February 2024 Minutes

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Minutes of Meeting of Bridge of Allan Community Council
Held on Tuesday 20th February 2024 in the Allan Centre.

Present: Anna Doeser (AD) Vice Chair and Communications Officer; Leslie Harkness (LH) Secretary; Inga Bullen (IB); Amanda Coulthard (AC); Rosemary Dodds (RD); Karen McGregor (KMcG); Jenny Smith (JS); Graham Robertson (GR); Linn Kleinman (LK);

Apologies: Mike Watson (MW) Chair; Alasdair Taylor (AT) Treasurer; Shumela Ahmed (SA); Councillor Ewan Dillon; Alexander Stewart (MSP); Alyn Smith (MP); Graham Russell (Chair, Friends of Bridge of Allan); PC Paul Gilliland; PC Ross Barclay; Brian Bullen (Minute Secretary)

In attendance: Councillor Alasdair Tollemache; Councillor Robin Kleinman; Councillor Thomas Heald; Douglas Neilson (Secretary of Friends of BOA); Tracy McGuire ( Network Rail Level Crossing Manager ) and Valerie Sinclair ( Chair of Causewayhead Community Council )

Annual General Meeting (AGM), Bridge of Allan (BOA), Community Council (CC), Common Good Fund (CGF), Stirling Council (SC), Wallace Monument Stakeholder Advisory Group (WMSAG), Discover Bridge of Allan (DBOA) , Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion (RAGE); Community Action Plan (CAP); Local Place Plan (LPP); Friends of Bridge of Allan (FBOA); Community Right to Buy (CRtB)

B 2299. Welcome, Apologies and Conflict of Interest
In the absence of Mike Watson, the Chair was taken by Anna Doeser, Vice Chair.
In her welcoming remarks, AD welcomed Tracy McGuire ( Network Rail Level Crossing Manager) and Valerie Sinclair ( Chair of Causewayhead Community Council )
The apologies were noted as indicated above.
There were no expressions of conflict of interest.

B 2300. Approval of Minutes, Matters Arising and Action Log
AC proposed the January 2024 minutes be approved , Seconded by RD.
Matters Arising (LH)
In relation to Item B 2283.2 and the MUGA, Gavin Drummond sent us three documents - the completed funding application submitted to Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust, a quotation from Sportex for the MUGA respraying and fencing works, and a very informative and detailed briefing document on the MUGA upgrade

Action Log (LH)
In terms of the Action Log, the Secretary had two action points to take forward.
Firstly he was asked to let the Civic Panel know of the unanimous recommendation of the CC that the CGF application by Bridge of Allan Primary School be granted. The Secretary completed and submitted the relevant SC form, Form 1(b), used to inform the Civic Panel of a CC’s recommendation. He also wrote to the Deputy Head of the primary school to inform her of the CC recommendation.
Secondly, he wrote to Stephen Bly to invite a SC officer to the February meeting to respond to a number of road safety concerns. SC has responded by indicating that an officer would not be available to attend the February meeting and, in the meantime, the relevant department has provided a detailed written response to five of the six concerns raised by the Secretary in his communication. In relation to the invitation to Network Rail to send a representative to the meeting, Councillor Tollemache contacted Network Rail by telephone to convey the CC’s invitation and he has been successful in facilitating the attendance of a Network Rail Railway Crossing Manager) at the February meeting.
AD went through the remainder of the Action log and Amanda Coulthard (Action Point 8 ) confirmed that she was still progressing the proposed CGF document

B 2301. Police Report
PC Paul Gilliland had emailed the Police Report, which is reproduced here:
Introduction / synopsis of previous month:
This report should provide sufficient information of the police activity since the last community council meeting. If you have any further questions about the police report or any incidents that you are aware of that are not included in this report then please email us direct on the above email address and we will answer your questions.
If anyone has any information on any incidents that we have been unable to identify a suspect then please let us know by email, 101 or by contacting Crimestoppers.
The report encompasses all relevant crime and other matters which have occurred between the 13th January and 19th February 2024 inclusive.

Current Priorities:
Our current priorities in the Bridge of Allan area continue to be Anti-Social Behaviour, Road Safety and Community Engagement and Reassurance.
Main Report:
Between the 13th January and 19th February 2024 a total of 12 crimes occurred within the Bridge of Allan area. The crimes detailed below are those that are of relevance to the local community.

On the 7th of February police were called to Pendreich Road following a report of a male damaging items within a residential property. The male was later traced by police and arrested in relation to Vandalism and Section 38(1) Criminal Justice & Licensing Scotland Act 2010 offences.

None reported.

None reported/

On the 15th of January a resident from the Bridge of Allan area was contacted by a male claiming to be from his bank, reporting suspicious activity on his account. After gaining the victims trust access was gained to the bank account and a sum of money removed. The victim subsequently became suspicious and after contacting his bank established that he had been the victim of Fraud. Ongoing enquiry at the time of submission.
On the 9th of February a Theft occurred at the University of Stirling whereby household items were stolen from an insecure room. Police are following a positive line of enquiry and this theft will be detected in due course.
On the 11th of February a Theft by Shoplifting occurred at the Co-op, Bridge of Allan whereby alcohol was stolen. Ongoing enquiry at the time of update with lines of investigation to be progressed.

On the 18th of January a vehicle failed to stop for police in Keir Street, Bridge of Allan and drove off at speed. The driver later abandoned the vehicle and was shortly thereafter apprehended by police. He was held in custody for various offences including Dangerous Driving, No Insurance and Fail to Stop for Police.
On the 25th of January police stopped a male driving erratically within the grounds of Stirling University. A male was subsequently arrested for Drink Driving and Driving Whilst Using a Handheld Mobile Device and has been cited to appear at court at a later date.
On the 6th of February a vehicle then parked and unattended within a car park at the University of Stirling sustained accident damage having been struck by another vehicle, the driver of whom failed to stop and/or report the accident. This is crimed as Fail to Stop After Accident with lines of enquiry to be progressed

None to report.

Between 13th January and 19th February 2024 there has been a total of 99 calls to the Bridge of Allan area (this includes some calls to the University, Causewayhead and Cornton). A breakdown of some of the calls are as follows: 4 public nuisance calls, 2 drugs/substance misuse calls, 4 disturbance type calls, 3 theft type calls, 5 assault calls, 1 fraud type call, 2 domestic incident calls, 1 neighbour dispute type call, 8 assist member of the public calls, 7 concern for person calls, 2 missing person type call and 10 road traffic related calls

Community engagement and reassurance:

Community engagement and reassurance:
Pop up Police Officer deployed in Cornton Road, Bridge of Allan in response to road traffic/speeding related complaints.

Activity for forthcoming month:

  • Carry out patrols in areas where antisocial behaviour is reported.
  • Carry out patrols in areas where crimes of dishonesty have occurred.
  • Monitor and patrol areas where speeding related complaints are reported.

Community Police Email Address: DunblaneBridgeofAllanCPT@scotland.pnn.police.uk

B 2302. Railway Crossing
Tracy McGuire (Network Rail Railway Crossing Manager) explained that she had responsibility for 56 crossings and that the Cornton Road Crossing (No1) was inspected every 16 weeks and with No2 inspected every 27 weeks She indicated that the main problems arose from the behaviour of motorists, with two incidents per week per week ( some of which were horrific) caught on camera. She confirmed that she is currently collating statistics to produce a comprehensive media presentation on the range of incidents of concern and she underlined the fact that two incidents per week was a very high figure. In answer to a question from AD, she confirmed that perpetrators were fined. She also noted that the Cornton Road Crossing is no longer ‘ skewed.’

In the discussion which followed, AD said that she appreciated that several issues such as parking, flooding and peak driver frustration also contributed to the problem. Tracy McGuire emphasized that the Cornton Road Crossing was exceptionally busy with 4,000 vehicles a day (double the average)and 431 pedestrians. A resident drew attention to the issue of the heavy parking on the north side of the crossing and also of the apparent failure of some motorists to appreciate that a ‘yellow box’ on a crossing operates in a similar way to a box junction on the highway.

Councillor Kleinman assured the meeting that, in a few months, action by SC would probably resolve the parking problem at the crossing while Councillor Tollemache confirmed that the ’white van’ is legally parked. Graham Robertson noted that part of the problem was that motorists expected the flow of traffic over the crossing to continue uninterrupted.

While Gavin Drummond maintained that the built-out kerbs at the end of Westerlea Drive were a mistake, particularly given the fact that the sight lines were excellent and he also felt that installing double yellow outside residential properties in Cornton Road would unfair, Councillor Tollemache suggested that it was unlikely that SC would change its view on this. Amanda Coulthard asked if there would be public consultation on SC’s proposals for Cornton Road but the councillors indicated this would not happen.

LH asked if the signallers monitored the safety camera over 24 hours; Tracy McGuire confirmed that this was the case and she stressed that, at all times, safety was Network Rail’s prime concern. LH also asked if any vehicle stalled on the crossing would always be safe and Tracy McGuire indicated that, both the obstacle detection equipment and the monitored cameras would ensure that this was the case. Valerie Sinclair drew attention to the fact that drivers attempted to avoid Causewayhead Road.
Action: KMcG will publicise the key safety issues through the CC’s social media

B 2303. Road Safety
LH summarized the written responses of SC to five of the six issues of concern he had raised with them. As a result of a lack of staff resources, both the proposed Henderson Street traffic calming measures and the Cornton Road zebra crossing will not be implemented until the financial year 2024/2025.
In relation to the Westerlea Drive junction problem, a potential solution would involve having a yellow box junction across the extent of the junction coupled with the installation of double yellow lines on Cornton Road opposite the Junction. Although SC recognizes that issues at the level crossing are often a result of poor driver behaviour, SC believes that the Westerlea Drive measures would address the issue of queuing traffic preventing vehicles from exiting from Westerlea Drive.
Regarding the issue of the absence of passing places on single-track roads, SC has pointed out that, when these roads were constructed, traffic volumes were lower and fewer houses were constructed along them, particularly on Pendreich Road. Given that providing passing places is costly and that there is currently no budget for providing, no consideration will be given to providing passing places until significant traffic issues arise.
Councillor Kleinman provided an update on the Sunnylaw Road closure confirming that the closure will be reviewed in April and that SC, with appropriate sensitivity, will be contacting the owners of the collapsed walls about their ‘obligation’ to repair the damage. AD reported that residents were concerned about drivers now using Blairforkie Drive and Henderson Street as alternative routes. IB wondered why the road was still closed now that the rubble had been cleared and any risk is no more than that from the trees.
GR asked about the undamaged portion of the wall and if a risk assessment had been undertaken on whether the road should be closed.AC suggested that The CC should forward all community feedback on the road closure to Sc after the April review.
AD suggested there would be merit in establishing a small CC review group and AC suggested the range of road safety issues could inform the LPP. LH noted that, in the past, the CC had organized highly effective road safety walkabouts involving CC members, elected members and SC officers,
Action: LH will include in the March 2024 minutes the suggestions for establishing a small CC Road Safety working group and for providing community feedback on the Sunnylaw Road closure to SC after the April review

B 2304. Resident's View
In relation to the damaged walls in Sunnylaw Road, a resident asked the there was a requirement that all the restored walls should be the same height. It was not clear if there were such a fixed requirement.

B 2305. Sunnylaw Land Bid
As a prelude to giving a detailed account of the current situation, AC provided a short resume of the general background of the CC’s involvement in the proposed sale of Sunnylaw Meadow. In that context, she noted that, while privately owned, this open public space has been maintained by SC on behalf of the community, although this is likely to end this year as the council looks to make savings. Members of the community and the CC were concerned about the potential for the land to be sold for development and, at the November meeting of the CC, with many local residents in attendance, it was agreed to set up a separate open discussion, involving all interested groups and with the aim of exploring options for keeping the land in community use and ownership for years to come. At the first meeting of the Sunnylaw Action Group; it was agreed that the sellers be contacted and asked to remove the land from the auction; in addition, consideration was given to gifting/transferring the land to the community. Subsequently, the sellers confirmed that they were happy to postpone the auction to allow for discussions with the community about options for purchasing the land. After an offer had been made to secure the land before any future sale, Springfield, the owners of the land, considered the offer over the holiday period before indicating their intention to progress the land sale to a closing date to allow all interested parties to make an offer. However, on the positive side from a community perspective, they did indicate that they will not necessarily accept the highest offer.
Turning to the current situation, AC reported that all feedback to date has clearly indicated that the preference is for a community purchase of the land to ensure that it remains a public open space in line with the current planning framework for the area through the Local Development Plan. This would align with work progressing through the CC on the development of a Local Place Plan which will give SC a clear direction from the community on its priorities for its local spaces The action group was stood back up in January and has been working on options and ideas for the possible purchase of, and future use of the land. To help the action group collate the views of the community and visitors to the area, a community survey was launched was launched on 9 February,2024 and, to date, 232 responses have been received. The survey which will close on 15 March is advertised across social media and through posters in a range of local shops and community facilities. AC emphasized the critical importance of ensuring that the survey, which can be completed at https:www.SurveyMonkey.com/r/CCBOASUNNY is reflective of community views by having it shared and cascaded as widely as possible.
AC reported that the Sunnylaw Action Group has been considering options for purchasing the land, supported by local councillors, and has sought advice from SC on the use of the Common Good Fund, for the purchase. The CGF is currently the only immediate source of funding available to the community which would allow an offer to be made by the closing date of 27 March 2024. 68% of survey residents who are residents have identified the use of the CGF as their preferred option for purchasing the land. SC officers have advised that a motion could be presented to March Council proposing that the CGF makes a capital purchase of Sunnylaw Meadow, holding the property as an asset in the common good. It is recogised that, while this option could secure the land, it does have a long-term impact on the fund by reducing the capital on which interest can be earned for future community investment; it also places an ongoing revenue burden on the fund for annual maintenance and costs associated with owning the land. The action group met on 19 February and agreed to propose that the CC agree to recommend a course of action with the following 4 component elements:

1.that a motion is presented to March Council on the use of the Common Good Fund to to purchase Sunnylaw Meadow as an asset to hold in the common good;

2.that the Sunnylaw Action Group works with SC officers to develop a detailed paper on the proposal which will also inform the offer made to Springfield, the landowners;

3.that the value of the proposal for a compulsory purchase from the CGF is £51,000;

4.that the Chair of the SAG can progress this work before the March meeting of the CC.

AC’s report stimulated a wide-ranging discussion. In relation to the bid, the issue of the VAT involved was raised although Gavin Drummond felt that SC could reclaim the VAT, while a resident stressed that the CC should ensure that the recovered VAT is returned to the CGF.. Valerie Sinclair noted that the landowners had been selling a large amount of land in recent months. AC indicated that were the bid unsuccessful or were SC to decide not to support the use of the CGF, a Community Right to Buy could be registered; she also explained that, because the offer would be made by SC, the SAG would not require the use of a solicitor. AC also confirmed that there had been no engagement with the development trust on the Sunnylaw proposal. A resident suggested that, because there had been a wartime army base on the site, there could be concrete under the soil although another resident felt that some of the concrete had been removed; as AC noted, this would not be a problem in the short-term as there would be no intention to build on the land. The annual maintenance costs would be for grass-cutting and, while Gavin Drummond pointed out that the residents in the Sunnylaw Meadow area had paid for tree thinning on two occasions, the main issue was to get possession of the land. The discussion concluded with some consideration of whether the CGF could be supplemented by private donations.
At the close of the discussion, all the members of the CC who were present voted unanimously to endorse the SAG’s proposal.

Action: AC will ensure that the SAG takes forward the four elements of its proposal and will, as a matter of urgency, produce a proposal submission document for SC
LH will forward the submission document to Stephen Bly with a request that it be conveyed, for purposes of information, to the relevant SC officer

B 2306. Tennis Courts
Councillor Kleinman provided an update, reporting that, since the January CC meeting, he has had no communications from Active Stirling on the management of the refurbished courts, although his understanding is that the refurbishment will be completed in the next 2/3 months. The courts will be booked and paid for through an online booking system, although no specific details of that system have been announced and no decisions have yet been finalized on the cost of hiring the courts. Decisions have also yet to be made on the possibility of allowing certain days/times of the week when the courts may be made available to members of the public unable to pay the court cost. The councillor did feel, however, that the LTA would provide the information required in due course.
In the discussion that followed, one resident raised the issue of the clearing of the tree debris. Gavin Drummond emphasized that the priority was to get the physical work completed and he noted that the CC would have the result of its funding application by 6 March. AC felt that the LTA funding needs to be managed by an appropriate management group, while Councillor Kleinman did not feel that Active Stirling would have any involvement. GR was concerned about the fact that no business plan appeared to have been submitted at the outset.
Action : Councillor Kleinman will invite an SC officer to attend the April meeting to discuss the access issues

B 2307. Local Place Plan
AC reported the positive news that Discover Bridge of Allan had commissioned Community Enterprise to undertake the required community engagement. In terms of both the Community Action Plan and the LPP; it had experience in working on both of these simultaneously. AC also confirmed that the LPP working group was now meeting on a monthly basis and will provide a written update after each meeting; its initial priority will be work on mapping. The group had benefitted from the support of SC’s Management and Building Standards Manager. AC indicated that Dunblane CC were ready to work with the BoA working group.
AD asked about the timeline for the community engagement initiative and it was confirmed that it would be spring moving into summer. Valerie Sinclair explained that Causewayhead CC lacked the resources to embark on an LPP. AC underlined the importance of not confusing LPPs and Community Profiles since the latter will be available for every CC area. Councillor Kleinman also emphasised that every CC undertaking an LPP would receive appropriate support, other than financial, from SC.

B 2308. Succession Planning.
LH reminded the CC that a key purpose of this standing item was to allow those who wished to stand for the position of Chair in June, when the present chair would be standing down, to seek clarification on aspects of the role. He also stressed that MW would only be stepping down as chair and not as a CC member.
LH reported that Bill Fortune had now formally resigned from the CC having sent a letter of resignation to MW who had written back to Bill to accept his resignation.

B 2309. Christmas Lights.
AD reported that the Christmas Lights working group had met for a debriefing meeting and had produced and circulated a detailed document outlining the tasks and actions required in preparation for Christmas 2024. The document covered the lights, the sponsors, fundraising; collections ( On-street and In-shop ), switch-on event/Christmas Fair, and a timeline. Both AD and KMcG stressed that the intention was to start earlier this year, in March, while RD stressed that starting in October was too late. RD noted that the tree would be up on November 21st with the switch-on happening on November 23rd and she indicated that it was intended to have all plaque moneys received by early November. GR asked if DBOA would have an input but AC explained that the organization would not be involved as it was still in the process of becoming a development trust. Douglas Neilson raised the importance of having an appropriate level of stewarding at the switch-on event, given the size of the crowd in the Provost’s Park. LK raised the option of businesses setting up a standing order for their donations and it was agreed to refer this to AT.

Action: AT will advise the CC on the viability of businesses setting up monthly standing orders for their donations

B 2310. “Go Forth” Initiative
GR explained that, while Stirling retailers were benefiting from participating in the BID under the umbrella of “Go Forth, Bridge of Allan derived no benefit from the initiative. He reported that the had made representations for Bridge of Allan to be included but it had been confirmed that the defining boundaries of the initiative precluded this. Gavin Drummond indicated that, during his time on the CC, this had been looked at but there had been no effective support from the local business community; Dunblane CC had made some limited progress in taking this forward but ultimately had not been successful. AD suggested this might be something that could be included in the LPP as an aspiration. GR took the view that the future involvement of DBOA might be helpful in finding a way forward.

B 2311. Hawes Park Defibrillator.
AD reported that, now that Riverside FC had moved to the University, it had asked if the CC would wish to assume ownership and management of the defibrillator which, at present requires a new battery and pads at a cost of approximately £500. In terms of maintenance costs, were the CC to take on responsibility, the pads would require replacing every two years at a cost of approximately £30-£40 a set, while the battery would need replacing every four years at a cost of £166-£225 depending on the model.
In the discussion that followed, it was suggested that one option would be to help with the replacement costs on this one occasion only. AC suggested that, were there no other option, the CC maintain the machine for one year only.
Gavin Drummond saw merit in relocating the machine to the Allan Centre; AD also noted that the fire station might be an appropriate relocation site. There was also some discussion about the other defibrillators in the town and about the ownership and maintenance of these.
At the close of the discussion, it was agreed that, to ensure the equipment remained functional for now, the CC would pay for the parts that currently had to be replaced, but would not take on this responsibility long-term.
Action : AD will contact Ian Anderson to follow up on the decision of the CC.

B 2312. Planning Report.
IB reported that, this month, there was no significant application requiring discussion by the CC.

B 2313. Chair’s Report
AD drew attention to the recently available SC document summarising the consultation outcomes of the Big Conversation survey, and, in particular to the strong concern expressed by residents about the possible closure of libraries. Councillor Kleinman reminded the CC that the budget proposals meeting would take place on February 29.
Councillor Kleinman also indicated that all four ward councillors would oppose the closure of the library.

B 2314. Secretary’s Report (LH)
Communications from Councillors
Councillor Tollemache has forwarded a letter from Sportscotland to MSP Mark Ruskell about the Park of Keir tennis project. The letter confirms that any withdrawal of the provisional £5 million funding allocation for the tennis project in order to divert the funding for other purposes such as the repair, renewal, replacement or maintenance of other facilities would not be permitted. It was also reconfirmed that a funding offer would only be made after a full assessment of the application in terms both of its impact on sport and physical activity and of its financial viability in relation to capital and revenue.
Councillor Tollemache also contacted the CC to indicate that he would take up with SC an issue raised by resident Gavin Drummond concerning the blocking off of the core path from the electricity sub station at the bottom of Alexandra Drive to Sunnylaw as a result of a dangerous, damaged wall behind the houses in Rutherford Court.

Communications from Residents
A resident contacted the CC to seek information about any local and/or charitable funding resources that could be accessed for financial support to meet the special needs of regularly transporting a child to school within the local area. The vice chair forwarded this communication to local elected members and, in response, Councillor Kleinman highlighted both Stirling Council’s provision of bus travel concession for people with disabilities, and also Dial A Journey’s low-cost door-to-door travel.
A resident who is a mother of two young children contacted the CC to reinforce her concern already expressed to SC about the possible closure of Bridge of Allan’s library. She believes the closure has a disproportionate impact on mothers like herself who find the library an invaluable resource. She also feels that keeping open Stirling Central Library is not a satisfactory alternative given its accessibility issues and its ethos.

Communications from Stirling Council
General Communications
The CC has received the following:

  • the January edition of the Scottish Rural Affairs newsletter;
  • the February newsletter of MSP, Alexander Stewart;
  • details of a Community Land Scotland information session on community land ownership;
  • the minutes of the AGM of the Friends of Bridge of Allan;
  • the February newsletter of Scottish Rural Action.

B 2315. Treasurer’s Report.
AD confirmed that AT would forward his report as soon as possible.
The detailed report is at Appendix 1.

B 2316. AOCB
In terms of the charges for the use of the refurbished tennis courts, a resident expressed her regret that there would only be limited free access. AD indicated that the CC would continue to advocate an element of free access
Valerie Sinclair reported that cyclists using the cycle lane between the railway crossing and Causewayhead had commented on the disrepair of sections of the Grahams Dairy fencing in contrast to the railway fencing. Douglas Neilson explained that the fencing was repaired on a weekly basis.

B 2317. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting is Tue 19th March 2024, at the Allan Centre, 7.30pm.

Action Log Summary:
1.(from B2302) : KMcG will publicise the key safety issues through the CC’s social media
2.(from B2303) : LH will include the suggestions for establishing a small CC Road Safety working group and for providing community feedback on the Sunnylaw Road closure to SC after the April review
3.(from B2305) : AC will ensure that the SAG takes forward the four elements of its proposal and will, as a matter of urgency, produce a proposal submission document for SC
LH will forward the submission document to Stephen Bly with a request that it be conveyed, for purposes of information, to the relevant SC officer.
4.(from B2306) : Councillor Kleinman will invite an SC officer to attend the April meeting to discuss the access issues
5.(from B2309) : AT will advise the CC on the viability of businesses setting up monthly standing orders for their donations
6.(from B2311) : AD will contact Ian Anderson to follow up on the decision of the CC.