Thornhill drones, ownership of Mosset Park and future leadership of Forres Community Council (FCC) were on the agenda at the Tolbooth last month.
A busy public gallery and Moray councillors Anne Skene and Lorna Creswell joined in discussions of local issues and welcomed a presentation from Forres Community Leisure (FCL) about proposals for a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of Common Good land at Bogton.
There were apologies from community councillors Heather Shaw, Keir Hardie and Ken Shand who were unable to attend.
Community warden Dave Haytack investigated the legality of drone use following a question from councillor Mike Walker during October’s FCC meeting.
Cllr Walker said: “I had received complaints from residents in Thornhill about a drone being flown in close proximity to their houses.
“They were concerned at the low height and whether the drone was filming them.”
Mr Haytack submitted his reply: “All model aircraft are subject to the same legislation as covers all flying, namely the Air Navigation Order.
“Drones cannot be flown just anywhere and users must abide by the legislation.
“Persons are leaving themselves liable to be prosecuted if they don’t abide by the rules.
“Professional operators must be licensed by the CAA and have appropriate permissions in place.
“Responsible hobby users have insurance in place through the British Model Flying Association or the Scottish Aeromodellers Association.
“If you think there has been a breach of legislation this can be reported to the Police who can take action.”
Interim FCC chairman and Drumduan resident John Guthrie added: “I heard my neighbour flying one this morning!”
FCL chairman Don Wright presented the company’s plans for a CAT of Mosset Park and neighbouring Common Good land.
He said: “We want to purpose-manage the land and advance its development while broadening the availability and providing security of tenure of Mosset Park.
“Ultimately, we want to create a community-owned facility.”
Mr Wright explained that Forres Mechanics had agreed to give their assets (walls and stand at Mosset Park) to FCL to manage, and the company will talk to community and sports groups in Forres to see what land to the east of the ground could be used for.
He said: “If the land remains under Moray Council control, nothing will happen and they can sell it to a developer if they want in future.
“A CAT would open up grant funding opportunities and possible development for the community.
“Examples could be an improved Mosset Park, an all-weather sports pitch, running track and a cycling or walking hub.”
FCL are working with Moray Council’s community development officer towards a formal CAT application in February.
“The company will take over the assets, become the factor and run the facility,” added Mr Wright.
“If FCL fell over (folded) the assets would go back to the Crown.”
Councillor Shaun Moat added: “It’s a great idea. We need a solution for the Cans as every two years they have the lease of Mosset Park from the local authority hanging over them.
“The plans offer a chance at increased participation in local sport.”
The meeting discussed the local authority’s administration of local Common Good assets.
Previous FCC chairman Stewart Noble sent a letter inviting Moray Council chief executive Roddy Burns to attend to explain it.
“Stewart didn’t make amendments to the letter that we requested,” claimed cllr Guthrie.
“We’re trying to find out why the admin’ charges were higher than previous years.”
“The letter should not have been sent,” added councillor Chas Rodgers. “Four of us voted against it being sent!”
“The letter is in the public domain now,” said FCC secretary Eleanor Hayward. “We apologise for what it said about the previous FCC.”
Moray councillor Anne Skene told the meeting that an estimated 75% of councillors plan to cease working for the local authority next year.
She said: “We have a group planning for an easy transition to the next council but it’s a huge learning curve which takes months of training to understand how the machine works.
“Moray Council is in dire financial straits so there is a lot of work to be done.”
Cllr Skene also pointed out that local leisure facilities could be under threat.
“A leisure project board is looking into it,” she said.
“All council leisure facilities are subsidised which is no longer sustainable, however, we are gathering data for its future management.”
FCC decided to hold off discussions about a new chairman, following Stewart Noble’s resignation, until the next meeting.
“There is limited attendance here tonight,” pointed out councillor Graham Hilditch.
“I suggest we raise the issue next month instead with cllr Guthrie carrying on in the meantime.”
The public are invited to the next meeting of Forres Community Council at the Tolbooth on Thursday, December 15 at 7.15pm.