Article by Robert Fairnie from the Stirling Observer 9 May 2018

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Article by Robert Fairnie from the Stirling Observer 18 April 2018

Two fruit trees have been stolen from a community orchard in Dunblane. Police are investigating after a Black Oliver cherry and a Sweet Prune damson were dug up and taken away by crooks last week. Those responsible would have had to cart the trees, complete with stake and protective netting, out of the park without being detected. A Clydeside apple tree was also pulled up and thrown over a nearby fence but has since been recovered and replanted. All three were introduced to the Laigh Hills by volunteers over a weekend in December as a community orchard, comprising 300 fruit trees in total, was created.

The £5000 project, which was led by the Friends of the Laigh Hills, was made possible thanks to the hard work of the community and funding from the Tesco Bags of Help grant scheme. Police visited the orchard after last week’s theft and they want anyone with information to come forward.

Alan Booth, of Dunblane Community Council, said: “That somebody would do this is disappointing for all those who gave up their time to help plant the trees. “We would urge users of the Laigh Hills to join Friends of the Laigh Hills group and notify us if they see anything unusual – be that things going wrong that need attention or new sightings of plants or animals that they want to share. “The good news is that the vast majority of the 300 trees we planted in December are now thriving.” The community orchard is thought to be one of the biggest of its kind in the area with a vast collection of trees planted to produce fruit in years to come. The trees came from a specialist fruit tree nursery near Perth and include Clydeside, Scot’s Bridget, Stirling Castle, Lemon Queen, Green Chisel, Gordon Castle and Black Oliver.

Mr Booth added: “The orchard will be a great asset, encouraging wildlife as well as producing fruit for all to enjoy. “It forms part of our plans to make the Laigh Hills a better place for people and wildlife.
“We are keen to add names to the Friends of the Laigh Hills group to take this forward, so anyone who is interested in getting involved, or just telling someone if they see something going wrong, please get in touch withy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” Members of the group are also hoping to embark on a project to plant wildflowers in the area in coming weeks too. Anyone with information on the fruit tree theft is encouraged to contact police on 101.


Since September 2016 rail journeys from Dunblane to Glasgow and Edinburgh have been disrupted in the evenings and at weekends due to electrification works, with replacement buses being used. Futher electrification work will be undertaken overnight.  Services return to normal after 20 May 2018. Read more

View the Forth Valley ArtBeat Website

Follow the Blue Route through Dunblane

Here are the local artists that are taking part:-

1.  Lys Hanse
2.  Eileen Wilson
3.  Sarah Spofforth-McOuat
4.  Rachel Davies
5.  Gwen Dean
6.  Irene Aylott
7.  Maureen Mitchell
8.  Camphill @Dunblane Library
9.  Dunblane Art Club
10.  Libby Yule
11.  Laura Gill
12.  Fiona McKenzie van Baardwijk
13.  Central Scotland School of Jewellery
14.  Tom McKenzie
15.  Lorna Brown
16.  Stewart Brown
17.  Gio Martin
18.  The Hut
19.  Karen Ellis Sowerby

A further round of the Ideas Innovation Improvement Fund has opened, with a deadline of 25 May 2018.

Applications are welcomed from voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises delivering projects which aim for people living full and positive lives within supportive communities.

Applications for up to £2000 for an individual organisation, or £6000 for organisations applying in partnership, will be considered.

Full details, and application form, on the attached document.

Kerse Road Bridge Update - Urgent
We have been advised work is progressing well with the replacing of the New Rail Bridge to the extent they are bringing the full closure date forward by 1 week.  The planned full closure for Kerse Road Bridge is being brought forward by one week. This  commenced at 6.00 am on the morning of Monday 16 April 2018. Community Engagement Team 01786 233076

Read Network Rail's monthly update for March 2018

22 years ago messages of kindness and support flowed into Dunblane from all over the world.

For the next few days there is Book of Condolence for people to sign in Dunblane's 'Another Tilly Tearoom'

For anybody who would like to send a message to the families affected by the shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida. #neveragain#dunblanestandswithparkland#


From the Stirling Observer 20 March 2018

A dog was hit and  killed by a train in Dunblane at the weekend prompting fresh calls for repairs to be made to a fence at the railway line.  Representatives from Dunblane Community Council contacted Network Rail to ask that they sort the structure which separates the Laighhills public park from the train tracks. The area is popular with dog walkers and concern is growing that the gaps appearing between the bottom of the fence and the ground are allowing pets access to the railway line. A seven-year-old Collie was killed after straying on to the train tracks during a walk with its owner in the park earlier this month. The dog’s distressed owner, who asked not to be named, told the Stirling Observer the pet spotted some rabbits on the other side of the fence and managed to get through.  She said: “It was getting dark and he just went down the side of the hill to chase the rabbits I think. The fence is very close to the train tracks. “We were running around looking for him but couldn’t find him anywhere. We didn’t know where he had gone and it was getting darker and darker. ”The family became aware that something bad had happened when representatives from Network Rail arrived on the scene to say that a dog had been hit by a passing train. After finding the dog on the tracks he was taken home by his heartbroken family. His owner added: “There are a lot of people who take their dogs to the park which should be a safe area for pets .“I’ve spoken to some neighbours and they are also concerned about it. Dogs can scramble under some parts of the fence and larger breeds can jump over over other sections .”

Terence O’Byrne, chair of Dunblane Community Council, believes it’s lucky more dogs have not been killed on the tracks. He said: “The community council has reported this issue with the fence to Network Rail. “We expect them to make sure that the bottom of the fence meets the ground with no gaps and expect this repair to be done as soon as possible. We will keep a close eye on their response. “This fence is in a public park and as such must be more than simply ‘stock proof’. Dogs have been killed on the rail line for many long years. It is a matter of luck that more dogs have not been killed.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Our maintenance engineers will inspect the lineside fencing in the area and make any necessary repairs. “Our fencing is primarily designed to help people stay off of the railway by showing the boundary between our infrastructure and other land. We would advise dog owners to always keep pets on a leash when in close proximity to the railway as fencing may not always prevent smaller animals reaching the line.”

From the Stirling Observer 14 March 2018

Dunblane councillors met Network Rail to discuss the new concrete parapets at the town's railway bridge. Terence O'Byrne of the local community council said he was "apoplectic" at the finish and design of the new structures on the Perth Road Bridge. And Dunblane and Bridge of Allan councillor Graham Houston added that it "stuck out like a sore thumb" and resembled nothing more than a "blank white wall" The rail giant were called upon to make changes to the parapets to make them more attractive and in keeping with the surrounding landscape. Officials agreed to meet members of Dunblane Community Council, including Mr O'Byrne, to discuss the issue last week. And Mr O'Byrne told the Observer that the potential of a smooth, stone finish on the road-facing side was discussed. Work has been ongoing to partially replace the road bridge as part of the project to electrify the railway line between Dunblane, Stirling and Alloa. The north section of the bridge is too low for the overhead cables which will be introduced. Network Rail say that the parapets on the new structure comply with modern safety standards, are designed to keep pedestrians safe from the overhead power lines and can withstand a vehicle striking the side of the bridge.

From the Stirling Observer 28 February 2018

Concrete parapets erected at the railway bridge in Dunblane have been described as a"carbuncle"- with community councillors set to meet Network Rail to discuss the issue next week.

Terence O'Byrne of Dunblane Community Council says he is "apoplectic" at the finish and design of the new structures on the Perth Road Bridge, while Dunblane and Bridge of Allan councillor Graham Houston says it "sticks out like a sore thumb". They are calling on the rail giant to make changes to the parapets in order to ensure they are more aesthetically pleasing, and in- keeping with the surrounding landscape of the town. Work has been ongoing to partially replace the road bridge as part of proposals to electrify the railway line between Dunblane, Stirling and Alloa. The north section of the bridge is too low for the new overhead electric cables which will be introduced. Network Rail representatives are to visit the town next week to meet with community councillors and hear about the concerns.

Chairperson of the community council, Mr O'Byrne, said: "Dunblane Community Council is apoplectic about the finish and design of the new concrete parapets on the rail bridge project. "It is our view that the structure is a carbuncle that will remain in place for centuries. "We have asked for a high level meeting with Network Rail to discuss changes that will make them more acceptable. These changes will include a request to face the bare concrete in stone and to erect a new parapet to remove the various ugly corners which would do justice to chicanes on a Formula 1 circuit."

He added: "We asked for a stone finish many long months ago but were turned down by Network Rail on the grounds that stone finishes can be climbed. "If it is good enough for the southern parapet then it is good enough for the new northern parapet. We will be involving the rail regulator and Keith Brown MSP in our campaign to get this sorted out."

Councillor Houston gave his backing to calls from Mr O'Byrne for action to be taken. He said: "The finish on the new bridge is no more than a blank white wall which appears to be an open invitation to graffiti artists to use. It is not acceptable and must be changed. "The people of Dunblane have endured months of disruption to traffic and parking but understand the need for this work to be carried out. They have been very patient and put up with the inconvenience over the months. "I would hope that Network Rail recognise the patience shown by the residents and do everything in their power to ensure when the work is finished the bridge finish sites naturally in the landscape of the town blending into the overall appearance. 'What can be seen at present sticks out like a sore thumb and suggests Network Rail are doing this a cheaply as they can. Network Rail must sort this while their contractor is on site until the end of next month.

The Observer spoke to a number of people out and about in Dunblane this week who were keen to have their say on their town's new structure. Kevin Gordon said: "It's a hideous blank canvas - and it has taken far too long. It's just terrible." Kenneth Murray added: "It was a bit of a surprise to see how it has turned out. The design is not how I'd have expected, and it's a bit more obtrusive than I'd have thought." And Duncan Strathdee said: "It's certainly interesting. I think it's fair to say that. It's not what we were expecting anyway."

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: "The parapets on the new structure comply with modem road and rail safety standards. They are designed to keep pedestrians safe from overhead power lines running beneath the structure and to withstand a vehicle striking the side of the bridge."

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