VIC public meeting

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Laurencekirk on September 29 by the local Villages in Control committee.

VIC are holding the meeting to tell the public where they stand with the projects they are currently involved in and perhaps recruit some new members.

VIC was formed almost 20 years ago, initiated by Grampian Regional Council. Its original remit was to look after the economic development of the area and through that preserve employment.

At that time it was recognised at the area’s major employer, agriculture, was changing and required less manpower.

VIC currently has a membership of 12, made up of a mix of business and professional people, as well as a few who have retired.

Successes over the last 20 years have included the building of the primary school and the reopening of the railway station.

More recently, VIC have been sponsors of the successful Dickson Hall and Denlethen Woods projects.

Secretary Norman Banski says: “Our main aim now is to ensure that when new housing comes, we get what we need in the way of infrastructure.

“Laurencekirk has doubled in size since VIC first started and in the next 15 years, the population is expected to double again from the current 3,500 to over 6,000.

“With this expected rise in population, it is vital that the local authority allow for the expansion of the new Mearns Academy.

“We welcome the fact that the core areas of the new school are to be built for a capacity of over 800, which will allow additional classrooms to be added later.

“The main talking point at present is asset transfer, where Aberdeenshire Council is seeking to relinquish controla of certain Laurencekirk assets.

“There has been a lot of interest among local people, with one concrete offer of help in running the assets if they are taken over.

“At the moment we are talking about the community centre, Burgh Buildings and St Laurence Hall, but we might consider widening this to include the Memorial Park, Kinnear Square and other smaller open spaces, including the area around the Masonic Hall.

“That area is used for parking at the moment, but many members of the public are perhaps not aware that there is a public car park within the nearby Kirkside development.

“The asset transfer issue will be aired at the meeting. The council will look at any proposal and we would like Laurencekirk assets run the way the Town Council used to run them.”

Mr Banski says a Civic Trust or similar body would need core funding initially and there are also avenues to access money through government sources.

The first step will be to draw up a business plan which would be presented to the council.