Quick Win Improvements For Train Station?

photograph of Stonehaven Train Station

IMPROVED disabled access, a lick of paint and an improved pedestrian environment have been identified as achievable upgrades for Stonehaven’s train station.

These suggested quick fixes were some of the suggestions made at a stakeholder workshop held earler this month, looking at Stonehaven’s railway station.

Scotrail are obliged to produce  improvement plans for stations in its franchise. These are called Station Travel Plans and highlight issues such as access to and from the station, gaps in transport needs and each station’s facilities and services.

The Station Travel Plan would also look at developing a framework to bring about the needed changes.

In 2017-18, some 522,890 passengers made use of Stonehaven station. To represent their interests, members of both Aberdeenshire Council and Stonehaven Community Council attended the workshop.

What follows, is an extract from the minutes of the workshop, provided by Ian Hunter of Stonehaven Community Council

Initial Group Discussions

Key points:


  • Access between platforms and from Platform 2 is an issue, especially for users with mobility/visual impairments
  • There is a missing link between the station access road and the immediate streets in terms of the absence of inclusive mobility provision, such as tactile paving, bell mouth junctions with long crossing points, limited visibility from parked vehicles obstructing sightlines, and low street lighting


  • Clear signage or alternative options from the town to the station would help
  • Not many places on train for cycles – noted as an issue
  • Electric bikes on trains – these are currently not permitted on trains. Could easily cycle to Dunnotar Castle using an e-bike
  • On the proposed measure for introducing e-bike hire scheme in Stonehaven it was suggested that we should speak to Chris Menzies, who is working on something similar for the Formartine – Buchan Way
  • Pedestrian safety from main road also an issue due to two-way traffic from both exits. Road layout doesn’t enforce modal hierarchy. Need to enforce one-way to reduce conflict between users.
  • Front of station seen as poor interface for pedestrians.
  • Look at limit of adoption and ownership plans of this area to determine who controls what land


  • Nestrans have done parking studies recently – car park full to bursting at Stonehaven. Large catchment area using the station (Deeside, etc) as it is easier than driving into Aberdeen
  • Council own the big one at the back and the smaller one in front is Scotrail – free parking. Public parking, not just rail users

Station Area and Facilities

  • Issues with maintenance, bushes overgrown, fingerposts overgrown,
  • Local councillors were meeting with ScotRail to discuss these issues prior to the workshop, and will work with them to improve things
  • NR will be looking at light splay and improving. Bulbs replaced through council routes.
  • Effort should be made to improve the appearance and first impression of the station
  • When using the ticket machine in the shelter on Platform 2, people queuing often queue down the steps to the underpass which can create a hazard
  • The door to the ticket machine shelter is stiff door and can be difficult to open for all users – a power assisted option should be considered
  • It was noted by Sandy Macauley that there are proposals to upgrade the shelter facilities at Montrose so the STP evidence should feed in to that
  • Issues with lighting at the station and on access routes creates issues for all users, not just those with visual impairments, so should be significantly improved
  • Carpet in the underpass is detrimental to visual amenity and also creates trip/slip hazard in wet conditions, especially is passengers are rushing between platforms to buy tickets

Bus/Rail Integration

  • Bus stop to the front of the station is not visible or signposted from the station
  • New 747 from the airport – goes to the town not to station – could this be extended?
  • Low bridge limits the type of bus that can serve the station, so double deckers have to use an alternative route. This has a detrimental effect on the number of services stopping near the station


  • The main reason for reduced footfall at Stonehaven is downturn with the oil. This is reflected in the ticket sails
  • AWPR could cause further decrease due to similar journey time between Stonehaven and Aberdeen by rail and car
  • Long gap between northbound services during the morning is likely to be causing intensive periods of arrival at the station, including parking and drop offs which create a crowded and potentially unsafe environment. More frequent morning services would help to spread the patronage across the morning peak
  • There is a feeling that the interchange experience at Montrose for passengers travelling south from Stonehaven is poor. This is something that is being looked at as part of the STP for Montrose
  • Encouraging tourism – not making it easy for the tourist, with through-running trains. Go into Aberdeen or Montrose. Not a continuous direct service from Stonehaven.
  • People often hire a car, particularly from airport, and do a loop around north-east
  • Left luggage lockers should be considered at the station for tourists visiting the town
  • There are potential funding options through Smarter Choices Smarter Places for delivering some of the softer measures of the action plan
  • Better information provision – particularly online – should be provided to ensure potential visitors know how to get to and from the station. This can be often be more important than the station itself when deciding whether or not to take the train somewhere

STP Drivers and Objectives

The STP drivers agreed upon were:

  1. The Revolution in Rail service enhancements
  2. Promoting tourism in Stonehaven
  3. Active travel routes (NCN 1)
  4. Step-free access issues

The objectives agreed upon were:

  1. Maximise the potential for recovery of sustained growth in patronage through service enhancements
  2. Promote walking and cycling as modes of travel to the station and for all trips in the area and enhance links with NCN1
  3. Support growth in rail-led tourism in the area linked to key local attractors
  4. Explore options to improve step-free access at the station
  5. Manage car parking issues (capacity, enforcement)
  6. Address maintenance, security and lighting issues at and around the station

Suggested Quick Wins

In addition to the quick wins in the workshop presentation, the following quick wins were suggested:

  • Determine ownership/control/responsibilities of land immediately outside front of the station as a first step towards improving the pedestrian environment and reducing car dominance
  • Road markings indicating pedestrian routes from car park/approach streets to station access could offer a solution to pedestrian/car conflict
  • Re-painting of the station as part of 2019 re-painting cycle
  • Improvements to disabled access, such as tactile paving and clearer markings, which will benefit all users
  • Opportunity for station adoption activities (tying in with Horizon’s work) to aid the removal of vegetation around the station site





Mackie Concert Band Kicking Up a Storm

By bellmannews / March 14, 2019

Mackie Academy’s Concert Band has made it through a series of regional rounds to reach the National Finals of the Scottish Concert Band Festival with stunning pieces such as Shipwrecked, which features in the accompanying YouTube link.

The band, conducted by by Sarah Gove, will travel to the prestigious Festival in Perth Concert Hall this Saturday and Sunday (16th and 17th of March). 

Councillor Gillian Owen, Chair of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “We are thrilled for all of the young musicians taking part and would like to thank them as well as the dedicated teams around them for all of their hard work and dedication. This is a tremendous achievement for Aberdeenshire and testament to the success of our Instrumental Music Service overall.

“We would also like to wish all of the musicians the very best of luck in their performances during the festival.”

More information regarding the event can be found at: http://www.scottishconcertbandfestival.com/


Looking For Doors to Open

banner with doors open day wording

Do you know of a building in Stonehaven that would be of interest to locals – if only they could get in?

Doors Open Day is the largest free architectural event in Scotland organised nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and by Aberdeenshire Council locally. The event takes place every year in September and involves interesting and or/historic buildings and sites that are not normally open to the public, opening up for free for a day. 

The event in Aberdeenshire this year will take place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of September and following on from the success of last year’s event we wish to continue to hold the event Aberdeenshire wide.  

Aberdeenshire Council as coordinators will put together a brochure with details of all venues taking part and coordinate publicity and promotion for the event. The council will also supply posters and banners and ensure each properties information is included on the national website.

On the chosen days it is asked that you can provide volunteers to man the property and show visitors around.

A requirement of the event is that entrance into the site or building(s) must be free, but buildings and sites can fundraise through donations or can sell refreshments or put on additional events should they so wish.  The event is also an opportunity for sites, buildings and associated businesses to promote themselves.  In the past we have had castles, churches, private houses, a weaving studio, a lifeboat, heritage centres, research laboratories, memorial halls and masonic lodges, to name but a few, taking part.  

This year’s event is particularly important as the Scottish Civic Trust are celebrating 30 years of Doors Open Days and in particular we would wish to ensure a wide geographical spread of venues within Aberdeenshire.

More information is available on the national Doors Open Day website   


If you  can suggest venues or offer support in terms of additional volunteering and would like more information about what is involved, please do not hesitate to contact Clare Tierney 01467 539191 by the 21st March.



Police Report to Community Council

SDCC banner harbour scene plus crest

An officer of Police Scotland is expected to deliver a report and address any matters raised at next week’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council.

Recent meetings have proven quite lively, and with the recent reports of plans to rehome the north-east’s mobile force from Stonehaven to Inverurie, this could prove an interesting and contentious discussion. 

Members of the public will be given an opportunity to raise any issues not on the agenda, before business matters, which include a presentation about the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stonehaven, a report from a recent train station site visit, the Stonehaven Station Travel Plan, a community council forum feedback and information on a mental health consultation.

There will also be feedback from this week’s drop in session and consultation on the main issues report of the emerging Local Development Plan.

The Community Council will be holding elections later this year – the timetable for this will be discussed.

Members of the public are very welcome at the SDCC meetings, which are held in the Invercarron Resource Centre. Next week’s meeting is on Tuesday March 12 from 7pm – 9.30pm. 




Mearns Writers’ Writing Workshop

Inside community centre, group of people seated at desks around the room

On Sunday 17th February local writing group Mearns Writers held a writing workshop at Stonehaven Community Centre.

Guest writer was poet John Glenday who led a stimulating morning session utilising a variety of resources to prompt a creative response. John Glenday who is resident in Carnoustie is the author of four collections of poetry. ‘Grain’ was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. ‘The Golden Mean’ was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2016 and won the 2016 Roehampton Poetry Prize. It was agreed by those present that the session was very effective.

The afternoon session was led by group member Olga Moroni who encouraged those in attendance to explore an issue of importance through utilising contradiction. This too was a highly productive session.

Sandy Inglis, Chair of Mearns Writers, said that the writing group had a number of these sessions throughout the year, sometimes using Live Literature Funding from the Scottish Book Trust to gain the services of established writers and equally often making use of the talent available within the group to have in house workshops.

Mearns writers meets twice weekly, in Inverbervie on Monday evenings and in Stonehaven on Thursdays. The group has now been in existence for more than eleven years and there are up to thirty local writers associated with it.

Alistair Lawrie who leads the group’s weekly sessions said, “These workshops are wonderfully useful in keeping a creative spirit alive. Our next Workshop is at the end of March and has as guest Chris Longmuir, the crime writer.”

Same room in community centre, same people seated in the round, slightly different angle
Poet John Glenday seated back centre

KDP Bulletin

Logo of KDP
Talking Halls-K&M Halls Get Together
KDP would like to invite groups and individuals running community halls across Kincardine and Mearns to an informal get together on Saturday 16th March 2019 from 12.30pm. It will be an opportunity to chat and discuss common themes and issues over afternoon tea.
The event will be held at the Skateraw Hall, Newtonhill. Please see attached poster for details or contact officesupport@kdp.scot to RSVP or for more information.

 Building Collaboration Fund
Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland is working in partnership with the Scottish Government to support the development of collaborations in the social care sector through the Building Collaboration Fund. The £100,000 fund recognises the huge promise of organisations working together to improve their offer to the people they collectively support. Funding of between £5000 and £25,000 is available for up to 6 collaborations during 19/20 to provide practical support for progressing the collaboration. Successful applicants will also participate in a structured peer learning programme which will provide additional support for overcoming some of the barriers to successful collaboration. The knowledge and learning gained from these sessions will help inform future collaborations in the social care sector. If you’re interested in applying, please visit: http://www.ccpscotland.org/hot-topics/collaboration/building-collaboration-fund/ and submit the application form by 5pm on Monday the 18th March.
Round 7 of the Digital Participation Charter Fund is now open for applications
The Digital Participation Charter Fund (formerly Challenge Fund), supported by the Scottish Government and BT, invests in community digital participation projects across Scotland. It provides small grants (typically up to £10,000) to help a range of organisations tackle poverty, social isolation and other forms of inequality in society through embedding essential digital skills development work in day-to-day activity with their service users.  The projects supported will enable groups and organisations to improve the digital skills of their members, digitise content and build networks so that they can continue to thrive in the digital world.  For more information  https://scvo.org/digital/participation/charter-fund/call-for-funding
Jacky, Margo and Kirsty

01569 763 246  

S5 & S6 Apprenticeship Opportunities

Aberdeenshire council logo

In collaboration with Skills Development Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council is to offer an additional 134 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities for young people in S5 and S6 within its secondary schools from August.

Foundation Apprenticeships are designed to provide young people with real experiences of the world of work, whilst gaining a qualification at the same level as a Scottish Higher (SCQF Level 6). It usually counts as one option choice and is taken alongside other S5 and S6 subjects.

Assessment takes place as you go, so there’s no final exam, and time spent on placement gives technical workplace knowledge, and can help build confidence, communication and teamwork skills. This boost in opportunities equates to close to £1million in additional funding.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Chair of the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “This is an important boost in terms of preparing young people across Aberdeenshire for the world of work and supporting them to get a foot in the door with potential employers.

“We have already begun to promote additional opportunities to pupils across Aberdeenshire and are working towards having many more young people enrolled on apprenticeship programmes by the end of this year.”

Graeme Hendry, Skills Development Scotland National Manager – Development and Delivery for Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are closing the gap between the classroom and the workplace, with pupils seeing the benefits.

“Foundation Apprenticeships support a range of career pathways including Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, work, college or university.

“Employers are telling us that pupils who have taken a Foundation Apprenticeship are more attractive candidates for apprenticeship jobs.”

Opportunities which will be available from August cover up to twelve different job types, including Engineering, Business, Accountancy, Financial Services, Digital Technology, Children and Young People, Health & Social Care and Scientific Technologies.

Vice Chair Cllr Mark Findlater added: “Opportunities to gain real work experience are extremely valuable for any young person, and Foundation Apprenticeships are particularly useful because they can tie this in with their school work and gain real recognition, from future employers as well as colleges and universities, for the learning journey they undertake.

“I’d encourage pupils and parents across Aberdeenshire to have a look into it and find out how this may benefit you.”

To find out about opportunities available in your area or if you’re an employer who’s keen to support Foundation Apprenticeships, please visit the SDS website at: www.apprenticeships.scot Pupils are also encouraged to discuss options with their guidance teacher.

Burns Gone Underground

Words of poem on poster on london underground train

A BELLMAN reader on her travels was entertained to spot one of Burns’ poems in an unlikely setting.

We wonder how many London travellers could understand the Bard’s romantic lines in the ode to life-long romance, John Anderson My Jo.

And since the photo is a wee bit out of focus, here are the lines depicted.

“John Anderson my jo, John”


John Anderson my jo, John, 
    When we were first acquent, 
Your locks were like the raven, 
      Your bonie brow was brent; 
But now your brow is beld, John, 
      Your locks are like the snaw, 
but blessings on your frosty pow, 
      John Anderson, my jo! 

John Anderson my jo, John, 
      We clamb the hill thegither, 
And monie a cantie day, John, 
      We’ve had wi’ ane anither; 
Now we maun totter down, John, 
      And hand in hand we’ll go, 
And sleep thegither at the foot, 
      John Anderson, my jo! 


Meet the Floodworks Team

Picture of the White Bridge over the Carron River

An event in Stonehaven next Wednesday will give the local community the chance to meet the team behind the delivery of the town’s Flood Protection Scheme.

McLaughlin and Harvey Ltd will carry out the work on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council following a detailed and rigorous competitive tender process.

The scheme will offer comfort and security to local residents and businesses.

McLaughlin and Harvey is keen to work with the community to ensure any disruption throughout construction is carefully managed.

A dedicated community liaison officer has been appointed as part of the contractor’s team and will be actively involved in updating the community as the scheme progresses.

On Wednesday, March 13 there will be an informal open day for the community to meet the team at Stonehaven Bowling Club, Stonehaven Recreation Grounds.

It will run from noon until 9pm. Members of the public are welcome to come in at any time, meet the team, view drawings and plans and ask any questions.

New Playgroup Handbook

Aberdeenshire council logo

Launch recognises role of playgroups as a

‘Partnership For Success’

Aberdeenshire Council and Early Years Scotland are proud to announce the launch of a new document, ‘Partnership for Success – A Committee Handbook’ to support committee-run playgroups across Aberdeenshire.

The launch hails a refreshed way of working designed to support playgroups through the expansion of funded early learning and childcare, with a renewed focus on helping committees with what they’ve explained to us are their biggest challenges.

Running a playgroup means having responsibilities as an employer for things like governance, finance and recruitment. Alongside the new handbook, development workers who offer guidance to groups across Aberdeenshire are being given new training, developed alongside Early Years Scotland, to help them tackle these key areas. 

Cllr Gillian Owen, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “We value the important role playgroups have in the lives of many families, and also their community-spirited place within many of our towns and villages.

“Supporting our playgroups to recruit and retain high quality staff is absolutely key to ensuring the best possible early years experiences for the youngest members of our communities. We are pleased to be working with Early Years Scotland and in partnership with playgroups across Aberdeenshire to help them thrive.”

‘Partnership for Success’ has all the information a committee needs to be self-sustainable and enable a smooth handover for future committees.

Jean Carwood-Edwards commented: “Early Years Scotland recognises the fact that we are in a period of unprecedented change within the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sector as we move towards 1140 hours of nursery provision in 2020. This period of ELC expansion brings many positive benefits for children and families, however there are also challenges for many playgroups to overcome, ensuring they continue to offer children and families the highest quality experiences.

“This jointly created handbook, ‘Partnership for Success’ will be a welcome support for playgroups, enabling them to utilise the breadth of guidance provided, and ensure that committees feel confident and able to be self-sustainable during this time of change. Aberdeenshire Council continues to support a high number of playgroups within the region, and this Committee Handbook will no doubt be a welcome additional area of support.

“Working in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council through the creation of this invaluable resource, can only strengthen the quality of experiences and learning for Scotland’s youngest children.”

Vice Chair Cllr Mark Findlater added: “As funded early learning and childcare expands in private nurseries as well as our school settings, so it will have the opportunity to within our playgroups.

“We acknowledge the importance of the invaluable work committees offer as volunteers and appreciate the commitment and dedication they give to playgroups. This is about extending our hand, looking at the areas we can help with most and supporting committees to continue to be sustainable for years to come.”

For more information about the new document, and how you can access it as well as the support of a development worker in your area, email earlyyears@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

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