Land reform top of the agenda at Area Committee
12th February 2014
The first item on yesterday's Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee was Land Reform with the meeting starting with a presentation by David Cameron, Convener of Community Land Scotland. Members then took the opportunity to discuss in particular the overview of land reform issues in Sutherland.
Since The Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced rights for both Communities and Crofting Communities to proceed with land purchase under certain circumstances, six Council owned properties in Caithness and Sutherland have been handed over to local community groups.
The properties are:
. Helmsdale Community Centre
. Embo Community Centre
. Kyle Centre in Tongue
. Tongue Sub-depot
. Site for National Nuclear Archive, Wick
. as well as land at Helmsdale for a Housing project
In its Programme, Working Together for the Highlands, the Council highlights its commitment to promoting and assisting with land reform and to achieve this it has become an associated member of Community Land Scotland in order to further the cause of land reform across the Highlands.
The Community Land Scotland membership in Sutherland currently includes:
. Assynt Foundation - 44,400 acres in community ownership
. Durness Development Group - with interest in MOD lands at Cape Wrath
. Mackay Country Community Trust.
The Leader of Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay welcomed the opportunity today to raise awareness of the Community Right To Buy scheme and hear more about the impact land reform has had for local communities as well as looking at the work the Council and other organisations are doing to support communities achieve their goal.
She said: "It is important we understand the regeneration opportunities publicly-owned land might offer communities and encourage and assist any of our communities who are considering taking this step.
"I am keen to encourage more community ownership in our area and as such to share more widely with local people the benefits and developmental opportunities associated with land ownership."
"Here in Sutherland since 2010 the Council has over-seen the transfer of five properties to communities in Helmsdale, Embo and Tongue. Everyone can learn a lot from sharing experiences and hearing how successful community enterprises have managed the transition."
The committee noted that the Government's Land Reform Review Group will be publishing a report in April and decided today to invite the Group to come to present their findings to the Area Committee.
Last June the Council sponsored a Community Land Scotland Conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and this year it will be partnering Community Land Scotland to run a series of community seminars across the Highlands to promote the benefits of land ownership and provide technical advice and guidance. Details for these events are to be confirmed but they will be taking place from the end of March onwards in Portree, Durness, Helmsdale, Ullapool, Fort William and Aviemore.
Last week, The Highland Council issued rent suspension orders (RSO) in relation to a number of properties being operated as unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMO). The orders, which have been served on the owners and tenants, mean that the tenants are no longer under any obligation to pay rent to their landlord.
The Leader of The Highland Council Councillor Margaret Davidson welcomed the First Minister's announcement of a Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to deliver much needed improvements to tourist infrastructure to support the rising numbers of visitors to the Highlands. This comes the week after figures were published for August which showed Highland visitor attractions were performing 17% higher compared to August last year, a result that is backed by accounts from residents and businesses that the area has been hugely popular with visitors this season.
The Highland Council is ready for winter and prepared to grit council roads as the council's winter maintenance programme starts on 14 October. Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.
Trading Standards are looking for young people to take part in test purchasing exercises. We want to find out which shops are breaking the law by selling age restricted products to young people under 18.
Caithness Civic leader Cllr Willie Mackay (centre) cuts the tape at the opening of the newly refurbished half mile Killimster Moss stretch of the B876 Wick to Thurso road. Looking on are some of the Highland council workers praised for the project which was done on time and within budget.
Caithness Civic Leader Cllr Willie Mackay has welcomed the reopening of the B876 Killimster Moss Road. A stretch of the Caithness Wick to Thurso road at Killimster Moss was refurbished over a four week programme of improvement and reopened on Friday 29 September.
A chance to have your say. Voters are being invited to have their say on a review of polling places throughout the Highland Council area The Council has today (Monday 2 October 2017) launched a consultation over its review of election polling districts and polling places.
The Scottish Government is allocating £1 million to improve school libraries over the next three years. Launched today by the Deputy First Minister, the School Library Improvement Fund will be open for education authorities to apply for funding on behalf of school libraries in their area.
The Scrutiny Lead for The Highland Council, Cllr Matthew Reiss responded to the decisions made today by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) at their meeting in Inverness. He said: "We are naturally deeply disappointed by the decisions today to close the Inverness Control Room and to spread the National Database Enquiry Unit between Inverness and Govan.
The by-election for a councillor to represent the Tain and Easter Ross Ward on The Highland Council has been won by Alasdair Rhind (Independent) who was one of six candidates who contested the vacancy. The bi-election was brought about by the resignation of Jamie Stone following his success in the Westminster elections He joins Councillors Fiona Robertson (Independent) and Derek Louden (SNP) in representing Ward 7 on The Highland Council.
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