Could Craigtoun Park be run as business in future?

The Dutch Village at Craigtoun Park
The Dutch Village at Craigtoun Park

Craigtoun Park near St Andrews, which is currently run by volunteers as part of a trust, could soon have two fulltime employees to take over the everyday running of the attraction.

Friends of Craigtoun Park has been running it as part of a five-year-lease from Fife Council, and hope to undertake a longer-term agreement when the lease is up in the next 18 months.

And as part of the plans, the trust could hand over the day-to-day running of the park to two paid staff – a park manager and an assistant park manager.

Other plans for the future involve investigating how to get funding to upgrade and repair the Dutch Village.

However, the repairs may require a substantial about of money, according to Friends of Craigtoun Park board member and director Bill Sutherland.

He said: “The volunteers have been great, and a lot of hard work has gone into it. But we’re looking to move towards more paid people, and running the park more like a business.

“On a big day like Easter, we’ve seen as many a 8000 people come in, and it’s a question of how you manage that number of people - it’s a big job.

“It makes sense to have someone in charge of running things day-to-day, with full autonomy, answerable to the board.

“The Dutch village has been left in quite a poor state, and our priority is to stop it getting any worse, then we can make sure it is repaired properly. It’s going to take a while to do it right.

“We’ll probably try to get lottery funding for that. It’s an iconic building in the park – everyone knows about it.

“The thing about bringing in professionals is that I’d hope it means we’re no longer dependent on volunteers.

“You would have two staff, a park manager, and an assistant manager, possibly both on duty at the same time during busier periods.

“We think the chance of getting a longer lease is quite good.

“We’ve already given the park a huge boost, and Fife Council appreciate that.”

Kate Hughes, Fife council’s area manager for north east Fife said: “Friends of Craigtoun Park have done a fantastic job raising the profile of the park and running it as a major tourist attraction.

“Fife Council fully supports the work the Friends of Craigtoun Park have done and thanks them for all their efforts over the last few years.

“I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure the future of the park is secure. I hope to have meetings in the near future to discuss what happens next and how we can assist.

“Visitors can look forward to an action packed season.”