Community groups and tenants rue lack of progress at shopping centre
Tenants and community groups have roundly criticised the lack of support from those within Fife Council for the troubled Glenwood Shopping Centre.
And one prominent organisation has gone as far as calling on the local authority to intervene to help rescue the situation before the centre falls into irreversible decline.
Jean Lindsay, secretary of West Glenrothes Tenants and Residents Association has called for a “radical rethink” of the site and expressed the need for a concerted effort by all parties to come together to discuss ways of introducing improvements.
“It’s simply unacceptable for Council officers to be allowed to produce a report that openly states that Glenwood is not a priority because it is not in a prominent location - in other words the town centre,” she told the Gazette.
“In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s a scandal.
“It’s time that some real commitment was shown to those communities such as Macedonia, Tanshall and Caskieberran which would greatly benefit from some incoming investment, planning and attention from those within Fife Council.
“I it’s time to start again and I wouldn’t rule out clearing the site and re-investing in a development that the residents of west Glenrothes could be proud of, and deserve.’’
The once privately owned precinct has been in the hands of receivers since Aberdeen-based property firm Lacey and Light went bust in February 2012.
But with no sign of a new investor willing to take on the ailing shopping centre, which would need a substantial injection of cash to bring about modernisation, the fate of Glenwood remains uncertain.
But with Auchmuty residents on the other side of town showing just what can be achieved with the recent announcement of major, five-year funding initiative awarded by the big Lottery - a bid that, crucially, was supported by Fife Council - residents in the west feel it’s time issues such as Glenwood should be further up the priority list.
Councillor Altany Craik, chairman of Glenrothes Area Committee, and whose ward the troubled centre sits, says that despite public perceptions there would be no “quick fix” - and unless the current ownership situation was to drastically alter, the authority’s hands would “remain tied”.
“We are interested in bringing about a viable and sustainable future for Glenwood, but the Council simply doesn’t have a magic wand,” warned Mr Craik.
“It’s going to need the involvement of a range of groups, not least tenants associations and shop owners and landlords too.
“I would argue that we have brought about a number of small-scale improvements, including Fife Council taking over responsibility for the top car park, new lighting and the maintenance of trees and shrubbery that had become problematic.
“They are small improvements that we could help facilitate straight away and we will continue to support tenants in whatever way we can”.
The Gazette understands that the local authority is also looking to involve criminal justice programmes such as community payback to help improve the centre.
But the councillor remained tight-lippped over the possibility of Fife Council involvingitself in any sort of compulsory purchase order (CPO), despite them not having been ruled out as a last resort tactic when Glenrothes councillors discussed a progress report on a range of dilapidated properties - including Glenwood - at last month’s area committee meeting.
“We have to be realistic about the situation Glenwood is in - and while nothing is ruled out, a CPO simply isn’t viable.
“We need to promote what is there and build on the renewed interest highlighted by the various new developments around the existing centre.
‘‘If we can use these positive aspects to help existing shop owners and attact further new businesses to the area, then this increases the potential for the centre to thrive,” added the councillor.
One business owner who wanted didn’t want to be identified said there had been a series of constructive meetings held between councillors, police and other interested parties, but unless serious financial investment was forthcoming, there would be little or no chance of improving the centre in the long-term.
With the Glenwood debate continuing to divide opinion, one thing all parties agree on is that the centre needs investment, if the Council can’t, or won’t provide it and investors don’t want to offer it, it’s hard to see the plight of Glenwood Centre being eased any time soon.
That is a shame for the residents of west Glenrothes who really do deserve better.
Centre remains a top priority says councillor
Labour councillor Betty Campbell and her party colleagues have been criticised for using the plight of the Glenwood Centre as a backdrop to their 2012 local election campaign.
Indeed, Scottish Labour Party deputy leader Anas Sarwar, visited Glenwood while on the campaign trail, Labour candidates posed for photographs but many feel since that promises made to focus areas in need of regeneration such as Glenwood, have not been met.
Councillor Campbell says she remains committed to the long-term future of the centre and says she was appalled and angry at the suggestion by Council officers that Glenwood was not a priority.
“It was wrong and has made many people who I have spoken to rightly angry at the thought that this area is way down the the Council’s list of priorities,” she told the Gazette.
“I’ve written to officers and those administering the liquidation process seeking assurances that plight of Glenwood is being taken seriously.”
Some within the community have been critical at the councillor having been featured on the front page of the Gazette back in February 2012 calling for more to be done for the centre, yet two years one resident described the few improvements that have been made as nothing more than “papering over the cracks”.
“It’s a difficult situation especially concerning the flats as there are both Fife Council and private tenants, there has been elements of crime and anti-social behaviour coming from certain tenants in the past, but those problems have eased in recent times.
“Possibly we need to think of a more sympathetic way of letting and vetting tenants and bring legislation in to back up that,” said the councillor.
“To say it is not a priority is a clear mistake and I can assure people that it will not be forgotten about.”