“Keep the money” say Auchmuty residents association after funding ‘farce’

Davie Nelson and the Auchmuty & Dovecot Tennents Association are not happy about Fife Council using the Lottery Funding on other areas instead of the local area that it was initially applied for. Pic by Steven Brown Photography.
Davie Nelson and the Auchmuty & Dovecot Tennents Association are not happy about Fife Council using the Lottery Funding on other areas instead of the local area that it was initially applied for. Pic by Steven Brown Photography.

A leading Glenrothes tenants group is on the brink of ditching its involvement in a multi-million of public funding initiative it claims it was intrumental in securing.

Auchmuty and Dovecot Tenants and Residents Association says it is set to walk away from a slice of the £12m Our Place funding initiate, secured in May 2014, claiming the money, which is for use specifically within and for the Auchmuty community, has been ‘hijacked’ by other bodies.

It also claims that the funding could be open to organisations out with the Auchmuty area that it was intended and that the direct wishes of residents for the development of a new community hub at Warout stadium, have been “blatantly ignored”.

“We will be writing to the Big Lottery, who are behind the Our Place initiative, to lodge a formal complaint as to how the funding has been handled,” explained David Nelson, chairman of the Auchmuty tenants group.

“Sixty eight per cent of Auchmuty residents, an overwhelming majority, who took part in a public survey say they want a new community facility, yet we feel their wishes are being blatantly ignored,” he added.

“If the wishes of the people we represent are to be dismissed then we want to have no part in it, they can keep the money. It’s a farce.”

Mr Nelson is adamant his association received the backing of Fife Council when representations were first made.

However the Auchmuty group’s claims have been refuted by Douglas Westwater, executive director of Community Enterprise, one of the two main bodies brought in to manage the five-year funding programme.

“There is a misconception within parts of the community that one group is responsible for bringing this funding to Auchmuty and that is simply is not the case,” said Mr Westwater.

“The decision was made after evaluating a whole range of information from a broad cross section of the community.

“This is not a capital programme and not about a plan for one single facility, it’s investing in the resilience of a community and taking that forward in many forms and with many groups.

And Mr Westwater told the Gazette he was ‘genuinely saddened’ by the news that the tenant’s group were to pull out.

“I have huge respect for them and for what they are doing for their community, but a degree of flexibility needs to be reached,” he said.

“This one approach or nothing is not going to benefit the community.

“With the right approach a hub facility could be achieved by way of Big Lottery and other funding opportunities, in fact double or triple the amount of this current funding is not unrealistic and we would happily work with them to see it that can be achieved.”

Reacting to the news Norman Laird, Glenrothes area manager said: “Fife Council’s submission to be included in the programme was actively supported by a range of community organisations including the Tenants group.

“The process of identifying local priorities is ongoing is being led by Community Enterprise.

“Fife Council is aware that there are some concerns being expressed locally by the tenants group and is hopeful that these can be resolved so that the whole community can benefit from this unique opportunity.”

The announcement that the Glenrothes precinct of Auchmuty was to benefit from a share of around £12 million worth of funding as part of the Our Place initiative was greeted with delight back in May 2014.

The programme targeted seven specific areas in Scotland, Auchmuty being one of them. with the aim to put local people in a position to make positive changes.

Ideally placed to come up with a vision for their own community and what they want to see happen there, that vision would then receive five years of funding to make a lasting improvement to all residents.

Auchmuty saw off competition from Dunfermline and Leven to be chosen alongside other projects in Falkirk, Dundee, Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Dumfries.

First introduced in 2010, the Our Place initiative has already invested around £11 million into 25 projects in five neighbourhoods across Scotland.

Following the appointment of two groups to manage the five year funding initiative within the Auchmuty community itself, a £20,000 consultation process engaging with the residents was conducted in 2015 to find out the range of views, needs and ideas on how the funding could be best spent.

While to date, no projects have yet received any help, it’s understood a number of local groups and organisations have made requests.

Announcements as to who have been successful are to be made in April.

Among them is help for a local scout group, funding to install a new kitchen at St Luke’s Church and the possibility of a new youth club facility which is likely to be based at the existing Fife Council run Auchmuty Learning Centre.

Smaller organisations can also apply for a £250 as part of the Our Place programme.