IRVINE, 5 April 2005 - At a Meeting of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Drew Duncan, Jane Gorman, Thomas Barr, John Bell, Jack Carson, Ian Clarkson, Margie Currie, Stewart Dewar, Anna Donn, Jean Highgate, Alan Hill, Margaret McDougall, Elizabeth McLardy, Peter McNamara, Elisabethe Marshall, John Moffat, David Munn, Margaret Munn, Alan Munro, David O'Neill, Robert Rae, Donald Reid, John Reid, Ian Richardson, Samuel Taylor, Nan Wallace and Richard Wilkinson.
Also In Attendance
I Snodgrass, Chief Executive; T Orr, Corporate Director (Property Services); J Travers, Corporate Director (Educational Services); J Barrett, Assistant Chief Executive (Information Technology); A Herbert, Assistant Chief Executive (Finance); M Macfarlane, Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel); I Mackay, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective); B MacDonald, Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion); L Skehal, Head of Service (Community Care) (Social Services); G Lawson, Head of Corporate and Democratic Support; S Bale, Corporate and Democratic Support Officer and A Wattie, Communications Officer (Chief Executive's).
Provost Duncan in the Chair.
1. Pope John Paul II
The Provost referred to the recent death of Pope John Paul II and advised that Books of Condolence had been placed for the public to sign in all main Council offices and that flags at main public buildings would fly at half mast on the day of his funeral.
The Council observed 1 minute's silence as a mark of respect for the death of Pope John Paul II.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 8 March 2005 were approved.
In terms of Standing Order No. 18, the Provost agreed that the Council would receive a Petition from the residents of McLuckie Drive and adjoining roads, Kilwinning, lodging a protest against the use of McLuckie Drive as an overflow car park for Scotrail customers.
Th Petitioners were represented by John Burns and Alison Hara.
The Petitioners stated their concerns about McLuckie Drive being used as an overflow car park for Kilwinning Railway Station. They raised the issues of safety of residents, the safety of their children, their view being blocked when trying to exit their driveways, and the difficulties which emergency services would have entering into McLuckie Drive. They were seeking McLuckie Drive to be residents' parking only.
The Council agreed to remit the issues raised by the Petitioners regarding car parking at McLuckie Drive, Kilwinning to the Irvine, Kilwinning, Dreghorn and Springside Area Committee for consideration.
In terms of Standing Order No. 17, the Provost agreed that the Council would receive a Deputation from the Three Towns Forum on Disability in relation to their concerns regarding the provision and operation of the Dial-A-Bus service.
The Three Towns Forum on Disability were represented by Kenny Milne and Vera Dillon.
The representatives intimated that they had met with Chris Carberry of Strathclyde Passenger Transport on several occasions, but a number of issues had still not been resolved. These issues included:-
the pre-booking arrangements and the difficulties disabled people face in knowing in advance whether they will be fit enough to travel;
the criteria for users; and
the requirement to book through a central office in Glasgow.
They were seeking a local booking arrangement and public transport to be made more accessible in terms of types of bus, bus stops etc. which would result in less demand on the Dial-A-Bus service. They considered such improvements would provide a better value for money service and were seeking North Ayrshire Council to review the service arrangements.
Councillor M Munn, as one of the Council's representatives on SPT responded. She advised that a number of service improvements have already been made, including improvements to the West Kilbride and Seamill service and 2 new low floor buses being available in the Three Towns area. The booking service was also being examined with planned improvements due to be introduced within 2 months. She indicated that she would be pleased to meet with the Group again, along with a representative of SPT to hear their concerns.
The Council agreed that Councillor M Munn arrange to meet with the Three Towns Forum on Disability regarding the Dial-A-Bus service.
The Provost referred to a further Petition received, which had been tabled, in relation to the decision of the Corporate Services Committee held on 15 March 2005 with regard to the Registration Service in Kilwinning. This Petition would be considered at Item 7, when the Committee Minutes were submitted for approval.
5. Leader's Report
The Depute Leader of the Council report on the following items:-
a meeting held with Patricia Ferguson, Minister for Tourism, which discussed tourism issues including proposed events for the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, sailing events held within North Ayrshire, and the previous success of the Mod held in Largs etc.
a meeting held with Jim Wallace, Depute First Minister, supported by Alan Wilson and Cathy Jamieson MSPs at which the case had been made to make North Ayrshire more competitive in terms of attracting investment to the area. Jim Wallace had urged the Council to complete its business case for an Irvine Bay Urban Regeneration Company and highlighted potential developments at Hunterston and Prestwick Airport as opportunities for change.
the Scottish Awards for Quality and Planning, at which the Council had received a commendation at the award ceremony on 10 March 2005 for the Beith Townscape Initiative. He expressed his thanks to the officers and to the partner organisations involved.
6. Committee Chairs' Reports
Property Services Committee
The Chair of the Property Services Committee reported on the following items:-
the increase in disturbance allowances payable to tenants for central heating and/or rewiring works, resulting in a payment range of approximately £100-£200 per dwelling.
the roads budget for 2005/06 of approximately £1.3m, including the additional revenue allocated to Roads Services, which should ensure a reasonable distribution of works across the 3 Area Committee areas.
the Safe Routes to School 20 mile per hour speed limits, with approval of the implementation of the Traffic Regulation Order at the locations where no changes are required and a further TRO to be promoted and implemented in respect of Abbey, Corsehill and Skelmorlie Primary Schools, where an amendment to the extent of the speed limit is justified.
Corporate Services Committee
The Chair of the Corporate Services Committee reported on the following item:-
the Committee had been advised on 12 October 2004 that in 2004 both Saltcoats and Millport beaches had passed the EC Bathing Directive water standards. Saltcoats had achieved a Seaside Award in 2004. In view of the facilities at Ardrossan/Saltcoats South Beach, it had been agreed to nominate it for a Seaside Award in 2005. The list of successful 2005 Award Winning Beaches for the Uk will be announced later this month by ENCAMS. In April 2005, Visit Britain published a new Beach Guide 'Britain's Blue Beaches - Seaside Award Winning Beaches'. Ardrossan/Saltcoats South Beach figures prominently in the Guide, the only beach in Ayrshire to be included.
7. Committee Minutes
Submitted the annexed reports of Committees, being the Minutes of the Meetings held on the undernoted dates, which were approved as follows:-
Property Services Committee: 9 March 2005
Moved by Councillor McDougall and seconded by Councillor I Clarkson (pages 1-4).
Appeals Committee of North Ayrshire Council: 10 March 2005
Moved by Councillor D Munn and seconded by Councillor Moffat (pages 5-6).
Licensing Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee: 14 March 2005
Moved by Councillor D Munn and seconded by Councillor Moffat (pages 7-9).
Corporate Services Committee: 15 March 2005
Moved by Councillor D Munn and seconded by Councillor Barr (pages 10-20), subject to an addendum to the decision in relation to Item 11: Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages: Service Delivery on page 15 of the Minutes "to instruct the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) to submit a further report to the Committee looking at the provision of Registration Services to the community of Kilwinning".
As an amendment, Councillor Hill seconded by Councillor Rae, moved that the item on the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Service Delivery be remitted to the Corporate Services Standing Sub Committee for further scrutiny in the first instance before a final decision is taken.
On a division, there voted for the amendment 7 and for the motion 17 and the motion was declared carried.
Accordingly, the Council agreed to approve the Minutes of the Corporate Services Committee held on 15 March 2005, including the following decision in relation to the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages: Service Delivery:-
(a) to seek the Registrar General's approval to close the offices in West Kilbride and Kilwinning and to amend the opening times in the remaining registration offices; (b) to undertake a review of cash collection within the Irvine, Kilbirnie and Saltcoats registration offices with a view to ceasing cash collection on 1 April 2006; and (c) to instruct the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) to submit a further report to the Committee looking at the provision of Registration Services to the community of Kilwinning.
On a request by Councillor Currie, the Council further agreed to approve an amendment to the wording contained within paragraph 2 on page 18 of the Minutes, in relation to Item 17: Arran: Blackwaterfoot: Land South East of Kinloch Court: Proposed Compulsory Purchase Order, that the words "low cost housing" in the final sentence of the paragraph be replaced with "general needs housing".
Planning Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee: 21 March 2005
Moved by Councillor D Munn and seconded by Councillor Barr (pages 21-36), subject to Item 5.3: 05/00013/PP: West Kilbride: Seamill: Site to the North of 9 Ardrossan Road on page 35 of the Minutes being remitted back to the Sub Committee for further consideration.
Councillor J Reid, seconded by Councillor Barr further moved that Item 5.2: 04/01118/PP: Isle of Cumbrae: Millport: Golf Road: Site to the North and East of Penmachrie on pages 34 and 35 of the Minutes be remitted back to the Sub Committee for further consideration, as to approve the application would seriously jeopardise the new North Ayrshire (excluding the Isle of Arran) Local Plan which was about to be adopted. Robust grounds would be needed to approve the application, as it would be contrary to the policies in the Local Plan.
As an amendment, Councillor Hill seconded by Councillor Currie, moved that the Minutes in relation to this item be approved.
On a division, there voted for the amendment 9, and for the motion 17, and the motion was declared carried.
Accordingly, the Council agreed to approve the Minutes of the Planning Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee held on 21 March 2005, subject to items 5.2: 04/01118/PP: Isle of Cumbrae: Millport: Golf Road: Site to the North and East of Penmachrie and 5.3: 05/00013/PP: West Kilbride: Seamill: Site to the North of 9 Ardrossan Road, on pages 34 and 35 of the Minutes, being remitted back to the Planning Sub Committee for further consideration.
Corporate Policy Committee: 22 March 2005
Councillor Wilkinson declared an interest in Item 4: Supporting People Programme on page 38 of the Minutes.
Moved by Councillor O'Neill and seconded by Councillor McDougall (pages 37-63).
In terms of Standing Order No. 12, submitted:-
(a) a question by Councillor Richardson in the following terms:-
"Noting that town centres in many towns in North Ayrshire such as Beith, Kilbirnie, Dalry, Ardrossan and others have a large number of vacant and boarded up shop premises - would the Council consider introducing various initiatives and financial incentives to revitalise these town centres?"
The Depute Leader of the Council responded in the following terms:-
"The Council has been engaged in various activities to revitalise Town Centres. A prime example of this is the award made for the Beith Townscape Heritage Initiative which is displayed in the Council Chambers today. The details of the various activities will be forwarded to Councillor Richardson and all other members of the Council for information".
(b) a question by Councillor Marshall to the Leader of the Council in the following terms:-
"(i) How much extra revenue will be generated by the decision of North Ayrshire Council to remove the discount on Council Tax on second homes; and (ii) how many affordable homes will this provide each year?"
The Depute Leader of the Council responded in the following terms:-
"This information has been made available to members in the past. The information is detailed and in the public domain.
By reducing the discount on second and long term empty properties from 50% to 10%, indications were given that this could generate around £570,000 per annum. However, as explained previously, the position will become clearer from the collection levels during 2005/06 and this will inform the spending plans for the future.
The decision to reduce the level of discount was taken to make a positive impact on the Local Housing Strategy, the benefits of this being planned during 2005/06 and implemented in 2006/07. The number of affordable homes is yet to be determined but again, as explained, the additional income collected will be retained locally and routed through registered Social Landlords for the provision of new build and affordable social housing and other related projects to meet local determined priorities in accordance with the North Ayrshire wide local housing strategy. More precise information will be provided to Members in due course".
(c) a question by Councillor Wilkinson to the Leader of the Council in the following terms:-
"What support, financial and in-kind, has the Council given to date to promote the concept of a hub port at Hunterston?"
The Depute Leader of the Council responded in the following terms:-
"North Ayrshire Council has made contributions amounting to £85,388 to the Container Hub Developments. The money was broken down into 3 tranches and on each occasion, the matter was referred to the appropriate meeting of the Corporate Services Committee for endorsement. The reasons for the Council becoming involved in the project were also agreed at the Council Meeting immediately prior to this process beginning. There have been regular reports back to North Ayrshire Council on the progress of the project and the 2005 progress report will take place prior to the summer recess.
As a supplementary question, Councillor Wilkinson asked what benefit has been received to date and what benefit do you see for the future.
The Depute Leader of the Council responded that the support given to the concept of a hub port at Hunterston is likely to be a long-term investment. It had already been referred to in his Leader's Report which included a reference to a meeting held with the Depute First Minister on possible employment initiatives in this area in the future.
In terms of Standing Order No. 14, submitted a Motion by Councillor Currie and seconded by Councillor Wilkinson in the following terms:-
"There is an unresolved shortage of teachers in Arran High School which is affecting pupils sitting senior grade exams at present and which is undermining the Council's recently published policy document on Standards and Quality in Education.
Accepting that there is a national shortage of qualified teachers in Scotland I wish to propose that Council put in place an incentive measure or measures to attract sufficient teaching staff to maintain the standard of Arran High School. This might be a payment to re-locate to the island and/or assistance in acquiring housing so that pupils on Arran are not disadvantaged in their education compared with their peers in mainland North Ayrshire."
As an amendment, Councillor McNamara, seconded by Councillor Taylor, moved that:-
"No action is taken at this time but that the teacher staffing position is kept under careful review.
There is clearly a shortage of teaching staff not only in North Ayrshire, but, throughout Scotland. The view of the Scottish Executive is that this is a temporary problem, which will disappear when the record number of teachers currently in training come on stream.
The Scottish Executive have also introduced a one-off enhancement of £6,000 which will be paid to probationary teachers if they agree to allow the Scottish Executive to allocate them to a school rather than going to a school of their choice.
The Education Department is in discussion with the Scottish Executive to ensure that the £6,000 enhancement will result in probationary teachers of the relevant subjects being allocated to Arran High School next year. I can assure Councillor Currie that we are taking all steps available to us and that we will come forward with further proposals in the next few months, if this should prove necessary.
To summarise, I share Councillor Currie's concern to maintain full staff in Arran High School and indeed all North Ayrshire Schools. I believe, however, that the introduction of a new system of incentives at this stage would be premature".
On a division, there voted for the amendment 17, and for the motion 9, and the amendment was declared carried.
Accordingly, the Council agreed that no action is taken at this time, but that the teacher staffing position on Arran is kept under careful review.
10. Elections: Appointment of Returning Officer
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on the appointment of a Returning Officer for the purposes of all relevant elections held within North Ayrshire.
The Council agreed to appoint the Chief Executive as Returning Officer for all relevant elections held within North Ayrshire.
11. Designated Polling Places
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on the designation of Polling Places within the Constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran and that part of the Constituency of Central Ayrshire which lies within the boundaries of North Ayrshire Council.
The Council agreed to approve the use of the Polling Places as set out in the appendices to the report.
12. Appointments to Committees and Sub Committees
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on proposals to alter the membership of the Licensing and Planning Sub Committees of the Corporate Services Committee.
The Council agreed that (a) Councillor Gordon Clarkson replace Councillor John Reid as a member of the Licensing Sub Committee; and (b) Councillor John Reid replace Councillor Gordon Clarkson as a member of the Planning Sub Committee.
13. Appointments to Outside Bodies
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on proposed appointments to the Board of Ayrshire and Arran NHS and to the interim Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Partnership.
The Council agreed to (a) re-nominate Councillor O'Neill to serve as a non-executive Board Member of Ayrshire and Arran NHS; and (b) nominate Councillor Barr and the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) to represent the Council on the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Partnership.
14. Urgent Items
The Provost agreed that the following item of business be considered as a matter of urgency, as it required a decision of the Council to hold a Special Meeting.
15. Boundary Commission Review
The Council agreed to hold a Special Meeting on 26 April 2005 at 1.00 p.m., immediately prior to the normal meeting of the Council, to consider the Council's response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland's review of ward boundaries.