Letters to the editor

Send your letter to the editor to editorial@journalandgazette.co.uk

Sir, – I am writing as a parent of children at Preston Playgroup which ran at the Rivaldsgreen Centre until heavy snow in December damaged the roof, leaving the building unsafe for use.

The playgroup is currently using temporary space at Linlithgow Bowling Club, but this is not available after March 31, 2011. With the lack of a permanent appropriate space the playgroup faces possible closure. The closure of Preston Playgroup would mean no playgroup provision for children in this area of the town. In addition, the closure of the playgroup would mean the loss of two playleaders’ jobs and by necessity, redundancy notices have now been served to both playleaders.

Our space at Rivaldsgreen has the added advantage of being one of the few playgroups with access to outdoor play. Indeed the outdoor space was renovated by the playgroup with a soft surface installed following intensive fundraising in the local community and a Lottery grant to the sum total of £7,000. It would be a disappointing waste of community and public money if this was no longer available to those it was created to serve.

The playgroup committee have contacted or considered over 25 venues but none can provide the space required by the Care Commission, with availability across three days per week with suitable access for buggies and ample space for toddler toys. The council and Councillors Conn, Day and Kerr are also supporting our search, but it seems that Linlithgow just does not have enough community venues. Whilst it is unlikely that Rivaldsgreen will be repaired, it is clear that there is a lack of space for community groups in Linlithgow, particularly after other groups have also been forced out of the Low Port Huts and the Burgh Halls.

Our requests are two-fold:

1. In the medium term, if any Linlithgow group or business can help provide a venue for the playgroup on an ongoing basis, please contact Anne Williamson on 01506 845232.

2. In the long term, we would urge the council to rebuild the Rivaldsgreen Centre as a venue for Preston Playgroup and also as a facility for Linlithgow community groups.

Finally, we would like to thank the members and committee of Linlithgow Bowling Club for accommodating the playgroup until 31 March.

I hope Preston Playgroup can continue to provide local provision to the young children of Linlithgow for many years to come. – Yours etc.,

Aisling Vorster

On behalf of

Preston Playgroup parents

Fair reply

Sir, – In reply to the letter “Fair Chance” printed in last week’s paper, can I correct some points to clarify the misinformation contained in the letter.

Anyone can take one or two numbers from a book of accounts and make them suit their argument. However, accounts need to be reviewed in their entirety and Bo’ness Fair accounts are discussed and passed, at the AGM, which is open to the public and invariably receives a good attendance.

So just for those who could not attend the AGM, including “Concerned Grangemouth”, here are the facts.

In 2009, a local company offered to pay for the bags the children receive on the Fair day and requested that pencils etc be included. All bag costs were met by this sponsor and the extra cost for pencils etc. was shown as a line item in the accounts, with their donation being shown as income.

When discussing arrangements for the 2010 Fair, the schools expressed concerns about the security of the children taking part and it was agreed that every child taking part would be identified with a coloured wrist band. Having already agreed to meet the costs of the bags, pencils etc, the sponsor also offered to pay for the coloured wrist bands. These wrist bands were returned to the schools for re-use, once the children reached the Douglas Park. Again, this extra cost for pencils and wrist bands was itemised in the accounts, the increase being for the wrist bands.

So although these were shown as costs for accounting purposes, they were actually paid for by a business at their specific request. A fact which was stated at the AGM.

The reception costs were reallocated by the new treasurer in 2010 to make the cost of the evening reception more visible. However, the overall cost did not increase and the majority of guests attending the reception paid £25 per person to attend and included in this, were Fair committee members including the chairman, vice chairman, etc. The monies paid for the tickets were shown as income and covered most of the reception costs.

Now, with regard to the grant figures quoted in the letter. The budget allocation for council services supporting Bo’ness Fair was set at £34,800 for the 2004 Fair and the allocation remained set at this until 2010 when it was reduced to £33,800.

Furthermore, in 2010, the council requested and received payment of £1200 from the Fair for services, with the result that the council spend on the Fair Day was £33,093. For the 2011 Fair, the budget has been set at £29,779.

What this means is that the Fair will need to meet more of the service costs if we wish to maintain our day as we know it and we have been working closely, with the council, to identify where we can take over some of the council duties.

In an era where many local days have gone to the wall Bo’ness Fair continues, thanks to the magnificent support of all whom love our Fair Day. As I noted, the AGM is open to anyone and if “Concerned Grangemouth“ had attended, maybe some of the contents of this letter might not have been printed. –Yours etc.,

Jim Stewart

Chairman

Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival