A public meeting designed to help secure the long-term future of Craigtoun Country Park on the edges of St Andrews has been organised.
Behind the initiative is St Andrews Community Council, which hopes to set up a trust to manage the 41-acre park - once seen as a jewel in Fife’s crown of stunning visitor attractions, but now only a shadow of its former self after years of neglect.
In an exclusive interview, Kyffin Roberts, chairman of the community organisation, told the Citizen: ”As Fife Council seeks to place more facilities on a trust basis, it seems certain that the only way to protect the future of Craigtoun Park is to establish a trust that will work closely with the local authority to make the best use of limited resources and get more for less wherever possible.
“The Craigtoun Community Trust will eventually take responsibility for the maintenance and development of the park and will seek funding for its refurbishment and devise a business plan that will ensure it achieves financial sustainability.”
The community council is now seeking the support of individuals, clubs and businesses who are committed to making it a successful and sustainable leisure facility that will benefit the local community and attract visitors to the town.
Mr Roberts added: ”The Friends of Craigtoun Park will become a pool of resources consisting of interested individuals who have relevant knowledge and experience to help set up the trust and possibly become trustees in the future.”
At one time, around 70,000 people a year annually descended on the country park from many parts of Scotland, but attendances have slumped substantially over recent years to less than half that figure, although there was a mini revival last summer thanks to the reintroduction of the miniature railway.
However, the park has been in sad decline for many years and it is estimated that repair bills would be in the region of £4 million.
Last year St Andrews and Cameron community councils were involved in exploratory discussions with Fife Council with a view to take over the running of the park, but after careful consideration the latter concluded that operating it as a charitable trust run by volunteers would not be a viable option and abandoned the idea.
However, Mr Roberts explained that St Andrews Community Council had decided it would not give up the fight to save the park.
He added:”It has taken a while to get things moving, but we have been in discussion with Fife Council and received advice regarding setting up a trust.
“We are under no illusions and we know there is a long hard road ahead, but a trust appears to be the only way of securing the future of the park. We believe there is support from the local community and further afield to try and save it.
“In the past, many visitors travelled from Dundee and surrounding areas.
‘‘We are hoping that the Friends will also attract members from outside the St Andrews area and thereby increase the pool of resources.”
The public meeting is lined up for February 29 in St Andrews Town Hall. It starts at 7pm.