THE tower of an “iconic” historical building in Burntisland is to be taken down and rebuilt after it was deemed unsafe.
Fife Council will dismantle the old clock tower on the town’s Burgh Chambers to repair damaged stonework.
But the discovery has sparked a new row in the town.
Burntisland Community Council has filed a number of questions and demanded that the Common Good property is fixed as quickly as possible to avoid any adverse effects on tourism and business.
And many residents say Fife Council should have spotted the damage when the clock was removed following a dispute over the volume of its chimes.
The cracks were spotted in a recent routine inspection, and independent conservation specialists were called in to examine the extent of the damage.
They found severe weathering, cracking and open joints in the sandstone faces of the tower, which will now be partially dismantled. This is to allow it to be reconstructed using as much of the original stone as possible.
Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy Area Committee said: “I have been informed that the clock tower is damaged beyond in-situ repair and will have to be taken down in the interest of public safety as soon as possible.
“While this will be an unwelcome development following the controversy of the bell ringing, I am advised this action is unavoidable.
‘‘There is currently no budget for this unplanned work but I will work with colleagues to investigate funding options for reinstatement.”
Alan Paul, property services manager, said: “We need to act to remove the affected stone. We will dismantle the tower to just below the clock faces where the masonry is sound. The tower will then be temporarily weatherproofed, while we finalise plans for its reconstruction. We’re aiming to start work at the beginning of October so that we can complete repairs before the worst of the winter weather kicks in.”
Before work starts, surveys will be carried out and each stone catalogued so that as much of the original sandstone as possible can be reused. The dismantling work is expected to take around four weeks.
Alex MacDonald, chairman of Burntisland Community Council, said he had written to the chief executive of the Council expressing a number of concerns.
“Fife Council has statutory responsibility for the building under Common Good legislation,” he said. “We will take very seriously any delay in re-constructing the tower.”