December 2023 Minutes

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Drymen Community Council
Minutes Of The Ordinary Meeting
Held On Tuesday 5th December 2023
Within Drymen Village Hall
Present: David Mackie (DM), Fraser Robb (FR), Simon Reid (SR), Rhona Carmichael (RC), Maja McTavish (MM), Louise Macfarlane (LM), Jacqueline Sendall (JS), Rebekah Stewart (RS), Councillor Rosemary Fraser (CRF), Richard Boddington of Drymen Community Development Trust (RB), Rowan Higgins (minutes) and 11 residents.
Apologies: none
David Mackie opens the meeting by explaining after chairing this meeting he will be stepping back from his role in the community council. This is due to possible conflicts of interest with planning applications within his role on Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park board. DM explained that the possible new planning application within the village would be regarding the McTaggart and Mickel development, and would be discussed later in the meeting.
1. Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting held Tuesday 7 th November 2023
RC proposes, LM seconds.
2. Minutes of the Special Meeting held Monday 27 th November 2023
FR proposes, JS seconds.
3. Ask your Councillor – Councillor Rosemary Fraser
CRF noted that due to pattern of Councillor visits, the last time she was in Drymen was before the last Community Council dissolved.
CRF assured residents that she would always be at meetings half an hour early to answer questions anyone may have.
CRF noted that it is this time of year where Stirling Council is looking at next years budget, which is under a lot of strain. At the moment there is a shortfall of £13 million. Stirling Council are looking at ways to reduce this shortfall, and some of this is already accounted for.
Regarding the ‘Big Conversation’, there has been criticism of the online form and the wording of the survey. CRF stressed that it is not necessarily the items on the list that will face council cuts, but they are trying to get a feel for how badly these cuts will be felt in certain areas.
One of the main things CRF said she is contacted about is transport. She told the meeting that she is pushing to maintain the limited rural transport that the area has, and if possible create more. CRF asked if anyone is contacting her about transport to include where and when there is a need for a bus, as previous problems for the council have been that services have been asked for and when they provide them they are not used. A resident noted that it
will take a leap of faith from the council to provide buses as people may initially not want to rely on them as current services are unreliable.
CRF told the meeting that there is new legislation that both Stirling Council and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park have to adhere to. This is National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).
A resident asked about the DRT. He was under the impression that it had to be booked the day before but now has discovered this is not the case. CRF said this must have changed, and it wasn’t well publicised as she wasn’t aware of the change either.
A resident asked if there had been any consideration given to raising council tax, even by a pound a month. CRF clarified that as the Government has frozen council tax, Stirling Council are unable to raise it. But because of this, the government will be giving money to the council.
4. Police Report
A report received of theft of motor vehicle whereby a delivery van left unattended was stolen with parcels within. Enquiries are still ongoing.
Road Safety
Report of a 2-vehicle road traffic collision received. Fortunately there were no injuries and only minor damage sustained.
5. Planning
No current applications worth discussion.
6. DCDT Update
The process has begun to remove the Road Safety Trial after the outcome of the survey last week. DCDT are currently trying to get a slot for the lines to be removed, and the planters will be removed at the same time. As part of the funding obligation for the Road Safety Trial, DCDT have to provide a report for the Road Safety Trust. This will likely be in the coming spring, and this information will be shared with residents.
There is currently a feasibility study underway for public toilets. DCDT also had a meeting with local businesses to get their input. They find it challenging with the number of people coming through the village in the summer who use their toilets without being customers.
They are also keen to find a solution to this.
DCDT applied for a grant to support the e-bike scheme which was successful. DCDT also applied for a grant for a disabled parking space in the square. This was unsuccessful, but DCDT will keep looking for other options.
The advent windows have started. The map is available in Facebook and in paper form from the Bakery.
The Christmas tree switch on is this Sunday (10th) at 4.30pm.
RB attended a meeting with Springfield (previously Mactaggart and Mickel). One particular reason RB wanted to meet on behalf of the DCDT was regarding potential sites for toilets.
Stirling Road car park is a possible option for the toilets, however this is tied in with the development. They were very positive. RB noted he didn’t want to go into too much detail as Springfield want to come and speak at January’s Community Council Meeting. However, they are considering making the development small as some of the houses further down the site
are on peat. They are looking at taking away some of these lower houses. They are also looking and changing the layout of the site to have the site works and office at the other end of the village. This would leave the car park open during construction.
Because they are making the development smaller, they may have to go back to the planning application process to make this change. This would give the community another chance to get better community benefits provided as part of the project.
A resident asked about the planters – RB said they are all already sold.
Another resident asked about the traffic surveys currently out on the road. RB Clarified that this is to provide the Road Safety Trust with the data they require.
A question was asked regarding the Springfield development; it was clarified that their reason for reducing the number of houses is that they do not want to disturb the peat.
Springfield is still in the early stages with this change and they are looking to see if this needs to be a full change of planning application.
7. Treasurer’s Report
No changes to report from previous meeting. The balance is still currently £2594.08. The change of signatories is still in process. MM spoke to the bank regarding this yesterday.
8. Roads and General Maintenance
Drymen Community Council had contacted Stirling Council regarding providing a grit bin in Charles Crescent. The response from Stirling Council was that they would not be providing this and that they consider the matter closed.
They provided a list of criteria for grit bin locations such as somewhere to put the bin, somewhere to fill the bin, so many grit bins by kilometre square etc.
CRF had also spoken to Stirling Council about this and said someone had visited and said the location wasn’t suitable. DM asked if CRF could go back to Stirling Council and ask if the Council would fill a bin that was funded by the community.
A resident said she had spoken to Paul Henke who said someone was coming to look at Balmaha Road as a location for a grit bin and they haven’t heard anything since. DM said DCC will ask Stirling Council about Balmaha Road too.
9. Big Conversation Update
RS updated the meeting.
DCC have been contacted by Strathard Community Council. They have also contacted multiple other neighbouring community councils, to invite us to band together. This would mean these community councils could consult together to identify areas under consideration for cuts, which if implemented would have a profound and non-recoverable impact on our fragile and small communities. There is a meeting regarding this planned for this Friday (8th December) which RS will attend on behalf of DCC.
So far the Community Councils that are involved are:
- Kippen
- Killearn
- Balfron
- Killin
- Thornhill and Blair Drummond
- Balquhidder, Lochearnhead and Strathyre
- Gartmore
- Port of Menteith
- Buchlyvie
- Trossachs
- Callander
Strathard Community Council have also reached out to other community councils that are yet to respond. This means that together these community councils could stand in good stead to have a reasonable impact statement.
Discussed will be the things most likely to affect communities:
- Transport and school transport
- Nursery and education including special needs
- Libraries
- Cuts to provision of toilets
- Cuts to road end bin collections
- Cuts to village halls
- Cuts to road repairs
Ways to identify and generate revenue will also be discussed.
Education and Social Care provisions are statutory. The other items on the list are services that the council provide but are not obliged to.
The lack of health and social care provisions in the village was discussed and noted.
RF informed the meeting that the councillors and administrators are provided with a list of potential cuts and the impact of this from each department. It is from that list that the councillors (with support) have to make a decision. The first decision will be the 9th of February with the main budget meeting being at the end of February.
RD stated that she feels it is important to still have Drymen’s individual voice as well as collaborating with the other community councils.
RS reads out a response from Stirling Council to an email sent by DCC:
“Thank you for your enquiry regarding ‘The Big Conversation’, you asked a number of questions and I have answered each question in turn and hope that you find it helpful.
1. How much Stirling Council is spending on ‘The Big Conversation’ including the dropin sessions?
‘The Big Conversation’ uses existing staff resources and there is no additional budget to deliver this. The council has also sought to minimise disruption and inconvenience by using existing facilities including schools that can be used at no cost or that are already open for community activity. The online survey uses an existing consultation package the council already subscribes to manage its consultation and community engagement activity so there is no additional cost to the council to use that for the survey.
2. All councils across Scotland, and wider, must have a similar business model.
a) Has Stirling Council looked at its working practices, compared to others, as a way to save money?
The council regularly examines its services and throughout this year’s work to identify ways to save money. The items listed in the budget proposals this year is the latest version of that where the council has examined its services across the entire council area and highlighted areas where changes could be made or services could be reduced to achieve savings to get towards the budget gap which is expected to be above £13m.
b) Do councils meet to share good practice i.e. what works well and what doesn’t?
Yes, the council is an active partner with organisations such as COSLA, the convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Improvement Service. In addition, there are a number of organisations across Scotland focused on specific sectors which council officers will have over the years been involved in supporting. There is a list of organisations published at the Scottish Government website.
In addition, through the council’s membership of COSLA national approaches to services is delivered including trading standards and business support.
c) Does Stirling Council participate in this process?
Answered above.
3. I am aware that some councils share provision of services to achieve economies of scale.
a) Does Stirling Council share services with other councils?
b) If it does, which councils and which services?
Stirling Council is an active member of a range of shared service and partnership projects such as the Stirling and Clackmannanshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the Regional Improvement Collaborative for education services. The first brings the two councils together with the NHS and the second brings Stirling together with Clackmannanshire,
Falkirk and West Lothian Councils to work together on education projects. The council is also a member authority for Scotland Excel which was set up by Scottish councils in 2008 to collaborate on procurement. This now includes a range of organisation outside of Scottish local government which helps to further builds on the buying power of councils.
The council is also a member of the SEEMIS group which bring Scottish councils together to deliver an ‘education management information system’ to support pupil and staff record management.
4. Budget reductions across all councils appear to have been going on for at least the last 10 years.
a) Are all councils having the equivalent of a big conversation with equivalent
budget gaps?
b) Are other councils managing to provide all the services within budget?
c) If other councils are managing, has Stirling Council analysed how they make it work?
Scottish councils are facing unprecedented challenges. The trades union Unison has produced an interactive map that highlights the scale of the budget gaps being faced by councils across the country. (LINK)
The accounts commission in their overview of local government in Scotland in 2023 highlights the scale of the challenge facing councils; (LINK) including the need for flexible funding and resources, driven leadership, greater collaboration, a resilient workforce and a focus on community needs and inequalities. Also COSLA each year lobbies the Scottish Government to set the case out for funding and resources. This link is the launch last year of
their ‘SOS’ campaign; (LINK). Their latest campaign is expected to launch next week.
7. The Scottish Government Accounts Commission examines how Scotland’s 32 councils manage their finances, helps these bodies manage their resources efficiently and effectively, promotes Best Value and publishes information every year about how councils perform. Stirling Council is to be commended as the Audit Commission reports the ‘The (Stirling) Council continues to perform well relative to other councils.’ However, given that the residents of the Stirling Council area are facing more cuts to services and further budget cuts despite one of Audit Scotland’s goals is to promote value. Value is delivering services more effectively not cutting services to make money.
a) Does Stirling Council believe that the Scottish Government Accounts
Commission/Audit Scotland helps it to manage its resources efficiently and
effectively whilst promoting best value?
The Council seeks to deliver the highest quality services wherever it can but is doing so against a backdrop of ongoing budget pressures. The Accounts
Commission/Audit Scotland play a critical role in Scottish public life in supporting public services to examine areas of weakness and strength and to identify long and short term issues to address.
8. In the latest Stirling Council accounts (2021/22) 6 of the 10 Best Value
recommendations had been implemented. One of the four targets yet to be fully implemented from the 2018/19 Best Value report by the Audit Commission was carrying out a residents’ satisfaction survey and demonstrating how it uses the results to inform future Council decisions.
a) Are there demonstrable plans in place that Stirling Council is going to implement this recommendation?
b) If yes, when and how?
The Council has undertaken Resident’s Surveys in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2019.
For the 2022 Resident’s Survey additional questions on public performance reporting were added. The survey results were shared with senior managers.
Thank you for taking the time to engage in ‘The Big Conversation’.
I hope this is satisfactory for your purposes and advise this enquiry has now been closed.”
CRF reiterated that although the budget gap is £13m, there are things that have already been communicated to reduce this gap.
10. Any Other Business
- A resident went to Road Expo Scotland and mentioned some Government level funding to use technology to get people out of their cars (Mobility as a Service). DM is to look into this with the National Park.
- Ewan Mackay of DCDT noted that they could put a community package together but that it would take a project manager, and also requires getting in touch with other communities.
- A grant was applied for, for compost etc for Drymen in Bloom. This has been agreed by the Council.
- DCC and DCDT are looking for volunteers to come forward to create a transport working group to tackle these issues.
- Hospital transport was mentioned as it was discussed that there is IT help available to create a volunteer portal. This volunteer portal would allow residents in need of transport to be matched with someone able to take them.
- Stirling Council are looking for Community Heros; if you know of someone who does a lot in the community and deserves some recognition, applications are to be in by 14th January.
- There is an initiative for climate grants for £250-1500. This would be to promote or help climate change awareness within the community and come up with new ways of taking action and supporting communities in creating a sustainable future. Anyone can apply if they link with a community organisation. Applications are open until 10th February 2024.
- DCC drew everyone’s attention to the DCC Facebook page as it has useful
- SR wanted to make attendees aware of an organisation Recyke a Bike. They have free bikes are available for those who need them for active travel etc. They will also be back at the Village Hall at the end of February to carry out small repairs and provide a bike maintenance class.
Confirmation of Next meeting
Tuesday 9th January 2024 at 7pm
Drymen Village Hall