FRAE OOR COONCILLOR
The year did not start as we had hoped. Increasing numbers of Covid cases followed by some real winter weather, enough snow for families to enjoy sledging and snowboarding locally, and outdoor fun in winter sunshine was welcomed by many.
The days are now lengtheningm, and hopefully many in the community will have had their first vaccine and are perhaps feeling a bit more optimistic about the days ahead, days out, some spring sunshine but most of all seeing family and friends.
Looking back to the icy, snowy winter days I would like to thank the good citizens of Abernethy and Aberargie who have helped their neighbours and the community by clearing footpaths and roads. A volunteer in the village now has a push along grit barrow from the council to use on public footpaths to augment gritting by the council and Tayside Contracts. The grit barrow has been well used. Great to see the able bodied coming out to help.
Grit bins and gritting have been a topic of conversation over the last few weeks. Grit bins are strategically placed throughout the village, usually on steep gradients or a bend but not on routes which are routinely treated, Bins are filled prior to winter. Perth & Kinross Council service more than 1300 bins and have no capacity to provide additional bins at the moment. This winter I have had several requests for additional bins from several villages and this will require to be looked at during the budget process. Perth & Kinross Council rely on the community to inform them when a bin requires filling using MyPKC portal or calling 017384746476. Grit bins are provided for use on public roads and not for private roads.
Perth & Kinross Council has over 1,500 miles to grit and unfortunately every road cannot be gritted by 7 30am. All routes have been assessed and given a priority based on usage and their importance. Category 1 routes may, in severe weather, require to be gritted/salted twice before gritting can begin moving on Category 2 routes.
In most areas footpaths will only be treated on one side of the road, This enables resources to be used to provide more widespread treatment. All information regarding gritting and snow clearing can be found at www.pkc.gritting.pkc.gov. The budget for winter gritting was £3.715 million, and between 11th and 18th January 3,500 tonnes of salt were spread throughout the roads network./ Contrary to comments on social media (not Abernethy facebook) and the press, gritting crews are not idle during the night. Crews work throughout the night trying to make the roads as safe as possible.
Emails in my inbox moved from grit bins to garden waste permits; nobody likes paying for a service which at one time was free. When brown lidded bins were first introduced funding was initially in the form of a grant from the Scottish Government to encourage residents to think about separating waste at home, with garden waste either being composted or collected. After a few years the Scottish Government funding was stopped and councillors took the decision to continue with the service but charge to uplift. Collecting garden waste is not statutory and is not offered to all residents in Perth and Kinross; subsequently this charge cannot be included in the Council Tax. The increase to £40 from April 2021 was part of the budget process in March 2020.
Perth & Kinross Council was one of the few councils who did not stop any kerb side collection during the pandemic. Collecting and disposing of household waste is a costly business, with dry mixed recyclates being collected at the kerbside. The size of the green lidded bin was decreased to encourage more recycling and I am delighted more people are recycling or better still re-purposing.
Collecting waste is probably a service most people take for granted and sadly crews often have abuse hurled at them if they are late or, worse if they are early and the bin has not yet been put out. I plead with residents to exercise some patience in severe weather.
The Environment Service during this last year has had probably its busiest year dealing with the aftermath of summer flooding, numerous fly-tipping issues, collecting kerb side waste in appalling weather and manning recycling centres whilst following strict Covid regulations. Kerbside collections are a service which we take for granted and we are not happy when it is disrupted. I don’t need to remind you that the Council are still dealing with an increased workload due to COVID regulations.
The Perth & Kinross Council website has all the information you need about recycling, with a calendar for bin collection. The MyPKC portal is by far the quickest and easiest way to inform the council of environmental issues especially at this time when council offices are closed and the majority of staff are working from home.
At a recent council meeting the decision was taken to temporarily suspend all committee meetings except those of a quasi-judicial nature to free up officer capacity in order to focus on COVID19 response. Essential council business will be taken to additional council meetings. It is vitally important that officer capacity at all levels is released to focus on the pandemic at regional, national and local level. Perth& Kinross Council is responsible for a broad range of vital operational services which protect life and limb, help stop or slowdown virus, provide children’s learning at home or school, and support the local economy. Staff continue to be re-tasked to work in essential services and some staff have volunteered to be COVID responders or to support mass vaccination.
Along with other councils, Perth & Kinross Council’s budget meeting will take place in early March, and we will be taking some tough budget decisions. Like all businesses and households it needs to balance the books. No-one wants to see services cut and the council strives to be more efficient. At the time of writing councillors are waiting to read findings from public consultation re budgets.
It is hard to believe as you read this that it will be almost one year since the first lockdown. It has been a really tough year, everyone is tired, families having to cope with home schooling and working from home. Older people have missed their outings, meeting with friends for coffee and many now without work.
The teenagers are not only missing physically being at school but they are missing socialising with their friends, playing sport, window shopping and generally having fun. Do not be lonely.
Please, if you need help, talk to someone; there are many council and national agencies who can offer help and support, or phone a friend! We need to follow the rules and STAY AT HOME STAY SAFE
UPDATE FROM COUNCILLOR DAVID ILLINGWORTH.
Long-time residents of Abernethy will remember that there used to be a twinning arrangement with Grisy-Suisnes in France. Indeed, it is not that long ago that the Grisy-Suisnes twinning sign at the entrance to Abernethy was taken down.
A resident of Grisy-Suisnes, (which is just outside Paris), has been in touch to see if there is any support within Abernethy or even any enthusiasm to re-establish the link between the two communities. The contact from Grisy-Suisnes has the support of both the City Mayor and the municipal councillor for cultural affairs. Now that we have left the European Union, it could be that there is more benefit to be had from this arrangement.
Important Facts about Grisy-Suisnes.
The ties between Grisy and Scotland stem from the fact that Grisy is the location of the old "Ferme des Ecossais" (Scots Farm) which was bought and created way back in 1325 (!) to finance the bursaries of Scottish students studying at the University of Paris.
The farm is still there though the oldest part of the structure is probably 16th or 17th century at most, still quite charming. The Ferme des Ecossais eventually contributed to the funding of bursaries to students at the Scots College Paris which was created in the early 17th century and whose building still stands near the Latin Quarter in Paris. Very deep and interesting history!
It is pronounced Grisy-Sweees-nes. According to Wikipedia, (which is always correct by the way), inhabitants are called Grisysoliens.
The parish church is just off the village green and was built in the 1960s replacing an older church demolished at the beginning of the 20th century. The Commune is located about 25 miles from Paris and is part of the Seine-et-Marne department. With a population of nearly 2,500, the municipality comprises the village of Grisy which over time annexed nearby Suisnes, the hamlet of Cordon and other neighbouring “lieu-dit”.
Perhaps the village’s most famous inhabitant, the French explorer, botanist and politician, Admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville, bought the château Suisnes at the end of the 18th century. Bougainville gave much encouragement and support to his gardener, Christophe Cochet, whose work and career would make Grisy-Suisnes a world-renowned rose growing and horticultural centre for more than a century and a half.
If you would like to get involved in twinning with Grisy-Suisnes, then get in touch with me through the contact details listed below and we’ll get together with them to look at what can be done, either through visits to France or by video-conferencing.
New Puffin Crossing outside the school.
At the time of writing, Back Dykes and Newburgh Road were in the throes of construction of two new Puffin crossings. One is a replacement of the Zebra crossing at the bottom of School Wynd and the other is a brand new crossing outside the Primary school.
In recent years we’ve seen a number of other road safety improvements along the main A913 road through Abernethy:
▪ two vehicle activated signs at either end of the village;
▪ A new 40mph limit from just past the bridge over the railway to the outskirts of the village at the east end of the village.
This, in addition to the existing three roundabouts on the road, makes it harder for vehicles to speed through Abernethy. None of us can ever afford to not be careful when walking or cycling along the main road but these improvements make it much safer for everyone.
Registering to vote.
With a Council by-election coming up soon and the Scottish Government election on 6th May, you may wish to make sure you’re registered to vote.
To check if you are registered then contact the local Electoral Registration Officer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01738 630303.
You can now register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. You can also register to vote by post by downloading and printing off a voter registration form.
For more details go to www.gov.uk/yourvotematters
If you’re not online and you’d like some help with either getting registered or getting a postal vote then call me on the number below.
If you think there’s anything I can help you with then please get in touch and I will do my level best to assist.