V Salvage (Acting Chair); S Bridges (Secretary); W Morris (Treasurer); M Ashworth; H Ironside; B Buchan; V Bland; M Syme; E Montador; Cllr Docherty and Cllr Holt.
Cllr Porteous, N Cowie and S Collier.
1.Welcome and apologies
No declarations of interest were noted at the beginning of the meeting and the Secretary confirmed the meeting was quorate. A member of the public, but not a resident, stated that he intended to record the meeting. The Acting Chair did not object, proposed that the audio recording be permitted and asked for a show of hands. This was passed with two objections. Mrs. Salvage then invited members of the public who were unhappy at being recorded to leave the meeting.
2. Statement by the Acting Chair
Mrs Salvage read out the following statement: “As Acting chair, I feel that unfortunately I must remind all members of the public that this is a meeting of the Community Council which is held in public and the public are encouraged to attend to allow transparency and observation of Community Council business. The last meeting was a very unpleasant affair for at least a section of the meeting. I don’t expect to ever come to a meeting in St Monans and end up feeling more intimidated than I ever did when teaching in a large city. But when a mob attitude takes over it can even happen in a lovely small town like St Monans. Please let me remind everyone that not one has the right to make gestures and shout and bawl at a panel of volunteers who do their very best to make life best for everyone. None of us pretend to be experts, but when we do our best as we all do – the least we can expect is to be treated with respect and good manners. I make no apologies for speaking out tonight and to add that if this happens tonight those causing any problems will be asked to leave. There will be an opportunity at the end for the public to ask any relevant questions”.
3. Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising.
The minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2021, were not discussed. However, 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. Ongoing.
3.2 Water supply at St Monans Cemetery. Fife Council have confirmed to Mrs Salvage that the existing water supply infrastructure cannot be fixed. The Council has suggested that an outside tap is placed on the side of the Church building as an alternative. The practical challenges for elderly and less able residents were discussed and Cllr Docherty agreed to follow this up further with the relevant Council officials. Mr Morris asked where the break in the water supply had been identified. It was suggested that the break is on the other side of the burn. Ms Montador proposed that the Community Council should approach Lochay Homes Limited to see if they would be prepared to work with the community to restore a water supply as a goodwill gesture. This was considered a good suggestion and Mrs Salvage and Cllr Docherty agreed to take this forward.
4. Acting Chair’s report
Mrs Salvage began by acknowledging the generous offer received by the owner of the Bass Rock yard to donate £1,000 towards a defibrillator to be situated outside the yard. Mrs Salvage has contacted Gillian Duncan (East Neuk First Responders) to see how best to take this forward.
4.1 Gallery on West Shore (formerly old post office): Mrs Salvage has not received any satisfactory response to what can be done regarding the old post office property currently being redeveloped as an art gallery and she noted there was not a lot that could be done to prevent it from becoming a residential property. 4.2 Queen Margaret Street Road works: Mrs Salvage noted the start of the road works and suggested that the construction work would last a long time. Mr Buchan noted that the road cones had been down for a week and nothing had happened. Mrs Syme added that the work on laying the large sewage pipes for the development had started that day. The temporary traffic light arrangements are also causing parking challenges for residents. Mr Salvage agreed to investigate this further.
4.3 Salt pans area – grass cutting: Following the previous meeting, Mrs Ashworth noted that that she had spoken to the farmer who owns the land adjacent to the salt pans and he confirmed that Fife Council own half the land in and around the salt pans. Mrs Ashworth agreed to share her email exchange with Mrs Salvage to pursue further with Fife Council.
4.4 Overgrown Hedge in lane leading up to Elm Grove bus stop. The hedge has now been cut.
4.5 Old Manse path. The path has now been totally blocked off. Mrs Salvage is unsure whether this is temporary or permanent as she has not received any communication about this.
4.6 Pot- holes along the harbour front. Mrs Salvage has not taken this forward yet.
4.7 Application to the CGF on behalf of the Autumn Club. Mrs Salvage noted that she was still working on the application to the Common Good Fund.
4.8 Cars abandoned and ‘shrine’ appearing in Castle Street. It was noted that a Community Councillor had respectfully removed the flowers and vase from the street and relocate it to the cemetery. Mrs Salvage noted that Fife Council are not responsible for dealing with abandoned cars and suggested that the police did not want to know. Mr Buchan noted that there were still abandoned cars in Elk Grove, Gourlay Crescent and on Queen Margaret Street. Mrs Salvage took a note of the information provided by Mr Buchan and agreed to write to Police Scotland again and copy in the Ward Councillors.
5. Secretary’s Report
5.1 Police Report: Unfortunately, it was noted that Police Scotland had not provided a monthly update on their activities within the area.
5.2 West End right of way steps: Mr Bridges met with representatives of Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (FCCT) and Fife Council on site to discuss how best to replace the wooden steps. Two residents, who live adjacent to the right of way also joined the meeting. Unfortunately, due to soil and coastal erosion, it was the opinion of both officials that replacing the wooden steps would not be possible. At the very least the solution would require a galvanised steel step form the beach all the way up towards the main road. This would be expensive and challenging given the erosion. The recommendation was to remove the broken wooden steps and simply allow individuals to scramble down the rocks at their own risk. If this was done occasionally and noted, it would help maintain this right of way. It was also suggested to encourage the vegetation to grow as this was preventing rapid soil erosion.
6. Treasurer’s Report
The Treasurer noted that Mr Peter Peddie had kindly agreed to cover the costs of the annual Christmas lighting of the Auld Kirk. This sum of £650 had previously been agreed to be covered by the Community Council. The meeting expressed its gratitude for this generous offer. Mr Morris also noted that the flower fund is waiting for one more invoice for the watering of the hanging baskets. Otherwise, there was nothing of significance to report.
7. Members Reports
Planning matters: Mrs Syme noted that other than an application for new windows at the pink flats on East Street, there was nothing of significant concern in recent planning applications.
New Children’s playpark at the Mair: Mrs Ironside noted that the playpark committee was now waiting for Fife Council to provide an update on timelines to undertake the redevelopment work. Given the time of year, she suggested that it might not be possible to start the work until early in the new year. Meantime, thank you cards had been issued to the many supporters and organisations that had helped the community reach its funding target.
Community support initiatives: In Mr Collier’s absence, Mrs Salvage read out his brief update:The ‘Sensitive’ letting policy appears to be working well.New residents have moved in and the area has been relatively quiet A used syringe was found in the car park off Station Road, behind East Street by a child. It was safely disposed of.Fife Council are looking into obtaining funding for a new Community Development Worker for St Monans. Mr Collier is unable to attend meetings and has suggested Norman Cowie takes his place as the ideal person to advice on such an initiative. Mrs Salvage added that the purpose of this role would be to help adults with substance abuse issues and would therefore require someone with the appropriate skill sets.
Heritage Centre project: Mr Morris reported on the state of the Heritage Centre. It is in dire need of repairs- the biggest problem being dampness in the building. Dampness also appears to be in the adjacent building, possibly in the chimney. Mr Morris is working with Fife Council to provide a detailed plan of long-term repairs to the building. He is also looking to undertake some remedial repairs meantime and is hoping that the Centre could be re-opened to the public in 2022. St Monans Burgh charter: Mr Morris also advised that he had been approached by an individual who claimed to have a copy document of the 1622 Burgh Charter. Mr Morris has been in touch with the University of St Andrews to check on the authenticity of the document. Two relevant experts, Mr Low and Ms Sheridan (a medieval history specialist) joined members of the Community Council to review and discuss the document. From their research (and noting the fragility of the paper, the discolouring of the type of handwriting and the style of font) they concluded that the document was a copy of the original Burgh Charter that had been made somewhere between the 1780 and 1820. It is not clear why this copy was made. However, the document is still of historical importance to the community. On this basis, it was agreed that the Community Council should attempt to purchase the document on behalf of the community. Mr Morris, on the advice of Fife Council has applied for funding. The document would ultimately form part of the collection at the Heritage Centre.
In response to a question from a resident, Mr Morris confirmed that items from the collection had been securely stored away from the areas affected by dampness.
Mr Morris also noted that he had been provided with some additional documents from Millers yard dating from 1964.
In Cllr Porteous absence, Mrs Salvage read out his update: Heritage Museum-encouraging conversations with all the adjoining householders to work together to fix the water ingress- inspected by Fife Council by my request both inside the museum and outside particularly roofs and chimneys. A double cut of grass at the Windmill and the Salt Pans has been completed recently by FC following a chase up from me. I’m awaiting written confirmation that Fife Council Estates has any liability externally. In terms of Community Council lease with FC that’s our responsibility and thanks everyone getting it restored. I spoke this week with Mrs Reekie and her husband is much improved and they’ve expressed a wish to see the Museum reopen in Spring 2022. Fife Council have come back to say – in principle- no issue with changes to lease of the Heritage Museum. As local Councillor, he has thanked Fife Council for the road works – belated but thankfully completed – but I look have requested dates for further road repair work on Inverie Street but that would obviously be after completion of drainage linkage between new housing development and main sewer in lower Queen Margaret Street.
Cllr Holt reported that gritting bins could again be requested from Fife Council for the coming winter months, but explained that no additional new grit bins would be provided to communities. She also advised that the gritting route would be Gourlay Crescent, Inverie Street, Braehead and Burnside/West End. Several residents complained that many important routes appeared to be excluded from Fife Council’s list and Ms Montador expressed concern that Castle Street was missing given the proximity of the fire station. Cllr Hold asked for a report on areas missing their grit bins and Mrs Salvage agreed to provide this to Cllr Holt.
Cllr Docherty noted that the Scottish government had proposed legislation to make both pavement parking and double-parking illegal. Mr Docherty will be asking this to be discussed at the next meeting of the East Neuk Forum. A resident raised a concern about the recently painted double lines on Station Road being over-extended on the street. Cllr Holt asked the resident if she had raised this with Fife Council, but Mrs Salvage agreed to write to Fife Council about his.
Mrs Salvage then invited questions from the public. Station Road Railings. In response to a request for a progress update, Mrs Salvage noted that there was nothing further to report.Queen Margaret Street linkage to new housing development. Mrs Salvage confirmed that this appeal was still with the Scottish government for a decision. Queen Margaret St playpark. A resident queried whether the developers were intending to close this park, as it appeared cornered off and street work was scheduled for six to ten weeks. Another resident complained that there was poor communication from the developers. Mrs Salvage was unaware of this. Mrs Syme agreed that she would contact the on-site manager to establish what was happening. Mr Buchan offered to accompany Mrs Syme. Another resident noted that she had contacted the police about a site break in, but it had taken the police over two and half hours to attend.Overgrown foliage around the burn. Concern was expressed at the state of the banks to the burn, particularly around the bridge area. A small tree had also fallen, causing additional hazards. Cllr Docherty agreed to ask Fife Council officials to investigate. A resident asked whether it would be possible for another defibrillator to be installed around the fish shed as approximately 120 individuals worked in the vicinity. Mr Morris agreed that this was worth considering and agreed to approach the owners of the businesses based there, and the local Vets, to see if they would be prepared to contribute funds for a defibrillator.
In the absence of Cllr Porteous, the discussion around his motion to Fife Council to consider designating the East Neuk as a ‘Control Area’ for planning purposes in relation to secondary letting was deferred until the next meeting.