Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the St Monans and Abercrombie Community Council held on Monday, 20 August 2018, at 7.30 pm.
Present: P Copland (Chair), S Bridges (Secretary), P Peddie (Treasurer), E Hughes, W Morris, G Bell, W Buchan, Cllr Porteous and Cllr J Docherty.
Members of the public: 24
1. Welcome and Apologies
Apologies: Cllr Holt, V Bland, M Ashworth, V Salvage and PC Tetlow
2. Declarations of Interest
3. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
3.1 Bin collections at Back of Miller Terrace & Forth Street
Cllr Docherty advised that a Council inspector would be coming out to review the situation on both streets and that following his report, Cllr Docherty expected a letter with his conclusions to be issued to all those residents affected. Following a request from a member of the public, Cllr Docherty agreed to ask that East street be included in the inspection.
3.2 Water facilities, parking at Cemetery gates, rotting bridge struts & footpaths in Churchyard
Cllr Docherty queried whether Mr Copland had received a list of council approved plumbing contractors. The Chairman confirmed he was still waiting for this list. Thereafter, the Community Council would seek quotes to connect the water butt back to the mains.
The bridge struts continue to give cause for concern as no progress has been made to address this. Mr Morris noted that the Council engineers report was still to be published.
3.3 Public benches
Regrettably, it was confirmed that the ‘old men’s bench’ cannot be repaired.
3.4 Possible sites for Defibrillators
Mr Bell noted that the new owners of the old Post Office had not responded to his query re their willingness to have a defibrillator outside their property. A Member of the public suggested that the harbour masters office would provide a suitable site. Mr Bell agreed to raise this matter with the Harbour authorities at Fife Council at his next meeting with them, scheduled on 14 September. Mr Buchan also noted that the British Heart Foundation was looking to identify all the defibrillators in the country and that once a local site was identified, the BHF should be notified.
3.5 Community Police Officer report
Cllr Porteous noted that all three local councilors had arranged a meeting with Fife Council housing officials to discuss current issues around Braid Court. Members of the local community affected would also be invited.
Mr Copland reported that the Secretary and PC Tetlow had agreed content for a joint community Council and Police Scotland communication to be delivered to every household within St Monans & Abercrombie. This would be paid for by the Community Council. A copy of the flier was circulated at the meeting.
3.6 St Monans Charitable Fund
Mr Collier was pleased to report that the charity had now received approval from the Charities regulator. The local charity would have a stall at the forthcoming Sea Queen day and CAP open day and he encouraged everyone to attend both events and support the new charity. The Chair thanked Mr Collier and all those who had helped in creating this new community asset.
3.7 Gully cleaning in and around Abercrombie
Cllr Porteous noted that he still had to chase up the relevant Council department to raise concern at the lack of proper gully cleaning around Abercrombie.
3.8 Weed control on public streets
It was noted that council staff had been spraying weed killer around the streets of St Monans. Although very welcome, Cllr Docherty advised that residents should keep their pets away from the affected areas as the chemicals used had carcinogenic properties.
A member of the public raised a concern that the grit bins at the top of the dawsie was being used to deposit dog waste. It was agreed that Cllr Porteous would look into the possibility of better signage to address this.
Mr Copland then called for the minutes to be adopted. Following Mr Morris’ proposal (and seconded by Mr Bell), the minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
4. Chairperson’s report
On behalf of the Community council and the wider local community, Mr Copland expressed his sincere condolences to Marjory Ashworth and her family on the recent loss of her father, Gordon Stewart. Gordon was a well known and much respected farmer and resident of Abercrombie.
4.1 Sea Queen 2018
Mr Copland reminded the meeting that the Sea Queen day 2018 was Saturday 25 September form 11 am to 4 pm, with the kirking of the Sea Queen following on the Sunday. He listed the many new attractions that would be taking place this year, not least the visit of the Sword of Robert the Bruce and his son King David II. A ceilidh was also planned for the evening.
4.2 Council elections
Mr Copland reminded everyone that the community council elections were due to take place on 4 October. He asked for members of the public to give some thought to standing as a community councillor. Details of the election have been posted on the St Monans website and application packs would also be available in the library. Cllr Docherty supported this appeal, highlighting the point that community councils played an important part in the democratic process and also made a practical and positive contribution to the lives of local communities.
5. Secretary’s Report.
5.1 Community Action Plan (‘CAP’)
Mr Bridges provided an update on progress with the Community Action Plan. The team were currently reviewing the results of the completed surveys and broadly had identified a number of themes, including; amenities, character & aesthetics, infrastructure; tourism and community support.
A number of ‘big ideas’ and ‘small ideas’ had also been identified from the surveys and these were also being collated and grouped under the themes.
The community Open Day remains on schedule and fliers promoting the event would be issued to all households shortly. At the Open Day, residents would be invited to vote on their favourite top three big and small ideas. In addition, the local primary school children’s ideas and drawings for the community would be on display. Mr Bridges hoped that as many residents as possible would attend and noted several local community groups would also have displays on the day and refreshments would be provided.
5.2 ‘A nations tribute’ – 100th Anniversary of the ending of World War One
Mr Bridges reminded the meeting that St Monans had agreed to sign up for the nationally organized event to commemorate the ending of the First World War on November 11th 2018. The date actually falls on a Sunday and there are plans to hold a series of events throughout the country. Following the national programme, Mr Bridges advised that he had;
- Secured the services of a piper to take part in the commemoration. The piper is one of the Queens personal pipers from the Balmoral estate who has a St Monans connection.
- Received approval from the Kirk Session of St Monans Parish Church to ring the Church bell at the designated time
- Secured the owners agreement to allow a beacon to be raised on the field adjacent to the Church car park. Once lit on the evening of the 11th, this would provide a prominent focal point along the coastline.
- The local Guild has also been approached to help in identifying any direct descendants of the fallen.
A member of the public also asked that the surrounding area to the war memorial be cleaned and weeded. It was agreed that this would be looked into as part of the preparations.
6. Treasurer’s Report
Mr Peddie advised the meeting that the application to the Common Good Fund for the floral display was still in progress. He also noted that the decision to move the Community Council bank accounts from RBS to the Trustee Savings Bank in Anstruther was still on hold, pending resolution of the TSB computer problems.
7. Planning matters
The Chair noted there was nothing material to report regarding recent planning applications.
7.1 Harbour regeneration matters
Mr Copland then read out extracts of an email exchange between Cllr Holt and the Head of Shoreline & Harbours at Fife Council in connection with clarification around the approved planning application for the harbour regeneration. A concerned resident had raised the matter with her. The Council Head confirmed that the proposals had been given Planning Consent and that there had been discussions with representatives of the St Monans development group and relevant council departments. He noted his support for the local group to develop the harbour area in accordance with the planning consent, subject to the harbour remaining in Council ownership. The partnership had already received Council funding as well as other funding to develop the proposals and gain the Planning permission.
The meeting was referred back to the previous discussions around a proposal to bring boat building back to St Monans. The meeting was also reminded that funding for an appraisal of this proposal had been turned down earlier in the summer. Both Mr Bell and Mr Copland confirmed that they had received any further update on this proposal from its originator, Mr Richard Wemyss.
Mr Copland then invited Mr Bell to provide an update on Harbour developments.
Mr Bell noted that in the absence of the possibility of a feasibility report, the St Monans Community Trust (“the Trust”) could not put its regeneration plans on hold indefinitely. The Trust was also actively following up on opportunities for funding in the short term. It had therefore decided to undertake its own review of the boat building market.
This review had looked at all the boat builders and restorers currently working in Scotland, discounting the yards who mainly work in metal or fibreglass. Of the smaller independent yards, it was found that none were currently building or restoring larger craft. In addition, very few wooden boats have been built and launched in the last five years.
Mr Wemyss proposal would be a community owned project seeking significant grant and public money. When the Trust looked at the main comparable operations, it was found that they operated mainly on volunteer labour or with very small number of employees.
The longest running of these yards is Gal Gail in Govan. It has been in existence for over twenty years. Unfortunately, Gal Gail are finding times hard, reporting difficulty in finding funding and paid projects. They have reported cancelling all existing projects and dropping down to three days restricted works. They describe it as hibernation. Since 2016, only 30% of funding applications have been accepted and in this year Gal Gail have only managed to bring in 18% of what is required.
Very few yards are making money and all are chasing the very little work that is out there. In the past, yards have survived with grant funding and volunteer labour, but this is drying up and will only get worse in the near future.
With regards to St Monans, the Trust considered the footprint required for the Weymss proposal and its effect on existing successful businesses. Most of the current yards are working in sheds between three and nine thousand square feet. Such a size would have detrimental effect on, and be disruptive to, many of the new strategies being considered for St Monans.
Looking at existing businesses in this market, the average number of employed persons is between four and six. Given that the proposal for St Monans might need to import some skills element, it was noted that this brings practically no economic benefit to the village. Within Mr Weymss proposal, there was also mention of viewing galleries for the public tours and workshops to support tourism. However, the Trust noted that this would replicate, and be in direct competition to, one of the unique selling points of the nearby Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.
The Trust’s investigation therefore concluded that the Scottish boat building and maintenance market is currently weak and there is strong competition from established sources. Grant funding for this type of project is low and falling. Considering the substantial amount of monies required for such a project; the associated high risk; minor benefits and the potentially detrimental impact on existing business and homes, it was concluded that it would be irresponsible to continue to support or promote Mr Weymss project and it would be a poor use of public monies.
Mr Copland thanked Mr Bell for his comprehensive update and asked that he should write to Mr Weymss to advise him of these matters.
Turning to the current proposals, Mr Bell noted that discussions were ongoing with the administrators of the Common European Maritime Fisheries Fund, who had expressed a keen interest in both aspects of this project. They have confirmed that the current plan met their criteria for supporting the fisheries industry and that a grant of up to 75% could be made available. On the back of a CEMF suggestion to include a fishermen’s workshop/storage facilities, Mr Bell had agreed to amend the plans to use the old paint shed for this purpose. He also planned to incorporate a ‘lean-to’ to provide some protection for local primary school children during their visits to the beach.
Mr Bell concluded by advising that he was meeting with the Harbour & Shorelines Council official on 14 September to provide an update on the current Harbour regeneration plan.
8. Public Questions
8.1 Boundary rights around 26 Station Road.
A member of the public raised a point around fencing on property adjacent to common land. Cllr Porteous advised that all three Councillors had been in discussions with the residents concerned.
8.2 Dangerous Pothole opposite 18 Station Road
A member of the public raised a concern about a pothole outside this property as a cyclist had come off his bike due to the pothole. Cllr Porteous agreed to raise this matter with Council officials.
8.3 Poor condition of St Monans bus shelter
Several members of the public raised concerns at the disgraceful condition of the St Monans bus shelter on Elm Grove (next to the junction with Station Road). It requires to be painted and the litter removed. In addition, the seating needs to be replaced as these have been vandalised. Cllr Docherty agreed to raise this with the relevant council department.
8.4 Potholes on the vennel between Rose St and Miller Terrace
A resident raise concerns at the extremely poor and dangerous condition of the vennel, noting that this had been reported repeatedly for several months. Cllr Porteous noted that he too had raised this matter on three occasions with the relevant council officials. However, Fife Council are denying responsibility, claiming it is an unadopted road; despite the fact that the Council took responsibility for street lighting. Mr Bridges suggested that the Community Council and local Councillors push for the road to be adopted and Councillors Porteous and Docherty agreed to look into this matter further.
9. Any Other Competent Business
9.1 Street closures for Sea Queen Day
Cllr Porteous noted that he had received a small number of resident’s concerns about the lack of consultation around the Sea Queen Street closures. Mr Copland advised that the appropriate application was made to Fife Council and that responsibility for advertising and notifying residents was the responsibility of Fife Council.
9.2 Towns Team update
Mr Bell advised that the current Harbour plans and town regeneration inititiaves had been updated on the St Monans Website.
9.3 St Monans burgh paintings
Mr Morris advised that after much perseverance, Fife Council had eventually notified him that it had found four paintings from within their archives that belonged to the old burgh. Fife Council will not return these to the local community for display as they are valuable and require the correct environmental conditions to maintain their condition. He has been advised that one is currently on display at Kirkcaldy museum. Mr Morris is now trying to secure from Fife Council, high quality reproduction prints of the four paintings for display within the community. He also noted that, contrary to public belief, there never existed a Provosts chain for the burgh.
On behalf of the meeting, Mr Copland thanked Mr Morris for his tenacity and efforts in tracking down these community artefacts.
9.4 Parking on Station Road
Cllr Porteous referred to the inconsiderate parking on Station Road, particularly around the Inverie Street/Gourlay Crescent junction. He was asked whether there had been any progress on placing large plant boxes around the junction to prevent illegal parking and advised that the Council were still to respond to this request.
9.5 Overgrown foliage covering Inverie Burn
Cllr Porteous also advised that he has contacted Environmental Health to highlight the potentially dangerous overgrown foliage on both sides of the burn.
10. Close and Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held at 7.30 pm on Monday, 17 September 2018 in the Church Hall, Station Road.