Fife Council’s consultation process comes under scrutiny

Proposed site for the houses at the Newcastle precinct in Glenrothes
Proposed site for the houses at the Newcastle precinct in Glenrothes

‘We’re trying everything and it is still not working’

Fife Council’s consultation with residents on a proposed housing development near the town’s Newcastle precinct has come under scrutiny.

Earlier this month the Concerned Newcastle Residents Group (CNR) met with Lindsay Roy MP and Tricia Marwick MSP before delivering a petition to the Council with 330 signatures and over 20 letters of objection.

At the area committee meeting councillors discussed how best to inform people when a development such as the one to build 300 new houses on the Milldeans Farm site is proposed.

The Council currently uses a combination of traditional methods - such as public notices - as well as utilising social media and other online channels.

Councillor Bill Brown said: “There wasn’t seen to be any consultation on the issue of primary school provision.

“It looks like this has just been pushed through and they were hoping nobody would notice.”

Planning officials refuted the claims and insisted they do not depend on “word-of-mouth” to inform residents and that they go to great lengths to reach as many as possible.

But councillor Kay Morrison said Newcastle residents had felt left out in the past by a previous proposal and joked at how that had left them feeling about the Council.

“This committee may be surprised to hear that not everybody trusts the Council.

‘‘People often don’t hear about something until it feels to them as if it is nearly too late and they are astonished because it could effect them directly.

“We are trying everything but it is still not working - there are still people who don’t know about these plans.

“We need to flag proposals like this up to let people know and let them have their say.”

Glenrothes councillor Peter Grant apologised to residents.

He also urged everyone to focus on the remaining parts of the lengthy process that will assess the controversial development.

“I would suggest that we stop fighting about whether the consultation is good or bad enough - it has complied and I think they have gone beyond what was required,” he explained.

“It was part of my job to let people know about that proposal and I am sorry about it.”