Fury as residents’ forum is scrapped

Methilhill
Methilhill

A FORMER Levenmouth councillor has vented her fury after the Methil and Methilhill Community Forum was suddenly axed.

Joyce Smith claims the move proved that ‘councillors were being told what to do’ by Fife Council officers, claiming that the role used to be reversed.

The council has put the scrapping of the forum down to dwindling local interest in attending meetings, and said the public was now using other methods of getting in touch to raise concerns, such as the internet.

But Ms Smith hit out at the move, saying an important tool for the community had been lost.

She told the Mail: “You used to have all sorts of people at these forum meetings from councillors, council officers and the police.

“People were able to go down and tell them about any concerns they may have about the community on things like traffic issues, for instance.

“It started off that they cut them back to once every three months but now they’ve just done away with them altogether.

“I’m absolutely livid about it.”

The forum was based at the local school but, on occasion, was held at the area’s fire station.

Council area services manager for Levenmouth, David Paterson, explained the way the forum operated had changed dramatically over the last 15 years as the authority looked to extend and improve the various mechanisms residents could use to discuss service provision.

Mr Paterson told the Mail: “Any services accessed through representation by an individual or group at the forum can still be accessed by a range of other types of contact with the council.

“There are a number of ways that local people can raise their concerns with the council or its partners, notably councillor surgeries, council libraries and local offices, via the contact centre by telephone, and e-mail.

“This allows issues to be reported in real time, rather than waiting until the next forum met.”

The council official added the move to close the forum had the backing of the area’s councillors, much to the frustration of Ms Smith.

“The councillors are supposed to represent the people and they’re letting them away with this,” she said.

“It used to be the case that councillors told council officials what to do.

“It doesn’t look like that any more.”