Review of the Year 2011

MARCH

IN March Aberdeenshire Council took action to move on the group of travellers who had set up an unauthorised encampment at Baird Park the previous month.

The local authority served the group, consisting of more than a dozen caravans, vans and other vehicles, with an eviction notice under the Roads Scotland Act, giving them 48 hours to move on from the site.

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PLANS to re-develop the derelict site of the St Leonard’s hotel were backed by councillors.

The hotel, on Stonehaven’s Bath Street, was closed down in October 2008, before being destroyed by a fire in December 2009. The developers, Kirkwood Homes Ltd, revealed plans to build 20 residential units on the site, comprising of eight 2,3 and 4 bedroomed townhouses and 12 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats. Parking for 38 cars and landscaping of the grounds were also to be included in the development.

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CO-OP bosses were brought to task at the march meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council.

A large public turnout proved that the state of the Stonehaven co-op stores, of which there are four and which currently have a monopoly on the town, were causing anger among residents.

Complaints included a lack of choice in-store, empty shelves, issues with staff, the quality of fresh produce and high prices.

Representatives from Co-op listened to community councillors and residents comments and agreed to take the criticisms on board and return later in the year to report back on their progress.

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ONE of Johnshaven’s most historic and treasured buildings, St John’s Chapel of Ease, was ravaged and completed gutted by a devastating fire on March 11.

Known affectionately as “The Chaplie”, the simple landmark structure, only a few yards from the harbour, was gifted by Hercules Scott of Brotherton Castle to Benholm Parish Church in 1851.

For almost a hundred years the “Chaplie” was the place where baptisms and weddings took place and there will still be many, both within the village and far beyond, who retain fond memories of attending Sunday School there.

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APRIL

GROUPS of volunteers from the community came forward to help the custodian of Dunnottar Castle with the ‘Composter Challenge’.

Helpers from the Stonehaven Running Club, Mackie Academy FP Rugby Club and the Stonehaven Blackbelt Academy all turned out to help the Castle staff transport equipment and materials up and down the 272 steps which lead to the ancient landmark – all in the name of helping the environment.

40 bags of cement, 15 fence posts and five wattle panels were carried by the willing volunteers into the Castle, and once there were used to build a specially designed composter on site to recycle grass cuttings and bird droppings, to be put to use in the Castle’s gardens.

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REPRESENTATIVES from national caravan organisation The Caravan Club visited Stonehaven in April to discuss the possibility of their taking over the running of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park.

The step was taken following Aberdeenshire Council’s backing of plans to hand over control of caravan parks across the shire to communities as part of budget cuts.

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MEARNS musher Wattie McDonald made a triumphant return home to Stonehaven from Alaska after completing the “last great race on earth” for the second time.

The gruelling 1150 mile Iditarod sled dog race began on March 6 and Wattie reached the finish line 11 days, 23 hours, one minute and 33 seconds later, coming in 36th out of 62 competitors and slashing his 2010 time by 12 hours. Despite his success, Wattie’s journey was far from easy, with the route taking in all kinds of challenging terrain. Wattie said at the time that he was delighted with his 36th place finish, adding that his improved time was “a great achievement”.

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PLANS to undertake works to stabilise the Bervie Braes hit the stumbling blocks when tenders for the project came in much higher than anticipated.

Aberdeenshire Council had pledged £1 million towards the Bervie Braes scheme, with the Scottish Government providing £2 million.

But the local authority revealed in April that the project costs would be “significantly higher than expected” and that it could not afford any extra cash.

A council spokesperson at the time said that they were now turning to the Scottish Government for guidance on the next steps that they could take.

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MAY

A DECISION to close Stonehaven’s indoor pool over the summer caused anger amongst residents in May.

The decision was taken as part of a bid to save money from Aberdeenshire Council’s budget, and seven other pools in the region were similarly closed.

Locals were angry that the pool closure was done without prior notification, hot on the heels of the closure of another of the town’s attractions, the Tolbooth Museum.

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COUNCILLORS gave their backing to a bid to build over 100 new houses at Carron Den in Stonehaven.

Despite members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee having clear reservations about the project, councillors supported Aberdeen-based Churchill Homes’ application for planning in principle to build 109 homes at Carron Den, Mill of Forest Road when they met in May.

Councillors were concerned about access to the site at the north end, with Councillor Mike Sullivan saying that the route to Aberdeen would need to be “totally re-engineered to make it safe”.

There were also worries over potential flooding at the site, and the stability of the land.

Council officers had given their support to the development, citing its design credentials as a key factor.

Committee members were unable to reject the plans on these issues as they had already agreed in March 2010 to earmark the site for development.

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FOLLOWING an appeal for volunteers and an outpouring of commitment and effort from the local community, Stonehaven’s Tolbooth Museum was re-opened on May 28.

The museum, at the town’s Old Pier, had been shut and emptied by Aberdeenshire Council in March due to budget constraints, without consultation.

Volunteers banded together to reclaim some of the displays and were able to re-open for the summer season. The attraction has since gone from strength to strength, with healthy visitor numbers recorded throughout the season.

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THE opening for the season of Stonehaven’s famous Open Air Pool was forced to be delayed due to problems with water quality.

The pool had been set to open on May 28 following major refurbishment, but pre-season water tests indicated a problem with water quality, meaning the pool had to be drained and cleaned as a precaution.

The team of volunteers who look after the pool worked around the clock with Aberdeenshire Council to get the problem rectified and open the pool as soon as they could.

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A NEW heritage CD, “Tales o’ the Clatterin’ Brig and Drumtochty Glen” was launched to a panel of distinguished guests and an invited audience at the Clatterin’ Brig restaurant in May.

The CD was recorded at a major fundraising live concert held in the restaurant in April.

The event was planned to coincide with the 53rd anniversary of the official opening of the Clatterin’ Brig on May 23 1958.

Kate Somervell of Fettercairn Estate was one of the guest speakers, as it was her late mother who first had the idea of opening a gift shop and restaurant in the beautiful location.The double CD was put on sale to raise funds for the Forest View centre in Stonehaven, and Auchenblae Primary School.

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A REMARKABLE young cancer survivor made a stop in Stonehaven in May as part of his solo fundraising sailing voyage around the UK.

26 year-old Olly Rofix, who was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukaemia at the age of 20 and underwent a bone marrow transplant on his 21st birthday, and to mark five years clear of cancer in 2011 he embarked on his adventure in a boat that he had renovated himself during his recovery.

Olly called in at several ports along the way, including Stonehaven, in a bid to raise awareness for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

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JUNE

THE Tolbooth museum opened for it’s 2011 season. It’s late opening was die to threat of closure following Aberdeenshire COuncil budget cuts, however comunity group, the Stonehaven Town Partnership stepped in to run the museum.

Sir Robert Smith, MP oficially opened the museum and thanked the groups hard work at saving Stonehaven’s heritage.

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PLANS for a major Netherley development were refused by Councillors at the kincardine and Mearns aream committee.

The plans which included 70 houses, a mixed use commercial unit and a childrens nursery were recommended by refusal.The unanimous decision was made because it did not comply with existing policies.

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STONEHAVEN residents were set to get the first glimpse of flood outline maps for the area as they went on show to the public.

The first of two public meetings took place on June 16 where residents were invited to view maps which highlighted the flooding risk in Stonehaven from the river Carron and to examine the risk of an extreme 1 in 200year flood.

Along with looking to find a long-term solution to funding a display of flood prevention products for householders were also available to view.

Volunteer flood wardens were also sought.

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THE Stonehaven Town Hall trust appealed forpeople across the local area to pick up the phone and vote for them so they could secure funding in the People’s Millions.

The group was chosen as one of six finalists in the People’s millions - a grants programme run by the Big lottery fund- and were due to go head to head with another project.

Whichever project received most telephone votes was set to get a £60,000 grant.

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THE Feein’ Market was a roaring success.

Organisers, the Stonehaven and district lions club, estimated that £45,000 was raised for charities on the day.

Lots of fun was had by all.

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STONEHAVEN and District Community Council (SDCC) announced that a new operater for the Queen Elizabeth Caravan park could be inplace by Autumn.

It was announced at the meeting that three seperate operators had come forward wishing to take over the park. The three interested parties were not named however there was evidence that one of the operators interested in the park was the Carvan Club. Members of the Community Council said they believed the Autumn estimate was “ambitious” however it was assured that the new operator would be installed as soon as possible.