Public Meeting of Colonsay Community Council
Tuesday 25th May 2021 at 6pm via Video/Audio Call
Vice Convener Alex Howard
Secretary (interim) Jane Howard
Treasurer (interim) Kevin Byrne
All councillors were present.
Councillor Robin Currie (Leader, ABC), Councillor Alastair Redman (ABC)
There were approximately 13 members of the public in attendance.
Sheena Nisbet, Flora Campbell
2. Declarations of interest
Will be recorded at appropriate points in the meeting.
Recording of meeting was noted.
3. Minutes of public meeting held on Tuesday 9th March.
The minute was adopted, proposed RI and seconded KB.
4. Matters arising.
Letter regarding development of affordable houses at Port Mhor
KB reported that he had posted the letters on the CCC website. He declared an interest and stated that he would not participate in the discussion.
JH reported that a response to Sophie Furze, Rhona Robinson (and others) letter had been received by the CCC from the CCDC. This is on the CCC website. In turn, Sophie Furze, Rhona Robinson (and others) responded again. JH read out the letter. This will be available to view on the CCC website.
JH added that she had received a confidential letter from a resident who is concerned about the housing development at Port Mòr and has asked whether it would be worth approaching the CCDC to ask them to consult with the community again to ascertain if there is still majority support in the community for this development.
RI restated the CCC's policy of not commenting on planning applications unless asked to do so which explains why the CCC did not comment on the application last year. RI shares the concern from Sophie and Rhona that there is a view from the CCDC that the CCC is “taking up arms” on behalf of some constituents. This is not the case, the CCC has been asked to highlight a concern of some constituents.
JH raised the concern about the management of the access road from A & B Council's point of view. The CCC has a duty to raise this concern to the A&B Council.
Cllr. Alastair Redman is on the Planning Board so made a Declaration of Interest.
AH proposed that the CCC approach the CCDC to consider going back to the community for 3 reasons: a lot of time has passed since the first planning application
a lot of public money is being spent
circumstances have changed since 2016 when the project was first proposed
there is now land owned by the community which is for affordable housing at Scalasaig.
From the floor, Dannie Onn (DO) [speaking as a Director of CCDC] stated that in the letter read out, there are no new points that were not answered in the CCDC's last response; the CCDC did not accuse CCC of taking up arms, just asked that CCC did not take up arms on behalf of a few residents; the access to the crofts will require an upgrade to the road in the same way as it will be required for the housing development; he would take up the CCC request to go back to the community at the next CCDC Board meeting.
AH made the point that up to 10 houses can be served by an access track without significant upgrades. There are 3 crofts, Sophie, Rhona and Flora and Effies house i.e. 6 properties. If you add in another 5 houses for the affordable houses, then the road will have to be significantly upgraded as it exceeds 10 residences. For CCDC, DO accepted AH's point and said it may not be as expensive an option to upgrade the road without the affordable houses.
Councillor Robin Currie (RC) said that planning has been granted for the 5 houses. A meaningful start has been made on site so the planning will remain for many years.
A director of CCDC [#1], speaking from the floor, said that the 2 different housing projects should be viewed separately and that it is illogical to stop one project when another one starts. He said that people should attend the next CCDC AGM to raise concerns.
RI: given we have been asked by some members of our community to raise these concerns he thinks we should ask the CCDC to raise this at the next AGM.
JH: the points that are being made strongly by the constituents is that circumstances have changed and that it would be worth asking the community again if they are still on board with the project in light of this.
AH: we are not taking sides but if we can check that there is still good support for the project, then there shouldn't be anything to worry about.
A director of CCDC [#2], speaking from the floor: From the point of view of someone who wants a house and who has spent years working on getting more affordable housing built on Colonsay, said it is a waste of CCDC's time to go back to the community with a survey. Constituents can do a petition if they are concerned. Planning permission has been granted twice.
A director of CCDC [#3], speaking from the floor: CCC are policing the CCDC which is not appropriate. Planning has been granted therefore should be up to the small number of opposing constituents to raise a petition to demonstrate opposition to the project. If that is successful, then the CCDC will have to look at that.
AH: CCC is not policing the CCDC, the 3 councillors are not expressing any opinions here, they are merely bringing the concerns of some constituents to the attention of the wider community. This has been done both in the CC meetings and in writing to the CCDC. The CCC are only asking the CCDC to consider going back to the community to get up to date validation of support for the Port Mòr project. The CCC does not believe that the CCDC have given a satisfactory response so far.
Speaking for CCDC, DO: thinks it is a new request from the CCC but will go back to the Board later in the week with the CCC's suggestion to approach the community to ensure majority support for the project at Port Mòr . He would also like the CCDC Board to spell out any implications for changing the plans for Port Mòr .
CCDC director #2, speaking from the floor: agrees that the CCDC should be held accountable for its projects but asks that CCC please consider the enormous amount of work that is required when the CCDC has to further consult with the community.
Councillor Robin Currie: asks if people in the community do not want affordable houses built now?
AH: explained that the CCC considers that there is wide support for building affordable houses but the question is over the location of those houses. Is Port Mòr still an appropriate site given that there is land at Scalasaig with current planning permission for 6 affordable houses and 3 self build plots and 3 MOWI houses.
Speaking for CCDC, DO: clarified that future building of more houses on the Scalasaig site would be subject to planning permission etc and cannot be guaranteed.
Cllr. RC: said that answered his question
Constituent Rhona Robinson (RR): re. access track at Port Mòr , it will always be her access. She understands that one crofter will not get a house because the 5 affordable house sites + existing residents + new crofters will exceed the number of 10 houses that can be accessed by the upgraded access track. She believes that the community has not been kept informed about the Port Mòr houses and said that a number of residents thought that these houses would no longer be built because a site had been acquired at Scalasaig. She said that she doesn't believe that there is need or jobs for up to 27 new families on Colonsay.
CCDC director # 2, speaking from the floor: only four new affordable rental properties are to be built at Scalasaig. Two of those houses could go to her and CCDC Director #3 which only leaves two more. “There are people living in unacceptable accommodation on Colonsay and people wanting to move to Colonsay and we need more affordable housing now.” It is good that WHHA can build some of these houses to relieve the burden on the CCDC of building houses. There are not enough houses for people already on the island let alone to bring more people to the island to make the island sustainable.
Constituent RR: “If CCDC is worried about needing more houses, why not give some land away to WHHA in Scalasaig rather than give away land at Port Mòr ? And you could save £150,000 on the road alone.”
Constituent Sophie Furze (SF): re. facts and figures from CCDC. “We all know [CCDC Directors #2 and #3] would like a house. Can we know who is on the housing list and the demographics? Most of the houses in Port Mòr are 3 bedroom houses and are they suitable for the current demographic requiring houses? CCDC states on their website that the population is 130. Actually the population is 150+. The CCDC website states that fewer than 30 residents are under the age of 50,” Sophie had counted up 43 people etc.
Speaking for CCDC, DO: said that they use the data available at the time to develop a project, “cannot now change our minds because the data has changed.”
CCDC director #2 – Rhona's concerns reasonable. “Sophie's calling into question the project because of her own self-interest.”
JH: the important point is that the Community Councillors are not making a comment on either side. We are only trying to establish if the CCC should suggest to the CCDC if they should go back to the community to get a majority endorsement for this project. She said that there should be nothing to be feared from that process if the community remain in favour of the project. If however the majority of the community were no longer in favour, then the CCDC would have to decide how to manage that. It is very hard to gauge meaningful community views without doing it anonymously but it is not up to the CCC how this is taken forward, it is up to the CCDC.
RI: agreed to second JH's proposal that the CCC asks the CCDC to consider going back to the community to seek views on the Port Mòr development in order to validate the project.
AH: supported the proposal as well.
JH: forum for a wider open community debate on this issue is at the CCDC's AGM in June.
Speaking for CCDC, DO: please put request in writing to him as the Chair of CCDC.
KB: Accounts are drawn up. The [independent examiner] is checking over. All financial information had been passed on to KB so accounts can now be closed off. No money in or out. Nothing owed.
RI: Thank you to [two named individuals with financial expertise] for their help.
Community Resilience Update
KB: Reminded everyone that Visitor Guidelines are updated. Also wanted to remind everyone to do the Lateral Flow test before returning to the island, both visitors and residents.
Residents can get a Vaccine Certificate on their phone by googling Scottish Vaccination Certificate and downloading the information from the doctor's vaccine certificate onto the App.
Post Office/Royal Mail
JH: Still working on it. Carried over to next meeting
AH: Limited capacity on Wed and Sat ferry especially with Covid social distancing requirements. There has also been a major vessel breakdown for a number of weeks which has had a significant knock on effect across the network.
Councillor Robin Currie: normal service will resume from 2nd June.
AH: jetpatcher is coming to Colonsay imminently. £30,000 budget only.
Cllr. RC: The last substantial work on Colonsay roads was in 1985 and £30k is a very small amount. He said that should be a much bigger budget for Colonsay next year.
Community Benefit Fund
KB: There is money available. Another £14,000 is due in from MOWI. Three possible applications pending: from Village Hall, School and a private individual. Asked for a volunteer Councillor to manage next application committee.
RI: Offered to chair committee. Deadline for applications of end of June; decision made 2 months later. RI to set up a committee to oversee.
Action: JH to email community inviting applications, deadline 30 June, application forms on website.
No planning Applications
Switching on of new mast: the latest date announced is 7th June.
Constituent RR – no response from CCDC re. why the WHHA cannot build their houses in Scalasaig instead of Port Mòr . She stressed that a lot of people are intimidated by some of the Directors of the CCDC and are too frightened to publicly state their views.
The suggestion is that any survey seeking views should be anonymous.
CCDC director #1, from the floor: happy to be approached anytime as a Director of CCDC
AH: asked RC if A&B Council help with conducting an anonymous survey?
Constituent RR: asked RC if he thought that the current planning permission at Port Mòr was appropriate and spending £150k on the road alone?
Cllr. RC: it is not the Council building the houses it is WHHA so WHHA decide what to spend on the access road. The planning is granted is based on housing need and that was established previously. Whether the housing project goes ahead at Port Mòr is up to WHHA, CCDC and the community.
AH: agreed with Cllr. RC. He pointed out that Deidre Forsyth of ABC had told him a number of years ago that the ABC can conduct anonymous surveys on a community's behalf. This means that the survey results are entirely independent.
Cllr. RC: hears what the CCC are saying and prepared to take it back to officers of the Council to see if they can help. If it is possible, then the Council will do it.
Constituent RR – would support this independent approach as two of the CCDC directors have a vested interest in the houses being built.
AH: asked CCDC director # 2 to ensure that the CCDC knows about the request to the ABC for an independent survey.
Date of next meeting is 6th July.
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