Future of Benholm Mill hanging in the balance as meeting looms

Mill of Benholm
Mill of Benholm

A public meeting is to be held in Johnshaven next week, in an attempt to involve the wider community in the Mill of Benholm.

The facility is a local heritage visitor centre, and the Mill of Benholm Trust also work alongside Aberdeenshire Council to provide work experience and training for adults with special needs, in catering, horticulture, furniture restoration, shop and office work.

But recent problems have led to the cafe being shut, and a post on the Mill of Benholm website said that health and safety issues had led to work being suspended there until further notice.

The post, written by the chairperson of the Trust, Ranjit Fernandez, explained: “A number of health and safety issues were identified around the Mill site and in the tearoom and kitchen.

“These concerns were raised with the site owner, Aberdeenshire Council, which is responsible for maintaining the site (buildings and grounds). Aberdeenshire Council initially decided to temporarily suspend operations in the kitchen and tearoom, and requested that we close the tearoom and reallocate trainees to other activities on site.

“Following further discussions regarding the nature of the health and safety issues identified on site, Aberdeenshire Council decided, with the agreement of the Board of Trustees, to temporarily suspend all trainee activities on site until a decision can be made by senior officials in Aberdeenshire Council as to how they will resolve the various concerns raised.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council’s focus is to help integrate service users in to mainstream employment and other opportunities.

‘‘As the Mill of Benholm could not deliver the service level agreement it was suspended by mutual agreement in May. The council has worked with the service users since then and all of them have secured alternative opportunities.”

“The Mill of Benholm is a category A listed building in South Aberdeenshire and, as such, is of importance to the local area. The council has supported the Trust for many years and a project officer will meet with them to identify opportunities that will help them secure its long term future.”

The public meeting, which has been organised by the Board of Trustees, will be held in Johnshaven Village Hall on Tuesday, June 24, at 7.30pm, and they have said that they hope to “actively involve members and friends of Mill of Benholm and the public at large to secure the required expertise to the board, raise the necessary funds involved, expand the current volunteer base and input to the business plan for financial stability.”