Schools, roads and community facilities improved in Fife’s £985m ten-year plan
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The spending programme was rubber stamped by councillors at this month’s meeting of the full council, and sets out the local authority’s priorities up until 2033.
The decision on capital spend was deferred from the council's February budget meeting to give time to consider the significant impact of rising costs along with inflation, interest rates and supply chain challenges.
And it came with a stark warning that final costs of projects could rise. Eileen Rowland, executive director, finance and corporate services, said in her report: “There is strong evidence that construction inflation is running well ahead of the consumer prices index which will have an impact on the major capital projects going forward.”
And proposed timescales may also have to be adjusted with a number of uncertainties hanging over funding from the Scottish Government - councillors were warned “a significant revision will be required” in 2024-25, but it was crucial to press ahead and agree a plan to give certainty to services planning ahead.
The fund includes £3.8m to improve Balwearie High School in Kirkcaldy - although there is a recognition it needs replaced completely - and £14.9m to help address climate change issues, including the pathway towards net zero in both non-domestic and business buildings.
The council will invest £0.5m in a flood fund to help residents who are severely impacted by regular flooding. Studies will be taken forward for Rosyth and Valley Gardens, Kirkcaldy, and £1.5m to bring forward work to address flooding issues at Freuchie Mill is included in the overall climate change programme.
That was one of a several key projects for north-east Fife - other commitments were £6 million for East Sands Leisure Centre, and £3.25 million for a new site for Cupar Recycling Centre,
Councillor Jonny Tepp, Liberal Democrat group leader said: “The commitments in the budget will ensure East Sands Leisure Centre remains fit for purpose, that a new site is secured for Cupar Recycling Centre, which has been located in an inadequate site for too long under previous administrations, and flood defences that will allow the residents of Freuchie Mill to have more confidence in their future.”
There will also be £2m each for the development of the planned community hubs for Dalgety Bay and Glenwood, Glenrothes as part of the regeneration initiative - support the council hopes will allow the leverage of additional external funding - new investment of £0.5m and £0.250m respectively will be made in upgrading and required additional car parking for Sandy Brae and Kelty community centres. A further £250,000 will be invested in completing outstanding environmental improvements in Kirkcaldy town centre.
Council leader, Councillor David Ross, said he was pleased to be able to make £19 million available for investment in vital one off projects which included swimming and leisure facilities in West Fife, and £4m brought forward to invest in the local authority’s vehicle fleet to provide immediate investment.
He said: “The costs of projects already in our capital plan have risen by over £200million and we've had to look again at what is affordable. What we've agreed with our colleagues across the political spectrum is an affordable capital plan, but we're all agreed that there are continuing challenges. That's why this plan will be regularly monitored and reviewed to make sure Fifers are getting value for money."