Approved Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of St Monans and Abercrombie Community Council held on Monday, 19 February 2018, at 7.30 pm.
P Copland (Chairman); V Salvage (Vice-Chairman); M Ashworth; E Hughes; B Morris; Cllr W Porteous; Cllr L Holt; E Porteous (Minute Secretary) and G Bell (co-opted on during meeting)
Members of the public: 19
Johanna Willi, Biodiversity Coordinator, Fife Council
1 Welcome and Apologies
Apologies: W Buchan, V Bland and Cllr J Docherty
2 Declarations of Interest
3 Presentation by Johanna Willi, Biodiversity Coordinator, Fife Council regarding the Corn Bunting
Johanna Willi said that she had been in the village a couple of times in the past fortnight talking about trying to save the Corn Bunting and trying to establish potential feeding sites. The project is to support the corn bunting in the East Neuk of Fife. Fife Council is looking to support that project and involve children.
Corn Bunting are quite inconspicuous but have orange legs and yellow bills. Unfortunately the corn bunting is one of the UK’s fastest declining bird population. The population has dropped since the 70s by about 80%. The reasons are: they have a late breeding season; they like to have their nests in growing arable crops; chicks have an insect diet and the adults eat grains and can starve in the winter. Since 2002 there has been a project which aims to create safe nesting sites, basically by having a crop of corn with flowers in it – about 0.5 to 2 hectares. It also helps other birds such as Linnets and the Great Partridge. Fife has good coverage of farms taking part. It has been a fantastic effort in Fife with a really positive response as a result: the population of corn buntings has spread northwards and westwards; and between 2015 and 2016 they had the first ever increase in corn buntings since monitoring began in Fife. The population increased by 18% in one year and also had a range expansion so it has been really positive.
Fife Council has identified areas of green space and has involved children. They identified a site in Crail last year and let the children create a Corn Bunting area. The farmer prepared the ground, then the children came out and sowed the seed. In Pittenweem they have just over 1000 sq m. The children in Pittenweem also were involved in making an art exhibit with Miss Winton and made posters.
Johanna Willie said that we are really keen to find somewhere in St Monans, but it is proving challenging to find an area that would be suitable. One of the areas that we identified was an area in the west by Newark Street. However, it seems that there are lots of cats and dogs in this area, so we are still looking at potential areas. We would welcome any thoughts – if you know of any areas for a small patch; or if you think St Monans is not ideal.
Johanna Willie said that ideally the site for the flower and seed crop would be adjacent to the outskirts of the village and adjacent to farmland, so potentially the west and the far east are the only potential areas.
Mr Morris suggested the area between the caravan site and Pittenweem. However, it was thought that the land east of St Monans is owned by Mr Peddie and he already manages for the Corn Bunting. A member of the public suggested between the caravans. Johanna Willi said that she did not know the minimum area, but apparently it is best not to have just a strip. Another member of the public suggested the slopes. The answer was that a slope would be a bit steep to prepare the ground if we needed a tractor. It was asked, if the site for the crop was along the braes, would it be enclosed – as it is used by dog-walkers along the coastal path.
V Salvage read out a note from Mr Peddie regarding Farmland Bird Lifeline: “I have been involved with the Farmland Bird Lifeline since Spring 2002. The project requires us to sow down bird friendly seed mixture every year on an area of about 0.7 ha. The seed mixture provides seeds through the winter, insects through the summer and cover during the whole year. During the time we have been involved with the project, we have experimented with size, shape and position of the patch, but we have now settled on an area right across the road from the farm buildings. This spot has electricity wires on 2 sides and seems to be very attractive for the Corn Buntings but they do note other species of interest such as Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch and Linnet. Through these surveys we know that the Corn Bunting is increasing in numbers on Coal Farm and we also know that they are increasing on other farms in Fife, Tayside and Aberdeenshire and there have been large increases in the last 2 years.
In the last 2 years, the project has been nominated for an award at The Nature of Scotland Awards. Unfortunately, it hasn’t won either of the awards it has been nominated for, but it gives an indication of the quality of the work being undertaken by RSPB and the farmers involved.
For me, it has been great to be involved with a scheme that has done so much to revive the fortunes of a dumpy little anonymous bird.”
4 Last Minutes and Matters Arising
4.1 Excessive traffic at Rose Street
Mr Copland advised that the Community Council were still trying to collate and submit photographic evidence to the Council.
4.2 Planters opposite the Minimarket
Cllr Porteous said that he had sent an email, but had received no response. He said that he would continue to follow this up.
4.3 Hedge Needing Cut
Mrs Salvage advised that the hedge is partly cut.
4.4 Railings in Station Road
No progress noted.
4.5 Bins at Back of Miller Terrace
Mr Morris said that he had noticed lots of buckets in Forth Street.
4.6 Off-road Motorcycles and Quad Bikes
No report as PC Tetlow could not attend the meeting.
4.7 Water at Cemetery – And Parking in Front of Cemetery Gates
Mrs Salvage advised that she still had not noticed any signage. She also noted that a car was regularly parking at the turning point; a known ‘No Parking’ spot. A member of the public said that the offending person doing this had since left one of the adjacent cottages.
P Copland said that as Cllr J Docherty was not at the meeting, he was still waiting for a list of Fife Council approved plumbers to fix the water problem.
Regarding parking at the cemetery gates, Mrs Salvage said she had spoken to an official from Fife Council and that something should be done.
4.8 Steps Down from Braehead
No progress noted.
4.9 Overgrown Banking at Burn
It was agreed that this was now a health and safety problem.
4.10 Costs for new brown heritage signage
P Copland said that he was shocked that the cost of these signs was £1,000 and therefore too expensive for the Community Council to purchase.
Mrs Salvage said there was no progress regarding the Sandy Cairn bench, noting there is definitely no plinth. A member of the public asked about the bench that was recently moved. No-one at the Council is taking the blame for this, despite Mrs Salvage’s enquiries. She also asked the Councillors present if they knew if there was a provision for unknown people to be buried in cemeteries (formerly ‘the Paupers area’). The Councillor’s said that they would enquire.
4.12 Hole in West Street
Noted that this has been filled in and the adjacent light has been fixed.
4.13 Dog Fouling
This continues to be an issue around the village. Mr. Copland suggested members of the public contact the Dog Warden to report all such cases. In answer to a question, he also advised that you can photograph the dogs but not the owner. Cllr Holt also confirmed her understanding that you are not allowed to put a CCTV into the street. It was asked if this could be clarified with the police and Mr Copland agree to check with PC Tetlow.
A member of the public said that the Wardens should be patrolling these areas more often and suggested that we needed to push our Councillors to demand this. Cllr Holt said we can put through a request, and added that the Dog Warden service would try to attend if there was a particular time and place where such offences occurred. It was also noted that there are only 3 or 4 Dog Wardens for the whole of Fife.
Mr. Morris suggested if we could have a designated area for people to take their dogs. However, this suggestion wasn’t taken forward.
4.14 Potholes – Footpath Repairs
Cllr Holt said that she had looked up Fife Council’s policy regarding the depth where they would make a repair for pavements, but she could not find it. She said she wants to confirm that it is 30 mm.
4.15 Property in Gourlay Crescent
Following the concerns raised by the Community Council, regarding planning issues for local authority owned properties, Cllr W Porteous confirmed that Fife Council does not need to notify neighbouring properties, but the Council also acknowledged that it was an inappropriate way to deal with neighbours.
4.16 Main Paths in Church Yard
Cllr Porteous noted that he had met with Fife Council’s Head of Bereavement Services at St Monans Cemetery and both had a good discussion about putting in a disabled access to the Church from the entrance to the West End at the old bridge and then an extension of a path up to the corner of the existing path. The Head of Bereavement is investigating this proposal further.
4.17 Speeding in Abercrombie
Cllr L Holt advised the meeting that Fife Council was putting forward a proposal to reduce the 30 mph speed limit to 20 mph within Abercrombie.M Ashworth noted a number of issues in Abercrombie attributable to the recent main road closure and diversion through Abercrombie. She was disappointed to report that she was due to discuss this with a council official (Ross Walker), but he did not turn up. In addition to the speeding, she wanted to raise concerns about the poor positioning of the traffic lights – they are only there when the school buses come. The workmen physically remove the lights after the school bus has passed through. However, the No 95 bus is still coming up that road throughout the day. She also noted that cars are reversing and trying to get by on the banking which is causing damage to the banks
Cllr Porteous said that he and Mrs Ashworth would contact the relevant officials the following day.
4.18 Quad Bike Theft
No update as PC Tetlow not in attendance.
4.19 Grit Bins
Grit bins are still missing around Forth Street. M Ashworth also advised that the grit bins have been removed from Abercrombie.
4.20 Update on Sale of 2018 Calendars for Beautiful St Monans
Mrs E Porteous was pleased to report that the total funds raised for ‘Beautiful St Monans’ through sales of the 2018 Calendar was £265.59. She thanked all who had contributed, and particularly mentioned those who had taken part in the photography competition; and the shops Gerrards, The Top Shop, True Colours Hairdresser and the Diving Gannet Café, who all displayed and sold the Calendars without taking any commission for themselves.
4.21 Planning regarding a house at Newark Street
Mr Copland confirmed that the work has started. All the permissions had been given and that there were no objections received.
4.22 Light Bulbs in Town Hall need Replaced
It was noted that these had now been replaced.
4.23 Time taken to Publish CC Minutes
In answer to a question asking why it took so long to publish the CC Minutes, Mr. Copland noted that everyone on the committee are volunteers and do their best to get the Minutes out to the community as quickly as possible.
4.24 Common Good Fund and Community Trust Fund
Mr. Copland said that information in connection with the Common Good Fund was in the public domain. Applications up to £2,000 has to be approved by the Community Council and Fife Council. If you are applying for amounts over £2,000 it has to go to Committee at Fife Council for approval, but that applicants have to match fund Common Good money with their own. Moneys will not be paid until receipts are received. Cllr Porteous agreed, but noted that it was permissible to use a proforma invoice. Mr. Bell queried whether match funding was required for applications over £2,000. Mr. Copland clarified that you need to prove you are getting ‘like for like’ funding.
4.25 Bins at Windmill (Correction from Heading in January’s Draft Minutes)
Correction of Heading of January’s Draft Minutes at item 8.4. The Heading should be changed from “Bins for the Caravan Site” to “Bins at Windmill”.
Mrs Salvage noted that we can get our bins from Glaston. However, Fife Council had confirmed that they would not install or service them. The Coastal Watch volunteers had offered to empty the bins, but this was unacceptable to Fife Council, particularly if there was a change of people.
4.26 Electricity in Windmill
Mr. Morris had no further update regarding this.
4.27 Harbour Development
Mr. Copland noted that at the previous meeting, Mr. Bell had provided a comprehensive summary on the Harbour Development. Mr. Bell said that regarding the possibility of boat restoration, Richard Wemyss has provided him with an update. Mr. Wemyss has had a meeting with Scottish Enterprise, but basically he is not getting anywhere yet. But we will keep in touch and have asked if there is anything we can do to help move things on. It was noted that the harbour plans are in place and progressing regarding the provision of new power and winches for the commercial fishermen.
4.28 Hidden Chamber
Mr Morris confirmed that the Chamber was still hidden. He said that another possible site had been put to him.
The minutes of the previous meeting were then proposed by Mrs Salvage (Seconder: Mrs Ashworth) and approved.
- Chairperson’s Report
Mr. Copland said that first of all he would like to welcome Gordon Bell on to the Community Council and said that Gordon Bell has very kindly volunteered to come on to the Community Council as a Co-opted Member.
He also noted that the Burns Supper was very successful and expressed his thanks to all those who organised it and also to the guest speakers for providing an entertaining evening.
- Secretary’s Report
It was noted that the Senior Citizens Tea Party will be on 24th March in the Church Hall from 2 pm.
- Treasurer’s Report
Unfortunately Mr. Peddie could not attend the meeting. However, Mrs Salvage noted that the money on the door on the night was £671. With that, the money raised during the evening itself and allowing for catering and the hire of the hall, she hoped that the profit from the Burns night would be approximately £470.
Nothing noted of interest. However, a member of the public raised a concern about the only commercial premises left on the harbour front, the old Post Office, and whether it was going to remain a commercial property. She said that she did not want that property to become another holiday home. It was suggested that the new owner was going to turn it into an Art Gallery. However, she asked that the Community Council keep alert to the possibility of an application being made to convert it into a residential property.
It was noted that the Community Council had been unsuccessful in bidding for this property previously. Mr Copland confirmed that he was unaware of any notification regarding change of use. It was also noted that no-one on the committee had ever seen any plans for the property. Cllr W Porteous agreed to look into this matter.
9.1 Steps to Church
A member of the public said that where you go up the steps to the church there are some of them coming loose – it is part of Fife Coastal Path. M Ramsay said that when she first moved into her home in St Monans, because it is Fife Coastal Path she reported some loose stonework and someone came within 3 days. She offered to get in touch with the same official to report the loose stonework in the church steps.
9.2 Setting up a dedicated St Monans registered charity
Mr. Copland invited Mr. Steve Collier to address the meeting about fundraising issues.
Mr. Collier said that he knew that people are trying to raise money for various village events, such as the Sea Queen. He suggested that the community should establish a registered Charity to gather such funds. He had also considered a number of ideas regarding how we raise money and would like to get people’s thoughts regarding his proposals. He also asked for five or six volunteers to run the Charity. A member of the public queried the need for a dedicated charity, citing the existence of the Community Trust. Mr. Collier considered that the Trust was not the same thing and that a registered charity would be able to get access to funds that the Trust could not. He expressed the hope that local people and visitors would give donations on a regular basis. Referring to the earlier discussion around the Common Good Fund and the need to match funds, he suggested that we could use the registered charity to get this.
A member of the public asked if Mr. Collier had spoken to the Trustees of the Community Trust. He had not, but was looking to reach out to as many local organisations as possible to get their ideas. Mr. Collier had produced a brief proposal paper and offered to send it to anyone who emailed him at email@example.com
Mr. Bell noted that the Towns Team had also considered this and five of its existing members had set up a fundraising group to explore possible funding opportunities. Mrs Salvage suggested that the Towns team fund raising was only for local businesses, but Mr. Bell confirmed that the intention was for this to be general fundraising. He agreed that there are lots of local projects requiring funding and that there wasn’t an appropriate body within the village to take advantage of the tax benefits of a registered charity. He also noted that there was a list of grant giving bodies that precluded the Towns Team from applying, as it was not a registered charity. Mr. Bell suggested it would be best to avoid duplicate work. Mrs. Salvage said that since Mr. Collier had brought it to the CC, we would like to do this. It was also generally agreed that it was not to the benefit of the village to have multiple organisations. Mr. Bell stated that there would be no objection from the Towns Team to a dedicated body having charitable status for the benefit of all community groups.
Mr Bell also addressed the issue of the activities of the Town’s Team and said that the reason he had agreed to join the community Council was to address any concerns that the Town’s Team were disconnected with the rest of the local community groups. He explained that within St Monans we have a Trust, we have a Community Council and we now have a Town’s Team to support the commercial aspects of community life. Mr Bell noted that his co-opted position onto the Community Council was to brief it and the wider community about the Towns Team’s activities. He advised that meetings are on the first Monday of each month and again stressed that he wanted to promote these meetings as much as possible. Member of the public were very welcome to attend.
In answer to a question about the provision of Town’s Team Minutes, Mr. Bell advised that the Towns team meetings were not formally minuted, nor was there a formal management committee. Everything that was decided and agreed was made in open meetings (to which any member of the public was invited) and placed on the website. He noted that this openness was one of the strengths of the group.
- Close and Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held at 7.30 pm on Monday, 19 March 2018 in the Church Hall, Station Road.