Youth Club Building One Step Closer

By Jane Cruickshank / December 13, 2023
exterior shot of the sandstone sea cadet building

A DEDICATED space for Stonehaven’s young people is one step closer after councillors unanimously backed proposals for the community asset transfer of the former Sea Cadet building on the High Street.

As a relatively young organisation, the Kincardine and Mearns Youth Club, KMYC, is seeking a 30-year lease for the building rather than outright ownership. This proposal was before yesterday’s meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee.

The building has a long history of youth-related use It was built in 1851 as a school for the neighbouring Episcopal Church. When it closed in 1939 the building was taken over by the Education Authority then leased to the Stonehaven Sea Cadet Corps in 1954 – who retained it until April last year when they moved to their new harbour premises.

The condition of the building was the biggest source of concern for councillors – there has been no recent survey either by the local authority or KMYC. As new tenants, the KMYC would have undertake any necessary building works and comply with all up to date fire and access regulations – at their own cost.

Area manager Tim Stephen said: ”This gets to the nub of why officers are making their recommendation to refuse the asset transfer request.”

Jeopardy noun – danger of loss, harm or failure

Cllr Sarah Dickinson asked what the ‘jeopardy’ was – if there was a get out clause for the group if they ran into trouble?

Mr Stephen said KMYC would not be locked in for the full 30 years, as there would be a clause releasing them if necessary – and the jeopardy to the council would be any dimunition in the value of the building in the meantime. According to the report, the building’s current value is £100,000 which would go towards the Council’s ongoing budget costs.

Denise Bannerman spoke on behalf of the youth club, which has over 200 members with around 50 attending each week. Ms Bannerman highlighted the difficulties presented by the current space in the Community Centre, where the room layout is not ideal and there is no storage. And she said the group wanted to help youngster acquire vital life skills in a safe and secure space, which was universally available to youngsters and free at the point of entry.

Cllr Alan Turner noted the need for the provision of fire escapes.

And he said: ”One of my fears is the condition on the building. It is a big potential liability you are taking on. I am concerned this could be to the detriment of the group. I wouldn’t want you to go out of business.”

In the end, it was the broad support of the youth club project that won the day.

Cllr Catherine Victor (North Kincardine) said: ”There are no guarantees the youth club will make a job of this. However there should be a youth club in Stonehaven, so we should give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Mrs Dickinson : ” It is to be welcomed and encouraged.”

”Less structured opportunities for young people are needed,” she added.

What next?

With the asset transfer request having been approved contrary to officers’ recommendation, the decision of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee will go to the Business Services Committee for ratification.

Speaking after the meeting, a KMYC board member said: ”We’re delighted that the committee see the potential of the project and the value that KMYC offers the young people of K&M and Stonehaven.

”We look forward to it going in front of the Business Services Comittee and hope for a positive outcome there in the New Year.”