Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the St Monans and Abercrombie Community Council held on Monday, 19 November 2018, at 7.30 pm.
Present: P Copland (Chair); S Bridges (Secretary); V Salvage (Vice-Chair); W Morris (Treasurer); M Syme; V Bland; W Buchan; H Ironside; M Ashworth; S Collier; Cllr Holt; Cllr Porteous and Cllr Docherty.
In attendance: Helen Wilkie, Head of Housing, Fife Council and Michael Collins, Head of Safer Communities and PC Lee Robb
Members of the public: 24
1. Welcome and Apologies
2. Declarations of Interest
3. Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting after the elections
Mr Buchan proposed (and Mrs Syme seconded) that the minutes of the inaugural meeting be adopted. The meeting approved the minutes.
4. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
4.1 Community Police Report
Mr Collier noted there was no update regarding CCTV.
4.2 Bin collections at Back of Miller Terrace & Forth Street
Cllr Docherty noted that he was still waiting for a response from the responsible Council official.
4.3 Water facilities, parking at Cemetery gates, rotting bridge struts & footpaths in Churchyard
Cllr Docherty noted that he had received some designs regarding a new bridge at the entrance to the church yard. There are 7 options. These were made available at the meeting. He also noted that the individual dealing with this proposal was Mike Kilbank who has taken over from Liz Murphy in Bereavement Services. The options will form part of a report which will include budget costs. Cllr Docherty was pleased that some progress was being made as he had been chasing this for the past two years.
A member of the public reported a leak at the car park side of the gate of the church yard. Cllr Porteous advised that there is no sign of the leak now. The member of the public said she would check.
4.4 Abercrombie – Gully cleaning and missing sign
There has been no progress in either issue. Mrs Ashworth confirmed that the heavy vehicles sign, situated at the side of the road in her field, had been removed by the Council as it was broken. Cllr Porteous also advised that he continued to push for 20 mph speed limit signs within the area.
4.5 Grit bins
Noting the recent media attention about Fife Councils decision to remove grit bins, it was agreed that if these bins were to be reinstated, it would be necessary for one to be placed at the top of the Dawsie. Cllr Porteous said that he had made such a request. It was also suggested that a litter bin should be placed next to the grit bin. Cllr Porteous agreed to ask for this too.
4.6 Dangerous pothole opposite 18 Station Road
Noted as being fixed.
4.7 Poor condition of St Monans bus shelter
Council officials have confirmed that there is budget available to undertake improvements to the bus shelter. Cllr Porteous continues to pursue this matter.
4.8 Potholes on the vennel between Rose St and Miller Terrace
The meeting was very pleased to note that these potholes had been repaired.
4.9 Parking on Station Road
Cllr Porteous noted that discussions on this matter continue, and that regrettably a minority of residents continued to ignore the double yellow lines in the area.
4.10 Anti- social behaviour
Mr Collier said that had received four verbal reports of anti-social behavior. Three of these had been reported to the police. Mrs Salvage said that she had been in touch with the school and was told that there was nothing to report.
4.11 Changes to the provision at St Andrews community hospital
Mrs Syme informed the meeting that a bus had been organised by the students of St Andrews University to take protestors to Kirkcaldy on 20 November to demonstrate outside Victoria Hospital. She had been asked to publicize the event and everyone was welcome to join. Cllr Holt added that the protestors wanted to target Victoria hospital as the Board of Fife Health board was meeting there for the NHS Annual Review.
Cllr Porteous stated that this protest was part of a concerted effort by all three Councillors to oppose this proposal. He also reminded the meeting that not all of Fife are concerned about the proposed changes, nor indeed all of North East Fife.
4.12 Overgrown foliage at the Burn
Some progress noted. A local resident suggested that to do the job properly would require people with waders. It was also agreed that if the new houses are built in the area, then maintenance of the burn would be even more important.
4.13 Fencing on Right of Way
Cllr Docherty said that this was no further forward.
4.14 Free trees donated to the community
Mrs Porteous and Mr Buchan had agreed a number of possible sites for planting the trees: Elm Grove, Sandy Kirn, beside the burn, down by the old open air swimming pool, back of Inverie Street (this side of the burn) and the Mair. She also noted that 20 small trees had now arrived. There was discussion regarding the best sites. The Community Council will need to get the permission of any land owner to plant the trees. This may take time and as a result, Mrs Ashworth kindly offered to plant the trees temporarily on her land until the necessary permissions were in place.
4.15 Damaged wall in Abercrombie
Noted that no progress had been made in this matter.
4.16 Mirrors at Braehead and Hope Place junction
Noted that no progress had been made in this matter.
4.17 One-way system up the Dawsie
This suggestion has been made to the relevant Council department and it is being considered. However, Cllr Porteous cautioned that the chances of this being approved were negligible. Mr Copland suggested having ‘7.5 ton limit’ signage put up around the area. Cllr Porteous agreed to ask Fife Council.
4.18 Bunting removal from streets
A local resident who is a member of the Arts Festival Committee, asked that the minutes were clarified to reflect the fact that the Arts Festival committee had not been asked or approached by the Sea Queen Committee to take down the street bunting. If such a request had been made, the Arts committee would have arranged matters. Mrs Salvage and Mr Collier agreed that there had been a misunderstanding and that both committees would work to improve their communications.
4.19 Resurfacing of the Dawsie
Another local resident stated that the Council had patched the Dawsie, but this had been poorly done.
4.20 Damage to the MUGA tennis nets
Noted that the damaged tennis net post has been repaired. However, the lights are working intermittently. A member of the public has reported this. Cllr Porteous also advised that sometime would be allocated for the school to use the tennis courts.
4.21 Damage to a Fence at Abercrombie
Mrs Ashworth reported that another vehicle had crashed through the fence at Abercrombie.
4.22 Inconsiderate Parking at the School
There are still a number of drivers ignoring the traffic signs and are collecting children up directly from the school. Cllr Docherty said that he would take this matter up and will liaise with Ms Ironside for details.
Cllr Porteous also suggested that the Community Council consider pop-up signs of children. These are being currently being used by Colinsburgh primary school.
4.23 Problems with postal deliveries within the area
The meeting was pleased to note that this had now been addressed.
4.24 Bush affecting visibility onto main road from Netherton estate
Cllr Porteous said that he had raised this matter with the owners.
4.25 Procedure for Purchasing Common Ground
Noted that this matter was ongoing.
Mrs Salvage proposed (and Mr Bland seconded) the adoption of the minutes. The minutes were then approved.
5. Housing department and Safer Communities update
Mr Copland welcomed Helen Wilkie, Head of Housing at Fife Council and Michael Collins Head of Safer Communities to the meeting and invited them to address the meeting.
Mrs Wilkie stated that her department was aware of issues within St Monans. She and a multi-disciplinary team are working together to provide additional resources to alleviate the situation. She appreciated the support of the Community Council and those who live in St Monans and sought their help to make things better.
Michael Collins, head of the Safer Communities Team introduced himself and stated that his team would work with the community on numerous issues brought to their attention. He encouraged members of the community to get in touch with his team to make them aware of any issues.
Mrs Wilkie explained the options open to Fife Council in terms of the antisocial behaviour issues, as well as the constraints her team had to work within. She said that she was obviously aware of the issues that have been reported. The creation of an Action Group including representatives from the Community Council, elected Councillors, the police, Housing, Community Safety and other housing providers within St Monans, had been working on an action plan to address these issues and concerns. Two members of her team have been detailed to ensure that all the actions are followed up. She refuted the suggestion that there are more people with lifestyle and antisocial behavior issues being allocated places within St Monans in comparison to other communities. Allocations were made in strict compliance with Fife Council’s allocating policy. However, she did agree and appreciate that when the Council allocated places, people needed proper support. This support would be reviewed and addressed through the action plan.
Mr Collins explained that his role is to take an overview and support Housing particularly when there are severe, antisocial behaviour in Council tenancies. Legally, antisocial behaviour is causing unnecessary alarm and annoyance in the neighbourhood, but he stressed, it must be more than one household.
His role was to gather evidence to try to get an Antisocial Behaviour Order (‘ASBO’) and apply for a conviction. In general he said that he knew that there is antisocial behaviour that annoys people, particularly regarding lifestyle choices but these situations are not antisocial behaviour. Antisocial behaviour predominantly is a course of conduct that is having a detrimental effect on the community. Most of the time it is dangerous criminal activity, because the Council deals through the courts with civil law rather than criminal law.
Lifestyle could be somebody who might be living their lives in such a fashion that it does not fit in with the community, but in actual fact they are not committing a crime. Simply engaging in a drug lifestyle did not mean that the individual meet the criteria for antisocial behavior. Mrs Wilkie also pointed out that the Council had a duty in dealing with Council tenants to support their tenancies. If someone is struggling in life due to a whole lot of issues, the Council had to take note of these.
A member of the public queried the approach taken by the Council where it was known that there had been drug dealing and a related death. Mr Collins advised that if the police were to inform the Council of such an incident, and had evidence which they had made available to the court, he would be notified. His powers were restricted to notifying the individual that the Council were aware and that the tenancy is in jeopardy. However, it would require a court conviction to take any further action and even then, if there are mitigating circumstances, it is unlikely that the tenancy would be withdrawn. Of course, if an individual constantly offended, then the tenancy could be removed. The timescale between offences had also to be taken into consideration.
It was suggested that it is not local people with drug problems. It was people from outside the area and this had reinforced the concern that this was a problem that has been foisted onto the community. Again, Mrs Wilkie noted that the properties in St Monans are allocated in line with council policy, and people can choose where they would like to go and, within the waiting list criteria, it is in terms of need. In terms of the Action plan. She also advised that the Action Group could consider a Community Letting Initiative (“CLI”) which would allow for additional criteria. As an example of a CLI, we could have a policy that would prefer families with young children to help support the local school. However, she cautioned that a CLI could not be in explicit terms (again by way of example, insisting that 19 year old drug user were prohibited from applying). CLIs are time limited.
In response to a question, Mrs Wilkie said that the Team had looked into changing the current 1 bedroom properties to larger properties in Johnston’s Close, but unfortunately the layout of the building prevented this. Braid Court is mostly two bedroom accommodation. A resident asked whether the Council would be able to do something to improve Braid Court as it is undesirable for family living. Again, Mrs Wilkie said that this would be possible and would be considered by the Action group.
Mr Collins noted that in addition to reporting antisocial behaviour on the 101 telephone number, there was also a form available on the Fife Direct website. Use of this form would allow him to build up a good working knowledge of the potential hot spots. In response to a suggestion that the police would not attend to a 101 call, Cllr Holt suggested that the police would not come out unless there is an immediate threat to life. However, she urged everyone to continue to use the number because unless the police get the phone call they will not be able to count up the number of calls.
Mr Copland thanks both Mrs Wilkie and Mr Collins for taking the time to attend the meeting and answering questions from residents.
6. Community Police Officers report
Mr Copland invited PC Lee Robb to address the meeting. PC Robb introduced himself, noting that he had been Community Officer for the area since January.Since his last report, there have been three local crime; none of them significant.
PC Robb reinforced much of what was previously covered by Mr Collins, noting that his team provided support to the many agencies mentioned. However, he could not stress enough the importance of reporting situations by calling 999 or 101 to report a crime or anti-social behaviour. Police resources are always stretched and require to prioritized, but when they were not able to immediately attend, the Police would try to provide some follow-up support.
Mrs Salvage advised PC Robb that there would be a local event (the Christmas Cracker) taking place weekend in the Church Hall from 10.30-12 noon.
Regarding the “Cops and a cuppa” initiative, He was pleased to confirm that it will be on the last Thursday every month from 10 am – 11 am in the Diving Gannet. PC Robb stressed that he didn’t expect residents to come to the café to report a crime; that is what 101 and 999 are for. However, the initiative provided an opportunity to raise issues or concerns. If someone asked for confidentially, the team would arrange for that too. He looked forward to having the opportunity of meeting individual residents informally and getting to know the community better over a coffee.
A member of the public asked if the information provided to the Community police would involve a multi-agency approach. PC Robb said it would depend on the information, but that much of it was logged onto a database which other agencies had access to. Anecdotally, he stated that there wasn’t a day that went by when he or one of his colleagues was not in contact with Fife Council’s Housing department.
PC Robb concluded by again stressing the importance of reporting situations. If the Police or other agencies do not know what is occurring, none of them can take steps to address the matter.
7. Chairperson’s Report
Mr Copland noted the excellent community support for the Armistice centenary commemoration events on Sunday 11 November. He thanked Mr Bridges for organizing the event.
8. Secretary’s Report
Mr Bridges expressed his thanks to a number of residents and local organizations who had contributed to making the Armistice Centenary commemoration such a success. In particular, he noted: Balcaskie Estate, the Ashworth family, the East Neuk First Responders, the Community Choir; Mrs Janet Reekie, \Nadia Wood, Piper Max Stewart and RAF Cadet Andrew McWiilliam-Snow. He also acknowledged the small team of volunteers who provided the outside catering in the evening. He was pleased to report that £200 had been raised on the night for Poppy Scotland.
Mrs Ashworth said Balcaskie Estate were pleased with how the bonfire was tidied.
9. Treasurer’s Report
Mr Morris advised that Mr Peddie, the previous Treasurer, still had the accounts and is currently on holiday. However, the final payment had been made to Tony Chater. He also noted that the war memorial cleaning invoice had arrived and also the invoice for the wreath for Mr George Brown.
10. Planning Matters
10.1 Lochay Homes Proposed Development West of the Manse
It was noted that Lochay Homes had provided a presentation in the Town Hall regarding their proposed housing development on land to the west of the Manse. Mr Copland noted that the Community Council had also been given a presentation and that his sense was that the proposal looked satisfactory. The plan includes an equal split between houses for sale and social housing (to be provided by Kingdom Homes). Kingdom Homes are all two or three storey; and the for-sale homes were all bungalows. There was also provision for allotments. Access would be through the main road as well as a link to Queen Margaret Street. Mr Copland advised that residents had a further week to provide any comments to Strutt & Parker, the consulting architects. Details are on the Strutt & Parker website. He also reminded the meeting that when the full Planning permission come through, it would provide a further opportunity to make comments.
10.2 Bowling Club Planning Application for a Full Licence
Mr Copland said that the Community Council had received notification that the Bowling Club had applied for a Full Licence. The application goes through to the Licensing Court on Monday 8 December.
Mr Buchan asked whether there would be a problem regarding insurance as the Bowling Club had been refused insurance in the past. However, a resident who was on the Bowling Club committee advised that the club had the necessary insurance in place. In response to a question about the fire extinguishers on the premises, the same resident stated that this matter was in hand.
Mr Bridges noted that the survey for the Community Action Plan (CAP) had identified the need for a community pub. The survey also wanted the Bowling club to be better utilized. Given this level of community support, he therefore suggested that the Community Council should submit a letter of support for the application. This was unanimously agreed, noting that Cllr Docherty had declared an interest as a member of the Licensing board.
Mr Bridges agreed to draft a letter for the Chair to sign.
10.3 No 8 and 8a West Shore – Old Post Office
Mr Copland said that there has been a planning application received for converting the property next to the old post office to a bedsit flat with adjoining door to the proposed Art Gallery. The plans include a window to the vennel; a new flue and new window to the front elevation; shower room and a small kitchen. Considerable concern was raised that this property was being converted into a residential property.
A local resident said it was very clear when it was bought that it was a commercial property and as such, an essential part of the fabric of the community. She suggested that commercial property was defined as a property with staff facilities which should be open for 200 days a year. Another resident complained that there were issues regarding how the request for Planning Permission was notified and not in compliance with planning regulations.
Mrs Porteous said that she had been asked by another member of the public to raise concerns at the underhand manner of turning a commercial property into a residential one. Another resident said that objections to the listed building consent had to be in by 5 December. This aspect of the plan was in relation to the removal of the bars from the window.
It was unanimously agreed that the Community Council will formerly object to this planning application. It was also recommended that as many residents as possible write in with objections, noting that a minimum of seven objections would be required to refer the application to the full Council Planning committee.
Cllr Docherty also suggested that objection letters should also be copied into every Councillor who sits on the North East Fife Planning Committee. Details of relevant Councillors are available on the Fife Council website.
11. Councillor Updates
11.1 Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland
Cllr Docherty said has a consultation regarding development of unconventional oil and gas exploration in Scotland had been launched and Community Council input was desired. The website link is: UOGSEAconsultation@gov.scot
11.2 Money for Community planning projects
Cllr Holt advised that there was some budget (she believed £5,000) available for Community planning projects. She could provide interested parties with the relevant details to apply. A local resident would like to see improvements to the local playground and Cllr Holt suggested that the resident also contact the relevant council official, Allan Bisset.
11.3 Planning permission for new house at bottom of the Dawsie
Regarding Planning Permission for proposed new house at the Bottom of the Dawsie, Cllr Docherty advised that officials at Fife Council have arranged a site visit by Councillors and therefore the determination has been postponed.
12. Public Questions
12.1 Fashion show
A local resident has commissioned a dress collection by Samantha Knox, to create a professional women’s wear range. She would like to put on a fashion show during the 2019 Pittenweem Arts Festival or the St Monans Arts Festival and would like the Community Council’s backing for this project. Mr Copland agreed to pass on the details to the Arts Festival Committee.
12.2 Railings on Station road and ‘Adopt a Street’ project
A member of the public noted the ongoing poor condition of the street railings. Another resident asked whether Fife Council were going ahead with plans for local residents to ‘adopt’ a street to be cleaned. Unfortunately, this project has been dropped.
12.3 Shop Local Week and Scottish Towns Comparative Network
The Chair of the St Monans Town Team stated that this ‘Shop Local week’ for Scottish towns. It is a week for supporting local shops and local trades. He had put posters up to promote this event. He also reported that St Monans is now on the Scottish Towns comparative network. The network allows you to see statistics for St Monans and allows you to see the nearest comparative towns in Scotland. We are considered as a ‘dependent town’ i.e. we are seen as a town that cannot stand alone for multiple reasons.
12.4 Towns Team member to be co-opted onto Community Council
The Chair of the St Monans Towns Team then asked that the Community Council consider continuing to have a co-opted, non-voting member from the Towns Team onto the Council. The suggestion was made in the spirit of co-operation which had been promoted previously and allowed effective communication between the two groups. There was some discussion about the merits of having a Towns Team member co-opted onto the Community Council and the Chair asked that it was put to a vote. By a majority, it was agreed to co-opt a member of the Towns Team onto the Council. Chris Hogsden (residing at Barronhall) agreed to be the co-opted member.
12.5 Beautiful St Monans Floral Group
Mrs Porteous provided brief update on the monies received by the Group from donations, calendar sales and the profits raised following the successful Strawberry Tea during the year. She noted that the invoice from Pathhead had been passed onto Mr Peddie for payment.
13. Any other business
13.1 Jimmy Braid memorial garden
Mrs Salvage asked that the Community Council recognize and congratulate Mrs Sandra Mayes for the wonderful job she has made in maintaining the memorial garden.
14. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Community Council will be on Monday, 17 December at 7.30 pm.