Mike Barnacle is standing for re-election in 2017 at the PKC Local Elections. Read on to learn what he will do if re-elected for another term.
- 1 May 2017 elections subject topics
- 2 Unfinished business
- 3 Referendums
- 4 Kinross-shire’s identity
- 5 Bloom committees and Kinross-Shire Civic Trust.
- 6 Footpaths
- 7 Perth & Kinross Council’s revenue budgets
- 8 Public transport
- 9 Improvements in education facilities
- 10 Recycling
- 11 Deposit return scheme on Bottles
- 12 National Parks
- 13 Rural crime
- 14 Agriculture
- 15 Roads
- 16 School transport
- 17 Forward planning
- 18 Issues not resolved from 2012
- 19 Blaringone war memorial
- 20 Rumbling Bridge
- 21 The Crook Moss Gypsy Traveller site
- 22 In Drum
- 23 Kinross Town Hall
- 24 Boreland Farm Steading development
- 25 Maryburgh Road
- 26 Portmoak schools 20s plenty
- 27 Wester Balgedie Farm Steading
- 28 Planning failures
- 29 Open spaces and parks
- 30 All about Mike
- 31 Summary of Letter to Kevin Stewart MSP
- 32 Making Plans for the Future
- 33 People Make the System Work
- 34 Building More Homes & Delivering Infrastructure
- 35 Stronger Leadership and Smarter Resourcing
- 36 Closing Words
May 2017 elections subject topics
- Restoring landscape designations for Cleish Hills and River Devon Gorge around Rumbling Bridge.
- Securing Regional Park status for the Ochil Hills
- Delivering agreed capital improvements for the A977 between Blairingone and Turfhills after a successful and long funding campaign.
- Ensuring the B9097 action plan is improved and delivered between the Crook of Devon and the Fife boundary near Westfield.
- Improving on the proposed pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures for Easter Balgedie, Kinnesswood and Scotlandwell.
- Improving Kinross high street’s regeneration scheme and restoring a pedestrian crossing (requested back in 20 January 2016),exploring economic and tourism initiatives to enhance our county town and Loch Leven’s surroundings for residents and visitors.
- Ensure that PKC’s local development plan two progresses as far as possible in accordance with the majority of the community’s views; especially following further consultation on development zoning proposals in Fossoway; enhancing the policy protection of Loch Leven’s catchment and reviewing policies in relation to Gypsy/Traveller sites
- Promotion and protection of trees which cut pollution by enhancing our areas biodiversity.
- Maintaining my commitment to argue for a Kinross-Shire area committee of PKC with significant devolved power in planning and other matters or to ensure that the Action Partnerships become Ward based with greater funding to tackle local issues.
- Continuing to argue for improvements to our current “failed” planning process and the “democratic” deficit inherent within it.
This is a local election. Mike’s views on Scotland’s future vis-a-vis the UK and Britain’s future vis-a-vis Europe are on his website. He doesn’t think we need any more referendums on constitutional matters for the foreseeable future believing they are a “blunt tool” for such major changes, are socially divisive and the losing side don’t accept the outcome.
He thinks that both the Scottish and UK governments should currently focus on the crisis in health and social care and would favour an increase in base rate tax if the revenue was ring fenced for that purpose and an all-party commission set up to study its feasibility and how it should be implemented.
Border signage, that he helped establish, should be enhanced and expanded. Mike was also involved in successfully campaigning for the maintenance of Kinross’s identity as a Council ward, with four councillors and has made representations on the proposed review for the UK Parliament constituency.
Bloom committees and Kinross-Shire Civic Trust.
Support for local groups and praise the KCT’s 25 years of action since 1991 in seeking to protect Kinross-Shire from inappropriate development; including the ‘best kept village’ competition, originally established by Kinross County Council in 1966 and still going strong under KCT’s control.
Mike has been involved in footpath initiatives across the County since he was first elected. He currently serves as community representative for Kinross-Shire on the Council’s Outdoor Access Forum and was also opposition Councillor on the Council’s Countryside Trust during the last council term.
Mike is keen to see the establishment of more paths groups that report to community councils on progress made and funding given to improve the pathway network in the countryside. This is especially important in Fossoway just now with money available to the Council for work with the community on improving access to Rumbling Bridge Gorge following the approval of a new hydroelectric scheme, which Mike supported.
The Loch Leven Heritage Trail completed back in 2014 is a major success for the county, although more cooperation between adjacent landowners RSPB, SNH and PKC on its management going forward is needed.
Perth & Kinross Council’s revenue budgets
The Councils debate on these budgets is one of the worst examples of political theatre farce. During the last Council term it has been the practice for three budget proposals from the opposition party groups to be set against one another with the one gaining the most votes then set against the SNP minority administration’s budget (that was then always carried).
Given the political arithmetic the independent group did not add to this confusion by setting its own budget. We engaged with council officers in deciding savings proposals that are acceptable to us and what new proposals we would like to see introduced before attempting dialogue with the other party groups. Unfortunately, there has been an almost complete failure of the opposition groups to work together, despite our best efforts, with the Tory group being particularly culpable in failing to lead although being the largest group.
Despite this and an unprecedented 9 year Council Tax freeze dictated by the Scottish Government we have still managed to get some of our ideas across to influence the final budget. For example, in February this year we eventually supported the SNP budget because of their acceptance of our representations to provide more funding for the Action Partnerships, footpaths, playparks, the road network and lastly improved contact time in primary schools for music and PE.
We have also been trying to change the whole approach to deciding the budget process, firmly believing that a 45 minute recess on budget day to examine the competing merits of four budget proposals for resources approaching £325 million isn’t a smart way to make decisions!
We have argued for proposals to be circulated allowing at least a weeks examination and negotiation to achieve greater political consensus and a better outcome for constituents. This is the practice in some Councils but has been ruled out by the SNP in Perth.
Despite increasing local authority subsidies to private bus operatives since deregulation our local bus services continue to be reduced, rural transport links are a continuing issue.
Whilst in a perfect world, I’m in favour of restoring a rail link to Kinross, it doesn’t feature in any of the Scottish government plans for the foreseeable future. In these circumstances, it is vital that our Park-and-Ride facility is fully serviced by the intercity bus operators as part of any future subsidy arrangements and the cross county bus services are linked to their timetable.
I’ve spoken and written to PKC officers and MSPs about this. I have long advocated a circular service in Kinross-Shire linking the outer villages with Kinross and Milnathort and will continue to do so.
In the meantime, the demand response initiative has been a successful programme introduced in West Kinross-Shire (now extended to include Cleish and Blairadam following representation from local members), an ‘on demand’ transport service provided by four local taxi operators within a defined area and time period that does not follow a fixed route or timetable. This should be extended throughout the Shire and long term funding secured.
Meanwhile the Kinross-Shire Volunteer Group and Rural Outreach charity provide an excellent community backup, especially for the more elderly residents requiring transport for medical and other appointments, it is deserving of continued long term funding.
Improvements in education facilities
Since being elected, Mike has been involved in delivering improvements to our school estate and commends the excellent reports that many of our schools have received. Particularly worthy of note are Loch Leven Community Campus (issues continue around opening hours and charges for lets) and the new primary school currently being built for Kinross. There is a continuing need for improvements at Cleish Primary and Arngask Primary
He further notes that Blaringone primary school is included in a school estate transformation assessment program for 2017 with Cleish primary school in the next phase following that.
Mike, as a previous convener of the Environment Committee, oversaw the introduction of the “three bin system” to the majority of households and the roll-out of a number of recycling points such as the one at Crook village hall and near Arngask primary school. Scotlandwell now has a recycling point but there remain other communities that need this facility. Mike is currently working on new locations for Kinnesswood and Powmill.
There is also a need to extend our green waste service (even though it is not a statutory duty) to new developments such as Kellieside, but our recent budget proposal for it to be included in the 2017/8 budget was not supported by the SNP administration. If re-elected Mike will push for this service extension in 2018/9.
Deposit return scheme on Bottles
As a member of the Council for Rural Scotland, Mike was asked to get support in Perth & Kinross Council for the above campaign (have you got the bottle?). This campaign has the support of other Local Authorities. Mike attended a Parliamentary reception back in December 2016 at Holyrood where both the former and present SNP Environment Ministers expressed their support but so far he has been unable to persuade the SNP convenor of the environment committee at Perth & Kinross Council to even debate the issue, let alone offer support. Mike is pledged to continue the campaign if re-elected.
We currently have two national parks in Scotland and Mike was heavily involved in PARC’S ultimately successful campaign to extend the Cairngorms Park into Highland Perthshire, also working on influencing the positioning of the eastern border of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Park to include St Fillans.
Mike is a strong supporter of the ‘unfinished business’ campaign of APRS for more National Parks in Scotland, the Country of John Muirs birth, which has less parks than most other European countries. Only the SNP failed to back this campaign in the recent Scottish parliamentary elections.
Mike is unconvinced that the much heralded improvements forecast to come from the SNP’s amalgamation of the Regional Police forces have manifested themselves in our area. He hopes that the many organisational changes are now complete and progress can be made on local accountability. So far he has only seen fewer police and poorer communication at the local level.
Many of Kinross-shire’s farms specialise in Livestock and are predominately family concerns, with significant export trade. It is therefore essential that when Brexit happens, a good deal is secured for our agriculture. We need less red tape, a freer market and continuing subsidy support from the UK and/or the Scottish Government, the latter possibly receiving a greater devolved responsibility in this area.
Sewage sludge spread on farmland remains an issue and whilst unpleasant odours may be a feature of rural life, it can be excessive at times. A 2015 review suggested changes to legal responsibilities but this has not yet been implemented so currently PKC remain responsible where spreading has occurred, with SEPA responsible for storage issues. This division of responsibility does not assist in the good management of this issue. Mike will continue to press for the change to be made.
“Green routes “(cycling riding and walking friendly roads) were introduced in 2013 through Mike’s involvement with TACTRAN funding a pilot project.
They have proved popular and 12 routes in West Kinross-shire ward are now being augmented with routes in the Cleish, Milnathort and Glenfarg areas.
Green routes are the only way to achieve speed limits on such roads which wouldn’t normally qualify for speed restrictions. Under the green route scheme, limits between 20 and 40 mph are permissible. In addition, where communities wish it, these limits are also subject to the possibility of review. At Mike’s request, the limit for Naemoor road between the Crook and Rumbling Bridge is currently being reassessed.
New speed limits
Since the last election in 2012, Mike has been involved in pressing the roads department to introduce new limits to curb excessive speed of vehicles and improve residential amenity. 20 miles an hour speed limits have now been introduced for Glenlomond, Swansacre, Kinross town centre and Wester Balgedie; 30 miles an hour orders have been introduced for Balado village, Drum, Glen Devon, Glenlomond (outwith the 20mph), Hatchbank, Kinross, Maryburgh, Rumbling Bridge and Scotlandwell. 40 mile an hour speed limits have been introduced in Carnbo, Cleish ( outwith the 20mph), Gaineybank ( – reduced from 50mph) and parts of Kinross ( Turfhills and Link Road).
Improvements to roads and pavements, particularly the A911, A977 and the B9097
Local members get frequent requests for such improvements and meet PKC Road officers regularly to go through an ever increasing list of items and to monitor progress; this is particularly relevant to the A911 between Pittendreich and Auchmuirbridge, the A977 between Blaringone and Turfhills and the B9097 between Crook of Devon and the Fife boundary near Westfield. There are ongoing community consultations regarding speed mitigation measures for the A977, along with Rout Action Plans for the A911 and B9097 that require improvement.
There have been a lot of road surface improvements made to our areas roads this past year following pressure from all the local members and extra funding allocated through the budgetary process.
Mike is opposed to the current council policy of transporting primary school pupils on public service buses and believes that where transport is required it should be a dedicated school bus. If re-elected he will try to change this policy, which is a particular issue for the Portmoak primary school catchment.
Our current local development plan (LDP one) was adopted in February 2014 after a number of changes put forward by the local councillors working together. Noteworthy are:
- Removing contentious housing zone sites in the Crook of Devon at Naemoor road and removing H 46 (Kinross western edge)
- amending a policy to give further protection to former railway lines either for future restoration or for cycle/footpath usage.
- emphasising the need for major mitigation measures on the A977 (which carries the largest number of HGVs on any PKC authority road).
The plan also recognised overprovision of employment land that was not being brought into use and a new policy on airfields safeguarding of particular relevance to Balado and Portmoak.
Mike wasn’t happy at the loss of village settlement boundaries from 12 of our smaller settlements and increased housing density proposals; he thinks for developments in the rural areas our policy of protection is not robust enough to prevent expansion on settlement edges. He is also dismayed at the loss of landscape designation protection from the Cleish Hills and the River Devon Gorge. The loss of the Master plan concept for Powmill is also regretted, especially given all the work that was put in by the Fossoway Community Strategy Group over many years.
The main issues report for LDP two has subsequently been consulted upon and it is expected that the final LDP2 will be produced for consultation in the autumn of 2017. Although no additional housing supply land is currently required in Kinross-shire, housing sites in Blairingone, Crook of Devon and Lethangie were put forward for consideration. Mike feels that the Lethangie site, which is good quality agricultural land, should not be taken forward at this time.
The recent public consultation event in Fossoway (on 18 February) was called by the local independent councillors to assess support or otherwise for development zoning in the Crook of Devon, Blairingone and Rumbling Bridge because of perceived community benefits involved, the delay in the preparation of LDP2 facilitating same. The Forward Planning team at the Council are currently assessing feedback from this very well attended consultation and Mike’s pledge is to support the majority community view that emerges. This also applies to the consultation on the A977 mitigation measures currently being compiled for Perth & Kinross Road officers by Mike’s secretary.
One amendment introduced successfully by your local independent councillors is not included in the main issues report but is included in a report to accompany LDP2, this will examine Kinross-shire’s infrastructure and its ability to support the planned growth. It will pick up issues such as cemeteries, drainage health service, parking, public transport, recreational facilities, the road network and school capacity. Both LDP one and two are supposed to plan ahead as far as 2028 so they are important frameworks for the future.
Issues not resolved from 2012
Blaringone war memorial
There are differing views from stonemasons on whether it is possible to move it without damage but hopefully progress can be made in the near future
Conditions attached to the Braehead development have yet to be met and this continues to be a source of annoyance. Mike and local residents met in February with the council’s enforcement officer re the lack of progress.
The car park for gorge visitors and a completed footpath is still not finalised.
The Crook Moss Gypsy Traveller site
Approved by PKC development control committee against the wishes of local residents and Local members and contrary to the council’s landscape consultants advice (a fact not reported to the committee) has been occupied since March 2012 without adequate long-term drainage and sewage arrangements.
A ditch management scheme is still needed Mike has had exploratory meetings with Perth & Kinross Council, SEPA and some landowners to try and progress.
Kinross Town Hall
Is still subject to planning proposals which Mike hopes will end with a sympathetic conversion.
Boreland Farm Steading development
Is still incomplete, the Stone Steading, which was demolished without permission, remains unfinished. Adherence to the planning conditions which insisted on restoration are still the subject of enforcement action.
has seen a 30 mile per hour limit sign erected but it hasn’t yet been classified as a walking and cycling friendly road.
Portmoak schools 20s plenty
Should be part of a 20 mile per hour limit in the centre of Kinnesswood,it is hoped that progress will be made on this soon. The whole programme of implementing 20 mile per hour limits was put on hold for a policy review by the Council’s administration but this was recently completed. There are current consultations on parking restrictions on approaches to the school to assist bus and emergency services access; it has been suggested that a ‘pilot scheme’ to restrict access and a review of the operation of the one way system is undertaken.
Wester Balgedie Farm Steading
A Conversion in accordance with community wishes is still needed to reduce the current eyesore.
Both in the north and south of the Kinross-shire ward communities have been rightly incensed when decisions are made contrary to their wishes and often contrary to the views of local members and indeed Council policy. In two cases, at Blairadam and Glenfarg companies have been set up to try and secure village improvements after ‘bad’ planning decisions.
In Keltybridge the land adjacent to the village hall – which the community had aspirations for providing parking and visitor information, near the Tabernacle was granted permission for housing with both Mike and fellow Kinrosshire Independent Councillor Cuthbert being outvoted at the committee. This with the ink hardly dry on LDP one and planning assurances on changes to settlement boundaries proving utterly worthless.
In Glenfarg, the Local Review Body overturned the council officers advice on the Glenfarg Hotel change of use application; clearly contrary to the wishes of opposition local members and an opportunity was lost for a social hub. Other solutions I’m sure will be found but PKC planning procedures are not working to assist community aspirations. The loss of the Lomond Inn in
Kinnesswood to housing was also contrary to local members views and again they were outvoted at the committee meeting.
In England, planning policy mitigates against the loss of community services such as local hotels and Inns where there is a will by the community for their retention and we should be doing the same in Perth & Kinross Council.
Mike has long campaigned for an area planning committee for the Shire to address such ‘democratic deficits’ and will continue to do so if re-elected.
Open spaces and parks
Mike, as a previous convener of the environment committee, introduced the ‘Friends of Parks’ initiative resulting eventually in improvements now delivered at Kirkgate, Kinross. Our open spaces and parks are important recreational facilities and Mike will continue to work with communities to improve and preserve them. Waulkmill in the Crook of Devon is a good example of an improved facility but in sports terms it is underused and he would like to see a sports hub in Fossoway formed to promote awareness of the facilities that can be provided. Crook of Devon Village Hall committee have just been engaged in a consultation exercise on this issue. He notes that Powmill play area is in need of an upgrade. Meanwhile , in Glenfarg the Wallace Park development group needs continuing support.
All about Mike
Mike Barnacle has his roots in Staffordshire where his family own a hill farm and stone quarry on the edge of the Peak District. He has lived in Kinross-shire since 1980 running an accountancy and tax advice consultancy that continues. His interests include Gardening, Mountaineering, Football, Poetry and a love of folk music. His grown up son received an excellent education at Fossoway Primary and Kinross High.
Summary of Letter to Kevin Stewart MSP
The following is a summary of the letter written by Mike on 4 April 2017 in relation to the Government consultation on the planning process.
Making Plans for the Future
I agree with Proposals 1 – 3 with the caveat that the role of community councils within Community Planning is recognised and enhanced; similarly local knowledge from the community must feed into Regional Partnerships.
I am against the removal of supplementary guidance suggested in Proposal 4 and think the proposed ‘gatecheck’ needs further examination.
As regards Proposal 5, Planning Permission in Principle would only work if Local Plans were more specific on housing numbers for zoned sites and not merely ‘indicative’, whatever that means, as currently interpreted by Perth and Kinross planners. Otherwise, the system is open to abuse and mockery.
People Make the System Work
I agree with Proposals 6 & 7. Proposal 8 refers to improving public trust and I strongly support the introduction of higher planning fees as a deterrence to retrospective applications. I thought the ‘neighbour notification’ process coming under local authority responsibility would improve matters but the reverse seems the case, I also regard the strict Scottish Government guideline of 20 metres from a planning site for ‘notification’ as ‘totally inadequate’. It is also imperative that outline consents that set important conditions (ie protection of trees or height/size of buildings) are followed through to Full Consent stage and not discounted.
Proposal 9 refers to rights of appeal for applicants; however, the lack of reference to a 3rd party right of appeal on major applications is to be regretted since there currently is not ‘a level playing field’ in the planning process and a definite ‘democratic deficit’.
Building More Homes & Delivering Infrastructure
I agree Proposals 10, 12, 14 & 15. As regards Proposal 11 it would be essential that a duty is placed on key infrastructure providers to co-operate with the planning authority.
For Proposal 13 to work properly, more clarity is needed on the variety and scope of infrastructure that can be considered and insisted upon.
Stronger Leadership and Smarter Resourcing
I agree Proposals 16 – 20 but in relation to Proposal 18, more emphasis needs to be placed on customer feedback of their experience of the planning system.
Mike Barnacle works hard for the Fossoway Community, representing residents at the Council in Perth and engaging with the community to get people’s opinions on important issues. Give him your vote on 4th May 2017.