not dealt with elsewhere.
The power supply to the new EE mast is under construction and it is rumoured that the mast will go live at the end of March 2021.
At this point David Hobhouse asked the permission of the chair to make a statement. This was granted and the statement is reproduced verbatim below:
This afternoon we had a meeting of the Councillors to discuss the feedback from the CC's recent feedback request. 25 people put "pen to paper" with some 70 points raised, many of which questioned the conduct of the council and some of the councillors. I do not feel that the actions needed to bring sufficient change in the CC will be forthcoming. I am therefore resigning as in my view this CC no longer serves or satisfies its community.
David Hobhouse resigned
Helen Mann resigned after thanking all who had responded to the survey which was instigated by the council to try and improve the ways in which they served the community. She felt there was a danger that the feedback could be ignored and that addressing the feedback was not the aim of some of the community councillors.
Liz McNicholl resigned . She felt that the council was unable to operate in a manner that gained the support of the whole community.
[For clarification CCC had held a preparatory meeting on the afternoon of 9th March to discuss an improvement process. This meeting was non decision making and purely to familiarise councillors with a suggested way forward. This process was presented by RB at the public meeting and excerpts are to be available on the council website.]
AH stated that the meeting was still quorate.
KR reiterated that he was standing down as convenor and would stand down as a councillor at the next election.
RB Expressed regret at the three resignations and suggested the meeting be adjourned to allow a period of reflection.
KB We have an agenda and a quorum so should proceed with the meeting.
JH Suggested we deal with routine business.
KR felt that there was a need to appoint a convenor (Item 4) and continue meeting.
It was agreed to continue with the meeting to deal with routine agenda items, a decision supported by William Joll, from the floor.
Caitlin McNeill asked, from the floor, why councillors had stepped down and why other councillors wouldn't let them represent the community.
AH suggested councillors should respond.
Richard Irvine, from the floor, suggested the meeting continue but it would be helpful if ex councillors could articulate their reasons for resigning.
AH asked the resignees to explain why they had resigned.
Liz McNicholl, from the floor stated that she didn't think the measures proposed (by RB) would address the council's problems which she feels is not operating properly. She was not comfortable being part of the council and in particular a council without Helen and David.
Helen Mann, from the floor stated that she didn't feel councillors were taking the complaints (detailed in the survey) seriously and that the views of the 14 respondents were not being taken seriously which would lead to more resentment and more contempt in the community. She didn't wish to be part of that.
AH expressed regret at turns of events.
KB asked if Richard Irvine's and Caitlin's questions had been answered.
Richard Irvine, from the flooor, said not really and wanted to see returns from the survey.
Caitlin McNeill, from the floor: remaining councillors need to explain why resignations happened.
JH All the issues raised in the feedback are included in the discussion document which informed RB's improvement plan. Some councillors didn't feel RB's plan was robust enough.
Dannie Onn from the floor: we need to be made aware of the issues from the survey and plan.
AH asked David Hobhouse to explain why he had resigned.
David Hobhouse, from the floor, said that when everybody had seen the feedback it was obvious.
AH There is no question of the feedback not being made public.
RB withdrew suggestion to adjourn meeting
It was decided to carry on with the meeting.
Appointment of new convenor.
RB was proposed by KB seconded by KR and supported by JH and AH
RB felt he needed to feel he had support of public as his improvement proposals had not received backing from 3 councillors.
KB suggested we proceed to RB presentation of plan and then take views of public. This was agreed.
Dannie Onn, from the floor, asked if lost councillors could be replaced quickly as it might affect appointment of convenor.
JH Two full councillors can be co-opted immediately. Or we can have a by election and all three could be filled. More complicated. Next CCC full election is 2022.
Dannie Onn, from the floor, asked if there could be an early election.
A&B Cllr. Robin Currie suggested that as council was still quorate they should carry on.
A& B Cllr. Alastair Redmond agreed with A & B Cllr. Robin Currie; but stressed it was up to council.
Dannie Onn, from the floor, suggested there was a divide in the council, and it was due to ‘how they felt' about the remaining members. This could lead the public to wonder if they were properly represented by those who remained.
RB suggested the council carry on with business.
Dr Willets was not present.
KB Dr Willets has been contacted with the circular CTMG is revising. A refreshed version will be available soon
AH Everyone over 18 has been offered first shot of vaccine.
Royal Mail – Oban Glasgow Connection.
KR asked if JH had heard anything from Mr MacLean?
KR nor me.
JH Van leaves Oban at 5pm. This is fixed so any changes would have to be to the Calmac timetable. Calmac are open to minor alterations to timetable.
[Winter timetable ends 25th April, Summer one starts 26th April 2021]
KB Post is delayed by 24 hours if it misses the train.
Liz McNicholl , from the floor, had spoken to contacts in Royal Mail. There are delays across the UK due to Coronavirus.
Sarah Hobhouse, from the floor, reported that she had not experienced unacceptable delays with her busy mail-order business.
JH Asked if Wednesday winter service should be brought forward for next winter to make sure the mail caught the van. This would result in a very tight schedule for train passengers travelling to Colonsay and the train would lose its guaranteed connection status. There is a trade off between a guaranteed train service and a guarantee of the mail catching the 5pm van. She wondered how many people used the train service.
RB The community should be consulted regarding ferry times and possible consequences for train connections.
Liz McNicholl, from the floor, stressed that there are train connections to be considered in any change of ferry times and while the train does not have many users it is used by those who have no alternative.
JH Asked council to confirm if they wanted her to ask the community by e-mail about bringing Wednesday winter ferry time forward.
This was agreed . Action JH to consult community.
Saturday Ferry Service.
Will remain unchanged.
AH handed to KR to chair as he was reporting on the survey results.
The report (which was ratified by council) is published as a separate item on the website. (Camping Survey Results)
Community in favour of wild camping
Community believe camper van arrangements should remain as they are.
There was 68% support for a campsite.
AH thanked Helen Mann for loading the survey and RB for collating the data.
An information leaflet will be produced.
KR asked if we should know who all the wild campers were?
KB responded that we had no authority to police this.
KB declared interest as member of CTMG and reminded the council that some years ago they had backed an initiative to remove rubbish from beaches etc. To lessen the use of plastic bottles CTMG has arranged to install some water points round the Island for walkers to refill bottles.
A & B Cllr. Robin Currie stated that A & B council had £500,000 available for ‘staycation' projects.
Dannie Onn, as member of camping sub-group, asked who was to act on the survey results.
It was decided that the existing sub-group should continue.
KR thanked KB for his work in litter eradication.
JH stated that website improvement will be part of the improvement process (Item 11)
KB Is happy to upload any information onto existing site until such time as another website exists.
A & B Cllr. Alastair Redland declared interest as part of A & B council.
Dannie Onn, from the floor, stated that there was planning application for:
Alteration to School Cottage
Silage Pit at Balnahard
Masterplan at Scalasaig (CCDC development)
AH stated that it is the longstanding policy of CCC to note planning applications without comment.
Dannie Onn, from the floor, declared interest (CCDC) and remarked that it would be helpful if CCC backed CCDC's project.
Donald MacNeill replied that CCC would normally comment or support projects when asked.
Lix McNicholl, from the floor, clarified that this policy applied to Community Projects, not individual/private ones.
It was decided that CCC would write supporting the CCDC project.
A & B Cllr. Robin Currie remarked that it was helpful from A & B council's point of view if Community Council backed projects.
RB Suggested an improvement plan in response to councillors and members of the public who were unhappy with aspects of the CCC.
He then gave a presentation about the plan, part of which is available to view on CCC website.
The two issues that needed immediate attention were:
RB felt it was essential there was better transparency to the workings of the council.
A first step would be to form two working groups to explore the above and recommend ways to improve.
AH asked for comments from the floor.
> Dannie Onn cautioned about the difficulties of anonymising participants as there had only been a small number of respondents.
> David Hobhouse said he would want some time to reflect before joining a working group.
> Liz McNicholl agreed
JH reminded council that they had been going to ask the meeting for support.
> Richard Irvine, from the floor said he was supportive of processes and remarked that there had been a small response to the survey.
> Sarah Hobhouse, from the floor remarked that the 26 respondees had put a lot of effort into communicating their responses. It was not a tic box exercise.
> Dannie Onn, from the floor responded that large or small it was important that concerns be addressed.
KB Richards proposal is all we have at present, should we enact it?
> Sophie Furze, from the floor, felt the council should proceed.
AH Two problems to resolve: Convenor, and Special Meeting to discuss improvement.
David Hobhouse, from the floor said that even if show of hands endorses RB as new convenor he may need more time to consider.
JH Made clear that the remaining councillors endorsed RB's plan. Accepted there had been justifiable criticism made and were keen to work with the community and A & B council in an open and transparent way to address this criticism.
KB endorsed this statement.
David Hobhouse, from the floor, expressed regret that JH had not expressed these sentiments earlier in the day.
JH apologised for a lack of clarity, and said that RB whom she had worked with would acknowledge that she had not shied away from any criticism levelled at her or Alex.
AH Show of hands to endorse RB's plan. A majority of hands went up.
AH Does that help RB?
RB Yes it does help. I would like to ponder and discuss with as many people as possible. There is no point in going through with an improvement process without the backing of the community. I will also try and discuss in more depth the reasons for the resignations.
KB left meeting.
Richard Irvine, from the floor suggested RB's proposal be circulated in order that members of the community were better aware of what had been discussed.
Callum Hay, from the floor, suggested a vote of thanks to the councillors who had resigned, and to KR for his work as Convenor. This was supported by all.
AH declared an interest and reported that he and Gavin were getting together to prepare a report on refuse collection problems.
JH Reported that she had had no response to her letter about the roads.
A & B Cllr. Robin Currie reported that he had managed to secure £30,000 from the roads budget for Colonsay.
Special Meeting to discuss election of convenor and improvement plan: 23rd March 2021 @6pm
Next ordinary meeting: 13th April 2021 @ 6pm
Both to be open meetings by ZOOM.
AH thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.
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