Labour denial as Lib Dems cast doubt on road project

Willie Rennie MSP and councillor Tim Brett.
Willie Rennie MSP and councillor Tim Brett.

Concerns have been raised that Cupar’s new £1.6 million road layout scheme may be in jeopardy following the recent change in Fife Council’s ruling administration.

During a visit to the town, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on council leader and Fife Labour party chief Alex Rowley to confirm the congestion-busting scheme will go ahead in August as planned.

The MSP said he was concerned that a planned review of Fife Council’s budget may see the road revamp — which includes road widening and the abolition of town centre traffic lights — scrapped.

His views were echoed by the leader of the Opposition in Fife Council, Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Brett, who asked for a reassurance that the people of Cupar - and motorists using the town - would not suffer as a result.

Councillor Brett said: “We are very anxious that these long-awaited measures to improve traffic congestion in the centre of Cupar may not happen because of a proposed review of spending.

“This scheme would make a vast difference to people living in the area.”

IMAGINATION

In response, Councillor Rowley said the scheme would go ahead because money had already been spent on it and accused the Lib Dems of “raising a scenario that only exists in their imagination.”

He said: “Neither Mr Rennie nor Councillor Brett have raised the improvements to the Cupar road layout with me or as far as I’m aware with officials from Fife Council following the local elections.

“So where is the evidence for this concern that they are raising?

“I had hoped for a new kind of politics in Fife Council and have made it clear on several occasions that the incoming Labour administration — which is a minority administration — will work with all councillors in an open and transparent fashion to do our very best for Fife - all parts of Fife and so it is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats appear to be reverting to their old ways.

“With regard to the current road/traffic light configuration in Cupar — a configuration that has created quite a bit of controversy — my understanding is that it was supported unanimously by the Liberal Democrats who were around at that time so perhaps they should look to themselves for the problems Cupar has faced traffic wise over the last few years.

Councillor Rowley went on: “I said during the election campaign that we would want to review both the revenue and capital budget as soon as we can and we will be doing that over the summer period.

“Any incoming administration would want to do that.

SUBSTANTIAL

“I am advised that Fife Council has already spent a substantial sum of capital on the Cupar project and on that basis it would seem to me to be unwise not to proceed with the improvements – unless of course we discover that the previous administration, of which the Liberal Democrats were a partner, haven’t set aside sufficient capital to complete the necessary works.

“For far too long the Liberal Democrats have seen North East Fife as their own personal fiefdom and have been far too eager to blame someone else for their own inadequacies - if it wasn’t Labour it would be the Conservatives or the SNP.

“The Labour administration will show the same commitment to north east Fife as is shown to Cowdenbeath, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.

“ Over the next five years we will build a new £40 million secondary school in St Andrews — something the Liberals have talked about for years and yet in power never laid a brick.”