Rift widens in Pipeland row

The decision to grant planning permission for a new school at Pipeland will be challenged in the Court of Session.
The decision to grant planning permission for a new school at Pipeland will be challenged in the Court of Session.
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A court date has finally been set to hear the judicial review lodged against Fife Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a new school at Pipeland in St Andrews.

The case brought by the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association (STEPAL) will call in the Court of Session in Edinburgh on December 16-18.

STEPAL’s legal challenge has caused a widening rift between those for and against the plans for a new Madras College at Pipeland.

The three former teachers behind the organisation – Mary Jack, Sandra Thomson, Lindsay Matheson – say they hope the hundreds of people who objected to the plans will support its action.

In another bizarre twist in this increasingly bitter dispute, STEPAL this week accused Pipeland supporter Dr Luke Rendell of posing as a potential backer of the judicial review in an attempt to obtain financial information about the organisation.

Dr Rendell has admitted he did create a “fictional persona” in what was ultimately an unsuccessful attempt to find out more information.

But while embarrassed, he felt driven to such action by STEPAL’s refusal to engage in any form of dialogue.

In a statement on behalf of STEPAL, company secretary Sandra Thomson said: “The directors of STEPAL remain deeply concerned that the assessment of alternative sites was not carried out in a reasonable way, and took into account irrelevant considerations. This resulted in the wrong outcome for St Andrews, and particularly for the Green Belt.

“Judicial review is the last possible step in the democratic process, and a very expensive one. The directors of STEPAL hope that everyone who agrees with them, particularly the hundreds of objectors and those who will be directly affected by the proposal, will support their action.”

In another statement, she explained the three STEPAL directors recently received a ‘g-mail’ signed by a ‘Rory Malcolm’.

She said: “The author purported to be a former St Andrews resident now living in London, who supported the judicial review. He said he was prepared to offer £5000 to STEPAL, but wanted answers to a number of questions – mainly financial questions.

“A supporter of STEPAL in London replied to ‘Mr Malcolm’. A ‘read receipt’ revealed that the recipient was Luke Rendell.”

Dr Rendall has admitted he was responsible for the email.

He said: “It was me. I was making an inept attempt to try and find out more information about an organisation that is trying to damage my son’s education – obviously it failed, to my public embarrassment.

“I was acting entirely alone, and it is the only time I have ever used a fictional persona in my life. I apologise for my methods, but stand by my motives as a parent.

“I felt driven to such an ill-advised step by the secretive nature of those behind the judicial review. Acting against the democratic wishes of an entire community, they have ignored multiple requests for dialogue with the parents and children whose dreams and ambitions they are crushing.

“I call on those behind STEPAL to take part in such dialogue.”

Requests to STEPAL from the Herald and Citizen seeking to discuss the judicial review have received no response.