Whithorn CC notes

WHITHORN Business Association are looking for support from the town’s community council to bring in a ban on drinking in public.

At last week’s meeting of the Royal Burgh of Whithorn and District Community Council, the chairman Francis O’Neill read out a letter from Janet Butterworth, the secretary of the Business Association asking for backing for a “drinking in public spaces ban in and around Whithorn”.

The letter adds that other problems associated with drinking in public include anti-social behaviour and littering.

The Business Association are asking the town’s residents to fill in a questionnaire detailing any incidents and related problems and to identify areas that are used for drinking alcohol in public.

Community Council members said that both the town’s Astroturf sports area and the graveyard seemed to be well known rendezvous sites for public drinking sessions.

A dispute has arisen between Dumfries and Galloway Council and the purchaser of the Old Town Hall in Whithorn over the sale of the mechanism for the old town clock.

Whithorn Community Council received a letter from Jeek Templeton’s architect in September saying that when Mr Templeton bought the building from the council he had hoped that the original clock mechanism would have been included in the sale under “fixtures and fittings”. Mr Templeton was subsequently informed that “fixtures and fittings” were not included in the sale and that the mechanism had already been sold.

The new owner was informing the council of his view that the process of disposing of the clock mechanism “may not have been carried out according to statutory requirements, or in the best interests of the local community, both from the financial benefit, or by way of preserving this very important part of Whithorn’s heritage”.

Mr Templeton’s specific points were that the Dumfries and Galloway Council should have applied to the Planning Department for Listed Building Consent as the building is Grade B listed and the clock mechanism was a unique and integral part of its 300 year history. That the method of disposal should have been referred to the elected Councillors by was of the Common Good Fund Committee so that the best method of removal/disposal could be decided to secure the clock mechanism for the people of Whithorn. In his opinion it was sold “unconditionally” without any agreement that it should be retained in the local area or displayed in the museum.

At last week’s meeting, a letter of reply to Mr Templeton agent from Dumfries and Galloway Council was read out by the CC chairman Francis O’Neill. The local authority stated that the original clock mechanism had already been replaced a number of years before by an electric mechanism operating with the original clock face.

Prior to the sale a resident indicated to the council that they wished to purchase the mechanism. The council agreed as the old workings were not compatible the with new one and it was concluded there would be “no issue”. There was a condition that the sum obtained was donated to the Whithorn Common Good Fund and all three local elected members were consulted and agreed to the proposal.

The council added that there would be an application for late listed building consent which would then allow third parties to make representation.

It concluded that the Common Good Fund had received the proceeds of the sale of both the mechanism and the Old Town Hall and that Dumfries and Galloway Council had meet all its statutory requirements in the disposal of the property.

The Whithorn Community Council chairman said that the community council could not express an opinion on this matter as it was outwith their remit. But he community council would be informed of any developments they are consultees on statutory planning matters.

A talk from the development officer of Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust on the creation of affordable homes was well received at last week’s meeting of Whithorn Community Council.

Pete White said that there was a need to provide affordable housing for local people with local jobs. This could be achieved through accessing European funding earmarked for rural regeneration.

He said: “This is very much a social thing. We need a complete mix and not communities that are outsiders. We would look for help from the council to secure land and work with communities to either rent or buy.”

He added that the D&GSCHT worked with both Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership and Loreburn Housing but did not work on their behalf.

It was unanimously agreed that a housing survey would be carries out in the town to assess the housing needs of the people of Whithorn.