STP take aim at council over Stonehaven projects

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Aberdeenshire Council have come under fire from the Chairman Stonehaven Town Partnership (STP) in his annual report.

David Fleming hailed 2016 a largely successful year for STP, stating that their biggest success has undoubtedly been their “mobile smile machine”, the Stonehaven Land Train, which has carried over 6,200 passengers since Easter this year. He said: “If STP had a pound for every time it brought a smile to someone’s face, or if I got 50 pence for every hand raised to wave to it, then STP and I would be rich.

“I must publically thank all those who have put in many many hours of work, both on the road and behind the scenes, to bring so much fun to the town. It has brought trade to the town, fun and enjoyment (and a bit of education) to children and adults alike, and a very welcome boost to STP’s reserves.”

Mr Fleming also mentioned the strides that have been made towards acquiring the empty Court building for commuity use as another feather in the cap of STP.

However, when it came to co-operation between the group and Aberdeenshire Council Mr Fleming was not as positive.

He criticised the level of public consultation the the local authority undertook when it came to plans for a new Council Depot at East Newtonleys, commenting that it illustrated “how not to go about public consultation”.

He then said that STP projects to get bollards removed and weight restrictions relaxed at the Bervie Braes had been held up by a lack of communication from the relevant council officer, and cited the same lack of communication for a hold up with plans for the re-dvelopment of the old Gas Works site near Stonehaven Harbour.

He said: “You will now realise the gist of my analysis of our failures - the singular inability of some (and I strongly emphasise, some) council officers to apply reasonable standards of response, of courtesy, of democracy, and of professional standards of communication. I appeal here and now, once again, to our elected councillors to sometimes stop defending the indefensible and hold those officers to your public account.

“It cannot be correct that officers alone take decisions and do not even try to connect with the community they are paid to serve. The current situation is[...] alarming and deeply unsatisfactory.”.

Area Manager for Kincardine and Mearns, Willie Munro, said “As a council we value highly communication with our communities and those that represent them. Our officers are always willing to engage in fruitful discourse and will always endeavour to assist members of the public whenever they are able”.