Archive for the ‘community’ Category

Beech Tree Fire

Last weekend a dogwalker phoned to tell me that some local Neds had been up in the woods above our village park having a drinking party, and setting fire to a tree.

I went to look, and the tree was still smouldering.    Called the Fire Brigade, and we had to get a tree surgeon in as well to allow access to the burning bits.    It took about 2 hours to get it out.   That’s four firemen that the taxpayer has to pay, and one tree surgeon I have to pay, for although very much part of the community woodland, when push comes to shove, it is my tree.

So this 150 year old big beautiful beech tree will probably not survive.   And nobody does anything about it.   The police are simply not interested or can’t cope – they are a very thin blue line indeed in rural Perthshire, and have other priorities – like speeding traffic – to deal with.   Clearly environmental damage is not top of the pile.

Apart from losing a beautiful tree that has been there since Queen Victoria came to the throne, it is the inaction and total lack of any collective community responsibility that makes me so angry.     Also, if I were to cut down a healthy tree, the Forestry Commission could take me to court for doing so, as cutting down a healthy tree is an offence (there are exceptions – trees in gardens, dangerous trees etc.)    

But if the local Neds want to kill a big healthy tree, nobody bats an eyelid.  

Access to the countryside is well and good (and I am a farmer in favour of public access) but this comes with responsibilities.   Who is there to police this when it all goes wrong?    Nobody, it seems.

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A village committee runs and organises a gala day every year to raise funds for our park, which is owned by the village.   But it is getting progressively harder to run what is a small and low key event.

To allow us to run a family dance in the evening, we had to apply for an entertainments licence from our Council.    We had to produce a Fire Risk Assessment, a Health and Safety Risk Assessment, and were contacted by the Noise police, the Food police, the Loo police and had to attend an interview with the real police.

When the 8 page licence finally arrived – in the post, on the day of the event (Saturday), there was a condition that we contacted the noise police again with a named contact in case of trouble.   Their office was closed.   Numpties.

Nobody wants an unsafe event, but this is complete overkill for a small village dance.

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A visit to the Capital in the rain yesterday, and it was looking pretty shabby.

Charlotte Square, which includes Bute House, home of the First Minister and possibly one of the most elegant squares in Europe has grey railings with flaking paint along its south side.      Perhaps this is all part of a refurbishment, but it looks really terrible.

Ot the corner of Hope Street and Princes Street there was a wooden staging to advertise the Rugby 7s.   Unfortunately not robust enough for Edinburgh drunks, as someone had smashed a hole in the top.

All this on a day when Prince Charles was paying a visit.

At the other end of George Street, in St Andrew Square, there is bad and good news.    The bad news is that the gardens are full of diggers and contractors and Herris fencing;   the good is that this is part of a refurbishment, with Melville’s Statue being renovated at the same time.   The even better news is that (say it quietly) this garden is to be open to the public – quite shocking for a city more used to locking up its green spaces for residents use only.

Waiting for a bus in the good weather back in April, I wandered looking for a green place to sit, and found one, but with difficulty, as the top of Princess Street Gardens was being re-turfed – once again – following the mess created by the market over Christmas.    I did think about Edinburgh’s closed green spaces then – Queen Street Gardens, Heriot Row Gardens, Doune Gardens, Charlotte Square Gardens, and wondered if it was time to open these up to visitors as well as residents.

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Three coffins

On Saturday there was a huge funeral service for the three members of the Melville family who were killed in a car accident.    The Kirk holds 600, and that was full with 20 minutes to go, and there was an overspill outside.    3 coffins in the kirk.

The whole community turned out, and we had visitors from way beyond our village.    The Minister was a complete star, and led the service magnificently – very difficult for him as he was a personal friend.   He even made us smile.    

Our cemetary is on the main A road out of the village, and we followed the three hearses out.   The police had closed the road completely, which made a huge difference.     At the cemetary, in complete silence we watched the undertakers carefully remove one coffin from the first hearse, set the straps underneath, and gently lower.    It took a while.    This was repeated twice more.     Then the committal, Lord’s prayer and it was all over.

As we made our way back to the village in the bright sparkling sunshine, we realised that  it is not all over – not by a long way.    We have merely just started a healing process.

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Pillar of the Community

It has been a difficult start to the week.   

Imagine a whole primary school turning up on Monday morning to no school crossing lady but a growing floral tribute.     Our local Minister held a special school assembly to ‘begin the healing process’ for the children.    

The press have now largely gone, and we have to pick up the pieces slowly, and move on.

But it is not going to be easy.    We have lost a cornerstone of the Community.

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Car Crash

On Saturday night, there was a particularly nasty car crash just down the road – the sort that makes the national news:    5 dead, 1 injured.     

There were 2 cars involved, one with three 19/20 year olds, and the other with a family in it.    It is a notorious piece of road:   dead straight, but with dips that can hide oncoming traffic.       The two cars hit eachother, and the one with the youngsters in it flipped over and caught fire.      The young driver was pulled out and is in hospital with burns.     His two female passengers did not make it.  

The 3 dead from the other car were from one family in our village.    Allison Melville has been our school crossing lady for 27 years, ran the Cycling Proficiency tests, ran the Girl Guides, was Girl Guide District Commissioner and also ran the Karate Club.    She received an MBE a few years back.     Such people glue a community together.    Her husband and son died with her.     It is a simply appalling shock for our village.

It was a particularly bad weekend on Scotland’s roads with 14 killed overall.

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