Huge turnout for Kirkcaldy children’s home meeting

The Raith Gates site
The Raith Gates site

More than 150 residents turned up at a public meeting on a proposal to site a children’s home in the Raith Gates area of Kirkcaldy.

The meeting in Abbotshall Church was chaired by Peter Wilson, ex Chief Constable of Fife, as an independent party.

The need to relocate the existing children’s home from Rimbleton, Glenrothes, was outlined by social work officers together with information on the number of children, age range, why they are in care and method of supervision.

At this point the method of assessing the seven identified sites for relocation were outlined, along with their pros and cons.

The meeting was then opened to questions from the public.

The first main concern raised was that, despite Council officers stating that they did not have a plan at this stage, residents confirmed they had seen a feasibility plan, showing six bedroomed house and two-bedroomed “crisis” unit, alongside 12 two-storey houses, presumed to be “social housing.”

Officials and councillors denied any attempt to keep information from residents on the basis that the plans were only a feasibility study. Residents said they found this difficult to accept.

Council officers said the site had been valued at £350,000, but this was also greeted with disbelief by residents, who indicated that an independent valuation was around £1m, and that there was a strong case for ”best value” to taxpayers in selling the site and using the money to build a new home on a more suitable site.

The cost given to build the new home is over £1m, which was queried by the meeting as being excessive for the buildings planned.

Residents questioned the suitability of Raith Gates, with its largely elderly population, claiming the present site had better facilities. Existing problems of teens drinking in the Beveridge Park were also raised.

Pleas were made from some householders that the children were the most important factor.

Euan Fraser, chairman of the home owners group, said: “Some people got new information, but the bulk of us already knew what was being talked about. We are now moving to lobby councillors on the scrutiny committee.”

Next steps:

Councillor Susan Leslie confirmed that the next stage was for the Scrutiny Committee to consider the results of the consultation process to date which will be made available to residents online.

It will then set up it’s own consultative meeting with the local community some time in October. The final reports from the committee will go to the Council’s Executive Committee in November.