V Salvage (Acting Chair): S Bridges (Secretary): W Morris (Treasurer): M Ashworth: H Ironside: B Buchan: V Bland: Cllr Docherty and Cllr Holt
Apologies: Cllr Porteous, M Syme, S Collier and N Cowie.
Members of the public: 29
1. Welcome and apologies
No declarations of interest were noted at the beginning of the meeting and the Secretary confirmed the meeting was quorate.
2. Election of a new member to the St Monans & Abercrombie Community Council
Mrs Salvage noted that there were two candidates for the vacancy on the Community Council: Miss Eileen Montador and Mr Meryvn Blank. The names had been previously circulated to the Community Council, together with their brief personal statements.
She noted that she had received a sealed ballot paper from one of the Community Councillors who could not attend the meeting. Following guidance from Fife Council, she now proposed that for the purposes of this vacancy election and for any other subsequent vacancy election, it was acceptable for the returning officer to receive and accept sealed absentee votes. The Secretary supported the motion and it was unanimously agreed.
Cllr Docherty agreed to act as returning officer. Mrs Salvage then read out the personal statements of Miss Montador (who could not attend the meeting due to a prior engagement) and invited Mr Blank to introduce himself to the meeting. Each Community Councillor completed the ballot paper and Cllr Docherty announced that by a simple majority, Miss Eileen Montador had been elected to serve on the Community Council. Mrs Salvage thanked Mr Blank for putting his name forward and hoped that he would consider standing again in the future.
The Secretary will notify Fife Council to process the necessary paperwork.
3. Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising
The minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2021, were taken as read. Under matters arising:
3.1 Lack of lairs within St Monans Cemetery
Cllr Docherty confirmed that Fife Council has identified cemetery funding and plans are being developed to extend cemetery capacity throughout Fife. More details to follow.
3.2 Water supply at St Monans Cemetery
Mrs Salvage advised that she was still waiting for a response from Ms Liz Murphy at Bereavement Services concerning the reconnection of a water supply to St Monans cemetery.
3.3 Secretary email exchange
Cllr Holt asked to speak. She began by noting the drop-in café, ’Oor Space’ which had been established within St Monans (every Monday afternoon 4pm -5.30pm) for people with mental health and addiction problems. Professional drug workers supported by Fife Alcohol & Drugs Partnership were supporting this initiative with qualified staff on hand. Fife Council has also adopted a sensitive lettings policy which was being applied to Johnston’s Close and Braid Court. This policy allows the Council some leeway in selecting tenants – but not much – but it does mean that the number of people moved into the area with established addiction problems can be limited.
Three people with alcohol or drug addiction issues died in St Monans in recent months. Fife Council recognises that St Monans has an on-going problem with drug and alcohol addiction, and associated antisocial behaviour, as well as issues with poverty, particularly in families.
It was also noted that the Community Education team at Fife Council is in the process of setting up a multi-agency successor group to the Braid Court Action Group to address these issues, at which the community council and other community representatives will have seats.
Cllr Holt then referred to section 9.1 of the last set of minutes. Her specific challenge concerned the Secretary’s conduct regarding a proposed meeting that she was trying to arrange with Council officials re grass cutting on the Mair and her request to invite a resident to this. She wished to clarify that her issue was that she believed the Secretary had misrepresented the correspondent to Fife Council. She again suggested the Secretary had tried to deny to the resident that he (the Secretary) was attempting to exclude the resident from the meeting with Fife Council by giving the impression that the resident stirred up trouble. Mr Buchan asked for the exchange to stop, noting that the resident concerned was not present at the meeting.
Mr Bridges asked the Acting Chair if he could respond. Mr Bridges noted that the words Cllr Holt used at the public meeting of 21 June were not used, or implied by him concerning the resident. Mr Bridges then read out his email (anonymised) that he had sent to Council officials to demonstrate that he had not made or implied what had been suggested by Councillor Holt. He reiterated his disappointment at the way in which she had conducted herself at the last meeting, which he considered unprofessional and not collegiate.
At this point a member of the audience interrupted the Secretary and stated that it was his conduct that was in question and not Cllr Holts. He then asked why the minutes were not distributed to the audience members. Mr Bridges responded that the draft minutes were always uploaded and available on the community website.
A resident raised a point of order with the Acting Chair. She noted that the same member of the audience was on his tablet taking notes and exchanging messages. She asked if that was permissible at a Community Council meeting. The individual stated he was taking notes and reading the previous minutes and was legally entitled to be at the meeting. Cllr Holt confirmed that the meeting was open to anyone to attend and there was no guidance on the use of mobile phones or tablets.
In response to Mr Bridges comments, Cllr Holt stated it was not her place as an elected Councillor to comment on the behaviour of a community councillor, but that if a community councillor publicly sought to mislead a member of the public about an email he wrote, she could not allow such an untruth to be propagated. This was why she made her statement at the June meeting and contradicted the Secretary. When another resident pointed out that this appeared to be contrary to what she had been arguing, Cllr Holt noted that it was not her intention to publicly humiliate the Secretary. Several members of the audience expressed their unhappiness about the conduct of the meeting and the comments being made by Cllr Holt.
Mr Bridges also mentioned that he had been copied into a letter to the Acting Chair from a concerned resident about the proceedings of the previous meeting, which was worrying, but would defer to Mrs Salvage about how best to respond to the content. However, she replied that she could not respond to an anonymous letter.
At this point, Mrs Salvage stood up, asked for order, and moved that the meeting should move on to the next agenda item. She then asked if the previous minutes could be approved. There being no other comments, Mrs Ashworth proposed (Mrs Ironside supported) that the minutes be adopted. The minutes were approved.
4. Acting Chair’s report
Mrs Salvage began by acknowledging the excellent news re fund raising for the new play park at the Mair. She thanked Helen Ironside and her team for their hard work in reaching such a milestone.
4.1 Heritage Centre: She then provided an update on the Heritage Centre. It was noted that Cllr Porteous, Mr Morris and Mrs Salvage had met at the centre to review the collection and building. It has not been opened since the start of the pandemic and the building was in a poor state. Unfortunately, Mr Reekie who has looked after the centre for many years has been unwell and not in a position to maintain the site. Mr Morris had therefore agreed to lead a project to improve the building and maintain the collection. The project team would include Mr Collier, Mrs Salvage, Mr Morris and Mrs Margaret Sutherland.
It was also reported that the lease had expired. Cllr Porteous was in conversations with the landlord about the plans to undertake remedial work and lease renewal. She noted that Mr Morris and Mr Collier had already replaced a toilet on the site and Mr Morris confirmed he had ben purchasing paint and other hardware to start the remedial work. It is unlikely that the Heritage Centre will open this year. An appeal for local volunteers to come forward was made.
Mrs Salvage invited Mr Morris to provide further update. He noted that the old lease did not allow any business on the premises, so using the building to earn an income would be a challenge. He reminded the audience that the old post office used to sell heritage items on behalf of the Heritage Centre and this had raised income. Future funding forward would need to be a priority for the project team. He also was looking for imaginative ideas to utilise the building – such as the possibility as a venue for a knitting club.
Although not directly related to the Heritage site, Mr Morris also raised the point about Private Robert Eason who died in 1919 as s result of his injuries during the First World War. There is no headstone on the site where he is buried. Distant family relatives have been in touch with The War Graves Commission and they have agreed to fund and erect a gravestone to him. This will make Private Eason only the third soldier to rest in the local cemetery. Mr Morris was hoping to organise a rededication service for Private Eason once confirmation of the headstone had been provided.
4.2 Refuse collections at Johnston’s Close: Mrs Salvage also reported on the complaints received about overflowing bins at Johnston’s Close. Access problems by the Fife Council refuse lorries is the suggested cause for the inadequate service in emptying bins. Poor car parking locally and around the local shop was compounding the problem. Access improvements and the introduction of lockable cages are being considered to address this. Mrs Salvage had written to Cllr Ross Vettraino to complain about the state of the bin area and encouraged everyone to write into him as he would always respond. It was suggested that the cameras installed on all bin lorries should be checked to find out why the bin collection was haphazard.
Mrs Ashworth noted that some bin lorry drivers and operatives could be quite nasty if approached by residents to complain about the service. She had reported this to Fife Council, but no response had been received.
4.3 Salt pans area – grass cutting: Fife Council has agreed to cut the grass in and around the salt pans. This is not Fife Council property and they do not have responsibility or budget to do this on an ongoing basis.
4.4 Queen Margaret Street Road into the Lochay Homes development: Mrs Salvage noted that the Scottish Government had called in the appeal against Fife Council to build a connecting road between the development and Queen Margaret Street.
5. Secretary’s Report
5.1 Police Report: For July, there were 37 calls to the police, consisting of various types including noise complaints, road traffic matters, intruder alarms and 999 calls. Three crimes were recorded in this period.
PC’s Stecka and Wallace would like to actively encourage the community to
contact the Police, either through Local Councillors, 101 or Crimestoppers to report drug activity in the East Neuk and Landward. Numerous warrants have been executed in the East Neuk in the last year as a result of the community engagement received and intelligence picture developed, there was also the seizure of a vehicle and the removal of another from one of the villages.
5.2 proposed public art strategy for Lochay Homes development: As part of the planning application, Lochay homes is required to produce some public art for the site. For this, it has taken traditional and historic industries based in the area, with each of the suggested structures representing a clear link to the heritage of St Monans. At this stage that there are different options proposed including a mounted Plough, Windmill or Boat based design. Further details on these options will be provided to the Community Council.
5.3. Railings outside 16- 20 Station Road: Another complaint from residents on Station Road, re the issue of the poor condition of the railings and a request for the railings to be repaired or replaced. The Residents Association and the Community Council are pushing for this, but no Council department has so far accepted any responsibility for the railings.
5.4 Station Road/Braehead right of way: Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (FCCT), in co-operation with Fife Council, have securely closed off the right of way at the top of Braehead and erected a wooden fence, half-way up the right of way. Unfortunately, this section of the fencing isn’t as secure as the top and the work to erect the fence caused further soil erosion. It therefore remains hazardous. A resident advised that FCCT had attended the site today to re-position the fence.
Mrs Salvage also note that she was continuing to investigate funding opportunities to repair and re-open this right of way.
5.5 West End right of way steps: Mr Bridges has arranged an onsite meeting with Fife Council and FCCT to discuss how best to replace the wooden steps.
6. Treasurer’s Report
It was noted that there was no movement in the accounts for the previous month. Likewise, for the Beautiful St Monans funds. On that, it was noted that members of the Community Council had received a number of complementary comments from visitors to the village about how lovely the tubs, the boat and the various communal gardens are looking.
7. Members Reports
i. Planning matters: Mr Bridges read out a brief update from Mrs Syme noting there was nothing of significant concern in any planning applications other than submitted for the previous month.
ii. Community support initiatives: In Mr Collier’s absence, there was no update.
iii. New Children’s playpark at the Mair: Mrs Ironside was delighted to update the meeting on the successful fundraising efforts of the playpark committee. A very successful outdoor coffee morning (the first one, post-pandemic) held in the Serenity Garden had raised over £1,400. In addition to providing logistics for the coffee morning, the St Monans Bowling Club had kindly donated another £750. In addition, a generous offer of £6,000 from Fife Properties Ltd had been received. As a result of these and all previous generous donations, the playpark could now go ahead. The meeting expressed its appreciation, before Mrs Ironside continued to explain that the committee was now working with Fife Council to conclude on the tender process and agree a construction timeline.
She concluded by expressing her thanks to Stuart Bridges for all his efforts in tackling the considerable amount of paperwork to reach this stage. He noted that it was a team effort and expressed his sincere thanks to Mrs Ironside, Suzie and Lyall Stephen, Carol Copland, Victoria Riding, Karen Bjork and Gordon Torrie for all their support.
8. Councillor Updates
Cllr Docherty publicised the new contact number for Fife Council enquiries. It is now
03451 55 55 50.
He also noted that changes to the opening times for the Pittenweem recycling centre were being reviewed and he continues to push for appointments to be made by telephone as well as via the internet.
9. Public Questions
Mrs Salvage then invited questions from the public.
i. Overgrown Hedge in lane leading up to Elm Grove bus stop.
Noted that is overgrown and in need of a cut. Mrs Salvage agreed to check up on progress.
ii. Old Manse path. Also noted that the path is overgrown as is the foliage around the burn. Mrs Salvage agreed to check up on progress.
iii. Pot- holes along the harbour front. Potentially dangerous for residents and visitors alike. Mrs Salvage agreed to check up on progress.
iv. Autumn Club. A resident advised that the Club was back up but on a reduced basis due to precautionary covid restrictions. The Club is meeting in the Braehead church hall. The resident asked if it would be permission for the Club to apply to the Common Good Fund to help with future heating costs. The meeting agreed that this would be a go due of CGF and encouraged the Club to make an award. Mr Morris and Mrs Salvage kindly offered to help complete the application form.
v. Cars abandoned and ‘shrine’ appearing in Castle Street.
Mr Buchan noted the ongoing problems on Castle Street. Mrs Salvage agreed she would take photos and report both matters to Fife Council.
i. St Monans skiff
A resident noted that the skiff had been named and launched by this year’s Sea Queen at a low-key event held in July.
ii. Commercial property at the old post office
A resident asked that the Community Council contact the owners of this property to continue to apply pressure on opening their gallery. Several residents expressed their concerns that the property was effectively being turned into a domestic property. This would, of course, require a change of use planning application, but the meeting agreed that the interests of the village would be best served with this property remaining a commercial property.
iii. Jim Mather Camera Collection Trust.
The museum will be open on 19 August to celebrate World Photography Day. Due to the size of the building and covid requirements, visitors will need to book a place. Details will be on the website.
iv. St Monans Beach Clean day – 27 June 2021
The meeting noted the successful beach cleaning day – a skip full of rubbish was collected by over thirty volunteers, helping to keep the coastline beautiful. Mrs Salvage complimented Mrs Ashworth for organising a very successful event. Mrs Ashworth noted that several passers-by and visitors had been very complimentary about the work of the volunteers.
v. Neighbourhood notifications for road works
Mrs Ashworth expressed her frustration and disappointment with Fife Council for their lack of reasonable notification to the residents of Abercrombie for the road closures week commencing 16 August. She noted that the contractors were left to deal with residents’ anger at the subsequent inconvenience.
v. Beautiful St Monans
Mrs Salvage noted that some recent visitors had complemented the Beautiful St Monans gardening team on the ‘wonderful entrance’ to St Monans – saying the boat, tubs and hanging baskets “were stunning and the best they had seen anywhere!”
11. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Community Council will be on Monday 20 September 2021 at 7.30pm. This will also include the Annual General Meeting. (Subsequent to the meeting, it was agreed to hold the Annual General Meeting in October). Venue to be confirmed, but likely to be the Townhall. There being no other business, Mrs Salvage closed the meeting.