New planning applications

The following applications in the North Kincardine ward can be viewed on the Aberdeenshire Council planning register: https://upa.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/online-applications/.

APP/2021/2525
Date validated: 8 November 2021.
Site address: 23 Glascairn Avenue, Portlethen, AB12 4QF.
Applicant: Dr Sundari Joseph c/o Inspired Design & Development Ltd, 27 Evan Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2EQ.
Full planning permission for alterations and extension to dwellinghouse.
Public comment expiry date: 28 November.

APP/2021/2564
Date validated: 12 November 2021.
Site address: 44 Alder Drive, Portlethen, AB12 4WA.
Applicant: Mr Scott Docherty c/o Eb-Architect, 66 Argyll Place, Portlethen, AB12 4QZ.
Full planning permission for alterations and extension to dwellinghouse.
Public comment expiry date: 2 December.

APP/2021/2571
Date validated: 11 November 2021.
Site address: Land to the rear of the Bettridge Centre, Coastal Park, Newtonhill.
Applicant: EE Limited c/o Harlequin Group, Rutland House, 5 Allen Road, Livingston, EH54 6TQ.
Prior approval for Installation of 17 metre streetpole Including antennas, dishes and cabinets and ancillary development.
Public comment expiry date: 24 November.

We will remember them

This morning I had the honour of laying a wreath at the memorials at Banchory Devenick cemetery. Ten of us gathered there for a short service led by the Rev. David Galbraith.

A wreath was also laid on behalf of North Kincardine Rural Community Council.My ward colleagues are due to lay wreaths at similar services which are being held at Portlethen Parish Church, Maryculter Trinity Church, and at Cookney war memorial.

The following information comes from George Masson of St Ternan’s Church at Muchalls:

“There were more than 100 men killed in the First World War who had lived in the North Kincardine area. St Ternan’s is located in Cookney parish and when you stand beside that war memorial next to the now defunct church, and cast your eyes round the farm touns of the parish then count the names on the memorial and realize there are 32 of them, you realise how the parish suffered from the deaths of these men in the First World War.”

There are also memorials and tributes in Portlethen woodland park, in the Skateraw Hall in Newtonhill, and opposite the site of Muchalls station.

The memorials in Banchory Devenick cemetery

Rail bridge to close

Network Rail will carrying out an inspection of a rail bridge at Thistle Drive, Portlethen. That means the U61K country roadfrom the rail bridge to Mill of Findon will be closed for one night between 10pm and 6am commencing Saturday 11 December.

Site notices will be erected in due course indicating the temporary restriction to traffic and the alternative route.

Beware of more scams

Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards issued Bulletin No. 34 today, including warnings about doorstep crimes, on-line scams, and disposable vapes.

DOORSTEP CRIME

One resident in Garioch area recently had a man call at her door who offered to do some gardening for her. As she lives alone and due a medical condition, she accepted this offer. The man then did about 4 hours work, tidying up and power washing, then told the resident that the cost would be £800, which she paid partly in cash and partly by cheque. Later, after having second thoughts, the resident stopped the cheque but became fearful for her safety, should the male return.

In these circumstances (and many others) residents can contact Police Scotland on 101 (or if the incident has been reported to Trading Standards, ask the Trading Standards officer) to arrange for a Domestic Security Survey to be done on their home. A crime reduction officer will then contact the resident and make an appointment to come and survey the dwelling from the perimeter fence inwards, including the garden, any garages, sheds or greenhouses, external and internal security measures which are in place. They will then make simple, cost effective recommendations to increase the physical security of the dwelling and make the resident feel more secure at home.

If requesting through Trading Standards, all that is required of the resident to pass their details to Police Scotland is permission in writing, such as an email, signing the Trading Standards officer’s notebook or providing a hand written note to that effect.

We have also recently received reports of males going from door to door in the Turriff area, sometimes trying to sell garden gloves and sometimes simply asking for donations. Strictly speaking they should have a Pedlar’s Certificate, granted by the police to trade like this, which the males claim to have.

Trading Standards would urge caution if people like this come to your door as the goods they sell are often very overpriced and, sometimes, these types of trader also scout gardens for items which they return later for and steal. We would always suggest that you remain polite but firm and decline their offer of any goods. Keep a discreet eye on them until they leave then report the matter to Police Scotland and/or Trading Standards.

SCAMS

One resident of south Aberdeenshire went online recently to use a ‘PDF to Word’ service for converting documents. After choosing one such service he found there were a number of options available, so chose the single document option at a cost of 2 Euros.

The resident made payment and received the converted Word document but two weeks later he was alerted by a further payment of 30 Euros which had been made to the company from his account, which he queried. It was then established that buried in the small print of the conditions was a clause which authorised automatic payments for the full service every four weeks. The position of this clause was also concerning in that dependent on the monitor’s settings, that particular clause may not even be visible.

After a bit of wrangling, the resident was able to reclaim their money and cancel the automatic payments, but it would be worth bearing in mind for others who might need to use such a service as it would be all too easy to miss or overlook such payments and would not take long for a sizable cost to accumulate.

We have also received reports of scammers advertising tickets for winter festivals in the Glasgow and Cardiff areas on social media, taking payment from customers then failing to deliver the tickets, leaving the customers out of pocket.

Trading Standards urges caution when looking to book tickets like these. If looking to book tickets like this:

• On the ‘home’ page, look for the small blue dot with the white tick to the right of the company name as this shows that the page has been verified by that social medium.

• Look for information about when the page was created; genuine businesses are likely to have been established for a number of years whereas scammers’ pages will have been created recently, for that scam.

• Browse the comments made by other members of the public. If there appears to be a high percentage of comments alleging that it’s scam or dissatisfaction with the service they’ve received, then it would be best to avoid dealing with this company.

• Look for information about the company’s own website then go on to that site and look around. If the site has a number of pages which look and feel professionally designed, it’s likely to be genuine. If there is only one or two web pages, especially if they look amateurish with no ‘contact us’ information (phone numbers, company address etc.), it’s likely to be a scammer’s page.

• If in doubt: avoid, avoid, avoid.

DISPOSABLE VAPES

One topic which has been in the news a lot recently is that of disposable vapes. You may have heard them referred to as ‘geek’ or ‘elf’ bars. If you’ve seen them, you may have noticed that many of them look like highlighters pens and come in bright colours. They are one-time only e-cigarettes which cannot be customised
or refilled and are intended for disposal once the liquid within has been used up. Most retail for around £5. Clearly they’re aimed at the younger end of the market.

However, some issues with these disposable vapes are:

• Some disposable vapes are not registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
• Vapes with a tank capacity over 2ml are illegal.
• Vape liquids containing more 2% nicotine are illegal.
• Vapes sold without suitable health warnings are illegal.
• Vapes sold without an accompanying information leaflet are illegal.
• It is illegal for a business to sell vapes without being registered with the Scottish Register of Tobacco and NVP Product Retailers.
• It illegal to sell tobacco products, disposable vapes or regular e-cigarettes
to people who are under 18 years of age.
• It is illegal to sell tobacco products, disposable vapes or regular ecigarettes without a written Age Verification policy.
• Any business which wishes to sell tobacco products, disposable vapes or regular e-cigarettes must follow the Challenge 25/ Think 25 process to confirm that the customer is legally old enough to do so to avoid prosecution.

Given all of the above, there is a clear potential risk to the health of our young people. Thankfully, so far, worrying reports from around Aberdeenshire have been small in number. In an effort to start addressing this, the Scottish Government has contacted all registered sellers of e-cigarettes and disposable vapes to provide guidance similar to that above. More locally, Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards department will be building on this guidance by undertaking a programme of visits and inspections to these types of premises, to provide further guidance and to take enforcement action as required.

If you have any information about the sale of disposable vapes which concerned you, please feel free to get in touch with Aberdeenshire’s Trading Standards department using the contact information below.

CONTACTS

For urgent Trading Standards matters, contact Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards at 01467 537222. For non-urgent enquiries, please contact Consumer Advice Scotland at https://www.consumeradvice.scot/ or on 0808 164 6000.

Contact Police Scotland on 999 if you need urgent Police assistance or 101 for non-urgent matters.

For more information about scams please visit Friends Against Scams at
https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/ or Take Five at https://takefivestopfraud.org.uk/

Drainage work closes junction

Aberdeenshire Council Roads Service will be carrying out drainage investigation works in Muchalls from Wednesday 17 November for three days.

This means that Monduff Road will be closed at its junction with Pheppie Road and Stranathro Terrace in the interests of public safety.

Site notices will be erected in due course indicating the temporary restriction to traffic. Vehicular access to affected properties is to be maintained whenever possible.

Full speed ahead for transport plan

Scottish Ministers have approved Nestrans Regional Transport Strategy 2040.

The minister for transport told the transport partnership that the “strategy fulfills the role required of a high-level document in that it describes your approach to working with your constituent councils to support the Scottish Government’s key purpose and national outcomes, the National Transport Strategy 2 and agreed regional and local transport priorities.”

Delivery of the strategy and transport improvements in the North East is a matter for Nestrans and its two constituent councils (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire).

The report includes a number of local objectives:

• Develop the principle of an Aberdeen Rapid Transit scheme, to provide express service journey times, frequency and reliability to encourage a mode shift. See indicative map.

• Confirms that a high-quality park & ride facility to the south of Aberdeen at Portlethen is still a priority.

• Upgrade existing active travel routes and develop a network of high quality and safe active travel routes across the region, focusing on the key priorities including Stonehaven to Aberdeen city centre via Chapelton, Portlethen, Cove, Altens, Torry and the South Harbour. Wherever possible routes should be segregated and road space reallocation should also be considered to allow cyclists, pedestrians and wheelers (especially those less confident and able) sufficient space.

• To work with ScotRail to develop travel plans for all rail stations in the North east to identify capacity constraints and requirements for expanded parking facilities, including Portlethen.

• The provision of improved access to the railway network by considering opportunities for additional stations, better integration of local services with InterCity services, full access for all and improved access to stations by non-car modes.

• Undertake a review of the cross-Aberdeen local rail corridor (Montrose-Aberdeen-Inverurie) and previous Crossrail business case to determine whether there remain markets that may be appropriately served by improved access to rail. Development of business cases for additional stations to enhance the viability of the local cross-Aberdeen rail service, with new stations providing access to the railway for an increasing proportion of the North east population, with delivery of additional stations where a viable business case is proven.

The meeting went on to briefly discuss the recent public consultation survey by consultants AECOM on the Aberdeen to Laurencekirk corridor. There was an “excellent response” with 1,106 online surveys completed, as well as some stakeholders emailing through a more detailed response.

This of course included questions about whether stations should reopen at Newtonhill and Cove.

AECOM and Nestrans officers are going through the results and a report will be available for the next Board meeting on 8 December.

More phone boxes face the axe

Telecommunications regulator Ofcom has revealed that almost two thirds of Scotland’s 2,864 working phone boxes could be removed due to lack of use.

Ofcom is considering new rules to ensure that remaining boxes that meet certain requirements will be preserved.

Mark Smith, from Ofcom, said on Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’: “We are proposing clearer, stronger rules to safeguard phone boxes against removal if they are in areas where there’s poor mobile network coverage, if they’re located near an accident or suicide hotspot, or we’re aware that a number of calls had been made from the phone box over the past 12 months.”

A number of local phone boxes have been removed from service in recent years, including the one in Muchalls, with ones in Newtonhill and Portlethen under threat.

Action over bulky uplifts delay

Aberdeenshire Council’s bulky uplift service – which is based in Inverurie – has had a large number of requests recently for the removal of items. That has led to a delay of several weeks before items can be picked up.

After receiving complaints I asked the Waste Service if there were any steps that could be taken to speed things up. As a result the Stonehaven team is to help by dealing with requests in our area as quickly as possible.

Some of the bin crews work Monday to Thursday and some work Tuesday to Friday, and supervisors are to book overtime on Mondays and Fridays to clear the backlog.

Litter dumped by fans

I have asked the council’s Waste Service about a mess of empty bottles, cans and plastic bags dumped at the bus stop on the A92 at Hillside.

I have been told they were left by a coach full of football supporters on Saturday.

Council staff will clear it up. Why can’t people take their litter home and recycle properly?

UPDATE: I popped over to the bus stop to have a look. What a mess. I cleared out three bags of litter, but there is still some left … I ran out of bags! Annoying.

Potholes contract awarded

Great news! I have just been advised by Aberdeenshire Council Roads Service that Hunter Construction (Aberdeen) Ltd has been awarded the Portlethen, Newtonhill and Muchalls carriageway patching contract.

We have been waiting for quite some time for this to happen. Our roads are in sore need of attention.

The Roads Service is awaiting a start date from the contractor and once this is available, I will share the news.

I’m told that patching means cutting out an area greater than the pothole and reinstating at least two layers of bitmac. Filling the pothole is just putting in some tar and running a roller over it. The patches are more durable than just filling the hole.

Hunter Construction was recently awarded a similar contact for the Stonehaven area by the council.