Difficult Decision for First Area Committee Meeting

By Jane Cruickshank / June 13, 2022
Rugby posts and blue sky

THE newly-elected members of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee convene for the first time on Tuesday for a heavyweight agenda packed with performance reports and a contentious community asset transfer request.

Meet your new area committee

The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee comprises:

The representatives from North Kincardine

From left, David Aitchison, SNP; Shirley Burnett, Scottish Conservative and Unionist; Mel Sullivan, Scottish Liberal Democrat; and Catherine Victor, SNP

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside

From left, Wendy Agnew, Scottish Conservative and Unionist; Dawn Black, SNP; Sarah Dickinson, Scottish Liberal Democrat; Alan Turner, Scottish Conservative and Unionist

and Mearns

From left, Laurie Carnie and George Carr both Scottish Conservative and Unionist; Alison Evison, Independent; Kevin Stelfox, SNP

The role of an area committee

There are six area committees in Aberdeeshire which share a range of powers and responsibilites. These committees determine matters directly affecting only their areas – and make recommendations to policy
committees on strategic matters and Council policy. And then there are planning and licensing applications to determine, an area budget to administer, and area specific procurements and contracts to consider.

– and what’s on tomorrow’s agenda

First on the agenda is the election of a chair and vice chair – will Cllr Wendy Agnew be re-elected to the chair with its casting vote or will a new face take centre stage?

Our new councillors should have done a lot of reading of late – tomorrow’s meeting includes performance reports from Environment and Infrastructure Services, Business Services, Education and Children’s Services. A Corporate Parenting Annual Report will also be presented as will an update on our area plan.

Difficult decisions

There are planning applications to determine, including one for the installation of 14 solar panels at 7 David Street, where there is conflict between the environmental benefit of renewable energy and the need to protect the character and appearance of a conservation area. Planning officers place their emphasis on built heritage and recommeded refusal.

And if any doubt remains, the deliberations on Mackie Academy FP Rugby Club’s bid for the land at Forest Park will surely hammer home one of the thorniest aspects of being a local representative, ”You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The club is are seeking the transfer of Forest Park to create two pitches to SRU competition standard, training area, changing rooms, storage, a fitness suite and clubhouse. They have already lost one pitch and the lease on their remaining pitch at Redcloak ends in 2026.

While the town is clearly behind its 375 rugby players, the proposed move to Forest Park has proved contentious. Of a total of 372 representations received, 167 objected to the proposal while 205 were in
support. In addition a Save our Park group was formed and submitted a petition with 1165 names objecting to the proposal.

Various presentations were made to Stonehaven and District Community Council, who ultimately moved to object to the asset transfer, while requesting Aberdeenshire Council to support the club in its efforts to find a suitable home.

Councils have an obligation to look favourably on asset transfer requests – unless there are reasonable grounds for their refusal. Officers have recommended the request is granted – it is down to the committee to decide if the concerns raised by those objecting carry sufficient weight and validity for them to disagree. Whatever the outcome, people are going to be unhappy.

The above saying is attributed to poet John Lydgate and was later adapted by President Lincoln, who perhaps faced baying mobs – but was never hounded in social media.

The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee convenes tomorrow (Tuesday) in Viewmount at 9.30am. While councillors are able to attend in person, the building is not yet open to the public. The full agenda and links to the live stream of the meeting are available online.