Getting it Right for Stonehaven’s Schools

image from council paper showing campus location within Mackie playing fields

AT last night’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council, members heard reassurances from the team working to locate and design the replacement buildings for Dunnottar and Carronhill Schools – they said they were experienced and wanted to ‘get it right’.

Three representatives from Aberdeenshire Council’s learning estates team attended the meeting to kick off a consultation process likely to last most of this year. They said they wanted to start a conversation with all interested parties – parents, staff and pupils – to gain their comments and feedback.

Campus model preferred

Various options were looked at as sites for the new school buildings – as detailed in a report presented to the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee last September (item 14).

At the moment, the preferred option is to build the two new schools within the grounds of Mackie Academy. This campus style model is already in place in Inverurie where St Andrew’s School for young people with additional support needs sits alongside the academy.

And in Peterhead, a similar approach will see the Anna Ritchie School join the academy in a new ‘state-of-the-art Peterhead Community Campus’ also including a 600-pupil primary school.

Early years estates manager Paul Whalley said the team would be willing to look at the other locations available to the local authority.

”We need to look at the size of what is needed to see if it can be accommodated on any of the other sites.”

But in response to a question from Raymond Christie, it was conceded one reason the campus model was preferred was it may help secure funding for the project.

Quality improvement manager Maxine Booth said: ”Funding is available through the Learning Estate Investment Programme, LEIP.

”We would be wanting to bid for the next phase of funding, which will be looking at a reduced carbon footprint and digital capability.

”The campus approach would help the bid gain funding – it would hit more of the criteria.”

Plea to ‘get it right’

Our community councillors took the opportunity to raise their immediate concerns about the proposals – would there still be scope to build a new secondary school on the site, how would parking needs be addressed, why was a new Carronhill needed, and would a campus be suitable for the children attending Carronhill School?

And Jim Stephen made a heartfelt plea that the learning estates team, ‘get it right’.

Ms Booth said the pupils from Carronhill School would benefit from their new facility.

”We have been able to say to the Anna Ritchie School parents that all their requests have been met in the design.”

And she said Stonehaven’s new schools would benefit from their experience gained at Inverurie and Peterhead.

”These projects don’t come along often. It’s a lot of money, so we do want to get it right,” she added.

Special meeting to be convened

While, as indicated, the learning estates team will be holding their own meetings with parents etc, SDCC agreed they would like to convene a special meeting with interested residents so they can hear all concerns and take these forward in their discussions. This meeting will be held in March.

Previously in The Bellman

Sarah is Standing for Council Re-election

By bellmannews / January 12, 2022
image of Sarah on the boardwalk

From – Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrats

Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrats have announced that Sarah Dickinson has been selected as their candidate for the Aberdeenshire Council ward of Stonehaven and Lower Deeside in the May 2022 elections. Sarah, a resident of Stonehaven for nearly 25 years, was elected in 2017 as a councillor for the ward and she has worked hard to represent the people of Stonehaven and Lower Deeside during these past five years.

Sarah said she was elected in 2017 on the promise that she would work to get a commitment to a new Dunnottar Primary School, and she has seen that aim achieved. A new Carronhill School has now also been budgeted for.

Sarah said “The commitment by Aberdeenshire Council to replace these schools is the essential starting point. Community engagement is now key for the development of these new schools. Completion is planned for 2025.”

Sarah has long worked on seeking improvements to the sports and leisure facilities in Stonehaven and so is delighted that the community will shortly be deciding how £1.8m will be spent to enhance this infrastructure.  This money will make a difference, but more will be needed to support local clubs to achieve their full potential. Sarah said she will continue to advocate for that further investment.

Sarah fully supported the collaborative work between the council and local groups that resulted in the improvements to the Stonehaven boardwalk that residents and visitors alike are now enjoying. Sarah said she understands the importance of this coastal walk to the economy of Stonehaven and how the improved signage can support connectivity to the town’s centre and local amenities. Sarah will continue to protect what is special about Stonehaven, whilst supporting the town to develop as a vibrant place to live and work.

Sarah said, “Delivering the basics is of fundamental importance to residents   and   so   I   was   quick   to   support   the   additional   £5.5m investment in road maintenance made by the council administration of which I am a member earlier this year. I would advocate for sustained investment in roads and landscape services going forward.”

Sarah said “I am passionate about clean streets and green spaces which are free of dog mess and litter. As a result, as well as getting more bins where they are most needed, I litterpick regularly and have used posters with eyes to remind dog owners of their responsibility to pick up after their pooches. I have also spearheaded an initiative to have yellow fish painted by town centre drains reminding everyone that the drains connect to the sea and are for water only!”

In Lower Deeside speeding is a major issue. Sarah said “I have worked and will continue to work with the communities there to advocate lower speed limits and measures to make their roads safer for all.

“If re-elected in May, I will continue to be a strong advocate for both Stonehaven and Lower Deeside working hard to ensure they are great places to live, visit and work.”

The Bellman takes no political stance and will be delighted to post an announcement from any other candidates in the forthcoming local government elections.

Latest Police Report

By bellmannews / January 12, 2022
The North East poloice crest

This report covers progress we have made in dealing with your priorities for the Kincardine and Mearns area for the period 1 to 31 December 2021.

The report aims to highlight emerging issues in your area, provide crime prevention advice and guidance to Community Council members and the residents you represent.  Our focus is to reduce crime and disorder, help create safer communities and respond effectively to local concerns.

Community Policing Priorities

Antisocial behaviour, Violence and Disorder:

There has been a decrease in the number of Anti-social Behaviour calls within Kincardine and Mearns for the month of December, with 21 calls being received.  

There were 7 Assault crime reports raised within December. 5 reported are detected and have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal and the Youth Justice Management Unit. Meanwhile, 1 is still being investigated. There were no serious assaults reported in December.

Acquisitive Crime:

There have been 10 Thefts throughout the Kincardine and Mearns area during December. 7 remain undetected and are still being investigated. Three of the thefts relate to shoplifting offences, two of which were detected and the person responsible reported to the Procurator Fiscal. The third crime is still under investigation.

These crimes include entry being forced to a garage in Maryculter and a number of tools stolen from within. This is still under investigation.

In St Cyrus, a 33 year old male was charged with a sneak in theft to a residential property where soft furnishings were stolen. He has been reported.

Road Safety & road crime:

Drink/Drug Driving

In December there were 2 drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol. They have been charged and reported.   

Dangerous Driving

There was 1 reported incident of dangerous driving for the month of December.

Careless Driving

There has been 4 reported incident of careless driving for the month of December, all of which are detected and reported to COPFS.

Speeding Offences

The Kincardine and Mearns CPT, continue to prioritise safe driving, and have undertaken numerous Road Safety checks using the Unipar laser device. Several new locations have been provided as areas of concern, which will be visited in future operations.

Community Engagement & Reassurance:


As an Intelligence led organisation, Police Scotland depend on members of the public to come forward and provide information. We like to know the ‘who, what, why, when, where and how’ in relation to criminals who are living or committing crime in our communities.

Nothing should be considered too small or irrelevant, things like names, nicknames, addresses, descriptions and vehicle registration numbers are all very helpful.

All information received is treated confidentially and measures are put in place to prevent the source of the information being identified, before it is shared with Police Officers.  Information received helps prevent and detect crime, disrupt criminal activity and apprehend offenders.

Contact Us:

Inspector Allen Shaw

Kincardine and Mearns Community Policing Team

Stonehaven Golf Club

It’s the annual AGM at Stonehaven Golf Club this week, membership fees destined for discussion at some point. In an effort to assist members as they evaluate whether they get bang for their buck, I’m taking the trouble to share my 2021 statistics. Much of it doesn’t make for pretty reading but I’m prepared to forego my dignity to help you work out the cost efficiency of an SGC membership.

You’ll notice that as the year progressed I recorded every 18 hole score, I then sat down on New Year’s Day to analyse said results. My findings weren’t altogether heartening in terms of performance but very encouraging with regard to VFM (value for money). So it’s in a spirit of communal benefit that I share these findings, warts and all. I hope that, one way or another, they confirm your club fees represent money well spent.

First off, you’ll see I played 106 full rounds of golf, 40% off the medal tees and 60% off the yellows. That might sound a lot but in truth I’m bitterly disappointed, no self respecting golfing nerd should be playing only twice a week. I’ll be addressing this in 2022 and no mistake. 

My average score during the year was 75, a mediocre nine over par. I effectively played par, bogey, par, bogey golf all year long, pretty uneventful stuff, but I loved it nonetheless. (It reminds me in some respects of my 150 match amateur footballing career in which, playing centre back throughout, I scored six goals for my club while also conceding six own goals. My football career was therefore neutralised. I’d have been better off staying at home to avoid injuries, disciplinary fines and harrowing pelters after each ignominious own goal).

But returning to golf, what terrific value for money I’ve had this last year at SGC and if you played as regularly as I did, you will have too. Assuming you played twice a week as a full member your golfing year will have cost as follows :-

106 rounds = £5.18 per round 

1,908 holes = 29p per hole

And, perversely, I can announce that the worse your golf is the cheaper it becomes. Hapless duffers of the world unite, you have the last laugh when it comes to VFM. I can explain. 

The Irvines and Riddells of this world, the ‘Billy Bigtimes’,  may think they’re being clever as they showboat their way to another level par total, averaging 66 strokes per round. But in reality the joke’s on them since such grandstanding equates to an outlay of 8p per shot as opposed to my 7p, or an 18 handicapper’s 6p. And if you’re playing to a handicap of 28, thereby averaging a score of 95, you’re paying only 5p a shot. Incredible value and one in the eye for the fancy dans shelling out thruppence more per shot as they swagger around the course as if they own the place. Being a rank bad golfer pays dividends, being a good one a fool’s game. I hope this revelation puts a different complexion on things next time you storm off the 18th having had a nightmare. 

Conversely however, you might like to consider the following statistic, one which perhaps puts a fresh perspective on matters. In terms of an hourly golfing rate, someone playing 106 rounds of golf over a calendar year will have amassed 318 hours of continuous golf, or 13 entire days, regardless of whether they’re a good or awful player. This equates to £1.73 per hour. Now I don’t mind paying nearly two quid an hour if I’m finding fairways and holing rakers, but I’ll be blowed if I’m paying top dollar to honk the joint out with hooks, shanks and three stabs. 

It’s a conundrum this good player v bad player dilemma isn’t it? Not one any of us have a choice about to be honest, you don’t set out to be rotten, it just happens, believe me. I’ll leave you to decide where you might fall on the spectrum between club champ or chump but one thing we’ll all be agreed on is that in our own individual way, we each revel in our Stonehaven Golf Club membership. Let’s look forward to another year of golfing VFM whether via NR’s or CR’s (course records).

This week’s results

Winter League Singles

  1. D McRae 41 pts
  2. A McKechnie 36 pts
  3. R Hemphill 36 pts

Winter League Doubles (Nett)

  1. J Neal / D Henderson 58
  2. D Callaghan / D Summers 60
  3. G Lamont /F Lamont 61

Winter League Doubles (Gross)

  1. C Taylor / K Murdoch 61
  2. K Brown / J Halliday 67
  3. B McGillivary / S Dempster 68

Senior 14 Hole Sweep 

Div 1 – J Neal 32 pts

Div 2 – D McRae 33 pts

Div 3 – I Patience 30 pts

Ladies Winter League

  1. Jackie Hunt 32 pts
  2. Wilma Lawrence 30 pts
  3. Fiona Sim 29 pts

Sad End of an Era at Golf Club

From Harry Roulston –

THE flag is flying at half-mast at Stonehaven Golf Club this week, as it does, sadly, every time a member dies.

It is not an unusual occurrence, unfortunately, in a club now in its 134th year and with a membership of a rather high average age.

But the passing of Stuart Mackenzie at the weekend, after a very short illness, does have an unusual significance as it marks the end of a particular era for the golf club.

Hitler’s bomb left its mark on the first fairway of the cliff top course in 1940, just a year or so before Stuart was born in Stonehaven’s Auld Toon.

This year, Stuart, who is survived by his wife Lizzie, would have started his 70th year as a member of the club, having joined in 1952, just a year before former club manager Willie Donald, another long-serving member who more than left his mark on the club.

Unlike Willie, who was known by all and sundry members during his time of office, Stuart may not be familiar to the majority of current members as it is many years since he took part in competitive play.

But Stuart Mackenzie remains a golfing competitor par excellence. He had a solid all-round game, not the longest off the tee but not short, and his round-the-green game was among the best in the club, known particularly for his demon putting.

His roll of honour includes three club championships (1969, 1970, 1972), four match-play championships (D F Leslie’s), all scratch events of course, and numerous other trophy wins in handicap events over the years.

In the 1980s, Stuart’s nephew, Bruce Ferguson, joined the club and Stuart took the lad under his wing, becoming his golfing mentor, an interesting new challenge.

It proved a successful enterprise as Bruce won the club’s junior championship in 1988 and has gone on to become club champion four times. He still hopes, of course, to beat Stuart’s match play total, though he might have a problem with that as he has now turned 50 and has won it only once so far.

Stuart caddied for Bruce in several championships, including 2003, which was Bruce’s first victory. That round started inauspiciously, however, as Bruce’s opening drive was picked up near Hitler’s bunker by a passing labrador dog, with a none-too-pleased Stuart having to venture over the cliff to retrieve it.

Many others over the years have benefited from Stuart’s willingness and patience to coach beginners, including Robert McIntosh and Kevin Boyne. Another was club veteran Alistair Smith. Stuart worked with Alistair in the local council’s roads department and encouraged him to take up golf in the 1970s. The pair could be seen until relatively recently enjoying coffee sessions in the clubhouse, often with Neil Robertson, reminiscing and debating the latest trends in how to master the perfect golf swing.

Another significant contribution Stuart made to the club was to serve on the council for six years and, more recently, to help head greenkeeper Graham Dawson solve the riddle of the myriad drains and natural springs around the course. Graham said: “I would have been lost without his advice. He had a knowledge no one else had and he was very helpful to me. He was a lovely man.”

Stuart Mackenzie first joined Stonehaven Golf Club in 1952

Community Council Briefing on Schools Consultation

The familiar Victorian frontage of Dunnottar Primary

AT their meeting tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 7pm) Stonehaven and District Community Council will hear a briefing on the statutory consultation for proposals to replace Dunnottar and Carronhill Schools.

Dunnottar Primary School has been in service since 1889. Now, it is the only primary school in the Shire to score a C for overall suitability and it rates D for accessibility. Key issues are the lack of accessibility throughout the school, constrained outdoor spaces and the difficult internal layout.

Meanwhile Carronhill School was not purpose-built and does not meet the severe and complex needs of the children attending. Identified issues relate to the internal layout, lack of appropriate toileting facilities and the limited availability of accessible outdoor space for the 40 pupils who currently attend.

Last September, it emerged Aberdeenshire Council had considered various locations for the replacement of the two schools. The preferred option was to relocate both to new facilities at Mackie Academy.

Public consultation needed before preferred option can go ahead

The project to replace the schools is costed at £18.5 million. As well as the schools’ relocation, a rezoning exercise will be undertaken – so a statutory consultation must take place before going forward.

Representatives from Aberdeenshire Council’s learning estates team are to join tomorrow’s meeting of SDCC, to brief them on the statutory consultation exercise.

The Scottish Government has a publication describing the consultation process, which is available online. For those interested in hearing the SDCC members’ briefing, you can join the Zoom meeting using the link below.

Full meeting agenda and link to meeting

Agenda: Stonehaven and District Community Council,

Business Meeting, 11th January 2022, 7pm

  1. Chairperson’s Welcome
  • Roll-call & recording?:  KS
  • Apologies & Declarations of Interest
  • Police Report & Matters Arising
  • Dunnottar and Carronhill Statutory Consultation: Learning Estates Team
  • Approval of last minute
  • Matters Arising from Last Minute

Live unresolved concerns:

  • Future of day care within Stonehaven: Invercarron Resource Centre
  • Planning Report & Reviews: KS
  • Treasurer’s Report: DL
  1. Aberdeenshire Council’s review of planning delegations: DL
  1.  Hannah Dyson Award: AL
  1. Correspondence: AL/DB/PC
  1. AOCB (NB special circumstance items only)
  1. Date of Next Meetings:
  2. Agenda Discussion Meeting: 1st February 2022
  3. Business Meeting: 8th February 2022

Caried forward to future meetings:

  • Aberdeenshire Council & Nestrans update on active travel plans for Stonehaven
  • Local Development Plan
  • Mackie Academy Campus

Meeting link

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app Click here to join the meeting

Previously in The Bellman

Live Life Aberdeenshire libraries offer enhanced resources to support home education

By bellmannews / January 9, 2022

From Live Life Aberdeenshire –

With home-based learning becoming part of the daily routine for some during the pandemic, new resources are being provided by Aberdeenshire libraries for families and carers.

Those who have opted for home-based teaching and learning can now access enhanced provision from public library resources, providing invaluable tools to support home education.

Recognising some of the challenges faced by families and carers, Live Life Aberdeenshire libraries have introduced a “Home Education lending facility” to assist creative and varied learning.

The new facility allows parents, guardians and carers to borrow many of the resources that teachers and schools across Aberdeenshire have access to.

This includes the ability to borrow up to 50 books and 20 audiobooks at any given time, access to Curricular Resource Kits, Early Years Collections, Story Sacks and Reading Group collections.   

For more information, please see the Live Life Aberdeenshire website:

You can also contact the libraries team by email with any questions or queries at:

Alternatively, call (01467) 532929.

Live Life Aberdeenshire and SAMH create pathways into physical activity to improve mental health

By bellmannews / January 9, 2022

From Live Life Aberdeenshire –

Live Life Aberdeenshire (LLA) and the SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) ‘My Life Dynamic’ team have joined forces to trial a project devised to improve the wellbeing of people experiencing mental health problems.

The initiative has been designed to strengthen pathways for SAMH service users into opportunities including low level exercise classes, leisure sessions and community sport clubs.

The Aberdeenshire Community Sport Hub project, led through LLA, has recently allocated £1k of sportscotland funding to support the trial. The ‘Physical Activity & Mental Health Activation Fund’ will be used to support people to overcome financial barriers to participation such as clothing, equipment, transport, and session fees.

Service Manager for SAMH’s ‘My Life Dynamic’, Maja Grigorjeva commented: “We know there’s a strong link between physical activity and good mental health wellbeing but we also know that it can be tough to be active when you’re struggling with your mental health. So we’re delighted to be working with Live Life Aberdeenshire to help people who access the My Life Dynamic service engage in sports and physical activity.”

Live Life Aberdeenshire Health and Wellbeing Officer, Claire Wright, added: ’We provide a person-centred approach for everyone who is referred to the programme. We understand how daunting it can be to start becoming more active so to overcome this barrier we discuss their needs and support them through the process to making lifestyle improvements.”

Community Sport Hub Officer for North Aberdeenshire, Roy McPherson, added: “We’ve recently appealed to the sport clubs within our hub networks to engage with the project and have received a positive response. It’s hoped that long term we can increase the participation levels at our local sport clubs alongside enhancing the wellbeing of people within the community.’’

For more information on Live Life Aberdeenshire, see:

Feature image (L to R) Kay Adam (SAMH, Resilience Coach) Roy McPherson (Live Life Aberdeenshire, Community Sport Hub Officer), Lorretta Ransom (SAMH, Resilience Coach)

Wind Farm Appeal

By bellmannews / January 5, 2022
windfarm with access track

A REPORTER will shortly be allocated to determine EBS’s recent appeal for planning permission for the erection and operation of an 11 turbine wind farm at land at Rickarton, close to the existing Meikle Carewe development.

It is rapidly heading for four years since Ireland’s part state-owned electricity company applied for permission for the Craigneil Windfarm in May 2018.

The proposals first came before the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee in December 2020 when councillors asked for a site visit. They had concerns about the visual impacts of the 135m turbines – the view from Stonehaven’s War Memorial was highlighted as being affected.

Community fund benefits

The site visit was then delayed due to Covid restrictions.

Meanwhile, Stonehaven and District Community voiced its support of the scheme with Jim Stephen highlighting the community benefit fund associated with the proposed development.

Mr Stephen, who is also chairman of the Stonehaven Town Partnership, said the project would bring £5.28 million over its 30-year life time. This money would be shared with two other community council areas – North Kincardine Rural and Crathes, Drumoak and Durris.

Fund not a consideration

The site visit was eventually made on June 22 last year, with the application coming before the Area Committee shortly after. During discussions, our councillors were advised the wind farm should be considered on its planning merits and its physical appearance in the landscape – the community benefit fund should not be a consideration.

Four members of the committee were absent, leaving eight to determine the application. And, with those members of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee split on the proposals, it was down to the casting vote of chairman Cllr Wendy Agnew to determine the applicaton. Permission was refused.

Appeal lodged last month

EBS lodged their appeal with the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division last month. According to the case notes, interested members of the public are entitled to make representation – details are available by following the above link.

The feature image is of the Meikle Carewe wind farm

Burns Supper Cancelled

From Douglas Samways, president, Stonehaven (Fatherland) Burns Club

After careful consideration of all the information available at present, such as the greater transmissibility of the variant, its “super spreader” capabilities and uncertainties about how virulent it might be, the committee of the Stonehaven (Fatherland) Burns Club has reluctantly and with great regret decided to cancel its annual Burns Supper scheduled for Wednesday 26th January.

This is the second year running the SFBC’s annual Burns Supper has had to be cancelled but the committee is sure people will understand that this decision was not taken lightly.  It was felt that the potential risk to the health and wellbeing of its members and supporters outweighed the desire to hold the usual well attended, informative, entertaining and enjoyable celebration of the life and works of Scotland’s national Bard.

The SFBC committee will do everything it can to ensure that a Burns Supper is held on Wednesday 25th January 2023.

Previously in The Bellman

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