Community fights to save iconic Fisher Lass image on East Neuk signs

A row has erupted over plans to replace an iconic image on signs for the East Neuk of Fife.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 27th December 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Monday, 27th December 2021, 2:46 pm

Visit East Neuk Now, a group representing businesses and local tourism, had approached Fife Council about changing four ‘Welcome to the East Neuk’ signs, which had deteriorated significantly due to age and the elements, and replacing historical imagery of a ‘Fisher Lass’ with a new puffin icon used by the East Neuk Now app which was introduced earlier this year.

However, the idea has prompted a huge backlash from communities across the area who want to see the Fisher Lass image retained to highlight the East Neuk’s unmistakable fishing heritage.

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The Fisher Lass v the puffin

An online petition garnered almost 500 signatures within just a week of going live, suggesting no public consultation had been carried out.

And as such, Fife Council has confirmed that the replacement signs have been put on hold until the New Year for full community consultation to take place.

A spokesperson for Visit East Neuk Now said the group had not been advised by Fife Council that any kind of community consultation was necessary.

“The signs have deteriorated due to age and weather, with the fisher-lass icon faded, shabby, or missing altogether,” it said.

“Where the artwork is missing is now just an empty white space.

“We approached Fife Council about updating the signs by using the East Neuk Now “puffin” icon used for this new app, highly publicised since its introduction in April 2021.

“It was suggested as available fisher lass images would not scale-down to a recognisable image.

“Using the puffin icon would still promote the East Neuk area, as it publicised the East Neuk Now app and website.”

The group added that criticism it has received on social media since the plan came to light was “ill informed at best, just plain wrong at worst and undeserved entirely” by its management committee.

The four signs in question are located on the A915 between Leven/Lundin Links past Blacketyside, the A917 toward Elie just after the junction with the B942, the B9131 towards Anstruther just south of the Kellie turn-off; and on the A917 just north of Kingsbarns.

The puffin image proposed refers to the large puffin population which descends on the Isle of May, five - a popular tourist attraction for visitors who can take a boat trip from Anstruther.

Despite that, people signing the petition have argued that the Fisher Lass remains the more representative and evocative image of what the East Neuk stands for.

Kathryn Shearer, from Cellardyke, said: “The Fisher Lass is an important icon - the puffin is universal.

“The Fisher Lass belongs to the East Neuk.”

Jennifer Hoggan, from Pittenweem, said: “This is being rushed through, without consultation with the people who live and work here.”

A spokesperson for Fife Council noted: “A plan to include the puffin logo on the "Welcome to East Neuk" signage was developed by Visit East Neuk and submitted to Fife Council's roads and transportation services for approval, with funds being provided by Visit East Neuk.

“Although this was eventually approved, this was with the expectation that Visit East Neuk had undertaken full consultation with the community.

“As this may not be the case, this has now been put on hold until all the necessary consultation has been undertaken.”

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