I was first elected to represent Abernethy/Glenfarg in May 1999 until 2007. Hard to believe. Returned again at by–election April 2016. Lots of changes have taken place in Abernethy and the political world since then. One Councillor elected to represent a small community then,. now huge area from Abernethy – St David’s and everything in between (where is that I hear some of you say) Madderty . Now multi member wards, more than 7000 on electoral roll plus all of the children. Communities and residents within communities all with different priorities. By the time you read this Perth & Kinross council will have agreed their budget and set council tax . Prior to setting the budget Council have to identify £28m savings for the coming year. Like all local authorities P & K is preparing for the very significant challenges which lie ahead. Demand for services provided by the Council increases and it is important that Councillors look at how services are delivered while managing reduced budgets. Largest part of Council budget is spent on Education and Childrens Services £168m. Council tax provides only 20% of Council income. In simple terms 1% increase in Council Band D is equivalent to around 3p per day 3% is around 10p. Looking for savings is challenging and I am certain that budget decisions will not be easy. At the moment it looks very likely that some services will not be delivered as opposed to reducing It is not all doom and gloom, funding from various sources is available for the community through Grant Funding. Community groups have taken on projects over the years with help from Council and funders from up grading parks, Circular Walk, Pavilion, Williamson Hall etc. Volunteers in the community are our best asset. We could not do without them. Latest asset is the long awaited Abernethy Community Transport which began in December with some funding from Community Transport Fund and the appointment of an invaluable co– ordinator and Volunteer Drivers. Clients who have used the service are pleased with the service.
Parking in Abernethy has been on the agenda for more years than I care to remember, I asked many years ago as did residents and Community Council if grass area at Hall Park (which was once bed of shrubs) could be made into parking area, I am pleased that this will be made into car park for residents by end of April. Additional parking in Hall Park should help alleviate parking at the Williamson Hall. The garage site beyond the Williamson Hall has been tidied up, after consultation with tenants and residents in 2016. This was funded by Housing Revenue account and there are strict rules what this account can fund. The garage site is much tidier; tenants and residents had the opportunity to rent their own space. Concern was expressed by the Williamson Hall Management Committee, CC. and Councillors that parking at the Williamson Hall would be more difficult. Discussion has taken place with Council officials. and concerns have been listened to, hopefully hall users and residents will park sensibly.
New speed restriction signs were recently installed on A913 between Abernethy and Newburgh. Unfortunately there has been an accident on this stretch since signs were installed. Council officials and Councillors receive numerous requests for traffic calming measures, new speed restrictions, new signage etc. at the same time council budgets are under pressure. Road safety is a council priority and we can all help by watching our speed and driving according to road conditions.
Other ways we can help to make Abernethy a better place to live, work and play is not to drop litter or take part in Keep Scotland Beautiful Campaign #2 MinuteCleanup. Take a bag on your walk. Take 2 minutes to pick up litter, bin it or recycle. A clothes peg is ideal to use to pick up small bits of litter. Almond & Earn Action Partnership would very much like to have someone from Abernethy/Aberargie to represent the Community. Partnership meets approx. 6 times a year usually Tuesday evenings at 6.30pm. More information about action Partnership can be found on Council website. Happy to have informal discussion with anyone who would like to know more about the aims of the Action Partnership .
Firstly I would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Winter is now well and truly with us and thankfully so far has been a relatively mild one. However we still have a way to go and the Met Office are still forecasting severe weather to come our way. With this in mind I would ask you all, if we do get severe winter weather, to always check on the elderly and vulnerable near you and ensure they are coping with the conditions.
PKC has a new Chief Executive Officer Karen Reid.
Ms. Reid has invited the Ward Councillors to go with her around the ward, and discuss any issues with her that we have. Perhaps a fresh look at these issues, from a fresh pair of eyes will be good for our community. With the lack of finances I would not expect lots of investment in Abernethy nor the remainder of Almond and Earn but sometimes little changes can improve things greatly.
Last summer I have been part of the Almond and Earn Action Partnership that has supported organisations throughout the ward with funding through the Participatory Budget of which 50% was through the last SNP administration and the remaining 50% was from the SNP Scottish Government. This funding was to ensure that we address inequality in our area. We all have small pockets of deprivation and I will do the most I can to ensure that these areas receive the support and funding to assist. However I am also aware of rural isolation, which is more prevalent in Almond and Earn, and I will support all initiatives that are applied to address this.
Another fund that has been set up by the Council administration in the budget of Feb 2018 was the Community Investment Fund also known as CIF. Although it was mooted back then it is only recently that we have had clarity on exactly how CIF would operate.
Unlike the Participatory Budget this fund would not be the remit of the Action Partnership solely. They would be included but they also require community council, organisations, and members of the general public to be included on the panel of decision makers. Not content with that once the funding decisions are made the decisions are to be ratified by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee. The main criterion for this CIF funding is to tackle inequalities. If anyone would wish to apply for funding the link is http://www.pkc.gov.uk/article/20535/Community-Investment-Fund
The most contentious issue in Abernethy at the moment is the garage sites at the Williamson Hall. The original plan from the Housing Revenue Account was to maximise the revenue from the areas that did not have Local Authority housing built on them and were not generating revenue as garage sites. When a review of garage sites was undertaken at Williamson Park they were deemed to be unprofitable and some timber garages were in a poor and dangerous condition. First option was to build a block of flats. As the elected member for the area I was strongly opposed to flats as the access would have been challenging in an emergency, also the moving of electricity poles was seen as a further problem.
The next option was to offer a better service for garage users to encourage a greater take up. With that in mind the access area was made good and a tidying up of site. The next challenge that came along was that current legislation would mean that any new build timber garages required to have a certain distance between each other. This legislation like loads of others could not be retrospective and that is why it would not impact on those that historically had timber garages close to one another.
Unfortunately for Williamson Hall this meant that HRA took their full entitlement of their land in the area, which is impacting on the parking offering at Williamson Hall.
Officers are now aware of this and we shall work together as best as we can to find a solution that will come some way to suit all parties.
I hold my ward surgeries on the same nights as the Community Councils’ meetings at Methven, Abernethy, and Bridge of Earn, prior to the CC meetings and these are locally advertised. I can also arrange to meet and discuss any issues you may have.
Contact details – 01738 475039 - mob 07899062122