Battle-weary Leuchars traders claim lack of support

Councillor Lesley Laird (second from right) spearheaded the launch of the new shopping leaflet distributed in the Leuchars area.
Councillor Lesley Laird (second from right) spearheaded the launch of the new shopping leaflet distributed in the Leuchars area.
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Anger erupted in Leuchars this week after Fife Council highlighted its support for the village’s beleaguered businesses.

Local businessman Fred Stuart was angered when the Council published a statement about the work it was doing to help the business community in the area between the departure of the RAF from Leuchars and the arrival of the Army later this year.

The Council highlighted a leaflet produced by Business Gateway Fife urging people to shop locally, distributed door to door in Leuchars, Guardbridge and Balmullo.

“It would make people believe they are doing a lot for us,” he said, “but it is not the level of help we need.

“Everyone that’s here knows we are here – we don’t need a leaflet put through doors to remind them.

“It is the indigenous population that is our core business.”

Mr Stuart described how business in the village had dropped since the RAF started leaving the Leuchars base and how he was struggling to keep his pub, the Commercial Arms, going.

And he recalled Government Ministers’ promises that there would be no gap between the RAF leaving and the Army moving into the base – promises that had not been kept.

The result is that all the village’s businesses are suffering. A year-on-year survey of Leuchars’ businesses showed business down by 30 per cent and more.

Community council chairman Carroll Finnie also expressed disappointment in the lack of support for the village.

“I believe the Scottish Government should be stepping in and helping out, whether it is through giving them rates free or anything else.”

Launching the new leaflet, Fife’s depute Council leader Lesley Laird acknowledged the difficulties the local business community was experiencing.

She said: “I’ve written to the MoD and Secretary of State for Defence to ask that they continue to work with us and provide some assistance for businesses during this transition time.”

Councillor Tim Brett is also dismayed by the plight of Leuchars’ businesses and has been working with other councillors and officials, and local MP Sir Menzies Campbell to try to help.

He welcomed circulation of the leaflet but recognised it was not enough.

Cllr Brett said: “The Council is now looking at whether any of the businesses would be able to apply for rates relief.”