Grants for community councils

Kincardine and Mearns councillors this afternoon agreed to annual administration grants to community councils.

In this ward, Newtonhill, Muchalls and Cammachmore Community Council will receive £804, North Kincardine Rural CC £710, and Portlethen and District £1315.

The amounts are linked to the number of electors in each community council area.

Roads and schools in the spotlight

Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee met today, online. A number of issues relevant to the North Kincardine ward.

The reports are available on the council website, and you can listen back via the livestream at item 0 of the agenda papers: here

EDUCATION

Portlethen head teacher Neil Morrison told councillors about the attainment of pupils in the 2019/20. In line with the national (and Aberdeenshire) trend, the percentage of leavers obtaining a positive post-school destination fell from 95.8% to 93.4%. Attainment in literacy and numeracy among leavers was also up, as was the percentage of leavers achieving five or more awards. Still room for improvement though, he said.

“We had been concerned about the disruption lockdown would cause. Pleased at how it turned out. We learned a lot from the first lockdown and were more effective in the second lockdown.”

He also talked about foundation apprenticeships which are on offer, which catch a different group of young people. It has supported them in moving into employment or other destinations.

However only 93.4% of leavers were going to positive destinations, which was concerning. A range of multi-agency support was available to those still seeking a way forward. The academy has nurtured links with the Wood Foundation, Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust, Maryculter House Hotel, and the Chapelton Development Company.

He thanked the young people, their families, and staff for their commitment.

Mr Morrison was making his final presentation to councillors as he will be retiring shortly. He was thanked for his efforts and contribution to the academy.

INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES

The Roads Service is now trying to catch up after the worst winter in 10 years and of course the impact of lockdown on routine maintenance. Officers have promised “a sustained and concerted attack” on potholes. Some £4,994,000 is earmarked for roads maintenance and resurfacing, drainage, street lighting and winter maintenance in 2021/22.

Resurfacing

Newtonhill – Old Mill Road is to be resurfaced with asphalt, at an estimated cost of £22,500.

Surfacing dressing

B9077 – Blairs westwards to Netherlands, costing £23,850.

C25K – A92 trunk road to A90 AWPR, £49,500.

U59K – Bishopston Farm, £49,500.

U66K – C13K to C5K, £32,400.

U88K – B979 to C12K, £41,400.

U167K – A92 to U88K (Cantlayhills), £40,950.

Surface dressing preparation

C34K – Causeyport, at an estimated cost of £30,000.

U65K – C34K to Butterywells, £52,000.

High friction surfacing

Newtonhill – C24K (Cookney road) – approaches to zebra crossing and approaches to mini roundabout at Tesco, at an estimated cost of £17,000.

Newtonhill – Newtonhill Road approaches to zebra crossing, £8,500.

Footway works

Portlethen – Slurry seal on Muirend Road from A92 roundabout junction to Asda/retail park junction, costing an estimated £2000.

Portlethen – Slurry seal on Muirend Road from Cookston Road to Asda/retail park junction, costing an estimated £2010.

Councillors also heard that Scottish Water will be installing a new main in Muirend Road.

Lighting works

Portlethen – North side of Bruntland Road, column replacements at an estimated cost of £45,000.

Drainage works

B9077 – from A90 AWPR flyover eastwards, and at the C30K junctions at an estimated cost of £50,000.

C12K – from Springfield Steading to Burnhead, for £14,700.

Landscape Services

Maryculter Cemetery – Some £25,000 is allocated to the purchase of land from the Church of Scotland. A further £100,000 is earmarked for infrastructure construction such as paths and road access on the site which is to the east towards the Den in the Glen.

Banchory Devenick Cemetery – Access and parking improvements will cost an estimated £60,000.  

Portlethen Cemetery – Repairs will be undertaken at the car park – and its access road in particular – at a cost of £30,000.

Walking and cycling initiatives

A project to design a walking and cycling route between Marywell and Portlethen is to cost £50,000. It is part of a greater Aberdeen to Stonehaven project.

Portlethen integrated travel town masterplan will cost in total £290,000, supported by Scottish Government grants. This will see the construction of shared use paths within the town.

Potholes

These will be tackled under general maintenance programmes, with £904,500 being allocated for this financial year.

Focus on the rural area

North Kincardine Rural Community Council met virtually this evening, starting with the monthly Police Scotland report.

The meeting moved on to the subject of education. Barry Drennan, deputy head at Aboyne Academy, has been appointed as the new head teacher at Portlethen Academy. We heard about a link being forged between Banchory Devenick School and the local Men’s Shed.

Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee will hear reports tomorrow from the three academies – Portlethen, Mearns, and Mackie. More on that here (Item 4): https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=8&meetid=19915

Disappointment was expressed at the upgrade of the C30K country road at Hillside going to take longer than was expected. The contractor has asked the council for a further four weeks on top of the current nine weeks.

Another item on the area committee agenda tomorrow also prompted discussion: agreeing funding to be spent on bridges (including Park Bridge), and roads maintenance (Item 6 on the agenda).

Netherley is to be a trial area for a new broadband-by-fibre business venture.

Community councilors discussed new planning applications. There were concerns about what would happen to the recycling bins at the former Lairhillock Inn when it is redeveloped.

A lengthy debate on recycling and waste was prompted by Aberdeenshire Council’s plans to change the bin collections next year. Further information is to be sought from the Waste Service.

The South Deeside View community newsletter is due to arrive from the printer within the next few days. It is also available on line: https://www.thesouthdeesideview.co.uk/publications

The next meeting is on Monday 21 June, which includes the outcome of nominations to the community council, and the annual general meeting. Four members who are reaching the end of their terms intend to stand again, and a further resident has expressed an interest.

Better lighting at bus stop

I’m pleased to hear that a solution may have been found for the lack of lighting at the park and choose bus shelter at the Newtonhill flyover.

Council officers and the developers at Chapelton (who own the park and choose) aim to mount two curved solar panels on the roof of the shelter which will collect enough energy to provide adequate power to light the full length of the bus shelter.

This will provide customers with added security while waiting for a bus, also makes them more visible to approaching buses.

Meanwhile real time passenger information is to be available on a 13.3” display on a pole adjacent to the shelter. It too will have a light.

One new application

The application below was registered last week within the North Kincardine ward and can be viewed using the council’s Planning Register (https://upa.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/online-applications/).

APP/2021/1088
Date validated: 11 May.
Site address: 16 Boswell Road, Portlethen, AB12 4BB.
Applicant: Affordable Kitchens and Bathrooms c/o Derek Young, 32 Meikle Gardens, Westhill, AB32 6WN.
Full planning permission for alterations and extension to dwellinghouse.
Public comment expiry date: 2 June.

Composting bins available

Lovely weather, and nature is bursting into bloom. Which means of course weeds, pruning, and so on.

Although clippings and suchlike can be taken to recycling centres or weekly village seasonal garden waste lorries, there is another option … home composting.

Aberdeenshire Council Waste Service has recommenced the sale of discounted home compost bins. Please see https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/household-rubbish/buying-a-home-composter/ on how to order.

It is one compost bin per household just now due to limited stocks.

New head for academy

A new head teacher is being appointed at Portlethen Academy.

Aberdeenshire Council’s chief education officer Vincent Docherty said today: “Following competitive interview yesterday I am delighted to advise that Barry Drennan, depute head teacher at Aboyne Academy, has been selected as the preferred candidate for the post of head teacher at Portlethen Academy.

“I send my warmest congratulations to Barry and wish him every success for the future.”

He will be replacing Neil Morrison, who is to retire.

New head teacher Barry Drennan

Road closure problems

I’ve heard that the closure of School Brae west of Hillside School may last longer than expected.

The contractors need more time to complete the work which involves utility providers and provision of a new roadway. It was due to finish on 30 May. Discussions are under way.

Keep your bike safe

Unfortunately bike theft continues to be all too commonplace across the UK with many bikes being stolen to order by organised crime gangs.

Police in the North East today said around 60% of all bike thefts occur when the owner didn’t secure their bike, either forgetting to or believing it was safe.

While large numbers of believed-to-be stolen bikes are recovered each year, the police are unable to return them or prosecute offenders as the owner cannot be traced.

1 REGISTER IT
Register your bike on a secure, Secured by Design (SBD) recognised national database. The police will check these databases if they find bikes in the possession of a criminal or in the street to identify the rightful owner.A bike carrying a database stamp is a highly effective, visible deterrent to bike thieves as they know that if they are caught with a registered bike they will be arrested, as the rightful owner can be traced by the police within seconds.

2 RECORD IT
Remember to record as many details of your bike as you can, such as the make/model, size, colour, frame number (normally found underneath the bike between the pedals or where the back wheel slots in), plus any other distinguishing features, and take a photo.

3 SECURITY MARK IT
Security marking your bike using a SBD recognised forensic asset marking or etching kit is another highly effective, visible deterrent to thieves and an established method of reducing theft.

4 DOUBLE-LOCK IT, SECURE IT AND LOCK THE LOT
It can take thieves as little as a few seconds to cut through some locks that haven’t achieved the Police Preferred Specification, so use two good quality locks, at least one of which is a D-lock (sometimes referred to as a U-lock).

• Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible to give any thieves little or no room to manoeuvre.

• Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand. Locks are considered more vulnerable when they come in to contact with the ground, so keep them off the floor.

5 REMOVE THE REMOVABLE BITS
Take parts that are easy to remove with you, such as the saddle or wheels. Or use locking skewers or nuts which can increase security by securing the bike’s components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal detachable parts.

6 PARK SECURE
Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking. It should be well lit and covered by CCTV. Secured cycle hubs and racks are provided by local councils and business, however, while some of these products are security tested some are not, so be wary.

Avoid leaving your bike in isolated or dimly lit places, always leave your bike where a potential thief will have to perform in public!

• Don’t lock your bike to an open-ended structure such as a sign post – thieves just lift the bike over the top of it.

• Avoid locking your bike against a gate or wall, thieves will often use leverage against the wall or gate to break the bike lock.

• Electric bikes are very expensive, so try not to leave in the same place on a regular basis – it may be noticed and stolen to order by a determined thief.

7 KEEP VALUABLES SECURE WHEN CYCLING
Always keep your valuables secure when cycling. Don’t put them in open baskets or panniers.

8 BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially whilst stationary. Thieves target unsuspecting cyclists for both their valuables and their bikes.

9 REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR BIKE SAFE WHEN TRAVELLING BY CAR
Keeping your bikes safe while on a roof rack or rear carrier of a vehicle is just as important as keeping it secure at home or work, as it can take an opportunist thief only seconds to steal your bike when you park your vehicle.

• Always pay attention to where you park your car, and ensure it is parked in a well-lit, busy location where the actions of any thief would be visible to people.

• Ensure that you have good quality locks visible and in use on your bikes and remove the removable bits like saddles whilst travelling.

10 REMEMBER SAFETY BEGINS AT HOME
This is very important to remember, as many bikes are stolen at home. Statistics show that bike thefts are most likely to occur in a semi-private location near the victim’s home; this includes outside areas on the premises and garages around, but not connected to, the home.

• Take the same care to lock your bike securely at home as you would on the street.

• Ground anchors can be used together with shed or garage alarms, which can be connected to your house alarm system.

• Doorbell and external security cameras can also be used as a deterrent to thieves.

You may wish to consider bringing your bike indoors if you don’t have appropriately secure external storage.

Lock your bike as described above in a securely locked garage or shed ensuring either is well maintained and the bike is hidden from view.

Covid-19: Council services ease back

With the easing of restriction from Monday, there are some changes to Aberdeenshire Council and Live Life Aberdeenshire services.

Outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercise classes will be able to restart, and amateur performing arts groups will be able to perform outdoors.

Live Life Aberdeenshire is preparing to restart group exercise classes in its facilities from next week. As well as a range of group exercise classes indoors, there will be opportunities for non-contact sport indoors, as well as outdoor contact sport for all ages.

All of Live Life Aberdeenshire’s leisure facilities, with the exception of Turriff Swimming Pool, have now reopened to the public.

Facilities across Aberdeenshire are updating their timetables, with full details available on the Live Life Aberdeenshire website at https://bit.ly/LLAWBack

In terms of council services, the move to Level 2 will not lead to significant changes at this stage but further guidance will be shared as it becomes available.