No Budget for Baby Changing?

Live Life logo

Dear Bellman,

I was pleased to read your recent article on the progress of Stonehaven Leisure Centre. The sooner we have Stonehaven back open with our all singing/dancing facilities the better, as what Live life Aberdeenshire are doing with our alternative facilities at Portlethen Swimming Pool is nothing short of negligence.

I take my son to swimming lessons every week and we have been going to Portlethen pool. Several of the baby changers in the male changing room always seemed to be broken & last year there was an occasion where all of the changers were broken. I told the staff, sent a few emails, got them repaired & even got them to put in an additional freestanding changing table too (a wee victory!). Unfortunately, the additional changing table didn’t stay there for long & a month ago I had to report to the staff that all the changers were broken again. Each week that we went week back, you guessed it….. they still weren’t repaired.

Yesterday I had had enough, I have repeatedly told the staff, I have been reporting it every week, I emailed one of our local councillors and I wanted to speak to someone higher up at Live Life Aberdeenshire to know why they hadn’t been repaired. I now have my answer and it is all down to budgets, as finance has turned down their request for a new table and they are waiting on a quote for fixing the existing facility.

I am sorry Live Life Aberdeenshire, but it has been over a month! Changing facilities are a basic at a swimming pool. When I think back to when my son was just born, going anywhere is tough, getting out the house is an effort and to go through all the rigmarole of getting ready for a swimming lesson is stressful enough when you actually have the correct safety equipment, never mind when it is all broken. How are parents supposed to change their babies safely? I have asked & asked but they haven’t been able to answer that question.

So, that is where I am at our alternative swimming pool, hoping someone will actually twig that this is kind of important. And with our library I am still very anxious about what the future holds when we have had so many last minute closures lately. The area manager said that cover had not materialised. In reality, no cover was ever attempted because yet again, they don’t have the budget. We pay for our library, have hours that are already shockingly poor compared to what we used to have (good luck going to the library if you work during the week) and to top it all off we get constant operational closures.  

Now I cannot speak highly enough of the swimming instructors at the pools and the staff at the library but when it comes to Live Life Aberdeenshire, I can’t rate what you are doing. Live Life Aberdeenshire need to do better, providing facilities with basic equipment & actual having facilities that are physically open would be a good start!

Kind Regards,

Steve McQueen

Setting out for Epic Rally from London to Lisbon

Vintage Volvo with George and Rosalind at each door

By Andrew Wallace

A former Stonehaven man is flying the flag for Scotland in next week’s tough London to Lisbon marathon car rally.

George Topp, and his wife and navigator Rosalind, are seeded in car 11, their specially prepared 1966 Volvo Amazon 132S.

The couple, who successfully completed the famous Monte Carlo Historique Rallye earlier this year, now live in SW France, with the rally route actually passing close to their home-town Jonzac.

A member of a well-known Stonehaven family, George was a journalist in the town before becoming editor of a Lanarkshire paper, and moved to France on retiral.

Fifty crews from as far away as Japan and the USA are tackling the 2,800 km 10-day rally which sees them visit four different countries.

The rally cars taking part are all classic or historic vehicles built before 1985.   A 1930 open top Bentley Le Mans from Germany is the oldest car, and the youngest a 1985 VW Golf driven by a UK crew.

Crews gather in London on April 24th for car eligibility and safety checks before starting the following day from the historic Brooklands race circuit with its famous banked curves.  In fact, as soon as the start flag is dropped, competitors go straight into the first of eight speed tests held during the rally – this opening one gives them the rare opportunity to drive around the iconic banked curves following in the tyre tracks of some of motor racing’s most famous drivers.

Brooklands was the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century.

The racing circuit was constructed in 1907 and was the first purpose-built racing circuit in the world. Many records were set there. Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands, which soon became one of Britain’s first aerodromes. It attracted many aviation pioneers prior to World War I, and was also a leading aircraft design and manufacturing centre in the 20th century, producing a remarkable total of some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 260 types between 1908 and 1987

The London to Lisbon Rally, organised by HERO-ERA, takes competitors to Portsmouth for an overnight ferry to St Malo and then down the western coast of France before heading over the Pyrenees and into Spain, and then Portugal, eventually finishing at the Palacio Estoril on May 4.  Apart from the speed tests the 10-day event includes 35 navigational regularities, the winners of which will receive their awards at a gala prize giving dinner at the Palacio Estoril.

Picture – George & Rosalind Topp having completed the Monte Carlo Historique.

Stonehaven Golf Club

week #3 (part 1)

Your golfing correspondent’s season got itself off the ground this week, a fortnight after everyone else’s. Work commitments and a (triumphant) trip to Villa Park had prevented me from entering the fray until now.

It was a tonic not to be playing in a full set of long johns but it was still pretty nippy, headgear of the woollen variety required. I was well up for it, the new golfing campaign finally upon me, but as I watched my opening tee shot squirt apologetically down to the practice area, I knew I was in for a long season, never mind afternoon.

I salvaged respectability for the first three holes (+1) but almost made history on the 4th by being the first man to go out of bounds there. A pansy potter drive up the left side of the fairway left me a full 3 wood to the green but I yanked it so far left it almost came to rest in the greenkeeper’s shed. A pushed pitch, clumsy chip and two putts later, I was storming to the next tee the proud owner of a double bogey.

I won’t bore you with the detail of the intervening 13 holes but must make mention of the disturbance suffered on the 17th green as I doggedly fought my way to a decent score. In order to equal my handicap in my first competition of the season, I needed to close the round with two pars, so when my approach shot to the 17th left me with a straight 20 foot putt for birdie, I was licking my lips in anticipation. Until, that is, my backswing over said putt was serenaded by the deafening sound of Steven Innes slamming his car door shut on the neighbouring car park, in a very deliberate attempt to sabotage my endeavours. I duly charged my putt four feet past the hole only to be mercilessly barracked by said individual who, to make matters worse, took great delight in my failure to convert the return effort. Still irked by Innes’s rank bad etiquette, I also bogeyed the final hole to return a nett two over par score and leave myself amongst the also-rans.

I took it upon myself to confront Steven in the clubhouse afterwards, we were formerly friends so I felt entitled to address him in the strongest possible terms. However, my suggestion that he took a personal inventory of his behaviour towards fellow golfers was received with short shrift and I was despatched with a flea in my ear whilst being encouraged to address my ‘mental weakness’ in pressure situations. Pah. I suggest he does likewise given he went out ten minutes later to shoot a lamentable 13 points in the 9 hole Stableford comp, hardly demonstrating the mental fortitude he’d encouraged me to work towards.

My +2 return had me finish in 17th place within my division of 34 entrants, ie. slap bang in the middle. There’s bang average and there’s bang average, this was not a promising portent for the season to come. I awoke the following morning to the email of doom from HowDidIDo, an email universally dreaded by golfers, confirming it had taken just one competition for my handicap to go up (from 8.0 to 8.1). Hey ho, onwards to Saturday.

Results – Wednesday Medal

Division 1

Alan Officer 64 (11)

John Macfarlane 65 (8)

Dylan Bruce 65 (11)

Division 2

Raymond Shearer 63 (17)

Brian Hardstaff 64 (14)

Jon Thurlow 64 (16)

Division 3

Ross Walker 63 (20)

Lindsay Anderson 63 (30)

Kenneth Henderson 64 (27)

Leisure Centre Update

By bellmannews / April 16, 2024

A SQUADRON of white vans is a sure sign work is progressing at Stonehaven Leisure Centre, with a Life Life Aberdeenshire spokesman confirming everything is on track for a ‘mid-summer’ opening.

The refurbishment, includes improvements voted for during 2022’s participatory budget exercise, with £1.4 million allocated to:

  • A new dance/fitness studio area incorporating a new sound system, lighting, and a suite of spin bikes to expand the group exercise programme capacity. This will realise additional capacity in the main sports hall that can be offered to sports clubs and groups or be utilised to further expand the centre’s programme.
  • A new gym space fully kitted out with the latest exercise equipment, improving the experience for existing service users, and attracting new participants..
  • Upgraded lighting in the pool area.
  • A PAMIS changing space to enhance the provision within the Queen Elizabeth Park area for people with special needs and disabilities.

In addition, the old male and female changing rooms in the building, which dates back to 1985, are being refurbished into a changing village set-up with new lockers and cubicles.

Previously in The Bellman

KDP Bulletin

Welcome to the KDP Bulletin.

Plastic Free Stonehaven is a Community Group working to achieve ‘plastic free’ status from Surfers against Sewage. 
Since February 2023, the group has organised monthly community beach cleans, with the environmental charity for dog owners, Paws on Plastic.  The cleans have had fantastic support from the Stonehaven community, attracting 40+ volunteers every month, including a great number of families with young children.  A Reward Card for young volunteers was started in January to encourage and reward participants. 
During 10 beach cleans in 2023, 261.4kgs of waste was removed with a total of 258 volunteer hours while, due to the storms, already by the end of March 2024, 3 cleans had removed 294.5kgs!
They have had amazing support from Stonehaven businesses, with Godsman Graphics becoming their first fully certified Plastic Free Business in March 2024, closely followed by Lou Sells Preloved Labels.
They have another 10 local independent businesses committed to reducing single use plastics soon to achieve accreditation.
Plastic Free Stonehaven would love to hear from other businesses keen to sign up, as well as organisations such as schools, churches, sports and special interest groups who would like to help spread their message.  To get involved contact the organisers, Marion Montgomery, Councillor Sarah Dickinson and Fiona Bashford, at plasticfreestonehaven@gmail.com.

The Hillhead of Auquhirie Wind Farm Community Fund is open until 30th June 2024. This year, there is £14,243.39 to be awarded.
Applications to the fund can be made from groups and projects which benefit the communities living in the community council areas of:
Arbuthnott
Catterline, Kinneff & Dunnottar
Mearns
Stonehaven & District
Please note the maximum grant award is £1500.
If you would like to discuss a potential application, contact Margo at margo@kdp.scot.

Hundreds of thousands of trees are being given away to help the UK reach its 2050 carbon net-zero target. Schools, nurseries, colleges, universities, outdoor learning centres, and other groups such as resident associations, sports clubs, parish councils, scouts and guides from across the UK are amongst the organisations eligible to apply for up to 420 trees to improve their local environment.
Tree packs available include hedging, copse, wild harvest, year-round colour, working wood, wild wood, wildlife, and urban trees.
The Woodland Trust is currently taking applications for trees to be delivered in November 2024. Applications are expected to close in August 2024, or sooner depending on stock availability.
Visit their website for more information.

Voluntary sector organisations in the UK working on the front lines of family support can apply for grants of £10,000-£100,000 for a period of one to three years.
These funds, made available through the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, can be used for core costs, salaries, running expenses, and project costs.
Focus areas include family support in deprived communities, with particular interest in:
early intervention programmes
families coping with addiction
and assistance for prisoners’ families
There is a two-stage application process. First step is to complete the online Expression of Interest (EOI) form. Organisations successful at this stage will be sent the online link for the full application form.
For a complete programme guide and application details, visit the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation website.

The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours and communities, with millions of people coming together for a few hours of friendship, food and fun. It connects people and encourages friendlier, safer communities where people start to share more – conversations, ideas, skills, resources and friendship.
The Big Lunch 2024 will take place on 1 – 2 June.
To find out more and sign up for a free pack to get your Big Lunch rolling visit the website!

The FCC Scottish Action Fund provides grants of between £2,000 and £40,000 to not-for-profit organisations for the following types of projects eligible under Scottish Landfill Communities Fund (SLCF).
Land Reclamation (Object A) – The reclamation, remediation, restoration or other operation on land to facilitate economic, social or environmental use.
Community Recycling (Object B) – Community based recycling, re-use and waste prevention projects.
Public Amenities and Parks (Object C) – To provide, maintain or improve a public park or other public amenity.
Biodiversity (Object D) – The conservation or promotion of biological diversity through the provision, conservation, restoration or enhancement of a natural habitat or the maintenance or recovery of a species in its natural habitat.
Historic Buildings (Object E) – The maintenance, repair or restoration of a building, other structure or a site of archaeological interest which is a place of religious worship, or a site of historic or architectural or archaeological interest and is open to the public.
The next round closes on 5th June.
Visit the website for more information.

The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust gives grants to registered charities that work in the UK. They focus on specific priorities every year.
In 2024 rounds 1 and 2 will consider applications that focus on projects that support and improve employment and training for disabled people. Round 2 will close on 30th April.
Rounds 3 (1st – 31st July) and 4 (1st – 30th September) they will consider applications that focus on:
providing nutritious meals
food education
cooking skills
eliminating food waste
To learn more about the Trust and the application process visit their website.

Warmer Homes Scotland is a Scottish Government funded programme designed to help people in Scotland make their homes warmer and more comfortable. The programme covers a wide range of energy-efficient improvements like wall and loft insulation, draught-proofing, central heating, and renewables. Householders could get help worth up to around £10,000 or more.
Home Energy Scotland would be grateful if you could help them reach more households across Scotland by sharing information about Warmer Homes Scotland – for example, on your website or on social media.
To make it easier to spread the word, they’ve put together a handy stakeholder pack containing:

  • more information on Warmer Homes Scotland
  • posts to share on your social media channels
  • a newsletter and website article
  • downloadable graphics to accompany your posts.

 If you have any questions, please email them at whs@est.org.uk

In response to the cost-of-living crisis, the Bank of Scotland Foundation has announced a new funding programme. The Energise Programme will offer two-year unrestricted grants of £20,000 (£10,000 per annum) to help small and local charities continue to provide their vital services, and become more sustainable. The funding can be used towards core costs, delivery costs, project costs and/or general running costs, enabling charities to use their funding in the most effective way. The programme will open to applications from charities with an annual income of less than £150,000 on the 28th May 2024. The closing date for applications will be the 6th June 2024.
Learn more here.

Join the Trussell Trust, and their partners across Scotland, on a journey as they explore how we can move towards a vision of a Scotland without the need for food banks in a new podcast series.
In the first episode of the Cash First Approaches podcast, Sarah Russell from Perth Citizens Advice Bureau joins the Trussell Trust’s Angelle McCluskey to discuss how they’re creating a ‘no wrong door’ approach to advice in Perth and Kinross.
You can subscribe, download, and rate and review the podcast on your podcast app by searching Cash First Approaches.

The Climate Engagement Fund aims to build understanding of the climate emergency across communities in Scotland, both geographic and communities of interest, by offering support for climate engagement activities.
The CEF can be used to engage people and deepen their understanding of the climate emergency and the action that society needs to take to reach net zero, thus delivering on the ‘understand’ objective of the Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change.
Examples of activities that can be funded include:
public events/lectures
climate festivals
climate conversations
learning and development (e.g. carbon/climate training, climate coaching)
skills workshops
exhibitions/art installations
participatory arts
youth development programmes
staff costs linked to delivery of the project
Bids can include new activity or uplifts to existing activity (one-off or ongoing).
Eligible applicant organisations must be ‘trusted messengers’. A trusted messenger has existing links to their audiences and includes community or voluntary groups, education institutions, culture institutions, faith groups and more. Please see the fund website for full details.
Applications close on 7 May 2024.
Visit the Scottish Government website for more information.


KDP is here to help in any way we can. Please get in touch if we can assist you or your Community group.



Church Matters

Resorting to ‘safe places’ is something all of us do since such places can feel familiar, giving us comfort. They could be homes, parks, the allotment, maybe a specific spot on a beach, even the bathroom, we all have our ‘go to’ locations when seeking peace and reassurance.

Church can be people’s safe place. We go there when life’s tough, rocking up with a prayer or two in an attempt to strongarm God into seeing things our way. Sending up a shopping list of requirements for him to endorse, and by delivering them in church we may feel there’s a better chance of ‘success’.

But the truth is that church buildings are no more reliable than toilet closets if we want to be in touch with God. He’s present in both locations, granted, but the location itself is immaterial. Our relationship should be with God in the shape of Jesus and not a place in terms of a church. We shouldn’t get fixated on buildings, altars, favourite stained glass windows and chapel pews. Our focus is to be on God himself, no more and no less.

When we feel defeated, our progress in life seems a slow wade through treacle, all of our best efforts coming to naught, at times like this we can feel persuaded to try church, asking God to rubber stamp our intentions and hopes. But simply pitching up at church isn’t the way to achieve oneness with God, speaking to and listening to him wherever we are is what truly counts. We’re to take our eyes off buildings and structures and lay them upon him instead.

Churches are worthy places, of course they are. They’re vital for faithful fellowship, offering themselves as hubs for the gathering of like minded people looking to honour and thank God. But churches themselves are merely pointers and signposts to the true location to which our hearts must search. There’s a danger that by pitching up at church we feel the job’s done, that we can piggy back off a pastor or minister’s enthusiastic fervour and this in itself will be sufficient to reach God. But no, God wants our hearts and minds directly, a personal relationship with us, we’re not to hide behind others when approaching God, we’re to address him one on one. In truth our lives have an audience of one, only he sees us 24/7 in our good and bad moments, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about us so we’re to speak with him honestly. He knows you know! God won’t be hoodwinked!

You might not like what you hear when God speaks to you, beware of that. He’s not a mascot or lucky charm, he’s not a magician, so if we think we can simply wheel him out to perform acts we’ve decided are right for our lives we stand sometimes to be bitterly disappointed. He’s not to be bargained with, we just give our hearts and hopes to him then leave him to discern the best route forward. It requires obedience, not a word many of us like, but when we’re obedient to God we can be safe in the knowledge that the consequences will always be good. He loves you, let him show you how 😊

1 Samuel 4:1-11 NIV – And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. – Bible Gateway

Stonehaven Golf Club

week #2

All eyes were glued on Augusta National at the weekend as The Masters played out in the USA. Hats off to Scottie Scheffler for taking the title and all that but I’d like to see him try and find the 2nd green at Stoney in the weather we’ve been suffering lately.

Blustery conditions again tested the resolve of the 108 players competing for the weekend’s Innes Medal and the scoring suggested as such. No fewer than 49 players registered no-returns, golf’s equivalent of pulling up a horse (somewhat apt since it was Grand National Day also). The winning scores in each of the three divisions were admirable given the winds were strong so hearty congratulations must go to Ewan Mechie, Neil Cattanach and Ross Walker.

The season has got off to a difficult start with diabolical weather but we soldier on regardless. It doesn’t help having to watch The Masters being conducted in warm, sunny climes but seeing Tiger Woods hack his way to an 82 in round three at least offers some succour to the rest of us.

Results

Innes Medal

Div 1

Ewan Mechie 62

Steven Brown 63

Harry Roulston 63

Div 2

Neil Cattanach 64

Rudi Taylor 66

Graham Sangster 68

Div 3

Ross Walker 62

Malcolm Ritchie 64

Douglas Lorimer 67

Ladies Medal

Div 1

Catherine Duncan 71

Fiona Currie 72

Div 2

Susannah Calder 68

Elizabeth Powell 68

Beware of Pothole

deep pothole in foreground

Dear Bellman

There is a pothole at the junction of Mary Street and Robert Street, which has been there for months.

It is getting larger, surprise,surprise. It cannot be seen during the hours of darkness, nor when it is raining. If a cyclist goes into it, the consequences for the cyclist and the Council could be serious. The cyclist may care, but the Council do not.   

I have  been advised this morning that this pothole will be attended to at the latest by 18 January  2025, but note the qualification “resources permitting.” Tar and stones must be difficult to come by, or may be members of the Roads Department are working from home and scared to come out for fear of disappearing into a pothole. By 2025, you might not see a single-decker bus in this pothole, but the bus might be visible from Mars. 

Yours etc

Douglas Cusine

Concerns Include Reduced Role for Viewmount

By bellmannews / April 12, 2024
Stonehaven Council offices

The closure of Stonehaven’s council office as a service centre, along with library opening hours and the condition of our community bus are areas of concern to be highlighted by Stonehaven and District Community Council, SDCC, in a letter to Aberdeenshire Council.

The latest budget for our local authority came with a swingeing series of cuts to service. One money-waving move is the closure of five out of eight of the Council’s service points – including the one in Viewmount.

New service point arrangements

At SDCC’s meeting on Tuesday evening, Cllr Sarah Dickinson provided an update on the new arrangements for accessing council services, which will come into effect on Friday April 26.

Mrs Dickinson said the service staff would continue to work by telephone.

And she said: ”The Community and Leisure Centres will be providing the contact point, and the staff at the Library will be signposting.

”All staff are going to be trained to deal with any point of contact from the public,” she said.

With these changes, the staff of Live Life Aberdeenshire are coming to the fore as an interface with the public.

Ian Hunter noted a long-standing invitation to Live Life Aberdeenshire to attend an SDCC meeting.

”I’d like to ask if that request could be made again,” he said.

Library opening hours and minibus

Steve McQueen also flagged the number of occasions the library has been closed and questioned the reason.

He said: ”In February when Tim Stephen the area manager was here, he said there was an exceptional amount of staff sickness.

”But when I went to the library I was told the cover was not in place due to the budget and that the level of staffing has changed from two members of staff to one.”

And later on in the meeting the condition of the community bus was discussed, and described as being ‘on its last legs’ with its lift not working. This was noted as being, ‘something else we need to talk to Live Life Aberdeenshire about’.

Annual Senior Citizens’ Concert Evening

St Bridget's Hall

From Stonehaven and District Lions Club

Stonehaven & District Lions Lions Club are holding our annual Senior Citizens Concert on Thursday 24th April.

This year’s concert will take place in the St. Bridgets Hall.

Free tickets are available from Molly’s Cafe Bar, Fountainhall Wines and the Library.

Please share this with anyone who may not be on social media.

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