Kirkcowan – What's Going On?

Minutes of KCC Meeting 20th December 2021

at 7.30pm, online via Zoom due to Covid 19

Draft Minutes

Present: Charles McEwan (Chair), Hazel McWhirter (Treasurer), Mary Harkness (Secretary), Andrew Gladstone, Kevin Dean, Tricia Veevers, Joe Wright, Mary Mackenzie (Minutes), Hazel Johnston, John Drysdale, Richard Marsh, Ingrid Gemmell (DGC), Katrina Dick, Catherine Gray, Norma Bodle, Janice Sharkey,Brian Melville, Lynne Melville, DG Councillors Katie Hagmann and Jim McColm.

  1. Ingrid Gemmell, DGC Ward Manager for the west of the region, introduced herself and officially welcomed the newly-elected Community Councillors, John Drysdale and Richard Marsh. Thanked all who stood for election, and offered support as required.

  2. Chair welcomed everyone and started a round up of items since last meeting: Combined meeting with KCDT, dealt with rumours about KCDT grants. Attempted to clarify grant funding for Church bell tower in 2017…
    (This first half hour of the meeting was disrupted by problems with the Zoom technology which took some time to resolve, so Secretary, Mary Harkness took over the chair)

  3. Apologies: Cllr J McCamon, Cllr David Inglis

  4. Minutes of November meeting (25/11/21):
    Accepted: proposed by Kevin D, and seconded by Hazel McW
    Matters arising: Watchnight Service cancelled | Toilet door on hall has been measured for repair | Street lights have been reported to DGC but still not repaired | Community Xmas Party didn’t happen | Christmas tree lights on, but star not visible, tree needs to be trimmed. Timer also needed, Joe W will check.

  5. Police Matters: No Police present. M H summarised Report. The only local crime was in Mindork forest, padlocks broken – increased patrols in this area | Increased monitoring of drink/drug driving during festive period. | Suspended parking in Princes Street, Newton Stewart

  6. Treasurers Report:  H McWhirter Account no.1 has £11.30
    Account no.2 has £9,358.18 – of which £1,741.16 is grant money held for groups; the Sports Fund has £4,627.26.  Therefore £2,989.76 is unallocated.
    Outgoings: £4,216.60 spent – £1,813.13 on repairs to generator; £1,509.60 on Noticeboards; £110 for bulb-planting; £52.22 for fuel; £74 for selection boxes; KCDT grant money returned unspent £611.40; £71 paid from grant money for hall fees for knitting & badminton groups.
    Income: £300 discretionary budget from DGC.

  7. Correspondence:   M Harkness
    * Roads Department – local road repairs – patching Wigtown road
    * Waste collections as normal (if Wednesday) over festive period | Christmas Trees can be taken to Recycling Centre, or chopped up and put out with bins until 23rd January.
    * Email from Debbie McBain re concerns about disabled access on proposed paths. Andrew G responded – Dickie Wood accessible, other new paths would require huge expense to make suitable for all abilities, simply not practical. Some sections will have hard surface but others are on grass, and some fenced to separate livestock. People will have to make own judgement about safety. First phase is to establish the routes, which could possibly be upgraded later. Grading paths with notices indicating suitability for different abilities might help, as at Kirroughtree. AG will reply to DMcB explaining the plans. KH suggested contact Richard Masters, Outdoor Access Manager at DGC for advice, also Outdoor Access Forum.
    *Balgreen Football Park – Small business Bonus Scheme Review- formerly received 100% rate relief. Rules changed to 50% (£800) but must be ‘actively in use’. MH has contacted for clarification.

  8. Local Planning Applications: 3 Lochs application for additional stands for 51 more static caravans. Any objections to be submitted by 22nd December. No KCC objections.

KCDT Meetings: H Johnston1st meeting on 26th November: Discussed draft for Park, still hoping to begin works in spring 2022 |
Jenna Morra Woodland Group met to consider the survey and possible future plans. It wasn’t a public meeting, so not advertised, but anyone interested in joining should contact Katrina. |
Winter Fuel payment – forms being processed and payments made | Contact form on website was down temporarily, but soon restored.
2nd meeting on 14th December: More discussions about Park, JMW, winter fuel payments ongoing. Grant applications to KCDT, which will be covered later in the agenda.

Park Steering Group: M Mackenzie
Meeting on13th December, looking at 3rd draft of the Park design. Projected costs had increased considerably beyond budget, so the group looked at ways to reduce these. VAT is a significant expense and it had been suggested that DGC could perhaps act as commissioners to avoid having to pay this, but presents too many practical difficulties. Carrying out the development in phases, to spread the cost over 2 or 3 years was also considered. The majority of the meeting was spent looking at removing or reducing individual items and specifications, or finding cheaper alternatives, such as local materials. Match funding from outside sources to increase the budget was suggested as another way to achieve the desired result, this would be a KCDT decision. A number of suggestions for funding sources were made. *Question as to why the public has not yet been consulted on the plan. No point in presenting plans yet if not affordable. The Park will be a priority for KCDT meeting in January. *Who chairs the steering group meetings? David Inglis, though no longer a resident, has valuable experience, and doesn’t vote. Katrina also chairs, does all background work, presents choices, but also doesn’t vote. *Will the Park be fully inclusive, with toilets/changing facilities?  No, not planned as such, so DGC funding not available.  (*Are there any plans to install ‘Changing Places’ toilets in the Hall refurbishment? No, as too expensive.) Discussion about fencing toddler area versus putting gates at the main entrances. There has been some concern on social media about large trees being planted and blocking views and light, but this is not part of plan – smaller trees and shrubs. The SG have asked for 3D views of the park design, to get a better idea how it will look, but not sure if possible. Hope to be able to share plans with the community soon.

Noticeboards: 2 new ones have been ordered. Choice of typeface has to be decided for the wording “Kirkcowan Community Noticeboard” at the top. Vote was held and one chosen.
Permissions have to be applied for, to display any notices which are not about KCC, costing £101 per noticeboard. The bus shelters have noticeboards which we have permission to use, but they need some attention, as does the one at the school, the back of which has rotted away.

AGM Date Change: At the start of the pandemic, the AGM date was changed to October. KCC has decided to revert to the previous normal month of May, which is more suitable for signing off the Accounts and DGC grants. This will held on 16th May 2022.

Amey Road Signs on A75: Both signs have incorrect information about what facilities there are in the village. CM has contacted Amey about getting them changed, awaiting response.

Generator: CMcE – This was taken to Carlisle for repairs and servicing, now completed and returned. It was agreed to repeat this every two years. To allow for a trickle charge and regular start-ups, electricity supply from the school will be needed. The Head Teacher will contact DGC Clerk of Works for permission to connect. JD – To be maintained effectively, the generator also needs to be regularly used, by running an electric appliance such as a drill or heater.
The metal container that houses it is cold and damp, so needs to be insulated and have minimal heating to keep the generator in good condition. As discussed at previous meetings, it was suggested replacing with a wooden shed and creating access from the road. It was also proposed that the container could be moved out of school grounds to space behind dining hall, but these plans would be expensive and take time. JD – a quick, simple and cheap solution would be an insulating, damp-proof spray, applied to the interior. All agreed to this. A few of the KCC members volunteered to organise themselves as a group to take on the necessary tasks. Prices will be checked out and spare keys will be cut.

Resilience Group/Plan: Previously, KCC members and volunteers worked together, with a list of those with 4x4s or suitable transport to reach outlying areas in the event of heavy snow etc.
Besides the big generator, which is only suitable for powering the school or the village hall, arrangements should be made to have plans in place to cover a number of different emergency situations that might occur. A suggestion about buying some smaller generators to share during power cuts comes up against the problem of who to prioritise in that event. Generally, people should be encouraged to make their own preparations for emergency situations. The Resilience Plan needs to be updated, so a KCC sub-committee will meet to look into this.
A concern about the number of sub-groups involving KCC members was raised. There are now a lot of projects and plans to improve different aspects of Kirkcowan, the organisation often falling to the same people, but the wider involvement of residents would certainly be welcome.
KH – Sub-committees are allowed for any purpose, and they can arrange extra meetings, but must report to the monthly public meeting. The DGC Ward Officer could help with advice.

CREPL Grant Funding: Money available (£2,500), KCC has to specify what it will be spent on. Noticeboards? Already paid by KCDT | Generator? Already paid from KCC funds | Benches? New ones are needed around village | Christmas street lights? DGC regulations make this too expensive | Corner Garden at top of Church Street? New paving, walling and benches mainly. This would improve the look of village, as it is rather an eyesore just now. It would provide a pleasant seating area for residents and visitors. Some objections to spending money on DGC property, but the Council don’t have funds or manpower to make any improvements and are happy for communities to take on this kind of project.  CREPL specifies that application has to be submitted 4 months before start of project. MM will draw up a draft design to obtain quotes.
Vote taken – 8 members for the garden, 3 members against.

HMcW – 3 who didn’t vote for this plan could come up with a project for next year.

HJ – Received a query about only primary children getting selection boxes, why not high school?
KC Committee felt that primary age (and under) was old enough. Covid has affected the arrangements for giving boxes out – used to be at the church service, now via the primary school.
Extra leftover boxes to be divided between committee.

JW – Resident asked about Trust accounts while Jak Kane was at Machars Action. RM – as rep to Killgallioch Community Benefit Company, it receives accounts from KCDT annually and has had no issues. Not sure KCC is the best to query this, would be better if Trust members take it direct to KCDT, if there are concerns about historic funding re church tower or other grants.

KevinD – Possibility of committee using WhatsApp as an easier way of communicating informally. Some members have reservations, but agreed to closed group, no late night messages or for sensitive information. Emails still to be used for discussions of main business and admin  topics.
KD also asked to borrow sound system for the Bingo Night. OK, it is stored at the school.

(Instant outrage noted on social media about Committee taking selection boxes)

Any members of the public still present can stay and listen while the committee considers KCDT grant applications, but will not be allowed to speak. Does anyone present want to make any comments or ask questions before that? No comments.

KCDT Grant Applications:

1) Badminton group applied for main hall fees – £337.50 (11/2 hours per week for 15 weeks)

2) Knitting group applied for supper room fees – £240 (twice a month for a year)

CM asked if these are100% grants, no contribution from participants?
Yes, there is no charge for attending either group, and they are open to all.
No objections to either application

3) KCC application for Footpaths (Phase 1) has been put before Trust and approved.

Phase 1 involves 3 separate operations:
 1 Clearing trees on old railway line
 2 Scrub clearance & landscaping on old railway line
 3 Installing gates & fencing where required and making the paths

There are 2 quotes for each operation. This phase creates off-road routes in 3 directions from the village, some parts on hard surfaces, others on grass at the edge of fields.
John D asked if the cost of this project, combined with the budget for the Park, would use up all the available funding and leave nothing for other possible applications.
Richard M – KCC should look for match funding and think bigger, be more ambitious. Other communities have sourced hundreds of thousands of pounds from a wide range of funders.
Andrew G – the Trust has to spend money now and create visible results. There are still options for later development of the path network, and more funds are available each year. AG will write an explanation of the proposal to display alongside a map of the routes.

Vote taken: 8 members for application, 2 members against on grounds of cost.
Application approved.

The next meeting of KCC will be on Monday 21st February 2022 at 7.30pm

Meeting closed at 11.10pm                                               Mary Mackenzie (Minutes Secretary)