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Where is the money? Stonehaven Town Partnership in cash query

Stonehaven tourist land train at the town square.
Stonehaven tourist land train at the town square.

A prominent group which works to improve life for those living and working in Stonehaven has been told it should be more open about the way it raises and spends money.

Stonehaven Town Partnership has a successful track record in attracting investment and supporting projects which boost visitors.

It is behind the popular land train which takes visitors from the town centre to Dunnottar Castle.

Isabel Munn, of Stonehaven Town Partnership, came before councillors this week to ask for just over £2,000 to equip the drivers and conductors with warm clothing.

Waterproof covers and a PA system are also being purchased.

The funding was approved on eight votes to two but Councillor Raymond Christie, who represents the town, raised an issue over the group’s spending power.

One aim of STP is to distribute funds raised through ventures such as the land train and the lease it holds on Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park back into the community.

Councillor Christie said: ” The money has been very slow in getting out to the community

“I would have thought that some of this money from, such as from the Caravan Club, would have gone into the community by now.

“My email box is full of constituents asking me where does STP get the money from and what are they doing with it.

“This is the general picture I am putting over to you.”

He said that the bid for the new land train equipment should have been discussed at a public meeting before being presented to the councillors.

Ms Munn said the idea had been discussed at a meeting of drivers,conductors and passengers when their feedback on the attraction was heard.

She added that a new committee had been set up at STP to manage the way funds are dispersed.

The land train – which was set up last year and attracted around 400 passengers a week at its peak – was widely praised by the majority members on the committee as being an innovative way to attract more people to Stonehaven.

Figures show that the caravan park lease raised £9,750 for STP, with £1,000 given to Stonehaven Business Association for new walking maps and £500 to Open Air in the Square.

Of the balance £4,250 went on administration of the group with £4,000 available for good causes.

Douglas Samways, chairman of STP, said after the meeting on Tuesday that a new committee will meet for the first time on March 16 to discuss how funds are spend.

He said: “We knew we couldn’t operate on a first come first served basis and we have a policy now in place.

“Councillor Christie attends our meetings and he knows that all this takes time. I would ask him how he would prefer the money to be dispersed.

“I hope that because he comes to our meetings he should be able to give accurate information to his constituents about what exactly we are doing.”

He added that a recent call to community groups to bid for funds from STP had attracted no interest.

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