Spraying of knotweed (updated)

Ardentinny Community Council recently funded the training of a local volunteer to spray Japanese knotweed. Spraying took place on 24 August, according to signs placed in the beach path area. However, these signs are no longer there and so we have written to the Community Council Convener to request the name of the pesticide used in order to inform the public.

In the meantime, it may be advisable to keep animals under control between Coronation Wood and the entrance to Ardfin avenue and also to refrain from eating any berries/brambles in the area.

Update: We have since been informed by the Convener of Ardentinny Community Council that the substance sprayed was ‘Round Up’.

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Road Kill Ardentinny – Is it Necessary?

Pheasant today near Angle Cottage

Sadly, wildlife fatalities around Ardentinny continue. Earlier today a pheasant was mown down near Angle Cottage on the road along the Glen. One has to wonder how these incidents occur.

Pheasants in the area are particularly tame. They can frequently be seen wandering by the side of the road and, at times, on the road. However, are these vehicles travelling so quickly that it is impossible for them to take avoiding action?

It’s the same situation for squirrels and the crows who crack open their mussel shells on the highway. Are vehicles driving too fast on these narrow roads to be able to see these creatures ahead?

Back in 2010 some local residents erected signs near the Swedish Houses to alert drivers of ‘baby” squirrels crossing. The possibility of signage warning of wildlife has also been discussed at Community Council meetings. However, these have yet to materialise.

One does wonder if this latest incident was related to someone relishing pheasant on the menu for their New Year meal, as just 20 minutes after our photograph was taken, the bird had mysteriously disappeared!

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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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Update on Cove Windfarm Public Meeting

Site of the proposed Cove Wind Farm.

14 Nov. We have been informed by the Convener of Kilmun Community Council that the Cove Windfarm public meeting to be held in Blairmore hall on Saturday 24 November will now begin at 2 p.m. She has also informed us that West Roseneath Community Development Trust has been invited to give their presentation at the meeting.

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WANTED: Live wire to head up potential Ardentinny hydro-power project

Ardentinny Community Council repeated its plea for a volunteer to research and possibly take forward a hydro power project for the village. The issue was raised at its bi-monthly meeting held after its AGM on 7 August, 2012. National Park Representative, David McKenzie stressed that the government and its agencies were fully supportive of such projects and cited examples of where the developer pays for the plant in exchange for 50% of the revenue from the grid while the community takes the remaining 50%. Although the figures didn’t always stack up, as it was mentioned that Forestry Commission Scotland also expected 50%, if the site was on their land. Clearly there is a need for further research into the proposal. Anyone interested in being involved should contact Community Councillor, Dennis Gower on 01369 810220.

Security Pens
PC Donald MacKay brought along security UV Marker Pens for community use. These were distributed among the community councillors for further distribution to residents. Alternatively, you can contact Eileen Connell on 01369 810285 for the use of one. PC MacKay also reported successful patrols with Operation Ironworks and it was agreed that there had been no problems at the Picnic area, as in previous years. He reported that he will soon be undertaking the necessary training for his licence to drive the mobile police facility which will then make visits to Ardentinny.

Beach Toilets
The Forestry Commission’s representative reported that the beach toilets were ready but had not been installed as they are still awaiting the relevant permissions from SEPA and the National Park Planning Authority. She also requested that anyone seeing anything untoward happening at the beach area should contact the police (01369 763000) immediately rather than wait to report it to them within their working hours.

MOD representation
The MOD had still not confirmed whether or not it will send a representative to Community Council meetings. The Convenor reported that she had been invited to attend HM Naval Base Clyde’s Local Liaison Committee Meetings. Councillor Bill Williamson requested that he might also attend and said he thought there was still a case for an MOD representative to attend Ardentinny Community Council meetings as there was a precedent for doing so and that the invitation had been extended in the light of issues published by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator’s annual report 2011. In addition, Community Councillor Malcolm Bartley expressed concern about the plans to *privatise the security provision at Coulport.

Ardentinny Centre closure for refurbishment
Centre Manager Aidan Docherty sent his apologies but submitted his report stating that the Ardentinny Outdoor Centre would close on 20th August for 6 months for the purpose of refurbishing the premises. They hope to be back in operation in the village by Easter or June 2013, at the latest.  In the meantime they will operate out of Toward and they are continuing to negotiate the purchase of Ardentinny centre from Argyll and Bute Council.

* Russell seeks to establish Scottish Government position on MoD contract to privatise Trident at Coulport and Faslane

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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.

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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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Spring has sprung!

One of several groups of toads near the nursery field earlier today

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Lambing season – Warning to dog walkers

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has issued a timely reminder to all dog walkers in the park to keep their dogs on leads when walking near livestock. Over the past six weeks, nine incidents have been reported to Central Scotland Police involving dogs and sheep. Ardentinny is only too aware of the consequences if a dog comes into contact with sheep, given the sad incident a couple of years ago when a pet dog was shot by a local farmer.

Dog owners should also remember that farmers regularly rotate fields containing sheep, therefore, the owner may not necessarily be sure what’s on the other side of the hedge. A normally placid family dog can become a killer in a field of sheep and, even if the sheep remain untouched, it could cause lambs to be aborted or death of the sheep later.

Please keep your dog fully under control when near livestock.

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‘Procedures protect’

This was the quote made by Community Councillor Bill Williamson at Tuesday night’s meeting of Ardentinny Community Council. He was quoting his late father-in-law, Walter Muir, who himself was the Community Council’s first Minute Secretary. The context was a discussion regarding the need for Ardentinny Community Councillors to consider and bring to the table their thoughts on policy and procedures regarding their remit in responding to the individual and collective needs of the community.

The call for this reflection arose from two recent events. The first was the issue of responsibility for informing residents of aerial spraying of bracken on the hills behind the village. The Community Council had been informed of its taking place but considered it was not necessary for the Council to inform the public while others considered it was. On investigation , it was established that the legal responsibility to do so lay with the helicopter company undertaking the spraying. However, it was a contentious issue as the public appeared not to have been informed and it threw up a need for clear guidelines as to the Community Council’s role on this and similar issues.

The second was the issue raised at Tuesday’s meeting (3 April 2012), i.e., the letter of support submitted by the Community Council to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park in respect of a planning application for the refurbishment of Ardentinny Hotel. It should be said that there was no objection made by anyone present to the principle of restoring this Grade B listed building and bringing it back to life as a valuable asset to the community. However, concerns were raised regarding whether it was within the Council’s remit; possible conflict of interest; and the accuracy of the Council’s submission in representing the community, given the amount of community pre-consultation.

In any discussion where there is a difference of opinion on roles and responsibilities, there exists the possibility of stalemate. Ardentinny Community Council saw beyond the minutiae and agreed to take the positive step to consider the drawing up of procedures to guide future decisions and action. This prompted Bill to quote Walter as he did. Sadly Walter is no longer with us but his wisdom still resonates in Ardentinny.

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Clyde bases plagued by nuclear safety flaws, says the MoD.

HMS Illustrious passes Coulport earlier this month

The Clyde bases that host Britain’s nuclear bombs and submarines are plagued by widespread safety flaws, according to an internal Ministry of Defence (MoD) report obtained by the Sunday Herald.

Critics fear that the problems could trigger a major nuclear accident at Faslane or Coulport that would contaminate Glasgow with radioactivity. They say this would be “unspeakable” and are demanding an urgent investigation.

The MoD’s latest annual review of safety reveals that 11 of the bases’ 13 activities have been officially declared unsatisfactory after assessments by site managers and regulators. The review was released last week in response to a request under freedom of information legislation.

Nine safety activities were colour-coded yellow because they were “below standard” and suffered “some specific weaknesses”. These included categories headed “weapons safety”, “safety culture”, “maintenance”, “safety performance indicators”, “site safety case”, “nuclear safety event reporting” and “conventional health and safety including fire safety”.

Two activities were coded orange because they were “significantly below standard” with “flawed” practices or procedures. They were headed “organisational change” and “operator experience feedback”.

No further details about the precise nature of the safety weaknesses were given in the review, or by the MoD. On nuclear weapons safety the review just said there had been “shortfalls in specific areas or delays in progressing projects”.

The revelations were “of grave concern”, according to the SNP’s defence spokesman in Westminster, Angus Robertson MP. “They point to serious systemic failures which could clearly put lives at risk,” he said. Continued…

Reproduced by permission of Sunday Herald environment correspondent  Rob Edwards.

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