Kirkcowan Community Council Meeting, 20th September 2021
at 7.30pm, in-person in the Village Hall
Present: Charles McEwan (Chair), Mary Harkness, Kevin Dean, Tricia Veevers, Mary Mackenzie (Minutes), Hazel Johnston, Katrina Dick, Jane Markwell, Brian Melville, Lynn Melville, Lesley Parker, Debbie McBain, Devone McBain, Adelina McEwan, Robert Drysdale, Richard Marsh, Martin Marsh, Mary Murdoch, C Gray, C Gray, M Thomas, B Thomas, M Godfrey, B Boswell, D Simmons, J Fairlie, D&G Councillor Jim McColm.
- Chair welcomed everyone and said how good it was to see everyone in person again after such a long time. The meeting had to comply with Covid precautions, including distancing and hand sanitising. The wooden planters were mentioned as brightening up the village, thanks to the group of women volunteers. The small garden at the corner of Welhouse Road and Church Street was also being considered for a revamp.
- Apologies: Hazel McWhirter, Joe Wright, Andrew Gladstone, Wendy Wood, Councillors Katie Hagmann and David Inglis
- Minutes of the last meeting (21/06/21):
Minutes accepted: proposed by Tricia Veevers and seconded by Hazel Johnston
No matters arising
- Police Matters: September Report:
Kirkcowan – Police provided assistance regarding the report of a vulnerable person, and alerting other appropriate health agencies.
General warning – safeguard against bogus callers, (both on the phone and in person) particularly those in the area who have been trying to persuade vulnerable residents to employ them for odd jobs or building works. The public are encouraged to immediately report incidents & suspicious characters directly to police rather than contacting KCC first. Dial 101, or 999 in an emergency, visit www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us or Newton Stewart Police Station.
- Treasurer’s Report: prepared byHazel McWhirter, absent due to family bereavement. Account no.1 has £11.30
Account no.2 has £12,579.91 – of which £4,627.26 is the Sports Fund, and £2,186.41 is grant money held for local groups. Resilience Fund has £551.71
Outgoings: £530.47 – comprising £132 to Montpelier accountant; £307.53 for spring bulbs; £32 for Knitting Group Hall hire; JB Print for Newsletters £58.94
Income: £320.24 from Coffee Morning for Planters
- Correspondence: none
- Local Planning Applications: none
Announcement of two vacancies on the KCC: We are looking to elect 2 new Councillors, if possible at the AGM in October, or as soon as practical thereafter. Having made some errors previously about the process, this time KCC will follow D&G Council guidelines. Nominations will be required, and if more than 2 people are nominated an election will be arranged by D&G Council Ward Officer. Notices with information about the nomination and voting process will be displayed in the Post Office, on the www.kirkcowan.com website, and on social media.
Carscreugh Windfarm (CREPL) Grant: C McEwan – Approximately £2,500 as an annual grant will become available directly to KCC. An acceptable spending plan, involving a clear benefit to the community, will have to be completed before the release of funds. No decision has been made yet as to how it will be spent, but the following are under consideration:
a) Revamping the small garden on the corner of Church Street and Wellhouse Road with new seating and accessible paths. This garden belongs to D&G Council which is responsible for upkeep, safety and insurance, but lacks funds and manpower for improvements. The options for community use of this space need to be clarified with Robert Lowther, the Asset Manager for Wigtownshire area.
b) Noticeboards for the Park and at the Hall. These have been asked for by the community for some time. Depending on siting, they may require Planning Permission if permanent fixtures. It may also be best to wait and integrate a noticeboard into the final plan for the Park.
c) To supplement existing supplies, additional emergency equipment for times of crisis could also be bought, although these could perhaps be paid for from the remaining Resilience Fund.
Kirkcowan Community Development Trust (KCDT) Meetings: C McEwan read out a statement from Joe Wright (one of KCCs 2 representatives on the Board) regarding the two most recent Trust meetings.
The first meetings included a proposal to alter the Trust’s Articles of Association in two areas: 1) Reducing the number of KCC representatives to one, and removing their voting rights, leaving KCC with no direct influence. 2) Allowing the immediate re-election of either of the 2 Directors who are required to step down each year at the AGM, which is currently not permitted if they have served 2 consecutive terms. This would depend on the membership voting for them instead of for any other nominees.
These proposals are of concern to a number of residents, some of whom are represented by Kirkcowan Voice, who consider them contrary to the openness and accountability of the Trust.
The changes would require the approval of 75% of the Trust’s membership.
The second meeting included consideration of nominations for new Directors, during which Joe (one of the nominees) became concerned about and upset by comments made by other Directors, including about his suitability for the Board. After expressing his dissatisfaction, he left the meeting, so can’t provide any information on what further was discussed. C McEwan proposed writing a letter of complaint from KCC about the conduct of the meeting and Joe’s treatment. No objections were raised.
The Trust AGM is being arranged as a Zoom online meeting on 5th October, but a number of those present felt this excluded many members who can’t participate this way. A vote of attendees was taken, the result being a majority in favour of asking that the AGM be conducted in-person in the Hall, now that more people can be accommodated. Although KCDT voting papers have already been sent out, (many not yet received) a majority also wanted voting to take place at the AGM to verify the results independently. C McEwan agreed to contact the Trust with these requests, and encouraged all Trust members to attend the KCDT AGM.
Footpaths: There is a current project on walks around the village, starting with a proposal to create access to the old railway line eastwards from Wellhouse Road, and a safe off-road path in the field beside the Wigtown road to Johnston’s Bridge. Eventually by making access points and joining up existing paths, some longer circular walking routes could be created, centred on the village.
Kirkcowan Village Hall (KVH): M Harkness reported that the Hall was now open and taking bookings again, with some Covid restrictions still in place requiring reduced numbers to allow distancing, cleaning etc. Regular groups such as the knitting group, parent & toddlers and carpet bowling were re-starting, and a few one-off events and some private hire had been recently booked. In reply to questions about the management of the Hall, it is a charity set up to save the Hall from closure, run voluntarily by a Board of Trustees, which is in the process of re-negotiating the lease and completing an asset transfer from D&G Council. Initial renovation options were presented at a community consultation in November 2019 and upgrading the Hall forms part of the Community Action Plan. Few meetings of the Board have taken place during the pandemic as the Hall was closed until July. Any resident can become an ordinary member and attend the AGM (no date as present). Suggestions about members attending Board meetings, and KCC having a representative on the Board, in the interests of openness and transparency, were rejected as the Board was stated to be simply a management committee.
Greenspaces Steering Group: C McEwan informed the meeting that he and J Wright had resigned from this group as they did not feel there was enough community engagement and consultation. K Dick responded by reminding him that combined plans for the Park, Rest Garden and top playground at the Primary School are being drawn up, based on responses to the consultation survey conducted in 2019 & 2020, which included asking school children for their wish list. The landscape architect involved was voted for by the Steering Group.
C McEwan has consistently asked for fitness equipment suppliers to be consulted before plans are drawn up, but this has not happened. The alternative view is that the overall layout design comes first, with details of specific play and exercise equipment being finalised later.
The Trust has decided to increase the initial budget, for the Park only, to £400,000 to allow the optimum provision of the features and facilities most popular with the community. Building a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) in the Park, though popular, was rejected by D&G Council Planning Dept some time ago and alternative provision continues to be considered.
A second draft plan is being prepared and will be made publicly available for comment by local residents. The Rest Garden and School Playground areas will then be developed in a phased process, during which other options for facilities can be considered, given that the windfarm grants provide long-term funding.
Kirkcowan Community Voice (KCV): Lynne Melville introduced herself as the current spokesperson for a number of residents who have similar concerns about the way the KCDT operates, and the lack of power of individuals to have their views listened to and acted on. Many people do not feel confident raising issues in a public meeting. This is an informal group, with no committee or membership list, open to all residents. The aim is to provide a focus and collective input on issues affecting the community at KCC meetings and to the KCDT. Particular current concerns are the vetting of nominees by the Directors prior to the members vote, and a lack of diversity on the Board.
Councillor McColm asked if KCV was being set up in opposition to the Community Council but was assured that this was not the case. Kirkcowan Voice will be expressing common complaints and current issues at Community Council meetings.
A KCV discussion website is to be set up, but in the meantime, if anyone has questions or comments, contact can be made via an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
External lighting on Hall: K Dean asked why the light which shines into his house at night no longer goes off at midnight as it used to. M Harkness to check.
C McEwan thanked everyone for attending.
The next meeting of KCC:
AGM on Monday 18th October 2021 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall
The meeting closed at 9.20pm
Mary Mackenzie (Minutes Secretary)