Anger over plans to use Common Good funds for new power supply in Fife town

Work has started on the Links
Work has started on the Links

Work to replace an electricity supply to Burntisland Links for showmen’s caravans during the town’s annual fair has caused anger among residents.

The supply serves the showmen’s caravans for the 12 weeks that the shows operate over the summer.

Alex MacDonald

Alex MacDonald

And a report to councillors reveals showmen have threatened to “abandon” the fair if the work doesn‘t go ahead and they are forced to use generators.

Officers also say future fairs could be in doubt.

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Fife Council plans to use £100,000 from the Burntisland Common Good Fund towards the cost of replacing the electricity supply, with another £60,000 from its own assets, environment and transportation budget.

However, members of the town’s community council and residents, say the scheme is a commerical venture and that common good cash should not be used.

They argue that the money should go towards projects such as re-instating the town’s clock which was silenced in 2010 following a noise complaint and later removed when it was found to be in a dangerous state. It has been lying in storage since 2012.

A Freedom of Information request has been sent to Fife Council to ascertain ownership of the power supply that was installed around 20 years ago and deemed unsafe during a recent inspection.

A letter has also been sent from the community council asking the council to seek an alternative source of funding for the project, which includes extending the supply to the Links bandstand for concerts.

Alex MacDonald, chairman of the community council, said the issue was raised at Friday’s community council meeting.

“It was agreed that replacing the electricity supply was necessary but raiding the common good fund would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

“It does not necessarily follow that assets which are located on common good property are the responsibility of the common good fund. For example, the pumping station at the Links car park was built by Scottish Water and is entirely its responsibility with no burden on the common good fund.

“I will be asking the council to confirm that it will not be using the fund to subsidise what is essentially a commercial contract before deciding if further steps are necessary.”

Cllr Gordon Langlands added: “If you asked Burntisland residents what £100k of common good funds should be spent on they would say the clock tower or a car park – never an electrical supply for
the showmen’s caravans which is used for only 12 weeks a year.”

Paul Vaughan, head of communities with Fife Council said: “Burntislanddair brings thousands of visitors to the town. The annual inspection of the electrical supplies identified that the installation was in a poor state and would need to be replaced for the 2019 Fair.

“If these works were not carried out there was a significant risk that there would be no fair in Burntisland this year, or subsequent years.

“Burntisland Links is common good land.

“Policy identifies that common good funds should be used as far as possible to maintain and repair common good assets.”

A report on the subject is due to go to the Kirkcaldy area committee next week.