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CLARKSTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 5th January 2015

Williamwood High School

Apologies Amy Elliott.

 

Present Eleanor Kellock (Chair), Anne Johnston (Secretary), David Thomson (Treasurer), Chris Kelly, Fiona Bittle, Alan Williams, Kirsten Oswald, Christian Potter,Vincent McKechnie.

 

In Attendance Cllr Stewart Miller, Cllr Alastair Carmichael, Rafe Fitzpatrick, Sean Smith, Corinne Durand.

 

Chair’s Statement The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting then read out the following statement;

 

“I wish all a healthy and happy new year. Clarkston Community Council exists, as always, to address the many issues which affect our residents.

 

We deal with these issues from an apolitical, neutral standpoint and have never allowed personal agendas to interfere with our efforts on our Community’s behalf. For this reason we all had concerns regarding the review of the Scheme for Community Councils.

 

We all agreed that the listed points of our response to Council would create problems for Community Council’s modus operandi. In any Democratic Society, freedom of speech is essential. Any controls certainly can equate with historical precedents which we never wish to experience.

 

I therefore call, especially in this Election year, for all of us to focus on our efforts to secure as good a future for Clarkston’s residents as our volunteer organisation can achieve.

 

Mrs Eleanor Kellock, Chair, Clarkston Community Council”

 

Minutes of Previous Meeting Minutes were proposed by AW and seconded by CK.

 

Police Report No report given as no Police were present.

 

Correspondence Zurich Insurance

Public Partnership Forum

Email from concerned resident- State of Clarkston Pavements and Lack of Street Lighting.

Email to Andrew Cahill, ERC - Clarkston CC Concerns

Email response from John Cassells and Brian Orde ERC to Clarkston CC concerns

Email Tracy Butler – Clarkston CC response to Review of CC Scheme and ERC Budget Strategy Proposals 2015/2018

Email to Uplawmoor CC – Defibrillator

Response from Uplawmoor CC – Defibrillator

Response from Gillian McCarney – Removal of Online Planning Information

CE – Stage 2 Consultation Review of CC Scheme – extended until 12th Jan 2015.

ERC Councillors Report Cllr Carmichael reported on the Provosts Award for the Citizen of the Year had a very worthy winner – a nine year old girl with a serious condition who has raised money for charity to help others. He also reported on a presentation by Sir Harry Burns. Cllr Miller then reported on the following from the Council meeting on the 17th December;

· Barrhead High School is to go ahead, at an extra cost of £3.5 million. The recently installed skate park that cost £100K and the John Kelly Pavilion will be knocked down to make way for the new school.

· The Culture and Leisure Trust proposals will go to the next stage. A Trust could save money, with VAT savings of £400000 and will make funding/grants easier to access. The Councillors could not answer a question about whether ERC would retain ownership of the assets and responsibility for maintenance.

· ERC are trying to harmonise rental rates as the Eastwood rates are much higher than Levern Valley.

· There are two more SPG’s with a lot more money going to Dams to Darnley Country Park. There was a discussion on this and it was generally felt that in these times of austerity there are many more worthwhile and important priorities where this amount of money should be spent instead, e.g. Bonnyton House, which would make a difference to our communities. KO said that she had not been to Dams to Darnley so wasn’t in a position to comment. It was also highlighted that residents in ER already have Rouken Glen Park which is very popular, well used and easier to access.

· The acquisition of land for a new school at the site opposite Mearns Castle High School was delayed until a Special Council meeting in January. There has been an acquisition of land to enable access the new Clarkston/Busby Family Centre at Newford Grove.

 

Local Issues

Budget Strategy Proposals/Bonnyton House

EK read out the response (Appendix I) that CCC sent to ERC regarding the Budget Strategy Proposals then asked the Councillors for an update on Bonnyton House. They replied that they had no update but Cllr Carmichael stated that he and Cllr Lafferty have been fighting very hard for Bonnyton House. There is a budget meeting on the 12th February but Cllr Carmichael said that he could not say anything about it. He urged the CC members to write to Julie Murray. VMcK suggested all members write individually to the Extra too. It was agreed to send a copy of CCC’s response to the Extra. A member of the public asked when the results of the Budget Consultation will be made available and was told by Cllr Carmichael that they would not be. A member of the public asked how the Council can make a decision when there is no transparency/visibility and it looks as though the Council doesn’t take viewpoints of CCs and community. CP highlighted that the officials at the Budget Consultation stated that ERC had no legal requirement to do consultations and that funding from the Scottish Government has been cut by £20million so savings have to be made. As well as objections to the budget proposals, people need to come up with alternatives. A member of the public highlighted that Bonnyton House is generally considered the best care home and if privatised there is no guarantee that the quality of care will be maintained. There is also a petition to save Bonnyton House.

 

The CC has received concerns from local parents regarding the budget proposals for removing support staff and campus police officers from the schools. A Williamwood High School pupil recently had to be taken from the school by ambulance, after an altercation and EK wanted to ask the police, who unfortunately were not present, whether this had been reported to them. EK questioned the impact the budget proposals could have on the staff and pupil’s safety. EK said that the EIS have recently highlighted this type of incident and yet COSLA denied any reports of such incidents - why is this the case?

 

State of Clarkston Pavements/Broken Bollards and Lack of Street Lighting

Residents have raised concerns over the broken bollards at Clarkston Toll. A four inch section has been left sticking out of the pavement near the road and is a tripping hazard. ERC have been notified, by both the residents and CCC as it is a serious health and safety issue. A traffic cone was placed over the broken bollard but this has now disappeared. Cllr Miller also contacted ERC regarding this and was informed that the bollards will be getting replaced. When the Christmas BID lights were switched on, the CC was informed by residents that the pavements at the broken bollards were even more dangerous as they couldn’t be seen in the pitch dark. This was witnessed by members of the CC who contacted ERC immediately. EK contacted Charlie Armstrong again today and he had no knowledge or explanation of why the street lights were switched off. Elderly residents have been witnessed struggling with wheeled walking aids at Clarkston, due to the uneven, poorly surfaced pavements. This is an accident waiting to happen and yet ERC say that these pavements are not priority and cited budget cuts as prolonging any resurfacing. Seres Road is also in a terrible state at the housing development site.

 

The litter bin that was causing an obstruction between the Happy Days bin and the bus stop has now been re-sited after the CC contacted ERC. Cllr Carmichael had complaints about leaves and litter gathering at the bins at Clarkston shops and this has been dealt with.

 

Area Forum Report None.

A.O.C.B.

Defibrillator

There was a discussion on acquiring a defibrillator. Uplawmoor CC were contacted and been very helpful, sending information about the British Heart Foundation and possible funding available from them. The general opinion is that a public access defibrillator would be the best option and the Bank of Scotland will be contacted to see if they would consider locating one on their outside wall. DT emphasised the importance of training.

 

Review of the CC Scheme

EK read out the response (Appendix II) that CCC sent to ERC regarding the Review of the CC Scheme.

 

Community Council Visibility

The CC was asked how they have raised awareness of what they do. EK replied that we have tried in the past to get information published in ER magazine and the local paper but not had much success. ERC put contact information and CC minutes on their website. The farmers market was suggested as a good way of raising CC awareness and KO has done this in the past. AW reported that it will be different people in charge of the farmers market from February. The CC also had Facebook, but due to difficulties experienced, it was agreed by the CC that this would not be continued. VMcK said that he disagreed with this decision at the time and still does as he felt it was a very good conduit. He was asked how often he went onto the CCC Facebook when it was available as there had not been much public interest in it and he replied he had looked at it once. The CC has a notice board but the lock has been damaged by the Happy Days bin so it cannot be opened. VMcK suggested he could look at this with AJ. DT mentioned the large membership (30+) of CCC when he got involved years ago and the economic climate was better with more generous funding.

 

Clarkston Pop-Up Shops/Rentals

A member of the public asked the CC about the possibility of pop-up shops for Clarkston. The CC have already suggested this and suggested that the public contacts Daniel McKendry, ERC or Gordon Paterson, Chair of Clarkston BID for further information. FB asked KO if she was involved with Clarkston BID and she replied that she was informally involved.

 

Clarkston Parking

KO asked when the new parking regulations would be coming into force and the badges erected Cllr Miller responded that he let the CC know at the November meeting that the badges would be erected Jan/Feb. KO questioned this but CK agreed with Cllr Miller as he recalled this being the case. Cllr Miller will contact Charles Armstrong at ERC then update the CC.

 

CP said that the residents of Aidan’s Brae had asked her to pass on their thanks to the CC for their work and support for the yellow lines on the road.

Date of Next Meeting: Monday 2nd February 2015 at 7.30pm, Williamwood High School.

Planning Matters: None.

 

 

APPENDIX 1

 

Clarkston Community Council Budget Strategy 2015/2018 Response

 

Clarkston Community Council has received several communications from our residents regarding the East Renfrewshire Council Budget Strategy 2015/2018.

Some residents have voiced concern over the increase in class sizes, reduction of classroom assistants and removal of campus police officers. Others are concerned over the reduction in funding for roads when the roads in the Clarkston area are in a particularly poor state already.

The main issue that has received the most feedback and concerns from our residents is the proposals for Bonnyton House. Concerns are as follows;

  • Loss of respite care
  • Loss of residential care
  • Loss to the community – Bonnyton House is an important part of the community, with local school children visiting regularly to sing to and meet with the residents. Several local people also work in Bonnyton House and are concerned about their job security.
  • Other services can be cut then re-instated at a later date if necessary but the sale of Bonnyton House would be final.
  • The uncertainty surrounding the future of this highly regarded care home is very upsetting for residents in the care home and their families.

Residents have contacted Clarkston Community Council with practical suggestions that they believe would make Bonnyton House financially viable. These are as follows:

  • Employ permanent staff instead of agency staff which would save a substantial amount per annum.
  • Increase costs of care if necessary.
  • Consult with the staff to see where there are inefficiencies that can be addressed.

Clarkston Community Council requests that you give serious consideration to Bonnyton House staying under East Renfrewshire Council’s ownership for the benefit of our community.

Clarkston Community Council


APPENDIX II

 

CLARKSTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Response to Review of the Scheme of Establishment for Community Councils

Clarkston Community Council members attended the Consultation Event on the 22nd October 2014 facilitated and chaired by Keith Yates and ODS Consulting. The following points were the general consensus of opinion on the proposed new Scheme at the aforementioned event;

  • Controlling
  • Not fit for purpose
  • Contradictory
  • Removes independence
  • Over restrictive
  • Discouraging because there is excessive focus on discipline. Why?

Clarkston Community Council also concurs with these opinions. We are concerned that the revised Scheme will actively discourage membership of Community Councils. The last Community Council elections in 2013 proved that it is difficult to attract enough volunteers in East Renfrewshire to join Community Councils therefore East Renfrewshire Council, through the revised Scheme, should be addressing this issue and fully encouraging membership instead of appearing to be discouraging it.

Clarkston Community Council highlights the following main points of concern;

3.9.2   “circulate agenda and draft minutes to community council members, the Council, relevant elected members and publish then online”. No. This would be unsafe and is not normal practice. ERC approve minutes before they are put online and Community Councils reserve the right to also approve minutes first before publication. The circulation of draft minutes should only go to Community Council members and relevant elected members prior to approval. This was agreed by Jim Sneddon, Head of Democratic Services in September 2013.

3.2     “It is essential that these views be demonstrated” – This is impossible to implement.

3.3     “Community councils have a statutory right to be consulted on planning applications” – The latest decision by East Renfrewshire Council to remove online planning information restricts the ease of this process.

3.6      No. This should be changed to Scottish Government Model Constitution.

3.9.4   No.

5.2 & 6.5.1.2 These clauses are contradictory.

5.1.2 refers to “neighbourhoods”. East Renfrewshire Council already know numbers in Community Councils are low in most Community Councils so this will make it even harder to establish Community Councils.

5.14   “Where a casual vacancy arises on a community council... the community council shall in consultation with East Renfrewshire Council, make appropriate arrangements to fill the vacancy

No. The Community Councils should have the choice of whether to fill the vacancy as documented in the existing Scheme.

5.14  & 8.1.  Contradictory.

6.4       Not required. This is not a political process.

7.3.      No. Quorum of three is too low.

8.2.3    Not appropriate.

11.2     Impossible to understand and justify the requirement two independent examiners for the extremely minimal funds in most Community Council accounts. This is excessive scrutiny. Why?

11.3     Is appropriate but change “at their discretion” to “if irregularities are detected”.

12.3 - 12.11.7 – Clarkston Community Council totally rejects these clauses and would like the following questions answered;

1. Where do ERC have the authority to arbitrate?

2. How do they decide which Councillors and Community Councillors sit on the panel?

3. What training do they receive?

4. How can it be unbiased with three East Renfrewshire elected councillors and two Community Councillors?

5. Clause 12.10 –Where do the panel or independent person/body derive such

powers?

If anybody examines a Community Council/Community Councillors conduct it cannot be ERC as the conduct may be related to an issue not dealt with by ERC. Community Councillors are not employees; we are volunteers who represent the public so we are accountable to them not ERC. It is the public that elect us and we are self-governing bodies, not under ERC’s control.

We have been informed that in excess of £33000 has already been spent on external Consultants to review the Scheme for Community Councils. Given that ERC are having to make huge cuts in the budget that will impact considerably on our residents and community, we are extremely concerned at the excessive amount spent on this review, when we already have a Community Engagement and Planning Team employed and paid by ERC. Previous reviews of the Scheme have been done internally with no extra costs involved. Due to the well-publicised budget restraints is this really a valued use of public funds?

It is a fundamental principle, enshrined in the Local Government (Scotland) Act that Community Councils are independent. This is crucial to enable us to fulfil our purpose to represent the views of our residents and communities.

This proposed Scheme is therefore not fit for purpose, discouraging, too heavily based on control and discipline, and removes our independence. Furthermore certain clauses are contradictory and impossible to implement.

We would also question where it equates to the recent Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.

Yours sincerely

Clarkston Community Council