Children ‘put at risk’ by vandals’ wrecking spree at Falkland factory

Bob Beveridge at the vandalised old factory site.
Bob Beveridge at the vandalised old factory site.
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The boss of packaging giant Smith Anderson has spoken of his shock at the ‘wanton destruction’ of the company’s former factory in Falkland.

Michael Longstaffe, chief executive, visited the Well Brae site this week amid concerns that vandals had left it in such a dangerous state that children were being put at risk.

Smith Anderson once employed 200 people at the factory but have re-located to single storey premises in Kirkcaldy, ending an association with Falkland stretching back some 45 years.

Concerns about the state of the site were raised by local man Bob Beveridge, who described it as ‘a disaster waiting to happen.’

Mr Longstaffe told the Fife Herald: “I was very shocked to see how much criminal damage has been inflicted on the site by local vandals.

“The entire site was secured when we left in 2015, but there is simply no way to combat the level of wanton destruction that is evident.

“We have a site security function who visits the site every Monday to check up and tidy weekend damage, but I was very distressed to see how destructive some people can be.

“I have now instructed a team from Smith Anderson to clear up all the debris and this will take the form of three recycling box (40’) skips which will be on-site next week.

“All inks and adhesives were removed by professional environmentally compliant specialists in 2015, but we will remove old empty containers in the clear up next week. We will also erect appropriate security fencing at all entry points and all doors will be secured shut with appropriate warning signage. This work will be completed by the end of May.”

Mr Longstaffe continued: “We have always enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Falkland Community Council and local residents and value that support to ensure any damage is limited.

“I would ask all local residents to be vigilant and speak to the police if they witness suspicious activity or see any children on the site.

“My plea to local parents is to ensure children of all ages fully understand that access to the site is both illegal and dangerous, even when it is secure.

“It is an old industrial building, not an adventure playground. We will do all we can, but this will only work if it is in partnership with the local community.”

Mr Beveridge (73) contacted the Fife Herald with his concerns after finding the factory was insecure.

“Smith Anderson is a very responsible company but the buildings have been vandalised to the extent that children as young as five or six have unrestricted access and are exposing themselves to great risk,” he said.