Garioch Area Committee Round up

Today, the Garioch Area Committee met for the first time since the May elections in our home ground at Gordon House. Our last area committee meeting three weeks ago was held in Woodhill House because the chamber in Inverurie was being used for General Election work (what it really just three weeks ago??!).

Ward 13 (Westhill and District) items included an application for alterations and extension to the Milne Hall at Kirkton of Skene. After some discussion and hearing from hall committee member, Kenny Freeman, members agreed to defer the determination until a site visit which will take place on September 5th. You can view the report here.

I was delighted that we all agreed the recommendations to award £8,202 to Westhill District Amateur Swimming Club to purchase equipment which will enhance training across the district and a grant of £599.16 to Millbank & Tillyfourie Playing Field Committee to purchase an electricity generator. Millbank is one of the smaller communities in my ward who has a very active team of volunteers who don’t ask for much, so I was particularly pleased that Garioch Area Committee was able to agree this.

There was an application under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to grant the extension of the hours of operation of a funfair at Echt Show from 1800 hrs – 2330 hrs on Friday 7th July, 2017 and from 1000 hrs – 0000 hrs on Saturday 8th July and this was duly granted.

Chief Inspector Murray Main presented us with a local area update with a verbal update on the local trends and issues. I was particularly pleased to hear that CI Main will be leading a Rural Crime working group to look at the incidents of crime unique to some of our more rural areas such as sheep-worrying, cattle rustling, theft of plant and hare coarsing; all crimes which have been reported in the press recently. I asked CI Main about how we can effectively report back to communities about the preventative work done in our area with regard to speeding and asked about the campaign targeting motorcycle safety. I was pleased to hear that the great work done by Police Scotland (and formerly Grampian Police) over a number of years on Operation Zenith is being carried forward.


Local shopping centre issues discussed

I recently met with the agent (M J Mapp) for the privately-owned shopping centre in Westhill, along with representatives of the Westhill and Elrick Community Council; Audrey Findlay, acting Chair and Becky Ferguson, Secretary. For many months now, there have been issues raised at local meetings and this was an opportunity to bottom out some of these issues.

I have summarised some of the issues we spoke about and action points taken from our meeting:

  • concerns have been raised about the safety of the car park. We discussed the request from some residents to make the car park a one-way system. It was confirmed that the layout of the car park will not be changed but the agent agreed to get the car park arrows re-painted. We discussed how there used to be a zebra crossing in the old layout but this had been removed when the shopping centre expanded the car park. M J Mapp are to look at the options for providing a pedestrian crossing.
  • M J Mapp have allocated funds for new landscaping planting and will be speaking to the contractor as the work was felt to be falling below the standards expected.
  • We discussed community notice boards and WECC will update in due course.
  • We discussed the RBS closure and although the marketing and eventual new tenancy agreements would be a commercial decision between the parties involved, we did make it clear that we would like to see something that would enhance the shopping centre and retain the vibrancy of it.
  • colleagues had previously discussed concerns raised about the safety of the area at the back of the shops when exiting the archway on to the crossing on Westhill Drive across from the Holiday Inn. It was felt (and confirmed by Roads service) that the pavement on the shopping centre side of the road was of sufficient depth and coupled with tactile paving, there would be sufficient space to see the road ahead. It was felt there was more a problem with drivers rather than pedestrians. I have contacted Aberdeenshire Council Roads service again who have agreed to repaint the white lines on the crossing and look at the possibility of improving the visibility of the crossing by using illuminated columns, brighter lighting and improved signage.
  • I enquired about the possibility of community groups utilising the old vets building on a short term basis and although M J Mapp was positive towards this idea, we need more clarity from them about the terms and conditions of any proposal and I will keep you updated as we explore options.

Does Westhill get a clean bill of health?

At Garioch Area Committee next Tuesday, councillors are being asked to comment on the following report called “Town Centre Health Checks 2015” (item 10). Westhill has had a health check for the first time since the Planning Policy team introduced them back in 2003. You will find our town on page 65 of the document. Please feel free to comment and bear in mind that the check was done last year, so some of the information is not bang up to date.

Once a community activist……….

I want to share a press cutting passed to me by a Westhill resident, Tony Thomasson. This story featured in the Press & Journal on 22nd September, 1980 and was written by Joan Elrick under the title “Happy solution to a bumpy problem”.

Spider hill

“Community Action had good news for a young Westhill couple, who found that a rocky short-cut was wrecking their pram.

“For the gravel which was washed away from the steep path will be reinstated and there are plans for it to be tarmacadamed.

“The problem was brought to light when Mr Anthony Thomasson of 1 Eastside Green, Westhill, told Community Action desk. He said “Can something be done to have the walkway that runs behind the houses of Eastside Drive properly surfaced?”
“The present surface totally inhibits the use of a pram to get down to Kinmundy Avenue.”

His wife, Carole (pictured above on the walkway) explained that the walkway takes 15 minutes off the journey from her home to the shops or health clinic. But when she sets off with Jennifer (4), James (2), and Jeffrey (five months) in the pram, the walk takes on the aspect of an obstacle course having to guide the pram round the biggest rocks and away from the muddy ruts.

The walkway runs between the junction of Eastside Green and Eastside Drive, and Kinmundy Drive at the bottom of the hill.

Mrs Thomasson said “there used to be lots of gravel on the path and we were told that once people had trampled it down, the path would be firm. However, after one or two heavy rains, it was all washed away.”

Her husband commented: “Sometimes, after it has rained, you can see the gravel where it has washed out on to Kinmundy Drive”.

The path is owned by the Persley Development Co. who were taken over by Kildonnan Group earlier this year. A spokesman told Community Action: “The gravelling was done by Persley, and there are plans for that path to be tarmacadamed. Normally this is done by first planting grass verges, then trimming them back and tarmacadamed against the established verge.”

The problem arose because the firm do not yet know whether the “grassing” part of the operation has to be done by them or by Gordon District Council. Persley are still awaiting a reply to a letter sent to the council, and the spokesman pointed out that – because there are only a couple of weeks left when planting can be done – it would probably be Spring before this is carried out. But he added: “Persley will have the gravel on the path reinstated some time during September.”


Titled “End of the road for Westhill’s bumpy path”

“An Aberdeen firm have moved in to solve a bumpy road problem at Westhill….. just missing the bad weather which might have forced them to wait until Spring (writes Joan Elrick).

Persley Development Co – who were taken over by Kildonnan Group earlier this year – had already pledged to replace gravel which had been washed away from the path behind Eastside Drive, leaving rocks and muddy ruts.

At the time, a Persley spokesman said there were plans for the path to be tarmacadamed, but because of a hold-up in the essential “grassing” part of the operation, there had been a delay. The firm were waiting to hear from Gordon District Council about who would plant and trim the grass verges. As it was mid-September there were only a few weeks left for planting.

But just one month later, Community Action received a call from a delighted Mr Thomasson, of 1 Eastside Green, Westhill, who had first brought the path to our attention. He said “The path was surfaced about 10 days ago, and they’ve done a really fine job. Our neighbours on Eastside Green and Braecroft are just as pleased as we are, and I’d like to thank Persley.

“When Community Action told us the gravel would be reinstated, I was pleased but I was surprised to see them tarmacadam it. It’s like a big black spider, and it is just right for walking on.”


IMG_2448 (1024x768)Fast-forward 35 years and the little girl (Jennifer) seen in the first picture to the right of the pram is in the picture here – back row, third left, with her dad Tony Thomasson, second left. Her mum Carole, no longer struggling with a pram, but having a well-earned seat, is front row, right. They are part of the group of residents who have been actively pursuing the siting of a bench on “spider hill” to provide a resting place for people coming back up the hill from the shops and other local services. I was delighted to be able to help when local resident Bett Stewart contacted me on behalf of the group.

The whole path/steps network in the older part of the town is beginning to crumble and I along with colleagues have asked Aberdeenshire Council to work in partnership with the Community Council and others to come up with a strategy to repair and maintain the vital walking infrastructure which is a key feature of our town.






Plea to landowners to keep up landscape/roadside maintenance

Recently, I have had many requests for Aberdeenshire Council to maintain grass verges and other landscaped areas under their responsibility. In the height of the growing season, Landscape Services have their work cut out. In response to constituents’ concerns I have also been in touch with Dunecht Estates in an effort to get overhanging trees and vegetation cut back in Kirkton of Skene, on the road from Skene Church towards the A944 and also to get roadside vegetation/open space tidied at Kesson Gardens.

Carnie playpark update

The factor looking after this site has inspected the broken basket-swing bracket and will initiate repair as soon as possible. Bins are to be emptied shortly. As bins are emptied every two weeks, park-users are reminded in holiday periods if the bins are full, there is a council wheelie bin beside the football pitch which can be used too.

Garioch Area Committee 23rd June 2015

This is where all 14 members of the Garioch area, including 4 from Westhill & District are expected to attend to determine local planning applications and discuss reports relevant to our local area. Minutes of each meeting are available online here (half way down the page and click on “select a past meeting”) and show who attended the meeting, discussions had and decisions made.

The agenda for Tuesday can be seen here.

Meetings are held in public in the council chamber at Gordon House, Inverurie.

Putting the “community” in to Community Planning


The Garioch Community Planning Group invites you to attend the next round of Garioch Community Ward Forums.

Ward 13 will be held on Wednesday 13 May at Westhill Community Church, Westhill.



  1. Welcome and introductions
  1. Community Planning Partners’ Updates:

Police Scotland

NHS Grampian

Aberdeenshire Council

3. The new Garioch Community Plan 2016 onwards: Jill Sowden, Community Planning Officer

4.Community Issues

5. Ward projects


Please RSVP and let us know whether you will be there (via The Garioch Partnership contact details below). We hope to see as many of you as possible.

Thank you.

Anne Simpson on behalf of the Garioch Local Community Planning Group

Wyness Hall, Jackson Street, Inverurie, AB51 3QB