August 27th 2009 Minutes

Johnstone Community Council

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Johnstone Community Council held on Thursday 27th August 2009 at 6.30pm in Johnstone Town Hall.

Present

Robert Campbell, Stewart Clark, Elizabeth Cosgrove, Chris Gilmour, David Higginson, Pamela Higginson, George Kennedy, Dennis Lavery, Ian McNaught, Valerie Reilly, Hugh Thomson and Isabella Wishart.

Also in attendance:-

Councillors David Arthur, Neil Bibby, John Hood, Bruce McFee, Tracie McGee and Iain McMillan.

Environmental Wardens Alistair Brewer and Robert Brown.

Seventeen members of the public.

1. Apologies Wilma Dean, Ewan Finlay, Gladys Marchbank and Rosalyn Gilmour. Councillors John Caldwell and Tracie McGee apologised in advance for possible late arrival at the meeting.

2. Minutes

Councillor McFee asked that the figure mentioned in relation to rebuilding Johnstone pool be amended. It should read £10 million not £31 million.

With this amendment the minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

Proposed by David Higginson

Seconded by Isabella Wishart

3. Presentation by Environmental Wardens Service

The two wardens present gave a short presentation, reporting that the service was continuing to patrol all areas of Renfrewshire issuing fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling. They are now additionally beginning to take on smoking offences. They were pleased to note that compliance was increasing in the face of the fines system. About a quarter of the wardens have now been trained in the regulations with regard to trade waste offences and can tackle these – all wardens will eventually get this training under a rolling programme.

The body cams that have been issued have proved very useful both as protection for the wardens and also as evidence in proving offences. The town centre radio system in Johnstone is also of great benefit.

The wardens dealt with questions from the floor regarding used needles at The Oaks complex and bins left out on MacDowall Street.

It was agreed that representatives from the Warden Service be asked to come back in about three months to give an update.

At this point the wardens left the meeting but left behind a box of leaflets about their services and contact numbers.

4. Proposals re. Johnstone Swimming Pool.

Chris Gilmour introduced this subject by saying that the Community Council had not yet had the chance to form a collective view on this subject and that a canvass of opinions would be required. But in light of a busy agenda, and the public meeting due to be held on 31/08/09, it was not intended to spend too long on the subject at this meeting

Clr McF gave a resume of the Council’s proposals for the changes in pool provision and how this would impact on Johnstone town centre. CG asked each CC to spend up to 1 minute to give an indication of their views. Various points including restricted hours, impact on the town centre economy, lack of transport links to the new sites, fears of senior citizens at night and reduction of facilities for children to learn to swim were raised and at the end a vote indicated an almost unanimous opposition to the council plans (11 votes) with one abstention.

Clr McMillan spoke about the overwhelming public opinion against the decision to close the pool.

CG opened the meeting to a short session of questions from the floor.

5. Matters Arising

5.1 Sub-group reports

Roads

Dennis Lavery reported on recent work done in the area including the resurfacing of sections of Graham Street and Park Road.

However, there were still areas of the town centre requiring attention as well as a number of footpaths.

It was further reported that there had been assurances that work on the Town centre car park and Somerfield Arcade drainage would take place in October. Additionally, Rosemount would be improving paintwork and lights in the Arcade with a possibility that Christmas lights would also be a feature.

New signage is to be instituted at the Church Street/Quarry Street junction and that the Quarry Street/William Street will also be looked at.

A question was asked about the digging up of brand new pavements by the utility companies. Clr McFee stated that the Council have no control over this, but is in a position to enforce proper restitution if this is not completed satisfactorily.

Another question related to the confusion of a new place in Johnstone which is similar to, but not related to, another Johnstone existing place name. Clr McM agreed to investigate this.

Band Stand and War Memorial

George Kennedy flagged this as a ‘Good news’ story. CG Thanked Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government. About £250,000 has been secured for improvement works in Johnstone town centre. Special mention was made of Ruth Cooper for her part in securing these funds.

Work will be done on the band stand – including a new PA system and variable screens to protect performers from the weather – and new Christmas lights will be installed this year. There may also be some improvements for Collier Street. A meeting is to take place with the project leader on 1st September to look at priorities for spending the funds.

For the future we need to look at a general refurbishment of both squares and attention to the War Memorial.

Playparks

Work is well in hand, with the assistance of Andy Summers of Environmental Services on preparing a bid for funding for Shanks Park.

Spateston TRA has gone ahead with work on a bid of its own for Spateston.

The Tannahill area has got no further forward with their problem. Clr Tracie McGee stated that she was still negotiating on this and would report back.

5.2 Town Centre Walkabout progress report.

GK and Robert Campbell have recently had the opportunity to show Russell McCutcheon, a new member of the ES management team, around Johnstone and point out some of the issues.

It was reported that no rats have been seen recently in Ludovic Square.

5.3 Johnstone Town Centre Youth Projects

GK reported that the Centre Youth Club is going from strength to strength with up to 36 attendees between the ages of 10 and 16.

GK asked for approval to seek funding for a parallel club for 5-9 year olds to run on an experimental basis from October to March.

GK noted that he had been very disappointed when the football had been pulled from Houston Square without notice but with thanks to Renfrewshire Council the mobile pitches will be back in Johnstone for three nights a week – Thursday to Saturday – from October 1st. One of those nights will always be in the town centre, but the other two nights will see it will go to a variety of locations and these can be dictated by hot spots for trouble. This is part of a pattern of diversionary tactics that are estimated to reduce youth crime in the area by about 10%.

The Morrison’s bag pack raised £620 which was spent over the school holiday period to provide an extra midweek night (Wednesday) for the Centre Youth Club. Thanks go to Wean’s World who provided about half of the bag-packers on the day.

5.4 Graffiti cleaning.

Responsibility for this transferred from Housing to Environmental Services. New manager Russell McCutcheon has been briefed on the problems in Johnstone. It was agreed that this item could now be removed from the regular agenda for CC meetings and would only be raised when necessary.

6. Planning report.

Ewan Finlay is currently on holiday, but has kept in touch. One issue raised is a current application for 4 units (2 retail, 1 restaurant and 1 hot food) on the small triangular car park next to Morrison’s car park in Collier Street. Questions were raised on why this should be allowed when there were already a number of units standing empty in the town centre and why not all those in the properties immediately adjacent had been notified.

Clr McF expressed the opinion that this was a big application which would have to go to the board rather than being dealt with only by planning officials.

Clr Hood stated that this development was probably part of the entire Morrison’s scheme.

It was asked whether anything was happening with the empty Woolworths unit. It was reported that there may be two shop chains (Ethel Watson and Au Naturale) interesting in sharing the premises.

Clr McF reported that the current owners of Patons Mill have now gone into administration, leaving Renfrewshire Council unable to recoup the £30,000 spent on security.

The Council is seeking to interest the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (prime movers in the refurbishment of Anchor Mill in Paisley) to undertake a feasibility study.

There is no progress over the case of the Bird in the Hand site.

7. Treasurer’s Report

DH reported that the previous balance had been £5646.55, and that after receiving the income from the bag pack event and with expenditure over the summer, the current balance stood at £4732.92.

GK gave a short explanation of the spend in relation to Wean’s World and Music in the Square.

8. Secretary’s Report

GK intimated that an invitation had been received to attend an event in Glasgow with the First Minister

An invitation had also been received to a dinner to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Johnstone Band. CG and GK to attend.

A copy of ‘The Community Councillor’, the journal of the Association of Scottish Community Councils had been received.

GK reported having received the Paisley Vision Summer Newsletter and asked whether this had been widely distributed in Johnstone. Only a few of those present reported having received a copy.

The CC stall at the St Vincent’s Hospice fete raised £194 which was donated to hospice funds. Thanks were due to four members of the Youth Club who helped for the whole event.

Summer Music in Houston Square has been well received and, as a result, has been extended until the end of September. It is hoped to do another series of Saturdays in the weeks preceding Christmas and the Silver Band have already been booked for 12th December.

Discussion of the consultation process for the Review of the Scheme for Community Councils, which is likely to take up to a year, will be postponed until the September meeting.

9. AOCB

DL raised the matter of the huge ‘wall’ of recycling material building up in the yard in Floors Street. Not only is this unsightly for local residents and those passing through Johnstone by train, it raises health and Safety concerns. Should the company be storing this under cover and would the people of Johnstone be in danger from smoke and noxious fumes if the pile were to catch fire.

Clr McM reported that he had written to Council officials and had been told that they could do nothing as this was on private land. He had written again to pursue the matter further.

Clr McF was of the opinion that the company may be in breach of their SEPA licence in regards to turnover and may also be breaching planning consent for the site. He agreed to take the matter further.

There was a question regarding recycling bins in William Street not being emptied for several weeks. Clr McF stated that there had been a number of failures of the pull-out service and that he would take it up.

Ian McNaught commented on how the Music in the Square was gaining momentum and suggested that the CC should look into booking Johnstone Town Hall for an open mic night.

A member of the public asked why there had been no advert in the Gazette advising people of the meeting about the pool closures to be held on 31st August. Clr McF reported that a press release had been sent to all the local press, but that the Council had no control over whether they used the information.

At this point the members of the public present thanked the chair of the CC for running the meeting and, in turn, CG thanked those present for their participation.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 8.50pm.

The next meeting will be held at Johnstone Town Hall on Thursday 24th September 2009 at 6.30pm.


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