Blackness Area Community Council
Minutes of Meeting 21 January 2015, Community Hall
Council members: Merv Archibald (MA), Sharman Faulds , Nick Paul (NP), M Knott (MK), M Watt (MW),
K James (KJ)
In addition, 4 members of the public were present.
Apologies: Dave Lawson (DL)
Cllrs Ritchie and Mahoney arrived during the course of the meeting.
MA opened the meeting at 7.00pm by welcoming all those attending.
Approval of Previous Minutes 18th December 2014 Approved, proposed NP, Seconded SF
Community Police Report
PC Gary Keilty attended and introduced himself as the new Community Constable for the area, and indicated that he intends to come along to as many future meetings as he can. His crime report for the area since 1st December contains three incidents:
1. A housebreaking in Mannerston Holdings and theft of two motorbikes.
2. Patrolling officers noted a strong smell of cannabis in the vicinity of Rouken Glen Garden Centre.
3. A fallen tree in the road into the village causing an obstruction.
PC Keilty reminded residents to be vigilant, and if anyone notices any suspicious activity to report it to the Police. If anyone wishes to contact him personally, email is firstname.lastname@example.org or leave an email message by calling 101 and asking for PC Gary Kielty 056.
Also noted that from 27 January change of Police Control Room from Stirling to Edinburgh.
Actions from Previous Minutes
• Blackness Primary School liaison MA to meet with the new Head Teacher, Rosalind Verioni
• Admin grant MA to liaise with DL to ensure applied for
• War Memorial restoration fund HP to try and find out more about this
• Computer/Printer grant MA has applied for this and awaiting response from Falkirk Council
Future Events/ Fundraising
Hogmanay party. It was noted that this had been held and there had been very positive feedback from everyone. Very well organised, 74 tickets were sold, agreed this was a good number, as the hall was full. MW reported that there would be a £50 surplus which would go to Breast Cancer Care. The event had been very successful and huge thanks to Martin Watt and Martin Knott for leading the organising. They advised they will be pleased to “hand over the baton” for organising a similar event for next Hogmanay and would be happy to offer advice as appropriate to any event organisers.
Ceilidh Saturday 28 March 2015. MA reported that the musician, Billy Smith has been booked. Expected that we will arrange the food via the Golden Chip again as usual. Need to organise usual promotion – website, newsletter, notice boards, note in schoolbags etc. Tickets will be available from MA. Volunteers welcome to assist in promoting the event, setting up the hall, and helping out on the night. Donations of raffle prizes also welcomed, MA is already approaching local businesses: Kingsfield Golf, Champany Inn, and all local supermarkets.
Cllr Ann Ritchie arrived with her colleague, Calum Timms
• John Muir Way (JMW) celebrations and Blackness – Bo’ness Path. Opening event pencilled in for Saturday 25th April. JMW sub committee to meet in January to plan in more detail. On-going Arrange a meeting with MK, MW, ML, HP, NP and MA to plan the details.
Expected to be a walk from Carriden to Blackness Castle. Arrange some kind of music to set off, and music to welcome walkers at the castle – ideally Graham Sinclair the warden may be asked to play his pipes. Minibus transport to be arranged from Blackness School to Carriden. Small reception in the castle. HP to check that Castle available that day and Graham available and willing to play.
MA to check with various local bands if one of them might be available to send us off at Carriden (Forth Bridges Accordion band, Carriden Brass Band, Kinneil Brass Band.
• Blackness is Beautiful – projects are ongoing. The idea of a tree planting project to sustain the crucial landscape structure of our area was discussed, ideally to replace the existing avenues of trees along roadsides, and possibly other areas where land owners might be willing. It was noted that many of the existing trees have reached the end of their useful life, and their replacement with suitable young trees would help maintain and restore our landscape structure which is recognised as an AGLV (Area of Great Landscape Value). Noted that Central Scotland Woodland Trust have a quota of trees to plant, so may be able to assist. Noted that the trees would have to be protected to start with, and that responsibility for managing the trees would have to be clear.
AGREED that in first instance MW would contact Angus Duncan / Mandy Brown at Falkirk Council to discuss.
Noted that DL will report on budget update at next meeting – see attached budget statement for current position.
MA asked if we could have a third Community Councillor signatory for cheques, and ideally an existing Bank of Scotland customer. SF agreed to do this.
Cllr Ritchie advised that the main issue currently is the Council’s budget. Meetings to discuss budget proposals will be held by the Council on 11th February and 11th March. £40m has to be saved over three years. Cuts of £7m need to be achieved this year, with £17m a year for the following two years.
This is a substantial level of cuts, and there is a consultation open via the Council website. Cllr Ritchie urges as many residents as possible to make their views known now. She is aware that in Blackness, we are concerned about keeping our public toilets open, as well as cuts to the school hours
Cllr Ritchie is concerned about the proposed closure of the CLD – Community Education office in Bo’ness as this is well used by many unemployed people to assist them with online job search.
Ideas were expressed that the Council could endevour to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach – and undertake activities to generate income rather than cut services. Again, residents urged to make their views known via the Consultation process on the Council website, or via email direct to the Chief Executive, Mary Pitkeathly. http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/coins/agenda.asp?meetingid=2331 for education only see http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/services/council-democracy/consultations-surve... consultation/education-services.aspx . All are encouraged to submit their comments as soon as possible.
Grit Bins in the area – please could residents check that these are being kept topped up regularly, and let the Council know if not. Cllr Ritchie was also asked about re-siting one of three the waste bins on the Back Shore to beside the bridge as the Burn at the foot of the park. Advised the new contact at the Council is Jennifer Murray, HP to follow up.
Cllr Ritchie intends to come along to as many of our meetings as her diary allows.
P/14/0739/FUL, extension to 39 Mannerston Holdings MA tabled copies of the proposals from the Council’s online planning portal and following discussion it was agreed BACC would make no comment on them.
Any other Business
Community Hall shed repair ongoing - MK has ordered some shed felt to be reimbursed from CC funds, shed will be repaired as soon as practically possible.
Community Café and Blackness Tots group – CS reported that although the Tots group has ended for the moment, due to the small numbers using it, it could be reinstated in future if there is a demand. The issue is finding an appropriate day that fits in with parents’ other commitments, particularly working patterns. MA advised to let the CC know if there is anything that could be done to assist.
Cllr Adrian Mahoney arrived.
Cllr Mahoney made a number of helpful suggestions re funding possibilities for the group, and suggested a chat with Chloe Hunter at the Council’s External Funding Unit.
It is hopeful that the Community Cafe may be reinstated, as this event was well attended and enjoyed by many residents. Suggestions made that keeping it to a set day and time each month works well. Might be one to canvas opinion on the preferred day. This gave rise to a discussion about managing our communications with our residents – newsletters are fine, however sometimes people forget about events coming up. Could we gather email addresses and send automatic updates when the website is updated with a new event?
MK and MW to look into gathering email addresses. MA to ask JA (our webmaster) if it would be possible to automatically issue regular updates on activities to all those registered on the web site.
Potential Car park adjacent to church MA noted this is now looking more hopeful, pending feedback from today’s Carriden church Session meeting. MA and MW to make a brief survey of the ground, and contact Falkirk Council for advice. Also noted that such a project is likely to require fundraising activity, and that the CC may have to apply for appropriate grant funding, Cllr Mahoney advised that LEADER funding might be suitable.
Other: MK reported that a Beach Clean is being organised by Lesley Anderson on 7th February at 11am, meet in the Square. Details on the village website
MA reported that a Funding Fair is being planned for Thursday 5th March 10am to 4pm in Grangemouth Town Hall.
Update from Cllr Mahoney: John Muir Way walk through the Falkirk Council area section planned for the first anniversary over two days, sometime in April. Budget – Falkirk Community Trust has announced a 3% increase in charges, this will help assist in protecting facilities and keeping them open. Falkirk Council budget – very challenging as to how the budget can be cut without a negative effect on services. Consequence of a 7 year freeze on Council Tax. No areas can be regarded as “safe” from cutbacks this year, and larger cuts are planned for future years. Urged members of the public to use the current consultation to advise the Council of areas where they consider the Council could be wasting money or could otherwise make savings.
JMW: a funding application to improve the Bridgeness area has not been successful, however work ongoing to try and improve this part of the walk.
Other Updates from attendees:
Benches: NP reported that his discussions with a Council contact re the benches that may have been available are not now available. Still a possibility that we may be able to get one of the SNH benches planned for the JMW in our area. The Bo’ness Victorian Street Fair will be taking place on Sunday 2st May this year.
Blackness is Beautiful projects: HP advised that the group had suggested that if the village pumps could be resited next to the toilets, they could be restored and potentially used as a welly wash facility. The space left could then be used for cycle parking. Cllr Mahoney advised to contact Angus Duncan and Mandy Brown at Falkirk Council in first instance.
Steps at Castle access to Back Shore: JS reported that these steps are very high, is there a possibility of resetting them to improve access? Advised to contact Malcolm Brown at Historic Scotland to discuss.
MA thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting at 8.40pm.
Date of Next Meeting:
Wednesday 18th February 2015 at 7.00pm in the Community Hall.