Garage compensation row smoulders on

David Nelson is calling for Mr Crombie's claim to be met and for the garages destroyed in the fire to be demolished.
David Nelson is calling for Mr Crombie's claim to be met and for the garages destroyed in the fire to be demolished.

A Glenrothes pensioner has been left angry and frustrated following Fife Council’s refusal to pay out after his garage was destroyed by a fire.

Auchmuty resident Chris Crombie’s privately-owned garage was one of seven to be gutted in a fire started by vandals in the early hours of July 13 last year.

But seven months on, Mr Crombie, who is registered disabled and who relies on the garage to store his mobility scooter, is still at loggerheads with solicitors acting on behalf of the local authority, even though fire investigators confirmed the blaze was started in garage number six owned by the Council.

“It’s very frustrating to have had this drag on so long,” Mr Crombie told the Gazette.

“The money I am seeking doesn’t even cover the cost of the damaged items I had in the garage, or the new roof I’d had a builder put on it last year,“ he added.

Mr Crombie said Fife Council has refused liability despite Auchmuty Tenants Association being able to prove it had reported the latest vandalism on June 20, 23 days before the fire.

David Nelson, from the tenants’ group said: “The local authority is trying to wash its hands of this, despite us reporting the garages being damaged to police.

“The fire was started in the sixth garage, which had not been made secure, and it’s time Fife Council accepted that.”

Auchmuty Tenants Association estimates it lost around £5000 worth of furniture, used to help families in need, which was stored in two of the garages destroyed in the blaze.

With the destroyed garages remaining fenced off since the incident, the tenants’ association has received the backing of councillor Ross Vettraino for its call for Fife Council to give firm reassurances that the eyesore will now be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

He said: “The community has put up with the building being left in the state it now is for far too long. It’s time decisions were made to deal with them once and for all.”

Demolition refused until Council accepts facts about state of garages

Fife Council is coming under increasing pressure from the tenants association, residents and the local councillor to sort out the eyesore once and for all.

Greg Jones, housing maintenance officer, said: “So far we have cleared up the area and erected a temporary barrier to keep the site safe.

“We are currently awaiting a decision on whether we can proceed with demolition of the block. It would then be our intention to reinstate the area for parking.”

With legal negotiations between the local authority and Mr Crombie continuing, Mr Jones declined to comment further or give an indication of when the situation regarding the garages would be resolved.

Mr Crombie, the owner of the only privately-owned garage, has refused permission to demolish his property until the Council accepts liability, in what he said are “indisputable circumstances”.

Cllr Ross Vettraino wrote to Fife Council’s legal representatives Gallagher Bassett on December 22 last year explaining the events leading up to, and since, the blaze, but is yet to receive a reply.