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October 23rd 2008 Minutes

Johnstone Community Council

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Johnstone Community Council held on Thursday 23rd October 2008 at 6.30pm in Cochrane Castle Community Hall.


Robert Campbell, David Higginson, John Waters, Dennis Lavery, Hugh Thomson, Elizabeth Cosgrove, Isabella Wishart, Valerie Reilly, Chris Gilmour, George Kennedy and David Ewan Finlay.

Also in attendance:-

Councillors Iain McMillan, John Hood, Bruce McFee, Neil Bibby and John Caldwell.

1. Apologies

Wilma Dean, Stewart Clark, James Moorhead and Councillors Tracy McGee and David Arthur.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved, proposed by Chris Gilmour and seconded by David Higginson.

3. Matters Arising

3.1. It has been ascertained that an AGM is not required at this time and so will be scheduled for October 2009.

There was a short discussion over a meeting schedule, and the fact that no rooms were available in Johnstone Town Hall for the next few months.

It was therefore agreed that meetings would be held at 6.30pm on the last Thursday of every month (with the exception of December and July), and that for the next few months they would continue to be held in Cochrane Castle Community Hall.

3.2. It was reported that George Kennedy has received the laptop computer and printer. It will be available, for Johnstone Community Council (hereafter JCC) business only, to other CCr’s on request. Such use will be recorded in a logbook.

3.3. A representative to the LAC was required.

It was agreed that Chris Gilmour would be the JCC representative to the Local Area Committee and that Dennis Lavery would act as substitute when required.

3.4. The Remembrance Day Parade will take place on Sunday 9th November. Hugh Thomson and Chris Gilmour volunteered to represent the JCC. Other members were invited to attend if available.

3.5 and 3.6. George Kennedy gave a short report on his walk-around the town centre with Councillors and officials. Various matters were discussed including routine maintenance, painting, summer bedding, the cobbles, pigeon control, tree replacement and signage.

Since this meeting Renfrewshire Council (hereafter RC) has undertaken some jet washing of Houston Square and other areas, work on the pigeon-proofing of roosts in the Somerfield arcade, and has given a timescale for the replacement of the signboard. JCC recorded its thanks to RC officers for these actions.

JCC has also received a letter from Cllr McMillan reporting ongoing work on dog bins.

Chris Gilmour commented that these were huge issues and that a good start had been made in addressing them.

Cllr McFee reported that Environmental Officers with enhanced powers would begin work next month.

It was agreed that the Environmental Officers would be invited to future meetings.

3.7.George Kennedy reported on the Scottish Government consultation meeting held in Greenock. This had not been particularly productive with very few CCr’s attending and little discussion of the way forward. George Kennedy had pointed out that the Government should be supporting small businesses as these were what brought people into town centres instead of going to out-of-town malls. Town centres need to be safe and clean, and services should befit them.

3.8. No letters have yet been written to schools to invite young representatives to JCC. George Kennedy said that letters would go out now that meeting times and dates had been agreed.

Chris Gilmour commented that it was important to get young people involved with the community and proposed that a sub-committee be formed to look at youth issues.

It was agreed that George Kennedy and Hugh Thomson would be the initial members of the sub-committee.

4. Johnstone Town Centre Youth Project

Hugh Thomson gave a short report on progress with this project.

5. Condition of Old Buildings

John Waters put forward the view that old buildings in the town centre should be demolished as they are unsightly and often dangerous.

Cllr McFee stated that most of the buildings in question are in private ownership which limits what RC can do about them, although there are powers of enforcement in cases of dangerous buildings. The current financial climate also affects what will be done even in cases where planning applications have been approved.

Cllr McFee suggested inviting an official from the Planning Department to a future meeting to talk about plans for the town centre which have not yet gone to public consultation, although some money has been earmarked.

The discussion moved on to traffic problems in the town centre and around the Morrison’s supermarket.

It was agreed that George Kennedy would write to invite representatives from both the Planning and Roads departments, and that a meeting would be devoted to this single issue.

It was further agreed that a sub-committee would be set up to discuss the roads and traffic problems prior to meeting with the Roads department.

6. Drop-off point at Fordbank School.

John Waters reported that since the opening of the new school the turning area in Ness Avenue was now being used by parents to drop children off at what is essentially a secondary entrance, the main gate being in Ettrick Avenue. This is preventing residents from getting out of their own street. He also commented on litter being left in the underpass by Johnstone High pupils.

Cllr McMillan reported on discussions with the school and police on measures to reinforce the message to parents that the Ettrick entrance should be used. Unfortunately, as Ness Ave is a public road, it limits what the Council can do without major intervention in the form of Traffic Orders. He said he will take up the litter issue with the road sweepers for the area.

(At this point Cllr McMillan had to leave the meeting for another engagement)

It was agreed that the Community Police Officer for the Fordbank School area would be invited to a future meeting.

Cllr McFee advised that the police operate a system of “standing complaint” and that if an issue is registered as such, it has to be checked once every shift.

John Waters complained that there was not enough police presence outwith the town centre area and that the Neighbourhood Wardens do not have the powers to enforce anything. There followed a long and forceful discussion of these issues.

Chris Gilmour concluded that JCC would work through the points raised, and had already agreed to invite the relevant officials to meetings in order that these views can be put to them.

7. Traffic Calming Hagg Crescent/Bevan Grove

It was agreed that this issue would be added to our discussions with the Roads department.

8. Roads, Pavements and Underpasses.

Mention was made of the state of roads in some of the schemes, particularly in Howwood Road and Cochrane Castle.

On the general subject Cllr McFee suggested that JCC should make prioritised lists of areas for larger spends on the roads.

9. Association of Scottish Community Councils

There was some discussion as to whether it would be worthwhile attending the meeting on 22nd November.

It was agreed that we would assess the minutes of the 2008 meeting before deciding whether to attend in 2009.

10. Renfrewshire Community Council Forum

Two representatives were required for the RCCF meeting on 10th November. Ewan Finlay and Hugh Thomson volunteered to attend.

11. AOCB

11.1. The issue of public toilets in Johnstone was brought forward. Since RC closed the old public toilets at the back of Houston Square as no longer fit for purpose, there has been a “Comfort Scheme” involving the use of toilets in various establishments. Speakers pointed out that using toilets in cafes was not popular and that the Town Hall toilets were not always available. The point was also made that there was a lack of signage to tell members of the public where toilets could be located.

Cllr McFee commented that the Comfort Scheme would soon be up for review, and that it would be useful for JCC to document the problems that were being encountered.

George Kennedy stated that he felt the problems were urgent and that he would seek a meeting with RCllrs and officials as soon as possible to discuss the present facilities.

11.2. Margaret Lavery from Quarrelton Area Tenants and Residents Association asked if JCC would be reviewing planning applications? She was assured that they would come to JCC as a matter of course, and that they would be distributed to all JCC members.

Cllr McFee suggested that as JCC meeting were monthly, whilst planning application lists came out monthly, JCC should consider appointing a planning spokesperson to be responsible for reviewing the lists and ensure that nothing was missed, as well as checking on applications that were delegated to officials to decide.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 8.30pm.

The next meeting will be held at Cochrane Castle Community Hall on Thursday 27th November 2008.

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