Lib Dems’ petition attacked

Elmwood Campus
Elmwood Campus

Local Liberal Democrats have admitted that they may have given the impression in a recent campaign that the entire Elmwood College would close in the summer of 2016.

Fife College announced a few weeks ago that they would be ending their courses at Cupar in less than two years time.

However, the main user - Scottish Rural College (SRUC), with two-thirds of the student roll, has given a commitment to stay in the town.

A petition on the Lib-Dems’ website was headed ‘Save Elmwood College’ and stated: “Fife College has just announced they will close the Elmwood college campus by 2016.

“Elmwood college is a vital service in Fife. It provides invaluable courses to young people all across our area - including specialist support for students with learning difficulties.

“We need your help to tell Fife Council and the SNP government that Elmwood College must stay open.”

Website visitors were invited to sign the petition to “protect” Elmwood.

The information on the site, which was also promoted through Facebook, was quickly attacked by Cupar independent councillor Bryan Poole and by local Conservatives.

Councillor Poole called on the Lib-Dem and parliamentary candidate Councillor Tim Brett to remove the “misleading, inaccurate and potentially damaging” posting.

Councillor Poole asked: “Why would students want to apply to take a course at Elmwood next year if they thought the college was going to close? Councillor Brett and the Liberal Democrats are in danger of making a difficult situation much more damaging by frightening away potential students - by flagging up a scare story that is completely without foundation. If students don’t enrol then the jobs of staff at Elmwood will be threatened. The irresponsibility of Councillor Brett and his colleagues is mind boggling.”

The Conservatives said: “We firmly believe that this is a scaremongering tactic, which is likely to lead the public to think that Elmwood campus is closing, which is clearly not the case.”

They added that their General Election candidate for north east Fife was organising a jobs fair in partnership with SRUC Elmwood campus next February. “There is no suggestion that the future of the facility is at threat.”

The heading on the Lib-Dem website was changed on Tuesday to ‘Save Elmwood courses,’ while the content was also altered to read: “Fife College has just announced they will pull out of the Elmwood campus by 2016.

“Elmwood has provided a vital service in Fife for many years. Whilst the agricultural and land-based courses run by Scotland’s Rural College will remain, the courses run by Fife College will be lost. Fife College at Elmwood provides invaluable courses to young people all across our area - including specialist support for students with learning difficulties.

“We need your help to tell Fife College and the SNP government that courses at Elmwood must stay.”

Councillor Brett said on Tuesday afternoon: “There was a mistake on our website and that has been corrected.” He added that his party was campaigning to save Fife College courses at Elmwood and was aware of the SRUC’s commitment.