COLVEND AND SOUTHWICK COMMUNITY COUNCIL MEETING
Thursday 2 November 2023 at 7.00 pm in Colvend Public Hall
PRESENT: Chair – Roddy Morris (RM), Secretary – Gordon Webster (GW), Treasurer – John Rowland (JR); Elected CCs: John Coates (JC), Kenneth Coltart (KC), Kristine Filer (KF), Matthew Pumphrey (MPu), Tracy Roan (TR); Local Cllr - David Stitt (DS); Minute Secretary – Gwen Coates (GC); Regional Engagement Manager, Openreach - Stephen Chambers (SC)
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: Tom Nichol (TN), Julian Stanning (JS), Save Sandyhills Group (SSG) -
Peter Shaw (PS)
APOLOGIES: Vice Chair – Simon Pain (SWP); Local Cllrs - Ian Blake (IB), Kim Lowe (KL)
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS
Adoption of the Minutes from 12 October 2023
JS suggested a correction to the note on the Resilience Plan (under AOCB), which was accepted. Other than this, the minutes were accepted, with no further amendments or objections, by members.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES
- Replacement for Stuart King as CSCC website manager is now becoming urgent. RM noted that Stephen Kilpatrick is working hard on developing the new platform. There was some discussion about whether there was likely to be a gap between the old platform going out of service and the new platform being introduced, meaning a period when the CSCC website would not be available. To consider at the next meeting. (RM/JR)
- Openreach Community Partnership Full Fibre for Rockliffe residents – update. SC gave a presentation about this issue. See below for details. To consider at the next meeting. (GW)
- PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Network) switch off 2025 – community guidance. SC gave a presentation about this issue. See below for details. To consider at the next meeting. (GW)
- OPENREACH FULL FIBRE AND PSTN 2025
RM introduced Stephen Chambers (SC), Regional Engagement Manager who gave a presentation to members on these topics. Historically BT provided a Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) landline telephone service to customers using a copper cable network to their property / premises. However, over time, this system has become unfit for purpose and needs to be upgraded. It is intended that the PSTN will be switched off by 1/1/2025 although this is a target date and could slip. Telephone services from this point onwards will be provided as an internet service by plugging the existing phone into a router instead of a wall socket. The PSTN 2025 project aims to ensure that everyone will have some form of broadband connection for internet, phone, personal home and medical alarm services etc. SC explained the issues involved and how the connections will be made. Members raised many concerns about how this would work in practice, the impact on residents’ existing phone systems and on those residents who don’t currently use the internet. He assured members that providers will be getting in touch with their customer base to explain the options available and tailor a service to meet individual customer needs. There was discussion about what happens in the event of a power cut as internet provided services need power to function, in such circumstances he advised that there were battery backup options available. He further advised it was important to ensure mobile phones were kept charged as power cuts could potentially range from hours to days. In addition to the existing copper cable network there is a superior alternative using fibre optic cable which give greater resiliency and higher connection speeds – which Openreach markets as ‘Full Fibre’ (FF). There are various ways of getting FF and Openreach utilise a government voucher scheme to deliver viable community projects. SC explained the voucher scheme for accessing FF in relation to the ongoing Rockcliffe project and the fact that the project is awaiting voucher release from the government. Once the vouchers are released the build phase of the project will begin. He noted that the expectation is to roll out FF to everyone in the future. He agreed to send the presentation and some additional literature to GW for onward distribution.
A representative from the police called in briefly during the meeting to explain the absence of the police report. This will be sent after the meeting. RM asked that this be circulated with the minutes. (Link below)
The treasurer’s report was forwarded to members prior to the meeting. The bank balance was £20,432.00. Approval was sought for three payments that would be made in December (see below). These were approved. JR noted that the next meeting (07.12.2023) would be the last before February 2024, so approval would need to be sought then for any payments that would need to be made in December and January.
Colvend information board
Reimburse SP for replenishing cycle repair kit
Reimburse S King for website fee
COMMUNITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATION
The question discussed was whether CSCC should be able to take a formal view on contentious issues as an entity in its own right i.e., to date the CC has previously stated that it did not support a proposal, should it state that it formally objected instead.
In summary, extensive discussion took place about this issue and the current planning application at Sandyhills (see below in the Planning section) was used as an example. It was evident during the debate that members held various strong views on this ranging from being a ‘slippery slope’ to ‘it is our duty as a statutory consultee’. As there were no members in favour of the Sandyhills application when put to a vote it was decided that, such was the strength of feeling within the community, the formal CC view was one of objection in this instance. It was further suggested that, as and when, a representative from CSCC is to speak at a planning authority meeting on the Sandyhills planning application, they should circulate the text of their speech to members beforehand to ensure all are in agreement.
Prior to the meeting, SWP submitted a report online detailing progress on a number of the projects and the community involvement initiatives mentioned below. This document is available on the CSCC website. The following is a summary of additional issues discussed at the meeting.
- Viewpoint sign – Torrs Hill. No additional issues discussed. (SWP) This project is on-going
- Kippford Nature Reserve Memorial Shelter. No additional issues discussed. (SWP) This project is on-going.
- War Memorial renovation update. No additional issues discussed. (RM/SWP) This project is on-going.
- Rockcliffe Bus Shelter - update. JC said he thought this might be completed before Christmas 2023. (JC/SWP) This project is on-going.
- Portling Defibrillator. No additional issues discussed. (SWP) This project is on-going.
- Core Path 20 signboard at Colvend Public Hall. Members agreed to proceed with the Barnbarroch signboard renovation if an appropriate source of funding could be found. (SWP) This project is on-going.
- Sports Club attendance. Discussion took place about the fact that few people are now regularly attending the club. Numbers have dwindled since the launch two years ago and are now hovering around 6 per week. There was some discussion about the fact that CSCC set the club up with the intention of relinquishing its involvement and handing over the running of it to a volunteer member(s) of the public – this has never happened. RM suggested that communication within the local community about the activities on offer might encourage more people to attend. GW and MPu agreed to pursue this. JC suggested that if there is no local support and attendance cannot be boosted, it might be better to propose closing the club. (GW/MPu) To be considered at the next meeting.
- 22/0197/SCO Scoping Opinion – paused awaiting applicant response.
- 23/1426/FUL Sandyhills proposed car park development – rolling agenda item. PS noted that the window for objections is now closed. He said there were 149 objections on the D&G planning website and many more are still to be processed. He thought there were 450 to 500 in total. He noted that the website includes no support for the proposal, only objections. PS also told members that the SSG website (https://savesandyhills.com) is now up and running and further improvements are being made to it. DS wondered how it was possible for publicly owned facilities such as the toilet block, car park and bus stop, to, in effect, be taken over and reorganised by a private developer. He has previously posed this question to the DGC planning department but has not had a response.
- 23/1711/CLE Certificate of Lawfulness. SSG have engaged a specialist legal law firm to take over dealings on this matter on their behalf with the DGC planning authority. The group needs funding to help meet the costs of the legal and professional advice it is seeking in relation to this issue. To this end, their website is now set up to receive direct donations to the group. In addition, the group is also engaging other sympathetic organisations, such as the RSPB, for donations. Members asked how undertakings previously made by the developer can be ignored. For example, JR asked how the developer could have previously given an undertaking to look after the wooded area but now wants to build a car park on it. The developer’s agent has asked for a short time extension to the decision date of 4 November to enable them to submit more evidence.
- 23/2027/SCR Screening Opinion related to 23/1426/FUL. No further information on this.
- Local Place Plan update. Details are provided in the project report available on the CSCC website. No additional issues discussed. (SWP)
- In relation to the Resilience Plan, JS noted that up to £15,000 is available for resilience projects, for example investment in gas heaters. This is to be put on the agenda for the December 2023 CSCC meeting. Any ideas should be sent to JS. (JS) To be considered at the next meeting.
- GW raised the issue about the reliability of the rural Post Office van, which provides PO services on three days per week at Colvend. The van has broken down again and is off the road for at least two weeks undergoing repair work. This is the same issue as recently when it was off the road for over four weeks. The breakdowns are due to, or not helped by, the age of the vehicle as spare parts seem hard to come by for certain problems. The concern is that for some residents this is a vital local service. Unreliability means that people may seek alternatives and reduced use of the service may lead to its eventual withdrawal. DS agreed to explore this issue and report back. (GW/DS) To be considered at the next meeting.
- TR told members that she had been approached by an organisation wanting to engage with landowners to upgrade/widen the kissing gates on the core path and the coastal path. TR is not clear that the gates need upgrading and is thus not clear of what the purpose of this proposed upgrade is. It was suggested that they could be widened to allow walkers to get through more easily. TR would be worried that this might lead to gates being jammed open, which in turn might mean livestock can get through. She said she was not against the idea but wanted to see visually what might be planned. TR said that if she receives further contact about this she will raise it at a future CSCC meeting.
- RM said there were two vacancies on the CSCC and perhaps we should canvass people living in Kippford, Sandyhills and Southwick to broaden council representation. Members mentioned a few people they knew who might be interested. This will be explored further and discussed at the next meeting where potential candidates will need to be proposed and seconded with a view to onboarding February 2024. (RM) To be considered at the next meeting.
OUR NEXT MEETING IS ON THURSDAY 7 DECEMBER 2023 at 7:00PM IN COLVEND PUBLIC HALL
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