Pub owners plea to Council in road closure saga

Man i' the Rock pub owner Jack Kerr who has appealed for Fife Council to repair the road outside his pub or give him a rates cut for the premises.
Man i' the Rock pub owner Jack Kerr who has appealed for Fife Council to repair the road outside his pub or give him a rates cut for the premises.

The owner of a pub in Dysart is battling with Fife Council to cut his rates as compensation for the road outside the hostelry being closed for SIX YEARS.

And Jack Kerr, owner of Man i’ the Rock, which has been a popular watering hole in the royal burgh since 1870, is appealing for Fife Council to fix the road which collapsed in 2009, and which he says is an eyesore which allows for no passing trade and also puts visitors off.

The pub sits at the corner of Edington Place and School Brae, and the former street has been closed since part of it collapsed into the garden of an adjacent house in December 2009.

A legal wrangle ensued between Fife Council, which has responsibility for the road, and the home owner whose garden wall and part of the road fell into. No repairs have been done, and large concrete barriers still block off the damaged section, preventing traffic from travelling along it.

Mr Kerr (63), who lives in a flat behind the pub, took over Man i’ the Rock in June 2005 and enjoyed good trade in the initial years. However after the road was closed business took a turn for the worse.

“I know it’s not all down to the road closure and there were other factors involved, but this definitely played a part and I think that the least Fife Council could do to give me a level playing field, would be to cut my rates,” he said.

At the time of the closure, Mr Kerr was leasing the pub to another couple and was not responsible for its day-to-day running.

“I applied for a reduction in my rates last summer and someone from the council came out and told me I should have applied before March 2010, but I wasn’t in charge of the pub then and I explained that.

“My wife comes from Perth and we’re keen to return there so I put the pub on the market almost two years ago, but nobody is interested when they see the road closed signs. We can’t believe it’s still closed after all this time with nothing being done. It’s a nightmare.”

Heather Honeyman, assessor with Fife Council, said: “The road collapsed in 2009 - before the property’s entry was made in the 2010 valuation roll. In accordance with current case law, a rateable value can only be amended if an event, which can be shown to affect the value of the property, occurs after the entry has been made.”

Murray Scott, lead professional for structures, said: “It was a private boundary wall that supported the public road which collapsed. Following a legal case, the council has been in dialogue with the property owner to negotiate a solution. We understand the frustration of local residents and are actively trying to progress repairs. We have completed designs for the work but need to conclude the legal agreement with the owners before we can start.”