Fife Council accused of pillaging St Andrews town fund

St Andrews Harbour.
St Andrews Harbour.

Fife Council has been accused of “pillaging” St Andrews Common Good Fund because of budget cuts.

The accusation came as the town’s community councillors discussed two applications for funding from the Common Good Fund for funding for the extension of the pontoons at St Andrews harbour and the refurbishment and replacement of toilets with modular facilities at the town’s West Sands.

In total more than £100,000 was being sought from the Common Good Fund.

But community council member Harry Stewart hit out: “It is a bit worrying that Fife Council has pillaged money out of the fund for the toilets.

“Is it going to be the ‘go-to’ fund when they haven’t any money?,” he queried.

Mr Stewart was also critical of last year’s decision by Fife Council not to go ahead with a visitor centre at West Sands, meaning, he said, that action was now needed on the toilets there.

“We cannot go into the summer without toilets,” he acknowledged, but he continued: “This has come about because we threw away the money for the visitor centre and now we are having to scrape about to fund replacement toilets.

“We had an offer of a lot of money and Fife failed to do it.”

Last year a proposal from Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) for a visitor centre at West Sands was turned down by the council, despite the potential of a £1.5million grant being available for the project.

The centre would have provided new public toilet facilities for the beach, along with exhibition space, a cafe, shop, outside shower facilities and meeting space.

The innovative shell shape of the design was not approved by the council in the face of objections from individuals and organisations in the town, including the community council, and also failed on appeal to the Scottish Government.

Now FCCT has applied to the Common Good Fund for £80,000 to demolish one of the toilet blocks at West Sands, replace it with a modular unit, and refurbish the second existing toilet block.

The Trust’s application states that the toilets have been in operation for 35 years and are “past their best”, continuing: “Over the last two years the levels of complaints have increased regarding the substandard facilities which are now in place and the toilets no longer meet the public’s expectation.”

Fife councillor Dorothea Morrison warned the community council that if the funding did not go through, there would be no toilets at West Sands.

“Personally I would rather see toilets going there now – I think this is something important for the people of St Andrews,” she urged.

A spokesman for Fife Council said: “These toilets are the responsibility of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust. The application is welcomed in order to keep these buildings in good order for both the local community and tourists.”

St Andrews Harbour Trust is looking for £25,000 towards its £120,000 project to double the number of pontoon berths at the harbour and install water and power facilities for visiting yachtsmen. It’s part of a £350,000 redevelopment programme at the harbour, where there is now a waiting list for berths for the first time in years.

Both applications were agreed by the community council and will be considered by Fife Council’s north east area committee on March 23.