Chairperson’s Report to September 2018
Over the last 21 months Kingswells Community Council (KCC) has lost a number of members, some of whom had made a valuable contribution over many years and some over a shorter period. I am grateful for all the positive contributions these individuals made, each in their own particular way and style. Currently KCC comprises 6 full members and 3 associate members, all of whom will demit office in October 2018. At this time, fresh nominations will be called for and, if necessary, an election will take place to form a new Community Council in Kingswells. The same process is taking place throughout the city of Aberdeen.
A revised Scheme of Establishment has been developed and will apply to all new Community Councils from 26th October 2018. Members of KCC, as well as other Community Councils, contributed to this revision, working closely with Aberdeen City Council (ACC) and in particular with Karen Finch, the Community Council Liaison Officer. Community Councillors have always been subject to the same Code of Conduct and standards of behaviour as ACC Councillors. A weakness of the previous Scheme of Establishment for Community Councils was the absence of a Complaints Procedure. This omission has been rectified in the new Scheme. The guidance in the new Scheme, in relation to consultation, is more practical and appropriate.
Although KCC has functioned without a Vice Chair for a number of years, it would be more consistent with the Scheme of Establishment if a Vice Chair was appointed when the new Community Council is formed.
It was recognised that Ian Cox had been undertaking a very considerable amount of work on behalf of the community and KCC in his dual role as both Secretary and Treasurer of KCC for which I am very grateful. For this reason, in late 2017, it was decided to separate the role of Secretary and Treasurer to promote more equitable sharing of the workload. We are grateful to Denise Poole who agreed to be Treasurer. During the last 2 years, KCC has trialled having a Minute Secretary in addition to the Secretary.
Communication and Cooperation
KCC is very aware of its responsibility to communicate effectively with the community it represents and of the need to listen to what the community of Kingswells is saying. To achieve these objectives KCC continues to disseminate and collect information via www.kwells.org and in addition has developed a group Facebook page and Twitter account. I am grateful to members of KCC, including Aleen Shinnie, who administer the Facebook page.
The Kingswells News is a valuable tool for the dissemination of local information and as a medium to encourage the residents of Kingswells to participate in consultations and to respond to questionnaires. We appreciate all the hard work Sue Simpson does publishing the newsletter and organising the advertising which funds the newsletter. In addition, thanks are due to all the local businesses and advertisers who fund the newsletter as well as the Kingswells residents who volunteer to deliver the Kingswells News in all weathers. We encourage residents to contribute to the newsletter with their own news and achievements.
KCC is in the process of replacing one of the 2 noticeboards which are sited in front of the Community Centre, to allow items of interest to the community to be securely displayed/advertised in the centre of Kingswells.
Members of KCC ,(currently Ian Cox and Alex Carnie), attend the Community Council Forum for the City, which facilitates the sharing of relevant information and issues between Community Councils, as well as providing a source of mutual support for Community Councils and individuals. Attendance at the Community Council Forum includes participation in the Community Council Forum Planning sub-committee and also the Transport sub-committee, which focus on longer term city-wide initiatives eg Master Planning
KCC and Kingswells Community Centre Management Committee share many goals and ambitions for Kingswells and so are making every effort to communicate and work together towards meeting their shared vision. I would like to pay tribute to Jenny Evans, the Community Centre Manager who transformed the atmosphere and service available within the Centre during her tenure as manager.
Denise Poole has been invited to represent the Kingswells community on the Bucksburn ASG Partnership. The purpose of the Forum is to encourage and facilitate schools to work with one another and more widely in Partnership Forums (which include community representatives, parent representatives, social work, police etc).
I represent the community of Kingswells on the West Locality Leadership Group (West LLG) which is part of the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership. The purpose of this group is to encourage community involvement in the design and delivery of health and social services in our area and to facilitate communication between the health and social services and the community which is served.
KCC organised a survey questionnaire in recent months, with the aim of identifying
- the preferences of residents in Kingswells for the optimal methods of communication between KCC and residents
- the priorities residents would like to see KCC address in the village.
This was distributed within the Kingswells News, on the www.kwells.org website, KCC Facebook page and Twitter. The response from residents was disappointing with less than 20 responses received. The results will be reported once analysis is complete.
In recent times KCC has consulted on the bus service (twice), encouraged participation in an ACC consultation on yellow lines within the village and promoted a questionnaire on behalf of Aberdeen Football Club during the pre-application stage of the Stadium Application. Response to these surveys was better than the latest one.
KCC has found, in the past, that action or working groups created within KCC to focus on particular areas can be helpful. Currently we have two such groups – a Planning Action Group, headed by Ian Cox, which reviews planning applications and an Infrastructure Action Group, headed by David Simpson, which monitors roads, gutters, lights, drainage etc. The persistence and determination of David Simpson in managing to enable Stuart Milne Homes to accept responsibility for the Derbeth pond is recognised appreciated by KCC. As a result, a drainage pipe has been repaired and significant maintenance work carried out. The upgrade of the Bucksburn Valley Path will make walking and cycling to Bucksburn much easier and safer. David, with the help of Steven Bly and his team from ACC have worked hard cutting back the shrubs and Willow Herb on the path from Kingswells towards Dobbies. We acknowledge particularly the helpful and cooperative relationship that Steven Shaw Environmental Manager at ACC has established with the Infrastructure Action group.
Aberdeen Football Club and Community Trust have invited members of KCC to form, with other stakeholders, a group to discuss and monitor the progress of the building of the Stadium and training grounds with a view to identifying and addressing issues as they arise. 2 members of KCC can attend at a time. Denise, David and Ian are our current representatives.
Other action groups can be formed depending on the interest and energy of members. Residents of Kingswells can also be co-opted to serve on these groups according to their interest and passion – suggested potential groups include Environmental/Conservation, Flowers/Visual appeal, Good Neighbor/Befriending, Community maintenance work parties or specific project work.
Local Elected ACC Councillors
KCC is most grateful for all the work Cllrs Delaney, Cameron and Wheeler do on behalf of our community. This has included achieving the delivery of the Stagecoach 14 bus service between Kingswells and Aberdeen city centre, clarifying ownership and responsibility for the consumption dykes in and around Kingswells and facilitating numerous repair and maintenance issues around the village.
Consequent to the resignation of Meg Sands, we have lost the person who organised the provision of hanging baskets around the village centre and coordinated community bulb planting.
KCC is grateful to members of the community who show the initiative and drive to organise activities which benefit the village. These include
- Claire Burt organiser of the Litter Picks ,
- City Church-Kingswells who have helped to maintain vegetation along various paths,
- those special people who can be seen picking up litter as individuals,
- Graham Thom and his team of volunteers who erect and dress the village Christmas tree,
- Derek Close and his friends who repainted equipment in the play parks in the Broadykes area
- the coordinators of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes
to mention just a few. We are indebted to The Four Mile House in previous years and, more recently, Aberdeen Volks Centre and Derek Rattary Builders for their sponsorship of the Christmas tree and for ensuring there is a secure footing for the tree.
The rural feel of Kingswells with its green spaces, trees, shrubs and play parks is due, to a significant extent, to the maintenance of the area by ACC, by Residents Associations and by individual householders. These efforts are greatly appreciated and ought not to be taken for granted, as they contribute to making Kingswells a very pleasant living environment.
Policing and Crime Prevention
Police Scotland continue to provide monthly reports on crime, vandalism and public nuisance with an officer usually in attendance at KCC meetings. I cannot over emphasise the value that I place on this cooperation in maintaining and supporting a relationship of trust, confidence and communication.
The Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and the community take extremely seriously the wilful fire raising that has taken place on Burnside Moss, the area near Concraig.
ACC has undertaken the electronic monitoring of the speed of vehicles on Kingswood Drive and Kingswells Crescent. The information gathered was passed to the Police who subsequently carried out speed checks on these roads. A number of drivers were stopped and educated on the importance of complying with speed restrictions.
A recurring theme in the police reports is the theft of cars using car keys stolen from unsecured properties i.e. an opportunistic thief opens a front or back door and picks up any vehicle keys lying within easy reach, using them to steal vehicles from outside the property.
The Place Standard
The Place Standard tool allows communities, public agencies, voluntary groups and others find those aspects of a place that need to be targeted to improve people’s health, wellbeing and quality of life.
More information can be obtained from the following website where you can also watch a short video on how the tool can help you improve the quality of your place.
KCC hopes residents of Kingswells will access this tool and use it to the benefit of Kingswells and it’s residents.
Prime Four Community Trust
Applications for funding by the following groups within Kingswells have been submitted and agreed to by Prime Four Community Trust
- Tiny Tot’s Two’s
- Coull Green Residents Association
- 1st Kingswells Scout Group
KCC currently awaits the outcome of an application for funding for the installation of a further bench.
The Public Transport Unit of ACC is aware of the significant extent to which the 14 bus service is failing to meet its timetable obligations. As I write this report a new timetable has been formulated which is expected, when introduced, to address some of the current operational issues. Anyone who has a concern about the bus service should email email@example.com or phone 01224 523073.
Considerable progress has been made in making a faster broadband service available to parts of Kingswells, however it is acknowledged there are still residents who have an unacceptably slow broadband speed. It will take time for this issue to be addressed despite the considerable efforts and pressure exerted by Cllr. Delaney and others.
The planned development of the field adjacent to the building into an Adventure playground has not progressed yet for a number of legitimate reasons.
More work is required to define responsibility for and organisation of snow clearing, gritting and associated maintenance issues of the area around the shops and car park. It is not the responsibility of ACC.
Lock Block repairs
A new and different approach to Lock Block repairs of roads is being considered by ACC.
Publicly Accessible Defibrillators (AEDs)
Plans are well developed for the provision of Publicly Accessible Defibrillators in the village. This initiative was initially suggested by Bert Rendall then developed by Aleen Shinnie and Russell Ritchie. While training is not required to use these devices, KCC does plan to organise information events to raise awareness of Cardiac Arrest as well as training events in the use of these machines. The Scottish Ambulance Service Resilience Officer has agreed to support this initiative.
Four benches were kindly gifted and installed around the village by Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, the builder of the Prime Four development. A fifth bench has been gifted by Prime Four with the intention of installing it at the site already prepared at the view point on the hill at the corner of Concraig. Applications for funding the installation of this bench have been made and the outcomes are awaited.
A replacement noticeboard has been ordered to be sited as before in front of the Community Centre.
ACC are committed to forming a robust path from the Bucksburn Bridge on Kingswells Crescent to the new roundabout on the C89c.
The Elephant in the Room.
The Planning Sub-committee of KCC carefully and meticulously considered the details of the planning application for the proposed new Aberdeen Football Club Stadium and training grounds in the context of the Scottish Government’s Planning Policy and Guidance, The Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Plan and Aberdeen City Local Plan. Information relating to the planning application was provided to the residents of Kingswells by various means as the information gradually became available, with encouragement for residents to make their voice known and contribute to the Public Consultation organised by ACC.
Initially KCC took a neutral stance within the planning process, but as details emerged in the planning application it became apparent that several issues needed to be addressed. Consequently, the Planning Sub-committee of KCC and KCC (by a substantial majority vote) decided to submit a detailed objection to the Planning application. While the objection was clearly targeted to support the case to decline the planning application, it was also designed to make the development the best it could be if planning permission was given. This was similar to the approach taken during the development of Prime Four.
The complexity and volume of submissions contained in the planning application by Aberdeen Football Club for the new stadium complex meant that it was simply not feasible for KCC to conduct a meaningful consultation exercise on the planning application within Kingswells, within the timeframe allowed and with the resources available. KCC recognises and acknowledges that its decision to submit an objection to the planning application without conducting a consultation of Kingswells residents, seriously upset and angered many passionate supporters of the building of the new Stadium and training grounds near Kingswells. Furthermore KCC recognises and acknowledges the damage to trust and confidence in KCC that has resulted. It is important for the community to realise that the damage to confidence and trust also negatively affected relationships within KCC and negatively affected the working of KCC. With time, forgiveness, mutual understanding and perspective, I hope relationships will heal and that people who passionately disagreed with the planning objection can still work together for the greater good of Kingswells and the residents.
It has been a privilege to serve on KCC, initially as a member and more recently as Chair.
It is my wish that people in Kingswells will be a good neighbour to one another and build a community where each person feels secure, connected, respected and cared for.
In addition to any current members and associates who are putting themselves forward for re-election, KCC would be delighted to welcome new members and associates especially from young people (Note: any eligible person aged 16 and above can apply to be elected as a full member).
Dr J. Kenneth McAlpine
Chairperson Kingswells Community Council