Balmedie and Mid Formartine Councillor, Paul Johnston ha expressed shock and bewilderment at the ‘suspicious’ fire at Eigie Cottage, formerly Tart and Crafts, the community building in the centre of Balmedie.
“Police Scotland are now treating the fire as suspicious. ” said Cllr Johnston. “This follows a previous arson attempt in late July.”
Police Scotland had requested help from local people after the earlier incident.
“I am bitterly disappointed with the fire. Especially followeing local people pointing out the risk to the Council of leaving the building empty, it has been the possible subject of a second attack. There is a fear that this is a growing problem in what has been a safe village.”
Councillor Johnston has asked senior Aberdeenshire Council officials to investigate what options there are for the future of the buildingas it was owned by them after recently having been returned after the closure of Tarts & Crafts gallery and café. They had closed due to a lease dispute with the Council.
Belhelvie Community Trust had approached the council to lease the building for community use and the Council were considering the request when the incident happened.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that this asset the community had created wa destroyed. I hope every effort is made to get the culprits but also I hope the Council will consider making sure that the Community does not lose out from this possible stupid act of destruction”
BCT is a Community Development Trust, set up by local groups to encourage community groups such as better balmedie, Christmas lights and develop projects to help local health, welfare and environment. Projects were planned to create a second hand pre-loved clothes project, possibly at Eigie Cottage.
Councillor Johnston has also written to local police commanders to step up the patrols in Balmedie to prevent further problems.