Lundin Links: Huge public meeting turnout as residents demand action after fire

The frustration was palpable. Residents and businesses across Lundin Links simply want their town open again - but the road back to normality is going to be slow.
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Over 160 people packed the Old Manor Hotel this afternoon to leave police, councillors and the liquidator in no doubt they want to see a lot more done to get the charred remains of the former Lundin Links Hotel torn down, and the main A915 re-opened.

There was some plain talking throughout the two-hour gathering which saw the venue packed beyond capacity.

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And officials at the top table were sent away with a specific list of actions, and a clear message to return for a follow-up to report on progress within days.

Fire engulfed the former Lundin Links Hotel ten days ago.Fire engulfed the former Lundin Links Hotel ten days ago.
Fire engulfed the former Lundin Links Hotel ten days ago.

Life in the town has been hugely affected by the fire which not only destroyed the historic landmark, but saw the main road running through Lundin Links closed - sparking real problems for residents, businesses, tourists and commuters.

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The hotel’s close proximity to the narrow winding road, which is the main artery linking Kirkcaldy and Leven with St Andrews and towns across the East Neuk, has resulted in significant road closures and diversions, and turned the centre of Lundin Links into a ghost town.

Businesses spoke of losing one third of their trade, while residents branded signage sending traffic on diversions as appalling, and criticised the poor enforcement action against drivers ignoring speed limits, looking for rat runs, and skipping traffic lights.

The charred remains of the Lundin Links Hotel (Pic: Fife Free Press)The charred remains of the Lundin Links Hotel (Pic: Fife Free Press)
The charred remains of the Lundin Links Hotel (Pic: Fife Free Press)
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One councillor highlighted that ambulance journeys which would have taken 20-30 minutes were now waiting more than an hour because of the significant diversions.,

But the biggest frustration centred on the lack of action to raze the charred remains of a hotel which dated back to the 17th century.

There was a sense among residents that they were being ignored. One summed it up: “If this had happened in Edinburgh or Glasgow closing a major traffic artery, it would have been demolished with hours if not days.”

In the aftermath of the blaze - which saw residents evacuated amid fears the flames could spread - Fife Council issued a Dangeous Building Notice.

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Only one agency has the right of appeal during a 21-day period, and that’s the liquidator.

It ha no intention of doing so, but, at the same time, it can’t move until it understands the wishes of the secured creditor which happens to be the Scottish Government.

It gave the developer Kapital Residential, an £850,000 emergency loan during COVID.

The company put up the hotel plus a building in Alloa against it, but the latter was since disposed of, leaving the balance to be repaid - some £700,000 - against the charred hotel.

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Kapital Residental went into liquidation on July, and it is now the job of the liquidator to negotiate with the Scottish Government as secured creditor.

Claire Middlebrooks, from the liquidation company, said it had not been an easy process.

She told the meeting she was in daily contact with the Scottish Government, as well as a preferred demolition company, but could give no timescales for when workers could get on site and begin the task of tearing down the hotel.

And, until it is demolished, the road cannot be re-opened.

She said: “The legislation which I operate under means I have to liaise with the secured creditor - the Scottish Government.

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“That has not been easy so far to get its co-operation. It hasn’t been clear in its position.”She told the meeting she had taken legal advice on the other actions were open to her to get things moving.

She stressed they were “not far away” but the sense of bureaucracy holding things up sparked many sharp questions from the floor.

There were calls for Jenny Gilruth MSP for the town - and Transport Minister - to attend the next meeting, and for it to even be escalated to Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, in a bid to break the force action.

Councillor Jan Wincott, Fife Council’s spokesperson for environment and climate change, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said: “It’s clear that everybody wants this building down as quickly as possible, as safely as possible, and to get the road re-opened.

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“We’re working with all parties to do that as soon as we possibly can.”

A follow-up meeting will be held as soon as possible to report back on all the issues raised and keep residents informed.

They will be looking action - not just words - at that gathering.