Fife fears over £150m flood prevention pot allayed by Scottish Government ministers
and live on Freeview channel 276
Council officers told the policy and co-ordination committee yesterday (Thursday February 18) that the multimillion £ pot, announced in September as part of the Programme for Government, had already been earmarked for existing projects.
However, this has been denied by ministers, who say the funding will be allocated to local authorities next month following discussions with umbrella body Cosla.
The £150m will be allocated over five years, on top of an existing £42m grant spread across Scotland's local authorities each year.
Derek Crowe, Fife Council’s roads and transportation service manager, told the committee that there had been "mixed" messages from the government on how exactly the extra money would be allocated - but that he believed Fife could not tap into the reserve.
"Currently for next year the Scottish Government has got £42m allocated for pre-arranged and prioritised programmes that have been on the books for a number of years," Crowe said.
"This additional £150m is only to deliver those schemes that have now been advanced to the level of detailed design and tendering, and the value of them has inflated significantly.
"There is no new money here that Fife Council can bid in for. It is money that has actually been allocated to existing projects around Scotland, and none of those are in Fife."
He added: "I'd like to stop any confusion that there may be around members and perhaps community groups that the council could be accessing this £150m.
"We've had it clarified that it is not really available to us."
A motion by Cllr David Ross to seek clarity from ministers on the council's eligibility for extra cash was passed unopposed.
However, in response to a request for comment from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the Scottish Government confirmed that the new money will be going directly to local authorities.
A spokesman said: “While the terms of reference of the joint Cosla and Scottish Government working group have yet to be agreed, it is likely that the working group will wish to consider the effectiveness of the existing distribution arrangements, and to consider whether to recommend any changes to these.”
Mr responded: "Our understanding is that this money is intended for existing schemes, already identified," he said.
"We've not seen the financial profile for the additional £150m funding. However, if the detailed distribution arrangements for this is to be discussed with Cosla and does allow Fife to apply, we'll take the opportunity to bid for more money.
“We look forward to hearing more about this."
Government cash aside, Fife councillors committed £5m over the next ten years to local flood prevention, along with a one-off £450,000 boost for 2021/22 to continue assessing the 600-plus areas of Fife that suffered severe localised flooding in August last year.
However, councillors remain anxious over how this money will be spent across the Kingdom.
Cllr Craig Walker said residents in Kinglassie are still feeling the effects of August's substantial rains, previously described by officers as a "one-in-a-thousand-years" event.
"We can't just continue to be reliant on these types of emergency measures to sort this out. We're looking for longer term solutions," Cllr Walker said.