Argyll and Bute welcomes refugees

Refugees fleeing the Syrian war zone are to be welcomed into Argyll and Bute with open arms.

In an announcement made today by Argyll and Bute Council, at least 20 refugees will be offered housing and support in the area, with the possibility of more in the future.

Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “We have a moral duty to help. We cannot sit back and do nothing while these poor people try desperately to escape war torn countries, risking their lives and their family’s lives in the process.

“If we can help just 20 people, then that’s 20 people who will have the opportunity of a better life.”

Councillor Walsh continued, “We will be working alongside our Community Planning Partners to discuss the best way to support them and to integrate them into our communities.

“The spirit of positivity – of moving forward together – is much, much more than a title or a theme. Here in Argyll and Bute it is, quite simply, how we think and what we do.”

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Onshore Renewables Consultation Result

Following Argyll and Bute Council’s consultation on its framework for community benefits from onshore renewables, a summary of the responses is available on the Council’s website at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/consultation_responses.pdf.

As a result of this it has produced ‘Argyll and Bute Guidance for Community Benefits from Onshore Renewables‘. 

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Community Council requested to consult local authority on damage compensation and monitoring of radioactive emissions

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RNAD Coulport

At Ardentinny Community Council’s April meeting a local resident requested the following action from the Community Council as part of its remit “to help make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the community it represents.

The request was made in the context of past events at HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport. For example, the MOD officially recorded 105 ‘nuclear safety events’ in the Coulport and Faslane bases in 2013-14, and in March 2014 Ardentinny residents experienced damaging impact from blasts at Coulport.

Therefore, the request was made to consult with Argyll and Bute Council “as to where compensation would be obtained should there be any damage to residents’ homes and livestock, e.g., horses; and ‘what emergency procedures have been put in place and how satisfactory are they?”  The Clyde Off-site Emergency Plan has recently been updated and can be found here. The Council has been advised that the population of Ardentinny is in excess of 50, as published in the plan.

With regard to radioactive emissions, it was requested that “the community council consult the local authority on how to ensure that there is consistent and local, independent monitoring of the safety of the beach at Ardentinny and that the results are made public.” Levels of emissions can be found in the RIFE-19 Report on Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (Dec. 2014) which is compiled by the Environment Agency; Food Standards Agency; Natural Resources Wales; Northern Ireland Environment Agency; and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Faslane and Coulport are specifically covered in pages 168-169 and Appendix 2, p.249 & p.254.

According to SEPA, the radioactive waste currently being discharged from Faslane and Coulport is below the current agreed limits and there are plans to agree new limits to better reflect actual discharges together with continuing conditions which require the amount of discharged waste to be minimised.

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Community Payback Team making a difference at Walled Garden

Over the past year Dunoon’s Community Payback Team has been contributing to the success of Glenfinart Walled Garden.

Including the regular strimming, weeding, planting, compost collection and general garden maintenance, the Community Payback team, under the direction of supervisor John Gilchrist, has also been laying paths with road *planings  and gravel provided by Argyll & Bute Council Roads Department.

Such is the success of the contribution they have made to the garden, this year the team will be allocated a plot to enable them to grow their own produce. They will also receive training from Glenfinart Walled Garden’s volunteers’ coordinator and gardener, Glyn Topliss.

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Path construction underway this week

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The produce garden with the distant snow-covered Beinn Ruadh

* An aggregate produced when the surface layer of tarmac is removed
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Plans for new Ardentinny cycle route

cyclingPlans for a 25 mile cycle route from Kilmun Arboretum to Whistlefield, Ardentinny and back to Kilmun using existing forestry tracks were outlined by Councillor Bruce Marshall at the recent Ardentinny Community Council meeting. Preparations are also underway to promote and organise a cycle event using the new route in 2015.

Also under consideration is Ardentinny Outdoor Centre and Benmore Centre being used to disseminate visitor information on the area to children visiting the centres.

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A New Beginning: Ardentinny Outdoor Centre is Sold

Ardentinny Outdoor Centre

Ardentinny Outdoor Centre

At a quiet Community Council meeting, with only three members of the public in attendance, Aidan Docherty, Head of Centre, announced that Actual Reality had bought the village outdoor centre from Argyll and Bute Council, with the deal apparently closing this Thursday, 7th February, 2013.

The purchase includes the slipway, the listed building ‘Old Ferry House’ at the slipway entrance, the outdoor centre itself, including the two ‘cottages’ together with the grounds which apparently extend to 6.714 acres (Title Disposition July 1968).

Aidan introduced Richard Miller, Actual Reality’s Finance Officer and invited any questions or expressions of concern regarding the negotiation and purchase of the centre either at the meeting or at any time in the future. He stressed the positive impact of this acquisition, highlighting the fact that the centre is approaching its 40th anniversary and that Actual Reality, which will soon become [Read more…]

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Community Council adopts new format for meetings and Forestry criticised for no warning of military manoeuvres

Perhaps in an attempt to encourage more community participation, Ardentinny Community Council announced a more succinct approach to its meetings in the future, with any business not concluded by 21.30 being carried over to the next meeting. Also, with the introduction of prior ‘business meetings’, it was proposed that matters arising from the minutes would take a much shorter time and that other items on the agenda could be addressed more quickly. Why not come along to the next meeting and support those who work on our behalf.

The meeting of the 4th December brought to light some interesting issues:

One of two portable toilets (with cautionary notice) temporarily installed at the Baron MacInturner Forest near Ardentinny for use by the visiting armed forces. [Click to enlarge]

The MOD has promised to supply a written response to the concerns raised recently by the Community Council. A member of the Community Council also raised concern that the MOD had undertaken manoeuvres in the surrounding area during November with no forewarning to residents.

David Robertson of the Forestry Commission apologised for not having informed the community in advance but explained that it had been a last minute request for approximately forty troops in training to camp at the beach area and that it seems that they had not informed FCS of the intention to do any more than just camp for one night. He said he would get in touch with the MOD in this regard and report back at the next meeting.

The deteriorating condition of the roads and the lack of gritting and/or signage on the Larach once again predominated discussion with the Community Council promising to write immediately to the Council’s Roads department.

The subject of the proposed windfarm at Cove was raised. It was agreed that Ardentinny Community Council would circulate all residents with outline information on the proposal together with details of the next presentation to be made by the Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust in the Queen’s Hall , Dunoon on Monday 10 December at 19.00hrs.

Finally, it was agreed to put the question of a local emergency action plan on the agenda for the next Community Council business meeting.

Proposed Cove Windfarm letter to residents from Community Council (PDF).

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Argyll & Bute Council Elections 2012 – Cowal Ward 6 results

1. Gordon Blair (SNP)

2. Bruce Marshall (Ind)

3. Alex McNaughton (Ind)

First preference votes received for each candidate:

William Gordon Blair (SNP) 570
Alex McNaughton (Ind) 543
Bruce Marshall (Ind) 375
Ron Simon (SNP) 353
Lewis MacDonald (Con) 343
Stephen Johnston (Ind) 282
Chris Talbot (Ind) 169
Russell Weir (Ind) 151
Chris Lambert (Ind) 126

Turnout was 49.86%.
40 rejected papers.

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Argyll & Bute Council Elections – what can Ardentinny expect?

Alex McNaughton, Lewis MacDonald, Chris Talbot, Ron Simon, Dave Dewar (Chair), Gordon Blair, Bruce Marshall, Stephen Johnstone & Russell Weir.

Prior to the May 3rd Council elections, hustings for the Cowal Ward took place in the Uig Hall on Monday 23rd April. *Eight of the nine candidates attended and each, to a man, promised to do the best for Cowal. What constitutes ‘the best’ will obviously be a matter of differing opinions.

Questions from the audience, relevant to Ardentinny, were responded to as follows:

The Ferries
The first question of interest, not only to residents of Ardentinny but to those of Cowal and Dunoon, was on the the vexed issue of the ferries. Chris Talbot said the Council needed to pressure the government in order to get what the residents wanted. Bruce Marshall said they were already doing that. Stephen Johnstone favoured a peaceful protest. Gordon Blair, who is a member of the Ferry Action Group, said they were taking Transport Scotland to task and agreed that they had to get the issue resolved. Alex McNaughton said the boats were substandard and not safe and that the Council has to put in a massive effort to rectify the situation. Ron Simon said he would continue to work hard to bring about the necessary improvements, pledging to deliver what the people wanted. Lewis MacDonald suggested that the Council becomes such a thorn in the side of the government on this issue, that it is easier for them to give us the boats we want.

Entertainment Licence
All the candidates were asked what their position was regarding Argyll and Bute Council’s plan to implement a £440 licence fee for any group or person performing live music in public, with the prospect of a criminal prosecution and a fine of up to £20,000 for non-compliance. This would potentially close music clubs, hamper money-raising efforts for charity and Creative Scotland has advised Councils not implement this. It is not compulsory to do so and apparently Glasgow City Council has waived it while Edinburgh has not. The panel unanimously agreed to push for non-implementation if they were elected.

Provision for special needs
A member of the audience then asked how the candidates would champion the cause of people with special needs. Alex McNaughton said that he had already publicly stated that he would make care of the elderly and the disabled a very high priority. Lewis Macdonald stated that he felt smaller schools were better placed to deal with special needs where pupils are individuals rather than a number. Chris Talbot said it was the duty of the council to provide for those with special needs while Ron Simon expressed concern at the lack of preventative spend. He said that currently the Council has a policy of supporting priority 1 and 2 cases over priority 3 and 4. However, if priorities 3 and 4 received the support they needed it would prevent them eventually coming under the category of 1 and 2, thus saving the council more money in the long run. He felt it should be about needs, not money and that there also ought to be a spokesperson for the care of children and families with special needs. Gordon Blair said that one way of measuring the wealth of our society is to measure how well they look after the most vulnerable. He stressed the importance of inclusion and said that is what he would be fighting for. Bruce Marshall said Argyll and Bute Council takes the issue very seriously. He said they have taken on the concerns of CLASP (Cowal Local Action Special Project) and they have decided to set up a service allowance to meet their needs which will come into effect with the new council. He also said that the council had decided to incorporate 10% of all social housing to meet the needs of disabled people. Stephen Johnstone said that the few disabled in Ardentinny find that the older they get, the less support is available. He said money should not come into it and that we should be throwing everything at them for the time they are here. Russell Weir concluded by saying that it is so important that the elderly and the most vulnerable continue to receive high quality care.

Support for Community Councils
The Chair of the Caucus of Community Councils asked the candidates, if elected, what they could offer by way of support in the funding of community councils. Alex McNaughton informed the meeting that it had just been agreed to pay transport costs of Community Councillors for distances over the first 20 miles. Bruce Marshall confirmed that training would also be provided. There was also general discussion regarding the use of video conferencing and car sharing, wherever possible, with which all concurred.

Why so many independent councillors?
One audience member asked why Argyll and Bute has so many independent councillors. Russell Weir said it was because he had only local interests at heart. Alex McNaughton said that politics shouldn’t come into it. Bruce Marshall indicated that he also took that view. Chris Talbot said what was important was that Argyll and Bute has a very strong group and that he wasn’t convinced, if elected, that the SNP would deliver. Ron Simon said he thought party politics does have a role to play in local government. When people stand together on a manifesto they have a common ethos and when people vote they know what they are voting for. A local example being the proposed closure of rural schools which was a red line issue for the SNP. He also thought that political parties were better placed to engage with, e.g., the government and COSLA in necessary negotiations. He reminded those present that on joining local government you have to form a political grouping of some sort and if the independents join together, they do so without a common ethos and the policy direction becomes watered down so that they each get their own bit. He believes that being a member of a party and a local councillor are not mutually exclusive and that he can represent both just as easily. Lewis MacDonald said he was there to represent the Ward, not Conservative Central Office and he did not see a conflict and he would work to make our rural communities as vibrant as possible. Gordon Blair felt that by focussing on SNP policies it could produce the best results for this rural area and that, up to now, the public had been short changed by the independents.

Trident and our health
The most pertinent question regarding Ardentinny, as opposed to the rest of the Cowal Ward, was a question directed to Bruce Marshall for his expressed special interest in the environment and to Chris Talbot, being a retired member of the Royal Navy. The question : Due to the amount of waste from Coulport which has affected people’s health, specifically incidences of leukaemia, the first priority for Councillors and MPs should be to look after people’s lives and therefore, when would they get rid of Trident? Bruce Marshall responded by saying it was ‘a lot of nonsense’ and went on to say that the Trident base at Coulport and Faslane had been a cornerstone of our defence during the Cold War Years and that the Russians might have attacked had it not been there. He added that the assertion about cases of leukaemia was not proven and that there had been no extra cases of leukaemia in the area. Chris Talbot responded by saying that he was not a sub-mariner but had worked in communications and he had spent the last five years of service on the base. He said the Nuclear Regulator was very hot on the Clyde Base and not much happens they don’t know about. He said there had been leaks but that they were minor and he was not aware of high instances of leukaemia. Gordon Blair added that if there is contamination it needs to be cleaned up and local government needs to push for it and that at present the Scottish government is in conversation with the MOD on that subject.

Speed limit at Cothouse
The final question of relevance to our residents was posed by the Chair. It was regarding the lowering of the speed limit at Cothouse from 60 to 40 mph. He said that the outgoing Chief Inspector Moseley had given his written support and he asked the candidates if they would support it. Everyone was in favour of the reduction though some suggested that it be imposed up to as far as Benmore Gardens.

*Candidates attending (in alphabetical order) were:

BLAIR, Gordon (SNP)
JOHNSTONE, Stephen (Independent)
MACDONALD, Lewis (Conservative)
MARSHALL, Bruce (Independent)
MCNAUGHTON, Alex (Independent)
SIMON, Ron (SNP)
TALBOT, Chris (Independent)
WEIR, Russell (Independent)

Absent:
LAMBERT, Chris (Independent), who telephoned his apologies.

 

For those of you with a postal vote, your voting papers should have arrived by now. Otherwise voting will take place at your local polling station on the 3rd May, 2012, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are 9 candidates for 3 places so you can select the three you wish to serve on the Council to represent the Cowal ward by writing no 1 in the box of your first choice; no. 2 in the box of your second; and no. 3 in the box of your third. You can also fill in all the boxes, prioritising numbers 4 to 9 if you wish to indicate who you would like to see serve should any of  your 1-3 choices not be elected. Obviously you can make as many or as few choices as you wish.

All the candidates have stood for election in order to serve you and the Cowal area. Do give them your support and have your say by voting on May 3rd.

 

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