New Year new challenges for everyone

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As the year draws to a close, it is a time to reflect on what happened in the past and to look ahead to 2012 to see what needs to be done.

Since I became a councillor, Stonehaven has been affected by two significant happenings. Firstly there have been the landslips on Bervie Braes. Secondly there was the awful flood of 2009 that swept into the town centre and down High Street rendering many houses and businesses uninhabitable for a time.

It is good that Aberdeenshire Council has now agreed on a scheme for Bervie Braes that involves soil nailing and drainage, and that work will start on this in 2012. I look forward to the completion of this scheme so that residents staying under the Braes can sleep more easily at night without facing the worry of possible landslips. Action has been taken on the flooding issue too. Options have been developed for how to reduce the possibility of flooding and these will be presented to public meetings early in the new year.

A year ago I said that 2011 would be dominated by the effects of budget cuts and reduced funding, and that the Council would not be able to do everything that it has done in the past. This has, indeed, been the case. The Council has had to make some very difficult decisions. We have done very well in finding savings by new ways of working that are more efficient and save money but inevitably there has been some reduction in service. None of us like the reduction in service but I believe that the Council has acted in a responsible manner. The reduction in funds that we have is not of our making.

There has been a very positive response from the community of Stonehaven in keeping the Tolbooth Museum open. This success is really down to all those who have volunteered to help with the Tolbooth. I am pleased to have played a part in this myself. There is a challenge here ahead, though, if the community is to take on the asset of the Tolbooth and run it independently of the Council. We have to keep up the effort and find ways of raising money.

Another project that has made a good deal of progress is the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park. It is all set to be operated by a partnership between Stonehaven Town Partnership and the Council in the 2012 season. Then, if all goes well, the Caravan Club will be involved and we will see a greatly enhanced caravan park for 2013 with some income coming to the town that can be used in other projects.

There are a huge range of other activities going on in Stonehaven which I am not involved in. So there is a tremendous effort being put in by the people of Stonehaven to keep the town beautiful, to ensure that older folk are well looked after and have the opportunity of friendship when they are alone, to give our young people activities that they enjoy and benefit from and to have events in the town that both visitors and locals can enjoy. Just look at the calendar of events in Stonehaven! Thanks are due to all those who have helped to make Stonehaven the strong and vibrant community it is today. Let’s keep up the good work.

I wish all everybody a happy and successful 2012.

Cllr Peter Bellarby

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside