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Castle Grounds Regeneration

We are very pleased with the progress being made with the project – the lantern on top of the Boatman’s Tower now has a roof, and the new bastion wall already extends to 20 metres, having only been commenced on Monday! Thanks to everyone working so hard to make this project a success, and restoring the Castle Grounds to their former glory.

Report on the Trust Meeting of August 26th, 2019

The following is a summary of the discussion which took place during the August meeting of the Stornoway Trust.

Trustees joined in paying tribute to the late Fiona Cowan, who passed away on 21st August. Ms Cowan had been a member of the Trust from 2006, until 2012, the first woman to be elected, and contributed much during her term of office. She continued to be a supportive friend of the Trust after her period of trusteeship had concluded, until ill health sadly prevented her from visiting the Estate Office.

The Factor was asked to convey the condolences of trustees and staff to her family at this difficult time.

LWP Report

The LWP report, presented by David Morrison, provided an update on a number of issues, including:

  • Most of the consultation responses have been received and there will be some follow-up meetings;
  • Preparations are underway for the 19a Land Court hearing, scheduled to begin on 22 October.
  • EDF attended a meeting in Stornoway on 25 July of the proposed consortium to examine the feasibility of local hydrogen production.

Mr Morrison reported that the timetable for the CfD auction has been extended by approximately two weeks but this is not expected to delay the announcement.

Goathill Farm

Trustees noted that the process of conveying ownership of the strip of ground back to the Trust is progressing with HHP’s Solicitors now involved in the matter.

Golf Club Lease

The Chairman, having previously shared with Trustees an email from the Club Captain informing him that a Solicitor’s letter, outlining the Club’s response to the draft lease, had been sent to the Estate Office, informed the meeting that the said correspondence had not been forthcoming.

Trustees expressed their dissatisfaction over the Club’s handling of the matter and further discussed reports of adverse and ill-informed comments on social media.  Perceived to have emanated from sources within the Club, and regarded to be attempts to discredit the Trust, Trustees asked that such behaviour be monitored and appropriate action taken to address such posts if required.

Point & Sandwick Development Trust (PSDT)Joint Interim Project

Trustees noted that a meeting between the respective Trust members is still to be arranged and decided that the balance of this year’s fund, amounting to £15k, should be rolled over into next year.

HIE (Creed Park) and Arnish

Trustees noted that the finalisation of the lease arrangements for the new tenants at Creed Park is in hand.

Trustees then discussed the lack of progress on the Arnish lease and expressed frustration at the continued lack of movement on this matter.

Melbost & Branahuie Crofters v HIAL

Trustees noted that while this matter is still progressing via the Court of Session, it is understood that parties are in discussion towards reaching a more amicable settlement.

In the meantime, the Factor is in correspondence with interested parties with regard to the vacant shares which have largely occurred on account of croft land being subsequently removed from crofting tenure as a result of the MOD occupation of the affected crofts.

Monthly Progress on Parks for People Project – Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration

  1. Trustees noted the report prepared by the Project Officer. Ms Bagrie updated the Trustees on progress with the Woodlands Decking. A price is awaited by the contractor for treated timber for the wooden joists and they hope to be able to confirm cost and timetable later in the week. Although this has caused a delay the effect should be minimal.
  2. The Chair stated that the Project Board had requested that financial summaries were to be presented to every Board meeting in order to keep members abreast of ongoing project costs.
  3. Trustees noted that Ms Riona McMorrow of the Heritage Fund will be here in early September and that the project monitor will be visiting the site later in the month.

Trustees discussed the ongoing issues with the Castle Green. The Factor explained that it was now clear that there were a number of old drains discharging into the Green, including ones believed to be from the Seaforth Lodge era. The proposed Bastion Wall drainage should solve some of this problem but further work will be required to capture all newly-exposed outlets from the Castle.

Whilst he shared the Trustees frustration he advised that the critical issue now was to ensure that a solution was found.

Scottish Water – Back Tolsta Water Main

Trustees were pleased to note that Scottish Water have resolved the outstanding issues with the tenants and are now in a position progress the notification and consents process with the Trust.

50b Applications

Trustees noted that the Trust’s Solicitors have sought to recoup, at the Trust’s behest, the legal expenses incurred at the recent Land Court Hearings.  Given that Appeals lodged to the Court challenging the Crofting Commission decision to refuse the four 50B Applications, submitted on behalf of the four crofting townships, were deemed to be against the best interests of the wider crofting community, the Trust felt it necessary to participate in the support of the Commission’s findings.

Trustees were disappointed to learn that the Land Court’s decision in support of the Commission refusals is likely to be further challenged on behalf of the Applicants in the Court of Session.  Of concern to the Trustees is their apparent determination to incur significant costs at the community’s expense, on a mission which, should they succeed, endangers the future development of additional wind generation across the Stornoway Trust Estate, and thereby exposing the Trust’s own community equity aspirations to unwarranted risk.

Water Extraction Project:  Loch Mor a Chrotaich, Arnish Moor

Trustees noted that the first extraction of water from the loch has been transported to the mainland for canning.  The company is now progressing a marketing exercise to help establish the product, which will hopefully determine its commercial viability.

Aquatera Ltd

Trustees reviewed a notification of revision received from Aquatera together with the Factor’s response to the original notification.

Cuddy Point

Trustees noted that now that the holiday period is over, a further meeting, which will hopefully allow participation with a wider users group, is to be convened

Community Land Week

The Factor updated Trustees on the events organised for Community Land Week.  The meeting with the Grazing Committees had been well attended and the discussions had been productive. Those attending were supportive of additional meetings being held over the winter months.

REPORTS

Renewables

i) OFGEM Consultation Response: Transmission link to Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Trustees noted a copy of a letter submitted on the Trust’s behalf by the Factor in response to the consultation by OFGEM on SHEPD’s DSO recommendation.

ii) Community Windfarm ConsortiumThe Factor informed Trustees that the scheduled meeting had been postponed and that he would update Trustees of progress once the rescheduled meeting had taken place.

General Estate Matter

Salt Barn

The Factor informed Trustees now that key members of staff in the Engineering Section of CnES had returned to work he expected the matter to progress.

Litter in the Castle Grounds

Trustees were aware that several complaints have been received from the public in regards to the Trust’s decision not to replace the litter and dog bins from the Castle Grounds.  Trustees were pleased to note that, in fact, there was support for the initiative of taking personal responsibility, with reports of people helping to collect litter on a voluntary basis, as well as positive comments.

They did not wish to change the decision but wished to ensure that the phased withdrawal of the bins was implemented properly.  They also highlighted that the planned education initiative needed to be accelerated.  To this end they instructed that staff should monitor continued litter collection and provision of bins throughout the Grounds.

Nursery Report

Trustees noted a report prepared by Jonathan Torrance, Nursery Supervisor. The main points were:

  • Changes in personnel, with the appointment of Jack and David as Head Gardener and Gardener, respectively; they are based at the Nursery, which has been a great way of enhancing communication between nursery and grounds staff.
  • The shared vision for the nursery is as a community resource, as well as a commercial venture.
  • The Nursery has been supplying the Woodlands Centre with plants, such as basil and samphire, for use in their kitchen.
  • The public engagement day was a huge success, and the Nursery Supervisor and team found the level of interest to be a great encouragement.

Gardener’s Report

Trustees noted reports for July and August prepared by Jack Pocock, Head Gardener. The main points were:

  • The garden team has been clearing salmonberry from the core area; it’s hoped that the cleared areas can be replanted in spring and that any subsequent regrowth can be spot-treated with herbicide.
  • It is planned to use a lot of mulch – of which there is a plentiful supply to hand in the Castle Grounds.
  • Most grassy areas are going to be cut repeatedly this season in order to tidy them up – eg in front of the Matheson monument, Cuddy Point.
  • Currently, the emphasis is on clearing and maintenance, with most planting being held off until the spring. Some planters have been placed strategically in order to provide a splash of colour in the meantime.
  • Planned areas include: rockery, stumpery, fuchsia collection, sedum bed, pinery, poppy bed.
  • Jack is awaiting a response from the College on training.

Woodlands Centre

Trustees noted that Craig Morgan, Manager, is leaving his post after nearly 13 years at the Woodlands Centre.  He started work as a Saturday boy, earning promotion over the years to eventually becoming Manager.  We wish him well on his move to the mainland.

Subgroups

Enterprise

Trustees noted that two meetings of the Enterprise Subgroup had taken place: on 25 June and 18 July 2019, for which minutes had previously been circulated.

Archive

Trustees noted that the Archive Subgroup met on 27 June 2019 and that a number of action points arising therefrom are being processed by the Group.

APPLICATIONS FOR TITLE IN TERMS OF THE CROFTING REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010

Trustees noted that four applications for decrofting in order to take Title, in terms of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, have been submitted.

APPLICATIONS FOR ASSIGNATION OF A CROFT TENANCY

Trustees supported six applications to assign the tenancy of a croft.

Trustees noted that the Crofting Commission had approved nine applications to assign tenancy of a croft.

NOTIFICATION OF APPLICATIONS FOR TENANCY BY EXECUTRIES TO CROFTING COMMISSION

Trustees noted that two notifications had been received.

APPLICATION TO SUBLET TENANCY OF CROFT

Trustees approved one application to sublet tenancy.

Trustees noted that four applications to sublet tenancy of croft have been granted by the Crofting Commission.

Trustees noted that the Crofting Commission has refused one application to sublet tenancy.

APPLICATIONS FOR FEUS/ TRANSFER OF TENANCIES OF ALLOTMENTS/AMENITY GROUND

Trustees discussed three cases.

APPLICATIONS FOR USE OF LEWS CASTLE POLICIES

None

Applications for Homologation

Trustees approved one request.

NOTIFICATIONS OF CROFT REGISTRATION

Trustees noted that intimations have been received confirming that ten tenants have applied to register the crofts listed on the Crofting Register held by the Register of Scotland.

APPLICATION FOR A WAYLEAVE

Trustees homologated the Factor’s action in approving four wayleaves.

CORRESPONDENCE

There were five items of correspondence requiring the trustees’ attention.

PLANS SUBMITTED

Trustees noted that five notices have been served on the Trust in terms of local planning legislation.

DOCUMENTS FOR SIGNATURE

Trustees were invited to homologatethe signature of nine documents.

Governance

Trustees agreed it appropriate to review governance procedures of the Trust in order, where necessary, to enable the Trust to effectively fulfil its varied responsibilities in a manner compatible with present day good governance standards.  To commence the process, it was agreed that a meeting be convened to allow consideration of the appropriateness of the long established Standing Orders, to determine the present day capacity and relevance of the provisions therein.

 

Open Day at the Nursery

WELCOME, LIAPNI LUDZAM, DOBRO POZALOVAT, AHLAN WA SAHLAN, VELCOMMEN, BIENVENUE, DOBRODOSLI, BRUKHIM HABOIM, SVAGAT, FUNYIHNG

Friday 27th September at 12 noon

FAILTE!

The Stornoway Trust would like to extend an invitation to all to our open day at the Nursery, located in the Castle Grounds.

We are pleased to welcome Citizens Advice and Hebridean Housing Partnership representatives to the Nursery on the day who will be available for a chat.

Channelling our common interest in growing thriving plants, we seek to encourage and facilitate community spirit and social inclusion for all across our diverse cultural population.

Please come along between 12 noon and 3pm on Friday 27th September and hear our hopes and plans for the future.  

For additional information please contact the Estate Office on Tel. 702002 

An Evening of Storytelling – International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission (IJM) is the largest anti-slavery organisation in the world – working to protect the world’s poorest from violence. Back in 2017 we ran an event called ‘Just Ride’ – where a team of cyclists cycled the Hebridean Way (185 miles in 3 days) fundraising for our work – they raised over £15,000 (enough to fund three entire rescue operations of people from slavery!). Due to its success, we are running the event again this year! From 14th-16th September a team of 12 of us will be cycling from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis, and to celebrate, we are having an event at the Woodlands Centre Café to finish!
We are holding an ‘Evening of Storytelling’, on Monday 16th September, 19:30-21:00. The evening will be very relaxed, with light refreshments and stories from International Justice Mission (IJM) from the frontline of the fight against modern slavery, from the ‘Just Ride’ cyclists and an open mic for any attendees who want to share local stories.
Tickets are free, but for numbers we would appreciate people registering via Eventbrite.

Progress with Castle Grounds Regeneration Project

We thought that those of you who haven’t been to the Castle Grounds lately might be interested to see the fantastic progress that is being made with the £5million Regeneration Project that is currently ongoing.

These are some general views of the core project area, where paths have been reinstated; a shot of the Coat of Arms on the Porter’s Lodge, which is undergoing restoration; a picture of the rediscovered sundial plinth in the private gardens, and a view of the lantern on top of the Boatman’s Tower.

COMMUNITY LAND WEEK (10 – 18TH AUGUST)

As part of Community Land Week (10th 18th August 2019), the Trust is organising the following:
Lews Castle Grounds, Plant Nursery Open Day, Thurs 15th August: 10am – 3pm
All are welcome to visit the Castle Grounds plant nursery located beside the Sawmill (use Marybank entrance or walk up behind the College) between 10am and 3pm. Tea and coffee provided. Take a tour around the nursery with our new Gardens Team to see what is being grown for the Castle Grounds and Woodlands Cafe, including the many trees and shrubs required for the Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration project.
Lews Castle Grounds, Castle Grounds Regeneration Project Walking Tour, Fri 16th August: 1pm in the Castle Carpark
If you are interested in a close up view of some of the works taking place as part of the Castle Grounds Regeneration project, a walking tour will be taking place this Friday with the Project Officer starting at 1pm. Please RSVP to Jo Bagrie on jo.bagrie@stornowaytrust.org.uk or 702 002. Tea and coffee provided afterwards at the Woodlands Café.

Employment Opportunity

 

Manager the Woodlands Café 

An opportunity has arisen for a catering manager at the popular Woodlands Centre Café, in the Castle Grounds.

The successful applicant will be expected to manage the day to day activities of this busy café.  Duties will include managing staff; ordering daily supplies; preparing food and supervising the kitchen.  The café is open Monday to Saturday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Full details may be obtained from the Stornoway Trust Estate Office, Perceval Square, Stornoway HS1 2DD.  Tel 702002.

If you are interested, please send your CV to the Estate Office by 20 August, by post, in person or by email to: enquiries@stornowaytrust.org.uk

 

 

Castle Green – Drainage Issues

As the public is probably aware, some issues came to light during HebCelt, emanating, we believe, from historic Castle and Seaforth Lodge drainage systems. It is unfortunate, given that time and money had been spent on installing new drainage, and on reseeding works. The situation will now be reviewed in order to establish the level of remedial work required in order to address the problems which have arisen.

The Trust and HebCelt apologise for any inconvenience caused in the interim and hope, in the long-term, that the Castle Green will be a much improved community space.

PRESS RELEASE: Scottish Land Court Rejects Appeals of Four Townships

The attempt by four crofting townships – Aignish, Melbost and Branahuie, Samdwick and Sandwick East Street and Sandwickhill North Street – to appeal, in the Scottish Land Court, the Crofting Commission’s decision to refuse their Section 50B applications, has been rejected. The Stornoway Trust consider that another key milestone, albeit an unnecessary one, has been passed with this decision in the community landlord’s favour.

The Trust is relieved that the decisions of both the Scottish Land Court and the Crofting Commission clearly recognise the importance of what the Trust is seeking to achieve in the wider interest of the community, despite the manner in which the obstructive actions of those few townships attempted to put that at risk for all.

The Trust has maintained from the outset that development of the type proposed by the townships was incapable of meeting the legislative requirements clearly spelt out in the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 and was disappointed to find that some crofters were persuaded otherwise. Of equal concern to the Trust was that, by their actions, the townships were actually undermining the case for the interconnector cable upon which any development – including their own project – would also depend.

This fact was, however, not lost on the Commission, which stated that the townships’ proposals were to the detriment of the landlord, a view upheld by the Land Court, which, in recognising that the landlord is the community in this case, stated that “the 50B schemes are not just potentially detrimental to the Trust’s plans, they are potentially fatal.”

Trust Chairman, Norman A. Maciver stated that the Trust was pleased with the findings of both the Commission and Land Court.

“I wish to express the Trust’s appreciation for the legal assistance ably provided by Anderson Macarthur and Advocate BJ Gill, to help the Trust defend the actions raised by the townships. This has been an expensive process we have had to pursue to protect the best interests of not only the other ten townships but those who seem to have unwittingly signed up to the derailing attempts of those leading the actions.”

While the Court is still to rule on how the expenses for the hearing will be met, the Trust is conscious of ongoing attempts by the same townships to prevent the Court approval of the Stornoway Wind Farm Section 19a application.

Trust Factor Iain M. Maciver stated that the hearings, scheduled for late October, will hopefully determine the fairness of what the Trust has negotiated on behalf of the crofting interest, with some of the townships standing to receive in excess of £200, 000 per annum should the Scheme be approved.

“With the Land Court judgements now known on both the Druim Leathann Scheme at Tolsta and these 50B Appeals, I would hope that the objectors reflect on their position, as continuing on their current path could have serious financial consequences, both for the crofters and the community, whether they win or lose their case.”

 

Meeting Report – June 24th 2019

The Stornoway Trust met on 24th June 2019, and items under discussion – in addition to those already reported – were:

Stornoway Golf Club

There has been no contact from the Club, and the lease has still not been signed.

HIE (Arnish)

Trustees noted their disappointment that the HIE Board has still not responded to repeated requests to finalise the lease review.

Back – Tolsta Water Main

Agreement has been reached between Scottish Water and the crofters affected, and so the work can proceed.

Water Extraction Project

Trustees noted that revisions to the draft lease agreement with Larkfire are nearing completion and will be presented to the Enterprise Subgroup for information and comment, if required.

Cuddy Point

The Factor reported that he had held an initial meeting with some parties who regularly access the facilities at Cuddy Point, but it was agreed that a further meeting was necessary to ensure that all stakeholders could be represented on the proposed new users’ group.

Marauding Deer

The Factor informed Trustees that Beat holders have been invited to meet with him to discuss their progress and consider how the growing problem of deer, ravens, geese and rats throughout the Estate can be addressed and the part they may be able to play in support of the Trust’s objectives.

Community Windfarm Consortium

Trustees noted that Community Energy Scotland had written to Grazings Clerks and Community Councils inviting those who wish to participate in the Consortium to form membership groups which can progress to obtain equity stakes in the project.

Trustees also noted that the tenant of the neighbouring Arnish Moor Windfarm is liaising with the project consultant over wind data information and their requirement for wind impact assessment work required to establish if the proposed layout will have a detrimental impact on the site.

Salt Barn

Trustees noted that discussions are taking place between CnES and John Maciver and Son.

Mountain Bike Trail Extension

The Factor informed Trustees that the young people involved had identified a possible route which, although more challenging than the existing provision, seemed capable of being constructed in a safe manner. Trustees granted their approval on the understanding that the group would take responsibility for its construction.

Special Meeting

The following actions were agreed at a Special Meeting of Trustees held on 18th June 2019. The minute of the meeting will be submitted to the next special meeting.

  1. Trustees to meet to consider amendments to the Standing Orders of the Trust deemed necessary to better address present day requirements practices
  2. Trustees to endorse the Trust policy on PVG compliance.
  3. Trustees to be updated on staff appraisal progression.
  4. Arrangements for Trustee Governance training to be addressed to provide evidence of good governance compliance and capacity building by the Trust.

Archive Subgroup

Trustees noted that the Archive Subgroup has started work and will report progress to the next Trustees’ meeting.

The Stornoway Trust– Investment Portfolio

Trustees noted the update from Barclay’s Wealth Management, and the note of the meeting with the Factor on Wednesday 12 June 2019 and letter dated 17 June 2019 ).

Trustees agreed that the four Subgroup Chairs should become signatories for the Barclays Wealth Management Accounts.

River Creed SSE Substation

The Factor brought to the Trustees’ attention a peat disposal issue that has arisen affecting the development work being undertaken by SSE to install a new substation, adjacent to their existing facility, opposite the Arnish Road junction.

Having agreed terms for land acquisition and the temporary use of laydown and landscaping areas as well as the relocation of the grazings tenant of the affected park, SEPA had subsequently objected to the peat disposal plans. Instead they required them to remove the peat off-site for it to be used for moorland restoration purposes.

Trustees determined to further assist SSE by leasing an area between the Lochside Arena site and the newly created grazings park, which would benefit from moorland restoration, to SSE as a site for the deposition of the excavated peat. The lease will run until the Trust is satisfied that the heather/sward. regeneration has been established to a satisfactory condition.

APPLICATIONS FOR TITLE IN TERMS OF THE CROFTING REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010

Three items of business.

APPLICATIONS FOR ASSIGNATION OF A CROFT TENANCY

Ten applications, including one notification from the Crofting Commission, and one application by executries to the Crofting Commission.

APPLICATION TO SUBLET TENANCY OF CROFT

Trustees received one notification from the Crofting Commission.

APPLICATION TO DIVIDE CROFT TENANCY

Trustees received one notification from the Crofting Commission.

APPLICATIONS FOR APPORTIONMENT OF COMMON PASTURE

There was one application, approved by Trustees for submission to the Crofting Commission.

APPLICATIONS FOR FEUS

There was one application.

APPLICATIONS FOR USE OF LEWS CASTLE POLICIES

There were three applications, all approved.

NOTIFICATIONS OF CROFT REGISTRATION

There were six notifications.

Grazings Regulations

Trustees approved the draft Grazings Regulations prepared by the Newvalley, Guershader and Laxdale Lane Grazings Committee, with the Crofting Commission’s approval.

Vacant Shares at Melbost/Branahuie

Trustees noted that three parties have expressed an interest in obtaining shares which over time have fallen vacant in the Melbost & Branahuie Grazings.

The Factor explained that the shares became vacant as a consequence of the crofts being decrofted, and the share renounced by the respective tenants. At the request of the Grazings Committee, it was decided that the shares remain unallocated, but held collectively, until such time as their use was required. Trustees therefore decided that no decision should be made until the view of the current Grazings Committee had been ascertained, and the legal status of the shares had been established.

Scottish Civic Trust

Trustees agreed in principle to the request from Dr Susan O’Connor, Director from Scottish Civic Trust, to place a high quality sculpture, that will be created as part of a LEADER sponsored project, in a suitable location within the Estate.

Areas of Land at Stornoway Airport

The Factor informed Trustees that following the Land Court judgement on the status and area of HIAL owned land at Stornoway Airport the North Street Grazings Committee had written requesting that the Trust now confirm that two parcels of land taken from their grazings, which was reconveyed to the Trust in 2000, have reverted back to form part of their common grazings under crofting tenure.

Trustees accepted the Factor’s recommendation that a decision on the matter should be held in abeyance until the Court of Session judgement on HIAL’s appeal against the Land Court decision is determined.

Plans Submitted

Trustees noted that four notices had been served on the Trust in terms of local planning legislation.

Documents for Signature

There were eight documents requiring signature, or homologation of signature.