Good news on erosion measures

There was good news for residents of Fore Street at the monthly meeting of the Community Council in the Village Hall last Wednesday night when it was confirmed that further measures will soon be taken to deal with erosion of the coast line in front of their houses.

Erosion, and danger of flooding, at various locations along the shore has, of course, been an enduring problem and one which the Community Council has long fought hard to solve. In 2002 Aberdeenshire Council laid rock armour along a stretch of the beach between Milne’s Wynd and 16 Fore Street and the improvement this made during storms was clear for all to see and there was some disappointment that it did not prove possible to extend the provision.

In 2006 community councillors raised serious concerns over an area at Beach Road where there was only about a metre of the foreshore left between the top of the beach and the road, putting essential local authority services at risk and were astonished to be told that the rate of erosion there was stable and relatively slow.

Their fears were increased during a major storm in March 2008 but, following a public meeting in December that year, were relieved to hear that Beach Road was to be the major focus of attention and that to combat any further erosion there, rock armour at a cost of £140,000 would be laid in March 2009, which happily it was. Later the Community Council was informed that erosion at the unprotected sections of the coastline would continue to be monitored and this is where the matter rested until last month when at relatively short notice a public meeting was held in the Church Hall at which it was revealed by Aberdeenshire Council’s Principal Flood Prevention Engineer, Stephen McFarland, that rock armour will be installed along the Hardgate and tied in with the existing armour at Beach Road in the belief that this measure is necessary to prevent under-scouring of the existing Hardgate which would ultimately lead to the collapse of the “promenade” and a consequent very high repair cost. During discussion, however, it was pointed out by residents that, in the vicinity of the public conveniences, erosion is such that in severe weather there is a significant risk of their houses being flooded and as time goes on the situation is likely to get worse. To their credit the officials took this anxiety on board and, although having a fixed budget to work with, agreed to see whether something could be done at the toilets without detriment to protecting the Hardgate. Having now done this, they have advised the Community Council that, subject to finalisation of design calculations, they believe that this can be achieved and that a small area of protection can be put in place near to the conveniences with a completion date for the complete scheme probably towards the end of April.

Wairds Park Committee

Gifted in 1923 by Miss Anna Katherine Scott, the then Laird of Brotherton Estate, as a recreation ground for the people of the Parish of Benholm, the eight acres Wairds Park has progressed a long way in its 87 years.

Originally the park consisted of a football pitch, putting green, two tennis courts, one set of children’s swings and a distinctive wooden pavilion and, self-financing as it was, income from putting and tennis was sufficient to pay the greenkeeper’s wages and maintain the property. Apart from a short-lived pitch and putt course, a brief stopover by the Quoiting Club and the acceptance of caravans, those essentially remained the facilities until the 1970s when the forward-looking committee embarked on a steady programme of planned expansion which has continued and is constantly under review today.

Now, Wairds Park provides facilities for indoor and outdoor recreation 12 months in the year. The football pitch is still there and the challenging putting green remains as popular as ever. However, the tennis courts have been replaced by two floodlit, all-weather multi-sports courts, a bowling green has been added and the engaging children’s play area has been considerably expanded and modernised. Indoors the former Gasworks has been converted to provide a club room for the Bowling Club and multi-purpose changing rooms with toilets and showers with an extension comprising a modern kitchen and large community clubroom. The original pavilion, its verandah long a favourite sheltered nook for courting couples, is now just a fond memory and in its place there is an award-winning amenity block which supports the fully serviced 60-stance caravan and camping site.

Wairds Park is an amenity of inestimable value to the community, not only for its social and recreational benefits but also for its worth to the village economy. It needs to be managed, though, and with a turnover in 2009 of almost £70,000 this is a heavy responsibility to fall on the committee, not least because in the event of its ceasing to be used as recreation ground it reverts to the donor. Initially the management committee was self-perpetuating and it was not until the 1950s when declining support forced a change of direction that annual general meetings and elections were held.

Owned and managed by the parish, Wairds Park is more than just the village park, it is “the people’s park” and all those interested in getting involved, joining the committee or just keen to find out more about it are invited to come along to the Annual General Meeting in the Community Clubroom at the Park on Tuesday, February 22 at 7 p.m. to hear the Chairperson’s Report and the Presentation of Audited Accounts for the 2009-2010 season.

Mearns Coastal Parish

With Monday being Valentine’s Day, it was appropriate that “love” should be the main feature of Sunday morning’s service in Johnshaven Church both in the praise and in the sermon.

An early recipient of a Valentine’s card, in addressing the congregation, the Rev Colin Dempster dealt with the developing relationship between Ruth and Boaz but said that strong as their love may have been, the greatest love of all is that which Jesus has for his people. The organist was Mrs Helen Doig.

This Sunday’s services will be at the usual times of 10 a.m. in Johnshaven Church and 11.30 a.m. in St Cyrus Church.

Meanwhile gardeners are again being given the opportunity both of benefiting their garden and supporting the work of CrossReach (Church of Scotland, Social Care Council) by purchasing seeds, etc from Suttons, whose special catalogues and order forms are available from Marja Daziel at St Cyrus and Jim Mathers at Johnshaven. £1 out of every £5 spent goes to CrossReach to ensure that the work of caring for vulnerable people through counselling, supported living, residential care homes and many other services can continue.

Mearns Coastal Church Guild

The next meeting of the Guild will be the leisure hour in the Church Hall on Monday, February 21 at 2.30 p.m. when the speaker will be Mr Gordon Anderson from Ferryden. Looking further ahead the Guild will be holding a coffee morning and table top sale in the Church Hall on Saturday, March 12 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Full details later.

Beach Clean-Up

SHARK, in association with Adopt a Beach and the Marine Conservation Society, and supported by the Crown Estate and DEFRA invites volunteers from the community to take part in a clean-up of the beach from Seagreens to the Cove Hill this Sunday, February 20 beginning at 11 a.m. With parking limited at Seagreens, anyone with space in their car should let Rebecca know on 01561 362120.

All necessary equipment will be provided and, with complimentary refreshments being provided after the deed is done, the occasion promises, as always, to be “fun for all the family.”

Answers to Sports Quiz

It was Roberto di Matteo, manager of West Bromwich Albion F.C., who was removed from his post after his club had suffered 13 defeats in the Premiership.

Alastair Kellock was the scorer of Scotland’s first try against the French at Murrayfield.

With 80 not out, Nathan Hodges was Australia’s leading run-maker against England in the last of the series of one-day cricket matches.

The final score in Super Bowl 2011 was Green Bay Packers 31 Pittsburgh Steelers 25.

Golfer, Thomas Bjorn, who won the Quatar Masters Tournament, is Danish.

Two Scots, Stephen Gallacher and David Drysdale, shared 12th place in the same event.

Buckie Thistle is the team currently top of the Highland League.

The three Pakistani cricketers who have been banned from the game from between five and ten years are Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

It was into the second minute of added-on time before Aberdeen F.C. succeeded in eliminating Dunfermline F.C. from the Scottish Cup.

Jim Duffy it was who was appointed manager of Clyde F.C.