Rail quest to seek campaign manager

Diageo'Banbeath'Leven'July 4, 2009'East Fife Mail stock photography - FREE use
Diageo'Banbeath'Leven'July 4, 2009'East Fife Mail stock photography - FREE use

Local authority bosses believe the appointment of a campaign manager is a vital stopover on the way to reconnecting the area’s rail link.

Funds are being set aside to meet the costs for someone who can further raise awareness and attract support from various quarters to help get the area back on track for the first time since 1969.

Councillors agreed to contribute cash for the manager

Councillors agreed to contribute cash for the manager

The successful candidate would, in turn, be guided and managed by the Leven Mouth Rail Campaign (LMRC), the group of enthusiasts, campaigners and volunteers which has driven the venture to restore a local rail connection to perhaps its highest profile level yet.

Members of Fife Council’s Levenmouth area committee last week agreed to a contribution of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of a boss to spearhead the reinstatement of the line between Thornton and Leven.

Members heard the potential economic benefits, if the scheme was succesful, could be huge and Levenmouth had to “turn up the volume” and show it was propelling the case forward.

Dave Paterson, area services manager for Levenmouth, said someone was needed who could “press buttons” with groups such as Diageo, Network Rail and Government transportation officials, adding: “It’s about getting Levenmouth out there.”

This project, for me, is the single biggest economic lever that we, as a Levenmouth committee, have had a handle on

Councillor Alistair Hunter

Chairman Councillor Tom Adams said all transport issues were a priority locally, but Cllr David Alexander said the rail link should be number one on the list.

“LMRC needs indepednet help and a new focus to take away all the baggage that might surround politicians,” he added. “We can make a cast-iron case for it and LMRC are the most effective guys we have doing this.”

Cllr Ally Hunter added: “This project, for me, is the single biggest economic lever that we, as a Levenmouth committee, have had a handle on.”

Cllr John O’Brien said Fife Council had “no alternative but to support it”, while Cllr Charles Haffey said rail links in the Borders and Alloa/Stirling had been successful, addinid: “I also think we should be fully supportive. How we lost it is beyond belief.”

Cllr Andrew Rodger had concerns about spending £25,000 on consultants to give the Council answers it already knew and said the authority should find the expertise from its own resources.

Members heard the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) report due this summer – to which Fife Council had already committed financially – was expected to give a very strong technical argument for reinstatement, while investment in a campaign manager was needed to give Levenmouth the potential to attract strategic funding of around £80m-£100 million.

“The need for a strong, compelling and consistent argument coming from Fife is paramount,” said Mr Paterson.

Allen Armstrong, secretary of LMRC, welcomed news that a campaign manager had been agreed and said the group really appreciated the support it had received to date from Fife Council. LMRC hoped its manager could, on a consultancy basis, help to guide strategy and promote initiatives through good communication. “There is probably no other single measure that would have a greater economic and social impact on Levenmouth than a rail lnk,” added Mr Armstrong. Dave Paterson added: “This approach shows Levenmouth is “thinking big” in terms of its regeneration and the energy shown by LMRC underlines that we cannot wait for development to happen upon us. We have to be on the main stage, arguing our case and influencing the wider agenda.”