At their first meeting after the summer recess, Benholm and Johnshaven community councillors were distressed to be told about the withdrawal, without prior warning, by Stagecoach Bluebird, of route 107 services, those which travel between Stonehaven and Montrose, picking up passengers from Johnshaven Square.
Although this information had been communicated to Neil Stewart of Aberdeenshire Council, who reported that Stagecoach had followed the correct procedure, members thought it regrettable that no one had seen fit to inform those most directly affected.
a company spokeswoman said that the few daytime journeys on route 107 which had been withdrawn were currently duplicated by the 113 service provided by M W Nicoll, of Laurencekirk. However, the Community Council was told that M W Nicoll propose to withdraw completely from service 113 with effect from November. The consequences of this decision are that between 8 am and 4 pm there will be no buses serving Johnshaven village directly, and since the X7 service makes only limited stops along the A92, no service for outlying communities, particularly Benholm.
As is well known, the Mill of Benholm Trust operates the Mill in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to provide a valuable social service in striving “ to provide training opportunities for adults with learning difficulties in Aberdeenshire” and in this context the Community Council has received a letter from Ian Hunter, Chair of the Trust, asking for their support in protesting against this move which would make it impossible for the Trust to fulfil its charitable mission since all their trainees use the bus to reach the Mill, a facility from which they derive both great benefit and enjoyment.
Mike Burleigh, Project Manager at the Mill, will be supplying figures relating to the impact of the withdrawal of those services on the Mill and members resolved to make strong representations on both the Johnshaven and Benholm issues at the forthcoming Bus Forum in Stonehaven on September 27.
Moving on to deal with Conservation and Infrastructure, members heard that Councillors Marr, Wallace and Young had attended a meeting with Steven Gray of Aberdeenshire Council to discuss guidelines to be applied to new planning applications as a result of the Conservation Area Review carried out by Mr Gray. There, they had stressed the importance of flexibility in applying guidelines and the need to include items such as rights-of-way and the net boiler at 7 Harbour Place within the policy. So far, however, there has been no feedback either on this issue or that of the right-of-way from Main Street to Seaview Terrace and the Secretary, Niall Young, was instructed to contact Mr Gray seeking information.