Chief defends the ‘ignored’ surveys

Fife Institute in Glenrothes
Fife Institute in Glenrothes

Two controversial ‘have your say’ surveys have been defended by the top council official, reports Mike Delaney.

Ronnie Hinds claimed public consultations on the future of care homes and a name for the new Glenrothes sports centre had been worthwhile - despite their outcomes being ‘ignored’ by the local authority.

The chief executive was responding to local community activists who had written to him asking the cost of the consultations and querying the point of having them if councillors took decisions contrary to people’s wishes.

North Glenrothes Community Council had contacted him in the wake of the ongoing row over the name chosen for the £21 million Viewfield facility.

It will be called the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre, despite that option being backed by 22 per cent of those who responded to the online and paper surveys, compared with 14 per cent for a variety of other titles, 21 per cent for the current Fife Institute of Physical Education and Recreation name and 43 for Glenrothes Sports and Leisure Centre.

That was also the choice of Fife Sports and Leisure Trust which will run the centre when it opens in 2013 and of Labour councillors on Glenrothes Area Committee when the issue came before it last month.

But during a stormy meeting, they were outvoted by Scottish National Party members who wanted the centre to commemorate the late Mr Woods, a long-standing party activist and councillor.

He has been credited with helping save a sports facility for Glenrothes amid alleged plans to shut it down emerged in the 2000s.

It was also argued that two few people - 174 - had taken part in the consultation for it to be meaningful.

Last year, there was anger when the council agreed to dispose of its 10 care homes in Fife - including two in Glenrothes - despite 77 per cent of respondents to a consultation on that issue opposing the move.

In his reply to NGCC, Mr Hinds wrote: “In regard to the naming of the new sports and leisure facility presently under construction at FIPRE, this consultation exercise was carried out to gauge the views of the public on a number of selected options.

“This gave the council an opportunity to assess the level of interest in the project and also review the alternative names suggested to assist elected members in their decision.

“The consultation exercise also raised the wider profile of the project as it was promoted online and through publications such as the summer edition of ‘Fife Life’.

“The financial cost for this particular consultation was approximately £300.

“I can confirm that all the views/comments received as a result of the consultation on the care home replacement programme were fully considered by the social work and health committee in February.

“This did not alter the fact that the council had a difficult decision to make about the allocation of the capital budget to replace the care homes.

“There were no additional costs incurred by the council as the result of this consultation exercise as the normal communication channels for residents, families and staff were used.”

NGCC chairman, Ron Page, said it would not be taking any further action on the matter.