Pipeland campaigners’ ‘olive branch’ is rejected

The 'peace proposal' out forward by Pipeland campaigners was not discussed by St Andrews Community Council.
The 'peace proposal' out forward by Pipeland campaigners was not discussed by St Andrews Community Council.

A move to bring peace to the bitter war of words over the siting of the new Madras College has failed at the first hurdle.

The olive branch was proffered by campaigning group Parent Voice (PV) in a motion to St Andrews Community Council this week.

But at Monday’s community council meeting councillors did not discuss the move, as chairman Howard Greenwell cited on-going legal proceedings as rendering them unable to discuss the issue.

PV’s Lisa Leitch had written to the council asking them to consider ways of healing divisions in St Andrews over the siting of the new Madras “now that the extensive period of local, national and legal consultation is drawing to a close.”

She asked the council to consider a motion she had drafted which said: “As the community council responsible for St Andrews we wish to find ways for all parties to come together and support the decision on the building of the new Madras, regardless of the outcome of the current legal challenge.”

Ms Leitch’s letter commented: “As we see it, there is there is the common aim of a much needed new secondary school which we are sure will help to continue the great success story that is Madras College in St Andrews.

“We recognise that whatever the decision, some strong views will remain but with dialogue and common purpose, we believe these concerns can be overcome and the community council is uniquely placed to lead this process.”

However, Mr Greenwell told councillors: “I would propose that at this precise point in time, we do not discuss this when there is a legal challenge on the go.

“I suggest that we do not comment any further on the issue, unless there is a significant development.”

And he reminded council members that the council did not discuss motions from the town, only from council members.

Prior to the meeting several councillors had questioned whether it was appropriate for the council to discuss motions from members of the public, but none contributed at Monday’s meeting.

After the meeting Ms Leitch expressed her disappointment that the community council had declined to act on a motion PV proposed.

“We had hoped they would agree to play an active role in bringing the community together after a divisive debate - no matter the outcome of the Judicial Review,“ she added.

In another twist, PV’s Chris Wallard is seeking membership of the community council, filling one of the council’s half dozen vacancies.

He was unable to attend Monday’s meeting because of ill health but may have been in a position to take Ms Leitch’s motion forward had he been present.

He said this week that he wanted the council “to be more open and transparent and to consult more using social media, websites and so on.”

The result of the Judicial Review hearing in mid-December at the Court of Session, brought by the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd (STEPAL) could come next month, after Lord Doherty went to avizandum, meaning he will take time to consider his decision, after a hearing last a day and a half.

STEPAL argued that Fife Council’s decision making process in agreeing to Pipeland as the site for the new school was flawed but Fife Council has vigorously denied that was the case and that its processes were correct.