Should Portlethen police office close?

An interesting meeting today with representatives of the Scottish Police Federation about proposals by Police Scotland to close the police office in Portlethen.

They are not happy and feel there should be more investment and more officers in the area. Apparently we are 60 officers short of the authorised establishment here in the North East Division. The federation had invited local councillors and parliamentarians to the meeting.

Police Scotland is holding a public consultation on the proposed disposal.

The force says: “There is a minimal front-line resource stationed at Portlethen with operational matters being dealt with by officers generally located in Stonehaven instead, striving to deliver enhanced policing services to our communities. The Portlethen area is further supported by our colleagues at Nigg Police Station, where emergency response and additional support to on-going incidents is required.

“Any future plans will also be the subject to the approval of the Scottish Police Authority.”

The federation representatives pointed out that the Nigg office is within the Aberdeen division, and they have different radio links from the Shire. They would like to know what alternatives are being proposed so that the town has an appropriate policing service.

The consultation closes on 5 July and comments should be emailed to NorthKincardineCPT@scotland.pnn.police.uk, marked for the attention of Jackie Knight.

Focus on sport pitches

The way sports pitches are used in Aberdeenshire was discussed by the infrastructure services committee this afternoon.

Councillors endorsed the draft Pitch and Open Space Strategy and made recommendations to Full Council, which will make the final decision.

This included support for the approach to prioritising enhanced capacity where it is required.

The committee also supported one process for the community booking of pitches, while recognising that the Education Service should control school pitch use during the delivery of the school curriculum and be able to input to processes to ensure that they are not overused outwith the curriculum.

The report included a section on Portlethen, with officers commenting that “the town is poorly provided for in terms of volume of spaces which can be used for sport and in particular football, ranking 15 of 17 networks in terms of overall provision. However, Portlethen does have a high-quality facility suitable for competitive hockey and has one of only two competitive hockey clubs in Aberdeenshire.”

As well as the comparatively low level of provision, officers are aware of other issues which impact on the network’s ability to meet high levels of demand.

Once the strategy is approved officers will apply the following principles in all areas:
• Creation of an outdoor area forum, with representative from all user groups, local sports hubs, landscape services, third party owners of land. The forum would then:
o Agree principles of fixture scheduling among user groups.
o Prioritise improvements to network facilities.
o Agree priority usage of grass area, based on a choice of competitive sports pitch / community sports pitch / public space.
o Influence schedule of maintenance for each area of land.
o Identify additional sources of funding and / or donations which could be used for infrastructure improvements.

The report before councillors says that current provision includes all spaces accessible to potential users and includes provision by third parties (commercial and voluntary)
 7 full size grass pitches (of which one is used for rugby)
 7 smaller sized grass pitches
 1 full size all weather pitch (2g sand based surface)
 1 small size all weather pitch (2g sand based surface)
 3 tennis courts.
 1 skatepark

Update on cycling/walking links

Councillors were updated this afternoon on various transport projects in Aberdeenshire.

GREEN ROUTES – The Infrastructure Services Committee approved a trial project to promote walking and cycling on rural roads at its meeting on 21 January. The trial is based on Perth and Kinross’ Green Routes initiative and will be promoted as Rural Walking and Cycling Routes in Aberdeenshire.

Traffic surveys were concluded in April to provide project baseline data. Proposed signage has been developed and authorised by Transport Scotland.

Work has begun on the wider communication to ensure that stakeholders, including local community councils are engaged as well as promoting the routes to the public.

CYCLING LINKS – The Low Carbon Travel and Transportation Hub-funded projects for Portlethen have now completed a stage 1 design and the schemes are being progressed to a detailed design stage.

The schemes to be delivered are: Cookston Road, Muirend Road and Badentoy Road Link. A virtual engagement event ran from 22 February for four weeks with public feedback being fed into the designs. Stage 1 drawings have been received from the consultant and are being reviewed by officers.

WALKING AND CYCLINGPortlethen to Wellington Road (Aberdeen south route) feasibility designs have been completed and consultants are developing online community engagement materials for launching this summer. Prior to this, officers will be contacting landowners to discuss the proposals and review land options.

Potholes being tackled

Today I urged council officers to tackle the pothole problems at pace and to keep residents informed about such progress.

There is a backlog of work with potholes across Aberdeenshire after the worst winter in 10 years and lockdown curtailing normal maintenance work.

At the infrastructure services committee this morning councillors heard that officers are working hard to catch up, with contractors being brought in to help catch up.

The Roads Service has been busy with a surface dressing programme, which is now coming to a conclusion. Staff will be turning their attention to potholes and urban streets. Local roads teams are progressing with the higher ranking repairs before moving on to other programmed work. However, although work is ramping up, the council is struggling to recruit to their teams in the Roads, Waste and Landscape Service.

I also encouraged officers to keep residents in the picture about repairing our roads. People want to know when the potholes that affect them are going to be repaired. I was told that the service is aware of the need to do so and more detailed information is to be made available on the council website as well as improving the feedback to residents when they report a problem.

I’ll post further updates as I get them.

Dog poo plea

A Portlethen resident has contacted me after becoming a tad annoyed and disappointed by the number of discarded dog poo bags.

Please bin bagged dog poo rather than leaving them in bushes or any other place.

She writes: “I am fed up picking up other people’s bagged dog poo – it’s disgusting and a health hazard (as are discarded face masks, used and sometimes blood stained tissues and used nappies).”

Most dog owners are responsible but it only takes a few to give everyone all a bad name.

Of course it is not something confined to Portlethen, but can be found in other communities too.

I should add that sometimes dog owners leave the bag planning to return at the end of the walk to retrieve the bag. Unfortunately sometimes though it gets forgotten, or events prevent a return to the scene.

Bags of dog poo can be deposited in any litter bin. If the nearest bin is full, find another bin or take it home. Thank you!

Advice on the latest scams

Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards service today issued their latest bulletin on doorstep crime, scams and safety.

While neither a scam nor doorstep crime, we have had a report from one resident who was trying to renew their driving licence, so started the process with an internet search for the correct gov.uk site to do so. Unknown to them, they chose a commercial site which had a high listing on the search engine’s results and followed through the process to its conclusion.

The resident did get their driving licence in the end but it cost them £94 instead of the usual £14 (or for free if you’re over 70). The official web address for renewing a driving licence is https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence but if you must use a search engine to do so, when the results of the search are returned and the top results on the first page say ‘Ad’ next to the web address, then these are commercial sites which have paid to be there. Look for the official wed address, ending in gov.uk, as above.

Scams

The Citizens Advice Scams Awareness Fortnight campaign is running from 14 – 27 June. Although CAB have not produced their own materials this year, they will still be active in supporting the campaign on social media and hope that you will be too. You can find the Citizens Advice resources to support the campaign by clicking on this link: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/our-campaigns/all-our-current-campaigns/scams-awareness-campaign-2021/

One resident was recently contacted by scammers pretending to be from Santander bank. He is a Santander customer. The caller display on the resident’s phone even showed the Santander Fraud Line number.

When the resident answered the call, the caller advised him that there has been a couple of suspicious transactions on his account, that they would raise an incident, transfer the enquiry to a fraud investigator and that the resident would have to open new accounts and transfer his savings into these. Immediately smelling a rat, the resident said that he would not do this and hung up.

He then contacted Santander who confirmed that there had been no suspicious transactions on his account.

Clearly, this is the old ‘safe account’ scam with a new twist. Please remember that if you get such a call, it is a scam; no bank will ask you to do such a thing. As this resident did, simply hang up and contact your bank – but
check for a dial tone on your phone first, in case the scammer has left the line open, as your outgoing call will simply go back to them. Or use a different phone.

Also, the caller display was obviously showing a genuine Santander number which had been spoofed to mask the caller’s real phone number, so if you recognise such a number on your caller ID during one of these calls, please do not simply assume that it’s genuine.

Another resident was called at home by a woman purporting to work for an investment house in New York who wanted to buy the resident’s shares in a UK company as part of a takeover deal by her client. The woman offered to buy the shares at between £12 and £22 each, but the offer was time limited. Peculiarly, the company concerned had gone defunct 10 years ago and had only traded at share prices at below 3 pence for most of its history. Rightly sensing that something was amiss, the resident refused the ‘offer’, despite the woman’s
persistence.

This is, in essence, is a classic case of something being too good to be true.

Often, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is part of the deal (to keep things secret, so family and friends don’t persuade the victim to jettison the whole thing). Also, as we’ve discussed before, the element of urgency is a
common aspect of scams, in this case a share buying scam. What often follows is that the victim gives over their personal details and agree to buy an insurance bond costing several thousand pounds. When the money has been paid, the scammer will disappear, along with the victim’s money.

Please note that the advice given in these bulletins has been deliberately kept simple, so that if you are faced with a scenario such as the ones discussed here where fear, panic and alarm are often tools used deliberately by scammers, you will know what to do at that time. Remember, after the initial panic is over, you may have rights which Trading Standards can help you with.

If you have been the victim of a Doorstep Crime or an attempted crime, whether Bogus Caller or Rogue Trader, please report the matter to Consumer Advice Scotland so that Trading Standards can build a detailed, ongoing picture of the activities of these scammers throughout the Shire. This would be a great help to us to tackle this sort of crime.

Contact

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 assistance or 101 for non-urgent matters.

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

Support on offer for education leavers

Do you know anyone who is leaving education this summer and not sure what to do next?

Robert Gordon University is working with Aberdeenshire Council’s Employment Support team to run the Enterprise Booster – a six session, live workshop series and online course for young people interested in starting their own business.

The programme is backed by the Young Person’s Guarantee, and is open to Aberdeenshire residents, aged between 16-24. The Enterprise Booster will start on Wednesday 18 August and runs to Wednesday 22 September.

If you know a young person who would benefit from the programme, get them to visit: www.rgu.ac.uk/enterprise-booster.

Speed signs plan amended

Aberdeenshire’s Road Service has agreed to include 40mph count down markers on the South Deeside Road on the western approach to the junction with the Milltimber/Maryculter bridge over the Dee.

At the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meeting last Tuesday councillors had asked the service to amend the plans for a 40mph speed limit at the junction.

The roads officers’ proposals didn’t have these signs, and this caused some concerns among residents. The indicative location is shown in blue below.

Improvements to crossings

New LED lights have been installed at two pedestrian crossings by Aberdeenshire’s Roads Service to make the crossings more visible to drivers.

The changes have taken place at the Tesco crossing in Newtonhill (shown below) and to the Portlethen Academy beacon following recommendation from the road safety unit.

The LED units most certainly improves visibility. There have been a number of incidents at the crossings with drivers not stopping to let pedestrians across.

I have asked the Roads Service if the beacons on the Newtonhill Road crossing – beside the play park – are also to be upgraded. Last year a child and two adults were injured in an accident there.

High friction surfacing is to be applied to the approaches to the two Newtonhill zebra crossings later in the year as it has worn away.

Events ahead in Chapelton

Some snippets on developments in Chapelton.

The next farmers’ market will be on Sunday 18 July, Sunday 19 September and Sunday 21 November. The list of stallholders is growing.

August will see the return of the Scarecrow Festival organised by the allotment committee.

The annual Chapelton Bike Ride will return for its sixth year on Sunday 5 September. Sponsored by Burness Paull, the event will once again see cyclists trail across a 42 mile route or shorter 12 mile route to raise money for local charity North East Sensory Services.

All businesses have now reopened in Chapelton, including The Lounge, Teacake, The Croft Nursery School, and Slate and Grain.Joining them are start-up businesses this summer in the newly formed Chapelton Box Park in Burgess Park. This will include delicatessen Wander & Graze, barber Mr Dun, and Broughty Ferry-based green grocers Clementine.

Outdoor fitness classes take place on Wednesdays from 6:45pm – 7:30pm in Liddell Park. All levels of fitness are welcome to join.
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These snippets come from a regular ChapeltonNews bulletin sent out by Elsick Estate. To be added to the mailing list, click on this link: https://chapeltonnewtown.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=9d202331a62c73d0ea7336041&id=7ec3f36c37&e=f01e086f20