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Caithness News Bulletins June 2005

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The Highland Council has made a short and long term commitment to fostering community projects.  It is to allocate £900,000 over the next two years to deal with the backlog of replacing play equipment and upgrading surfaces in Council-owned play areas as well as providing matching capital funding for appropriate community play and skateboard projects.  It is also to spend £150,000 annually to support the maintenance and ongoing costs of community projects, supplementing existing Council funding streams, and to examine how best to provide insurance cover for community projects, which are supported or endorsed by the Council.

Highland Councillors sent out a very clear message today (Thursday) that they will strongly oppose consideration of any site in Highland for a national nuclear waste repository.  They were responding to a report by John Rennilson, Director of Planning and Development, advising them of recent developments regarding radioactive waste management.  Mr Rennilson reported that, in response to a Freedom of Information request, UK Nirex Ltd had confirmed recently that their short-list of sites for a deep radioactive waste repository compiled in the 1980s had included Dounreay and Altnabreac in Caithness. This site selection exercise was subsequently abandoned in 1997.

New Microlight Flying Record - John O'Groats To Land's End And Back
Mark Jackson and Chris Copple, two flying instructors from Manchester set a new record on Tuesday by flying from John O'Groats to Lands End and back again in the same day, the first to achieve such a journey by Microlight.

NHS Highland is being commended - in a national report published on 9 June 2005 - for its work in involving staff, patients, carers and the public in decisions about the future of healthcare in the Highlands.

The Highland Council has made it clear that it will not entertain plans to scrap toxic "ghost ships" from America at the disused oil fabrication yard at Nigg, East Ross.  Convener Alison Magee said the Council could not possibly support the breaking up four decaying and ageing ships at the prime location in the Highlands.  She said: "The Highlands is renowned for its clean image and wonderful environment. Breaking up rusting and toxic ships from the United States is not compatible with our aspirations for the Highland - nor our expectations for the reactivation of the Nigg oil yard."

The Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Alison Magee, has made it clear that in reviewing pre-school education, the Council intends to continue the very successful development of nursery classes and playgroups across the Highlands.  She said: “This is one of the most important services the Council provides for its communities and I have asked for a full report on nursery and playgroup provision to come to the Council in the autumn. We will then ask our Area Committees to take the matter forward.”  Councillor Magee was speaking ahead of a briefing of all councillors on Friday on the Council’s Early Years Review and in the wake of concerns in some areas of the Highlands, notably Caithness, about future provision.  She gave an assurance that, other than in very exceptional circumstances outwith the control of the Council, such as the unit failing to meet health and safety or other standards, the current network of pre-school provision in Highland, involving 150 nursery classes and 100 playgroups, will operate at the current level of service following the summer holiday break in August.

Inverness Economic Expansion Set To Continue

A new community, serving a population of 10,000-plus, should be created on the A 96 Inverness ~ Nairn road at Dalcross South - between Tornagrain and Drumine Farm, near Gollanfield - to meet the long term needs of the growing Inverness city region.
This is the main recommendation of the first phase of the A 96 Corridor Masterplan, which will be considered on Monday 6 June by members of The Highland Council's City of Inverness and Area Committee and the Nairnshire Area Committee at a joint briefing in the Town House, Inverness, by consultants FG Burnett and Council planning officials.
The Masterplan, which sets out a long-term sustainable vision for the A 96 Corridor between Inverness and Nairn, earmarks 250 hectares of land in the ownership of Moray Estates on the south side of the main road as a new settlement which could be created to meet housing needs after 2011.

Volunteers Week Gets Going In Caithness
Volunteers week got off to a nice start yesterday with the help of local young people. The development officer for Volunteering Highland, Catherine Patterson, organised for Wicks Riverside path to be upgraded with the help of young volunteers and the support of Mr Hargrave and Mr Guest of the Highland Council.  The path had been identified as in need of upgrading as it becomes waterlogged and extremely muddy in places. The group managed to fill in the potholes and tidy it up as much as possible before the weather took a turn for the worse.  The Path is extremely popular with local walkers and many made comments in support of the work being done, especially as the group consisted of mainly young people.  Ms Patterson wishes to thank the volunteers for all their hard work and also wishes to thank the Council for providing materials, equipment and ongoing support. She is keen to include projects in other areas within Caithness therefore communities should come forward with suggestions of projects to be considered in the future.

Dr Eric Baijal, the Director of Public Health for NHS Highland, is disappointed that the widow, whose husband died of lung cancer, has lost her landmark court battle against the cigarette giant Imperial Tobacco.  He thinks it is interesting that it comes on World No Tobacco Day but hopes that it will wake people up to the fact that smoking kills you.  Dr Baijal said, "Smoking is far more than just unpleasant. It is time people woke up to the facts - about 500 Highlanders die early every year from smoking. In the US, Big Tobacco have all but admitted the effects of smoking, but quibble over the detail and who is responsible."  "All credit to ASH Scotland, Mrs McTear and her Legal Team who have followed this case through at great cost to themselves."
"It is really time to stop pussy-footing about.  It is very simple - if you smoke you'll shorten your own life. The same will happen if you inhale the smoke of others."

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