Group last updated by Jackie West
When we meet
To be updated when calendar of meetings, events, available.
UPDATE: PLANNED ACHNASHEEN SOCIAL 7.00PM – 9.00PM FRIDAY 27TH MARCH
The community view is that this should not go ahead given the recent government advice on the coronavirus.
SO THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED.
The community can take a view on monthly socials on the last Fridays in April and May in due course.Last updated: Tue 17 Mar 2020, 17:16
ACHNASHEEN AMENITIES COMMUNITY MEETING
7.00PM TUESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2020, ACHNASHEEN HALL
DRAFT NOTES OF MEETING
From the community: Gill Ross, David Ross, Anne Stewart, Moira Harris, Marion Riley, Jo Mulreany, Jackie West, John Armstrong, Alec Urquhart, Ronnie Ross, Barry Peters, Debbie Peters, Steve Jones
From the Development Company: Morven MacDonald, Tina Hartley (TLC), Sue Tarr
The objectives of the meeting were to:
- agree the prospective development projects for Achnasheen, based on a similar meeting held last year
- agree what type of organisation Achnasheen Amenities should become in order to undertake them.
DEVELOPMENT PROJECT LIST
Repurposed café / workshop
A number of community uses for the café / workshop were discussed. All were rejected.
It was decided that the community should not pursue the purchase of this building but should let the current sales process take its course.
The community would rather focus its efforts on utilising and developing the well-equipped and functioning Community Hall.
Note: caveat to this arose later in the meeting under discussion of a possible men’s shed. This building could be a venue for a men’s shed if the community decided to pursue one. This option would have to be put alongside a new build on the old hotel ground.
Development of the Community Hall
Notwithstanding the uses to which the hall may be put in future (see next section), there are a number of things that need to be done to it. These are:
- Replace the ‘blown’ windows facing the railway track
- Install outside electricity points
- Install inside electricity points eg to remove need for long cable for wifi from the cupboard
- Empty the septic tank serving the hall and repair if necessary
- Make the toilets accessible from inside the building
- Install better access to the upstairs hall for people and catering eg a lift and / or a dumb waiter
- Clear out all the unused and damaged contents
- Install a separate receptacle and septic tank for chemical waste
- Replace the old tables and chairs
The Highland Council (HC) owns the community hall. It is responsible for outside maintenance and the community looks after internal maintenance.
It is not known whether the HC would undertake this work, but that a good case could be put to them on the grounds of improving access and health and safety. We should check the extent to which the existing Hall complies with regulations for these requirements for public buildings.
If the HC is unable to undertake this work, there was enthusiasm for the community buying the hall from the HC if this was financially and operationally acceptable to both parties.
It was agreed that we should approach HC to establish what alterations they would be willing to undertake, what the HC would allow the community to do under the present ownership and lease arrangement, and whether they would consider selling it to us and under what general parameters.
The advantage of the community owning the hall is that it would be able to apply for funding from LCT to carry out the alterations.
- was agreed that we should also check the extent to which the community could get funding from the LCT for this work programme under the current ownership arrangements. For example, it may be the case that the LCT would fund the work if HC refuses to, and there can be shown to be an important and urgent need - in the same way that many charities fund those things that the government will not / cannot afford to fund, despite the fact that it is technically the government’s responsibility.
It was agreed that we should get a handle on these two areas before committing to any future design feasibility study for the hall and its surrounds.
What social activities do we want in the hall? –What do we want to use the hall for?
There was discussion on activities and events that used to occur in the hall when the community had the school, and those that have happened since.
Enthusiasm was expressed for the following ideas:
- A monthly social: drinks and a chat – a regular opportunity for the community to get together just for the sake of being together and catching up with each other.
- Cookery workshops eg an Indian food teach-in workshop
- Whist drives
- An annual (?) Ceilidh
- A table tennis league
- A darts league
- Keep fit and yoga classes
- Arts and crafts social
- Occasional public café days
- Other DIY meals / socials throughout the year, not just Christmas eg Burns night
Morven stated that it was important to get the whole community’s views on social activities and events, and crucially what day and time of day people would like them, so as to maximise participation. She agreed to undertake a survey of the residents in the Achnasheen community for this purpose.
It was decided that the most effective way of putting a programme of events in place and sharing the load so that it does not always fall on the same people, is for the community to agree an outline event programme, and for different small groups of people to take forward one event each in the year (or more if they wish).
The most popular activities from the meeting were
- a monthly social: drinks and chat on the last Friday evening of the month.
- a whist drive (already planned for Garve, and this could develop into whist drives alternating in Garve and Achnasheen)
- cookery workshops
- other DIY meals / socials
This will need updating when the results of the survey are known.
Anne Stewart undertook to get a small group together to plan the first social event.
It was recognised that events should be publicised to and will attract people from Kinlochewe and communities down to Lochcarron, as we have seen in the past, as well as from the rest of the GDCC area. This will be essential to attract enough people to sustain regular events and activities in Achnasheen.
Action: Morven MacDonald, Anne Stewart
A number of problems were raised about signage in and around the village.
- No standard ‘Achnasheen’ signs at the entrance to the village on all three roads
- Lack of adequate signage for the village itself off the main road, causing confusion, and sometimes gridlock, over which way ‘in’ and ‘out’; and a lack of awareness that there are two entrances onto and off the main road for the village. Many people go in and out the same way irrespective of the direction in which they are travelling on the main road.
- A mishmash of different signs for hotels, cafes, toilets, café / workshop in various states of disrepair – all these in just one small community.
- Overnight stays by motorhomes are causing increasing congestion, noise and nuisance in what is a small and quiet residential area. This has also sometimes made it difficult for residents to park.
- The toilets are frequently in a mess due to people emptying chemical waste down them because there is no other facility.
- Traffic often travels through the village way over the 40 mph speed limit
- Many signs are rotting and partially falling over.
A number of solutions were discussed and agreed.
- There should be standard stylish signs at the entrance to the village on each of the three roads. These could be made / carved by local people. Such signs should also be consistent across GDCC eg those potentially being planned for Garve. It was agreed that TLC would investigate the GDCC community-wide need and possible solutions.
- A one-way traffic system through the village was considered but it was felt that this may be impractical for larger railway traffic and buses given the tight turns involved from some directions. The agreed alternative was for there to be signage down in the village pointing to the main road and its direction eg A 832 Inverness and A 832 Gairloch and Lochcarron, or A832 East, and A832 West.
- There should be standard single signage on all three roads for all the facilities in the village, including the hotel eg Community Hall, Toilets, Midge Bite Café, Ledgowan Hotel etc, with the flexibility for this list to be expanded / reduced easily if needed. This would be neater and more easily seen and read by motorists. It has the disadvantage that the signs could not be branded, but branded signage would still be available on business premises.
- The increasing number of overnight stays by motorhomes presents a growing problem. It was felt that we should campaign to the HC for a ‘No Overnight Parking’ sign to be put in the village.
It was recognised that the Community Council raised this with HC last year and that the issue had been dismissed primarily because of HC policy to provide overnight stays so that long distance drivers were not forced to drive for too long. However, there are plenty of laybys on all three roads that converge on the village for this purpose.
It was agreed that there should be a vigorous, persuasive and persistent campaign to the HC for a ‘No Overnight Parking’ sign, with hard physical photographic and documented evidence of the effect of motorhomes on the village (including the waste mess in the toilets). Collection of such hard evidence should start in March when a simple way of capturing the data has been put in place.
However, it was decided that initially we should try a sign outside the toilets saying something like ‘Not Suitable For Chemical Waste: Nearest Facility at Kinlochewe Campsite’.
At the same time, the alternative of a specific chemical waste system (capture and storage) should be investigated for feasibility and cost. This potentially could become an income generator for the hall (similar to the facilities being implemented at Golf Course beach car park in Gairloch), and possibly coupled with charging for the toilets.
- There should be smiley speed restriction signage at both entrances to the village, preferably council funded, or community funded as a last resort if at all possible.We should also investigate getting the speed limit reduced to 30mph down in the village as is the case in Kinlochewe and Contin.
- Decayed / decaying signs eg deer signs should be brought to the attention of the HC for replacement.
It was recognised that these signage issues are primarily Community Council issues. It was agreed that they should be raised with the GDCC in the first instance.
It may also help the village case to make direct representation to the relevant HC departments as well in due course.
Action: Tina Hartley, Steve Jones
Permanent Christmas Decorations
There was unanimous agreement on the need for a lighted Christmas Tree and lights around the hall building during the Christmas period.
Christmas decorations for inside the hall should also be purchased for annual use.
There should be permanent Christmas light structures on the lamp posts through the village. These should be standard across all communities within the GDCC area.
TH agreed to look at this from a GDDC community-wide perspective.
Action: Tina Hartley
The Christmas Meal
There was unanimous and enthusiastic agreement to have a DIY Christmas meal and party in the Hall rather than go to a hotel.
The hall party and meal in 2019 was a great success, enjoyed immensely by all, and showed how varied and flexible a DIY celebration can be.
Possible development of old hotel ground near the station
Ideas for this site included:
- New public toilets (if the existing toilets were taken inside the Hall building itself)
- A men’s shed / A persons’ shed
- Community-owned social housing
It was agreed that these options should be included in a feasibility study and design for the hall and surrounding buildings. This study would be undertaken when we know what the situation is with the Hall and the HC in terms of ownership and permitted action under the current rules.
Type of organisation for Achnasheen Amenities.
The type of organisation required for Achnasheen Amenities depends on what we want the organisation to do.
The current constitution is limited to the management of the hall only, so its remit needs to be expanded to cover all the current and possible future projects for the village.
If building work is to be undertaken, the hall owned and staff employed, then the most appropriate form of organisation would be a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO for short). This is a charitable company limited by guarantee that would be able to contract in its own name and give full financial protection to its Directors and members. It is also a pre-requisite for obtaining funds from many charitable organisations and trusts.
If the organisation is only going to run events and undertake low risk activities, then an unincorporated society would be appropriate. This type of organisation is much easier to set up and administer and would still allow us to get funding from the LCT, although other avenues of funding would be limited.
It was decided to wait for the outcome of the Hall investigations with HC, and then decide on the type of organisation that should be adopted.
Volunteers for the organisation committee and for event organisation
The type of organisation, it will need volunteers to manage it, to be members, and also people to organise events and activities.
It was agreed that all present should spread the word to all members of the community about what the community is trying to achieve to get more people involved in building our community and making it thrive.
It was also agreed that all present would consider becoming such volunteers, particularly for any organisation management committee.
Communication within and outwith the Achnasheen / Achanalt Community
It was agreed that this should be done via an Achnasheen Amenities section on the garve.org community website hub.
This is more effective and efficient than endless copying and manual delivery to all houses.
It was agreed that we should all help our friends and neighbours sign up to the garve.org hub so they can keep up to date with what’s happening to these projects, as well as find out about what is happening in the GDCC area more widely.
These notes will be published on the Achnasheen section of the garve.org hub.
Jackie agreed to set this up for the community’s use with help from TLC
Action: All, Jackie West
The meeting expressed its warmest and fulsome thanks to Gill, supported of course by David, who wishes to retire from managing the hall after having done it for 25 years. It was agreed that we should mark this occasion at our next social.
After discussion about how to take forward the hall management from now on:
- Jo Mulreany kindly agreed to be the caretaker
- Anne Stewart kindly agreed to administer the bookings
It was agreed that Gill, Anne and Jo should decide how the process of taking bookings, letting people into and out of the hall, getting payment and looking after the hall physically would work when Gill retires.
It was agreed that a key safe and internet based remote control of the hall heating should be investigated to make the management of the hall easier.
Action: Anne Stewart, Jo Mulreany, Gill Ross
It was recognised that Achnasheen / Achanalt / Lochluichart is a small disparate community with a relatively small number of people to take forward these projects.
It is necessary therefore:
- To get as many of the community as possible involved so that the load can be spread across many people and avoid overloading just a few individuals.
- To get support from the Garve & District Development Company. Tina, Morven and Sue were thanked for coming this evening and volunteering to take on a number of tasks.
- To get more permanent help by recruiting part-time support staff as necessary. The need for this will be assessed in due course when we know more about the workload involved.
Action: All, TLC, Morven MacDonald
It was agreed that we should hold another ‘meeting’ soon to track our progress on these projects and to make further decisions on them in due course. The ‘meeting’ should form part of a social evening.
Date of the next meeting will be decided when we have made progress on the Hall issues with the HC, and in any case should be by end April. Steve Jones to organise the next meeting in due course.
20 February 2020Last updated: Mon 24 Feb 2020, 13:46