STP assisted by Top-up Budget

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Stonehaven Town partnership was awarded a total of £4875 at this week’s Kincardine and Mearns Area committee meeting to help the organisation with the various assets which it is seeking to take over.

The Tolbooth museum benefited most financially from the budget, with it being allocated £3000 for running costs and £500 for a survey and feasibility study.

The £3000 for running costs was requested as a one-off as part of the transition period between being run by the Council and the community.

Councillor Bellarby presented the case for the £3000 to the committee in his capacity as chair of The Tolbooth Group.

He said “We (The Tolbooth Museum) have had a very successful Spring and Summer. We have over forty volunteers manning the museum and have had in excess of 7000 visitors in that time, this is now approaching the total number of visitor from last year despite opening late and having restricted opening times.”

He then explained how the museum was planning to continue to open through the Autumn and winter months however funding was an issue. He said: “Aberdeenshire Council’s museum service does not have a budget for running the Tolbooth for that period.”

He explained that whilst the Tolbooth could contribute £2000 to the running costs over this period this would not meet the £5000 required to keep the museum open.

He told the committee that most of the running costs come from electricity explaining that the building has to be heated and a dehumidifier has to be running constantly to protect the artefacts. He explained that the dehumidifier would have to run regardless of whether the museum is open or not.

Councillor Mike Sullivan supported the Tolbooth’s request, saying that the Committee should support the project without “hesitation.”

Councillor Graeme Clarke also supported the group. He said: “This summer has been tremendous. It is wonderful we have a committee established that has been run by volunteers who are really enthusiastic.” The whole committee was in support of the providing the money.

Councillor George Carr wanted to know the group’s plans on making the museum feasible.

Councillor Bellarby explained that to sort out feasibility the group would examine the finances and business workings of the museum. He highlighted that the use of the top-up budget was just until the museum is up and running.

He did however say that most museums are “not sustainable without financial intervention.”

As well as the Tolbooth receiving funding The Queen Elizabeth caravan Park was awarded £1000 for legal fees.

Chairman of Stonehaven Town Partnership, Frank Budd, addressed the committee on the matter.

He explained that the money was required for the examination of leases related to the asset transfer of Stonehaven Caravan Park. He said the leases could be somewhat “complex.”

Councillor Agnew described the Caravan park as a “worthwhile project.” The Town Hall was awarded £375 to carry out a Fire Risk Survey.

The awarding of the Top-up budget to community groups taking part in asset transfer meets one of the criteria adopted by the area committee this year, which relates to the facilitating of the transfer of an activity or facility to the community.