Fear that community may never accept children’s home plan for Kirkcaldy

Raith Gates care home - the potential site for the new children's home
Raith Gates care home - the potential site for the new children's home

A Fife councillor has expressed his fear that the possibility of building a home for looked-after children in Kirkcaldy could be lost before it has even begun.

Councillor Peter Grant told Fife Council’s executive committee that local “misunderstanding” about what the Council is trying to achieve by relocating Rimbleton Park could scupper the plans.

Councillor Peter Grant

Councillor Peter Grant

He said: “The home has got to be in a place where the children are welcome. Even if this is the best possible site, we may have lost the community before we’ve even started.”

His comments at Tuesday’s meeting followed the presentation of a 343-signature petition from residents in the Raith housing estate, which has the possible site sitting on its edge.

It requested the committee delay a decision on the redevelopment of the care home site, which would include provision for a care home for looked-after children, to allow time for full consultation.

Dougie Dunlop, head of service for children and families, said the home would be a large domestic property, in keeping with the area, providing accommodation for up to seven children – mainly teenagers from a variety of backgrounds.

“What I can say is children in such a facility tend to be there for the longer term and view it as their home. I’d also point out we’ve had no complaints from neighbours at the current Rimbleton facility. We will be good neighbours. If there are any issues we will respond in a polite, courteous manner.”

Cllr Neil Crooks said he was surprised by the reaction of the local community.

“As these children are looked after by the Council, we are corporate parents and they are our children. They should be treated in the same way as the children in our own homes and we should be looking for the best possible outcome for them.”

Cllr Grant said the process of building a replacement had been going on for years and had taken way too long.

“No parent would accept this length of delay and uncertainty over the future of their own children. We’ve still not cut one bit of turf or laid one brick. We need to get our act together and get on with this.”

Councillors agreed to refer the findings of the report to the appropriate scrutiny committee for consideration and to engage in public consultation with the community and interested parties.

Euan Fraser, chairman of Raith House Owners Association, said: “We are pleased we’ve achieved our first objective of delaying the decision on the site being approved. However we are aware this is just the first stage of what may turn out to be a long journey.”