Monthly Archives: December 2020

Monifieth Local History Society Annual Report November 2018 – October 2019

Monifieth. Local History Society

Scottish Registered Charity Number SCO34053

Trustees Annual Report

For the period 1st November 2018-31st October 2019

Constitution

Monifieth Local History Society is a Scottish Charitable Unincorporated Association and it was registered in its current form on 5th December 2002.

Appointment of Trustees

Trustees are recruited at the Annual General Meeting. The office Bearers are elected at the Annual General Meeting.

The trustees are to meet on a regular basis monthly as and when required. Objectives and Activities Charitable purposes

1 To act as a group catering for residents and other groups interested in research, and representing Local History in the Monfieth area.

2 The aim of the group shall be to advance the education of the public about the history of the Monifieth area and in furtherance of this aim develop and share Local History information through events, displays of common interest to the residents of Monifieth, Angus, also nationally and internationally.

Achievements and Performances

Monifieth Local History Society (MLHS)was formed in the year 2000, by those interested in preserving the local heritage of the area. By 2002, the Society proved to be successful with their displays, talks and services to the community and it became a registered, non-profit making Scottish Charity No. SCO34053, and a member of the Angus Museums and Heritage Forma. In 2004, with no fixed meeting place the Society leased former vacant retail premises at 55, High Street, Monifieth, and with help from members of the community repaired and decorated the premises. This provided a meeting place for talks, displays and for people to learn more of Monifieth’s past. It became known as the House of Memories, managed and financed by unpaid volunteer members of MLHS.

Members of the public requested that MLHS accept items of historical interest to be displayed in the House of Memories, leaving the items in the custody of the Society. With no Town Hall, Museum or Community Centre in Monifieth, they stated a desire for the items “to be retained and displayed in Monifieth where they belonged”. Over the years the House of Memories flourished by providing many services for all age groups and interests and for the benefit of the whole community.

The MLHS website became internationally recognised as a great source of local historical information and at the same time attracting visitors from afar. Monifieth was on the tourist trail!

Visitor numbers were high and it was calculated that over the years, by providing the many services, free of charge by unpaid volunteers, Angus Council had saved in the region of £1,000,000. Similar services in other Angus towns were provided at the Council’s expense. It became apparent over the years that the leased premises at 55 High Street, known as ‘The House of Memories’, were no longer suitable. More appropriate premises in Monifieth, the former Angus Council Access Office, had become vacant as the staff had been moved into the library across the road. More spacious accommodation would enable us to offer further services to those of talks, trips and displays. We would have space for offering events with a historical content to both old and young and a place for elderly Monifieth residents to meet and reminisce. We developed a questionnaire outlining our aims and plans and seeking the views of Monifieth residents. We received more than 260 responses supporting our ideas and encouraging us to go forward with our plans. Conditions at the House of Memories at 55 High Street, Monifieth, deteriorated to a critical state and the landlord was unwilling to carry out the repairs. In August, 2018 MLHS were forced to close the doors to the public.

MLHS made Angus Council aware of our interest in the property at 81, High Street, formerly Angus Council Access Office. This building had facilities for the disabled, a high street frontage and a main area as well as other rooms suitable for a community heritage centre. Following discussions with an Angus Community Development Officer, MLHS made a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) application for the Access Office on 27th. February 2018. Request for permission to view the vacant premises were met by excuses and difficulties. At very short notice, a few MLHS members were allowed entry accompanied by a Community Development Officer. Opinion was that it could be suitable for a Monifieth Community Heritage Centre and would allow room for improvement of the services and display of the community heritage exhibits. The possibility of relocation created new interest in the work of the House of Memories. On the 9th. October 2018 Angus Council unanimously approved the Community Asset Transfer application. The MLHS was not informed of this until a much later date and this failure in communication became typical of relations with the Council. By November 2018 we were still unable to gain access to the building while structural conditions at the House of Memories had deteriorated to the extent that contents were suffering water-damage. In view of the dire circumstances Angus Council Property Department offered a temporary Occupancy Licence, for storage purposes and to provide an address for the Society until 1st February 2019 or until the lease agreement for 81 High, Street, Monifieth, was signed. On the 6th December 2018, MLHS Trustees with the assistance of a removal firm moved all the heritage items and furniture from the House of Memories along to 81 High Street. Although no lease had been signed, and we were not the sole occupiers of the building, we started being billed for water, gas and electricity services which we were not using.

Once we stored our material in the new accommodation a fund raising project with community support was begun. A member of the community set up a Crowd Funding Appeal which was generously supported by the community. Unfortunately, Angus Council “Matched Funding Limited Donation” was not awarded us, as they did not support ‘Go Fund Me’.

We were advised by our lawyer to have a professional survey done of the building at 81 High Street D.M.Hall carried out the survey and their report raised concerns regarding the structural condition of the building and its implications for the financial responsibilities which would be faced in accepting the Angus Council offer of the lease. Angus Council described these as ‘cosmetic repairs’. A further complication was that our letter accepting the CAT lease offer was not received by Angus Council until after the 13th May 2019 after the lease had expired. With no lease agreement signed, notice was given to MLHS by Angus Council to remove all the community heritage property from 81 High Street by 30th June 2019. A frantic search for alternative accommodation in Monifieth was made but nothing appropriate was available. The community heritage property was packed up and placed in store at Montrose.

A decision was made by the Trustees to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in July 2019, with a view to winding-up the MLHS. At the meeting the Angus Council representative explained that there had been confusion between the CAT process and the Licence to Occupy. At this point in the meeting, Stewart Hosie, MP intervened stating that there had been a clear breakdown in communication and that Angus Council should have been assisting MLHS to establish a CAT or a lease. On questioning the Council official, it became clear that the rules and regulations surrounding CATs and Leases were specific to Angus Council and not required by Law and therefore a Lease agreement could still be taken up after repairs had been carried out at 81 High Street, Monifieth. Our lawyer then proposed that MLHS re-negotiate the opportunity to lease the property at 81, High Street. He expressed regret that the attendance of the Angus Council official was the first face to face contact between MLHS and the Council, despite postal and email communications and an invitation to send a representative to every meeting of the MLHS Heritage Centre Group. He also noted that none of the local. elected Councillors, though invited, were present at this EGM.

Angus Council then sent our lawyer a ‘Heads of Terms’ document and he replied to this on our behalf. We were then told to expect a new lease document to arrive and requiring our signature before the end of October, 2019.

However, before the 30th October, 2019 the Society suffered three further setbacks, as follows;

(1) We had applied to the Angus Town Centre Regeneration Fund. As our new Heritage Centre building was in the High Street and would bring new interest and footfall, we thought that we stood a good chance of receiving funding. However, the £107,000 was awarded as follows: £27,000 to an ‘unidentified’ Youth Café; £80,000 to the Monifieth Boys’ Football Club, based far from the town centre. Nothing was awarded to the proposed MLHS Heritage Centre which would be located in the town centre. If the CAT application had been passed unanimously by the Council, what had happened in between times, that our project of a new Community Heritage Centre on the High Street was not deemed worthy of funding?

(2) On the 23rd October 2019, a final attempt was made to attract volunteers from among a large Monifieth Community Group as the signing of the lease was imminent. This group had been following the progress of the MLHS search for premises and it was hoped that with success in sight some members would volunteer their services. But alas, no volunteers were forthcoming.

(3) On the very same day our inspirational President, Margaret Copland, B.E.M, became seriously ill and was taken to hospital.

A week later our lawyer notified us that the Head of Terrns had arrived. The MLHS /Heritage Centre Committee held a meeting (30th October 2019) and voted not to sign with a majority of 6, with 1 abstention. The reasons for not signing were: absence of our President through illness; elderly office bearers and committee; unfilled posts of Secretary, Treasurer and Fabric Convener; verbal written support, but no active commitment from the community, despite repeated appeals. Because of all of the above, we instructed our lawyer to inform Angus Council that we would not be signing the lease,

Thus ended a year described by our President as: ‘the Monifieth Dream that became a Nightmare’. Special thanks are due to our lawyer, Alan Masterson, who supported us Pro Bono’ with no fees as he believed that MLHS was an asset to the community of Monifieth.

Conclusion

It has been painful and sad to go over the dire events of a year, which should have brought a vibrant new Heritage Centre to Monifieth. The trustees of MLHS could have been spared so much disappointment, stress and even illness, if Angus Council had appointed a knowledgeable and sympathetic officer to guide us through the complexities of the CAT process and helped with liaison between the different Angus Council departments. After our MP, Stewart Hosie speaking up on our behalf at the AGM, we did receive some help and advice from a council officer, but it was too late by then. There is a local saying: “Monifieth is the town in Angus, which has nothing, and gets nothing!” In our case, this has proved to be true.

Marianna Buultjens

Vice President, Monifieth Local History Society.

Monifieth Local History Society

Registered Charity SCO34053

 

STATEMENT OF BALANCES YEAR TO 31st October 2019

2019                                         2018

 

Cash and Bank                                      339                                            3560

opening balances

 

Surplus or Deficit (Joint)

(as shown on R & P Accounts)               6230                                         -3221

 

Bank Balance at year end                      6559                                            339

 

The final Balance is made up of

: Unrestricted

Funds                                                      6569

Restricted Funds                                         0

Assets are held

in storage with                                        Value unknown

Taylors Auctions

 

 

Marianna Buultjens, Trustee on behalf of all

Date 25/11/20