Madras row: Council chief gives backing to councillor

St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson
St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson

Fife Council’s education spokesman has described criticism of a fellow councillor as “tantamount to bullying and intimidation”.

Councillor Bryan Poole was making a rare comment in the debate over the new Madras College which has seen local St Andrews councillor, Brian Thomson, targeted for criticism.

Cllr Poole took to social media to back Cllr Thomson after a letter appeared in local papers from Leuchars Community Council chairman Caroll Finnie.

Mrs Finnie, who opposes the Pipeland site for Madras, described Cllr Thomson as looking for a “scapegoat” after Fife Council’s plans for the site were rejected in the Courts.

Cllr Poole said: “There is a small group of people in St Andrews who have personalised their campaign.

“It is my view that the treatment he has received is tantamount to bullying and intimidation.

“The perpetrators and organisers of this campaign (some who see themselves as ‘upstanding citizens’ of St Andrews) really need to take a hard look at themselves.”

And he described them as “shaming the town of St Andrews”.

Cllr Poole added that his comments came not in response to Mrs Finnie’s letter but to the number of letters that had spotlighted Cllr Thomson in this way.

Describing him as “a good guy”, Cllr Poole reiterated: “I’m sure many parents and children in the Madras catchment area are frustrated at the slow progress in landing a replacement for Madras.

“Brian has a responsibility to represent those parents and children and of course the wider community.”

Mrs Finnie was unapologetic this week: “I have nothing against Brian Thomson,” she said, but warned: “Don’t start criticising me or I will fight back.

“I truly believe that Pipeland is not the place for a school.”

Mrs Finnie claimed that the planned school would not be big enough for future populations and would not be suitable for people with disabilities.

Cllr Thomson commented only: “Whilst I appreciate Cllr Poole’s kind words, I’ve always taken the view that if you can’t take criticism, you shouldn’t get involved in politics. The stuff that’s been aimed at me – which has predominantly come from a very small group of people – certainly doesn’t keep me awake at night.

“You can never please everyone – if you want to get things done, you’re nearly always going to get criticism from some people. I could, of course, take the easy option, and just sit back and keep quiet, but that’s not why I sought to became a councillor and, more importantly, it’s not why people elected me.”