ST. MONANS AND ABERCROMBIE COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Minute of the ordinary general meeting held in the Church Hall, Station Road on Monday 15th May 2023 at 7.30 pm
Vicki Salvage (Chair), Marjory Ashworth (Vice Chair), Billy Morris (Treasurer), Diane Martin (Minute Secretary), Mervyn Blank, Richard Croker, David Robertson, Morven Syme, Niamh Syme, Councillor Sean Dillon, Councillor Alycia Hayes, PC Rob Cook, PC Rob Wallace
Apologies: Eileen Montador, Councillor Fiona Corps, Norman Cowie
Members of the public: >30
Welcome and apologies
V Salvage welcomed everyone, made the necessary introductions and outlined the formalities for the meeting. She thanked everyone for their attendance.
Apologies were received from Eileen Montador, Cllr Fiona Corps and Norman Cowie who has now retired from The St Monans Group ENeRGI.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
- Future of St Monans Auld Kirk
Three visiting speakers were in attendance to discuss the future of the Auld Kirk:
• Rev. David Clark – a member of St Monans Church, also involved with Fife Presbytery
• Deborah Kent – Fife Historic Buildings Trust
• Bill Porteous
Mr Clark was first to address the meeting, explaining the hierarchy within the Church of Scotland and highlighting the relatively recent reduction in minister numbers, church attendance, membership, and associated church income. The church in St Monans has not been ‘self-sufficient’ in terms of being able to finance its own minister. Business decisions within the Church of Scotland have resulted in the closure of many churches throughout Scotland and, in early May, the General Trustees in Edinburgh made the decision to sell the Auld Kirk.
The people of St Monans could now have the opportunity to work together to create and show a working plan for a community purpose for the Auld Kirk, which could then lead to the purchase of the Kirk. (It has already been decided that St Monans Auld Kirk will no longer be a Church of Scotland Church.) However, this will require finance and people with the appropriate skills, vision and strategy. The General Trustees in Edinburgh have expertise to assist with the process of a ‘community buy-out’. If this does not take place, then the Auld Kirk will be placed on the open market and sold to the highest bidder.
Ms Kent explained the role that Fife Historic Buildings Trust (FHBT) could play in providing support should the community take steps to purchase the Auld Kirk. This Trust is a small charity, independent of Fife Council, and they work on a project-by-project basis. They have been in existence since 1997 and have been involved in many restoration projects throughout Fife.
The Trust were approached last year by Rev. Donald McEwan, former minister of St Monans, who formed a working group with clergy and others to look into the historically important churches in Fife which are for sale. Rev. McEwan approached the Trust to see what assistance could be provided, and the FHBT then applied for funding from the Architectural Heritage fund to allow them to work with communities to provide support at this time. The group led by Rev. McEwan is reporting to the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland in June to provide them with recommendations for the 7 A-listed buildings under consideration. One of these buildings is St Monans Auld Kirk. Once the few churches have been selected, FHBT will work with them during the summer and autumn to establish a potential plan including a viable way forward with financial modelling, maintenance and identified income, etc.
Mr Porteous advised that there is no mention of church buildings in the Mission statement of the Church of Scotland. However, when reviewing the previous St Monans Community Action Plan document, there were 9 references to the Auld Kirk, highlighting its importance at local level. It would be a huge loss if it were not retained for the community. He recommended that a future meeting be held to discuss the feasibility of keeping the church within the community.
Vicki Salvage thanked the speakers for their contributions. She advised members of the public that, if they would like to be kept informed of further meetings to discuss the future of the Auld Kirk, they should leave their contact details after the meeting.
There then followed a Q&A session with several members of the public and Community Council members providing their views and asking various questions including:
• If sold, what will happen to the cemetery? (owned and maintained by Fife Council)
• Where will people now get christened/married?
• Would Edinburgh provide a minister for such events? (no)
• Who will be valuing the property?
• Feasibility study required – look at providing facilities and maintenance.
• Which of the 7 A-listed churches have been selected?
• When will the Trustees provide a value for the Auld Kirk so a business plan can be generated?
• Suggestion that another meeting is held to discuss.
• Attendance at tonight’s meeting shows the level of community interest in this building.
• Why does Edinburgh need to know our business plan for the church? (response by D Kent)
• Possible uses for the church: weddings, concerts, multi-function space with flexible furniture etc.
• Purchase is possible, but how do you finance running costs?
• Could we look at self-funding e.g., use of wind turbine?
• Lottery funding/grants available?
• Concerns re the convenience of the location of the church?
• Look at Aurrie in Lower Largo – café/event space/birthdays/games nights etc.
• Business plan needs multi-purpose use/furniture/volunteers/raise money from sale of pews?
• If purchase of the church, would the hall still be required? (yes)
• Are there any templates/General Trustee staff that we can contact for advice to assist with the process?
Vicki Salvage advised that a follow up meeting would be held in two weeks (Monday 29th May 2023 at 7.30 pm in the Church Hall, Station Road)
At this point members of the public, who were present specifically regarding the Auld Kirk, left the meeting.
- Police Report
• 40 calls received in April – 3 crimes including theft of motorbikes, a disturbance in Gourley Crescent and the theft of medication.
• 3 speed checks resulting in 12 warnings and 1 fixed penalty notice.
• Slow down sign at Netherton doesn’t work.
• Concerns regarding the change from 60 to 30 mph as drivers enter the village. Cllr Hayes to look into a more gradual reduction in speed here.
• Concerns around the traffic at school/Hope Place – suggest one-way system to avoid congestion at library?
• Issue of dangerous corner at Abercrombie – possible erection of mirror as we wait for speed warning lights? (residents would need to erect this)
- Previous Minutes and Matters Arising
Item 3 – Cllr Hayes is still awaiting a response regarding the replacement for the felled tree.
Item 4 – R Croker sourced approximate costs for insurance (£5000) and electricity (£2000 – £3000) for the Auld Kirk.
Item 4 – the discussion regarding a proposed St Monans information leaflet will be carried forward to the next meeting. CC members to come to the next meeting with suggested content for such a leaflet.
Item 9 – Cllr Hayes confirmed that disabled parking bays cannot be assigned to one individual but are there for any disabled driver.
An apology was extended to a member of the public due to their name being mentioned in the previous minutes.
The previous minutes were proposed by Morven Syme and seconded by Marjory Ashworth.
- CC Member queries not covered elsewhere
• Footprint East Neuk – The CC are keen to work with this group and would appreciate their attendance at a future meeting; an invitation has been sent to the Footprint East Neuk group.
• St Monans Sea Queen Day & Sunday – V Salvage provided details about the young people participating. M Syme will speak to P6 pupils regarding outfits etc. The event will be held on the Mair and not at the harbour area. This is due to the complex process of obtaining permission from the Council for road closures. The Sea Queen service will be held on the bridge over the burn at the church, finishing with a brunch in the Town Hall. There will be a ceilidh on the Saturday evening in the Town Hall. Tickets (£15/adult & £10/child) must be purchased in advance. Tickets include stovies and oatcakes.
• Abercrombie traffic issues – speed warning lights out of stock and no word of when they will be supplied. Cllr Hayes will enquire about the expected supply date.
- Chair’s Report
a) Coronation Weekend Celebrations – Congratulations and thanks were extended to all who were involved in the very successful Church Coronation Afternoon Tea and the CC Coronation Family Party. The Afternoon Tea raised £300. Half will be given to the church and the other half will be donated to one of the King’s charities. Coronation mugs were issued to pupils in the school who sent hand-made thank you cards to the CC. (A photo of the cards will be added to the St Monans (Community) facebook page; no names will be visible.)
b) Community Council Postal Elections – this will be discussed at a future meeting. Fife Council supply the forms for the people who wish to stand for election. The council will issue news bulletins and updates to advertise this process. Most CCs also take steps to advertise the elections. To be considered for election, people must be on the electoral role before the 10th July 2023.
c) CC Secretary Vacancy – there is still a vacancy for this position.
d) Gourlay Crescent Meeting – attendance disappointing due to invite issues. The overall impression is that there is some improvement following the provision of 4 skips. Residents still feel more needs to be done.
- Treasurer’s Report
• Heritage Collection fund – £186.16 paid to Scottish Water. Still need to be registered as a charity and Fife Voluntary Action can assist here.
• Floral Fund – the issues with signatories have now been resolved and we are now registered for digital banking. £5000 has gone through for the floral account which can be used to pay for invoices from 4.4.23 (i.e., not last year’s bills)
• Two cheques were paid from the incorrect account, and this has now been resolved.
- Members’ Reports
• M Ashworth Beach Clean – this will be held on Sunday 21st May from 11-2pm. Posters advertising the event were issued for erection around the village. Skips and other necessary equipment have all been organised.
• M Syme Planning Report – one planning application for a conservatory at the front of Stenton Farmhouse.
- Councillors’ Reports
Cllr Fiona Corps (in absentia)
V Salvage read out Cllr Corps report concerning work being carried out on the Participation Request process, and information regarding funding for Warm Spaces in NE Fife.
Cllr Alycia Hayes
• Update provided on the changes to Primary School leaders. Nicola Wallace will now be the Head Teacher for Pittenweem and Crail. The joint Head Teacher post for St Monans, Elie & Earlsferry and Colinsburgh will be advertised this week. The Anstruther post is already advertised.
• Ken Gourley will be the next CEO for Fife Council.
• There is to be a 5% increase in the cost of burials and cremations.
• Concerns about mould/damp in homes should be referred to a new dedicated fast response team at Fife Council.
• Common Good Fund – Cllr Hayes met with the Head of Finance who will look into the difficulties faced when applying for money from this fund.
• Bankhead Collections – Cllr Hayes visited this and identified our 3 chairs. There are over 110,000 items being stored under ‘ideal’ conditions in a warehouse in Glenrothes. Cllr Hayes is going to pursue the return of items to villages.
Cllr Sean Dillon
• Hope Place – kerb stone – more works required.
- Public Questions
• Issues with grass cutting/strimming/no care and unfinished work. Grass cuttings not collected. (Cllr Dillon advised that grass cutting to take place this week following end of daffodils)
• Path beside manse to main road still not open.
• Pathway facing new homes in poor condition.
• Lack of weeding in area – NO MOW MAY (for wildlife/environment)
• Mattress at East Street carpark requires removal (Cllr Dillon to follow up here)
• Bill Porteous for his wife – Do we want ‘Beautiful St Monans’ to continue into 23/24? This item to be discussed at next meeting.
- Date and time of next meetings
V Salvage thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting after giving the dates of the next two meetings.
- Monday 29th May 2023 at 7.30 pm – to discuss proposals re Auld Kirk.
- Monday 19th June 2023 at 7.30 pm – next ordinary general meeting of the CC.