Fears over future of council
A Sutherland community council faces winding up unless enough people come forward to stand at its next election in November.
Creich Community Council represents people living within the communities of Bonar Bridge, Invershin, Rosehall and Spinningdale.
But there are fears it could fail to function due to a lack of interest.
In an open letter to all residents within its area, chairman Pete Campbell says the council is "in danger of collapsing through lack of support."
He wrote: "That stems from two sources – from a reluctance of volunteer effort within our own community, as well as from a contemptuous lack of interest and a reduction in financial support of greater than 50 per cent from Highland Council."
He said that Highland Council had axed £100,000 from supporting community councils which was "emasculating" them.
"Every three years, elections are held to appoint new members. The next scheduled election is this coming November. There are eight spaces on the community council and, for it to be effective, it should really have most of those filled," he said.
"At the moment there are likely to be, at most, four of the existing members standing for re-election. We badly need more local residents to help. If we want an improved community we must have a viable community council capable of representing community interests and effectively lobbying for Highland Council support. Without more people, it is highly likely that Creich Community Council will cease to exist in its present form after November this year.
"The council is the democratic link between our community and Highland Council as well as with the police, fire service and other government agencies; it’s the body which is responsible for the disbursement of local wind farm community benefit funds; it’s represented on the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust; it liaises with neighbouring community councils; and is an essential negotiator in securing future wind farm community benefit payments from proposed new developments.
"Of course there are difficulties – a chronic shortage of funding from Highland Council being the most important, a general lack of enthusiasm within the community for most things political and a misguided belief that 'someone will eventually deal with it'.
"I’m afraid those days are over because, if we want it done nowadays, we have to do it ourselves."