A local councillor has welcomed the support of the “silent majority” who backed the building of a children’s home at Raith Gates.
Fife Council’s executive committee this week approved the site as its preferred location for the development of residential accommodation for looked-after children.
Liberal Democrat councillor Susan Leslie said it was the right decision for the children.
And she was confident residents in the area would provide a caring and welcoming environment for the young people who, due to circumstances not of their making, found themselves in care.
Cllr Leslie slammed those responsible for creating a culture of fear by putting out “misinformation” before the proposals had been made public, adding some supporters were scared to speak out due to the aggressive stance of some of the opposition.
“The support of the community reflects my own experience of being born and brought up there,” said Cllr Leslie. “It’s a caring community.
“I believe that in the long-term, this is best value for the Council and the best provision for the children.
“We’ve got to do our best for our children, and we also have a duty to combat prejudice and discrimination.”
All members of the executive committee supported the development of the children’s home at Raith Gates, replacing the existing Rimbleton Home in Glenrothes.
However, although no longer a member of the committee, Cllr George Kay – who also represents the Raith Gates area – was allowed to voice his opposition. He said the process had been handled in a “ham-fisted” way and the Council’s attempts to “slip it through the back door” had caused fear and anxiety for the many elderly residents in the area, many of them living alone.
He claimed there had been no consultation until he intervened, and the consultation process which followed was half-hearted and shambolic.
Cllr Kay’s SNP colleagues agreed the consultation process had been flawed. SNP group leader Peter Grant insisted a full review should be carried out to ensure the Council learns from the experience as he was adamant this should not be the last time the Council looks at building facilities for children.
“This is, first and foremost, about children living in accommodation which is not good enough,” said Cllr Grant, who described the existing home at Rimbleton in Glenrothes as “an institution”.
“I don’t know if it’s the best site, but it’s a good site. I’m not concerned whether it’s the best possible site, because it shouldn’t be the only site.
“If we’ve all agreed the best place to look after children in Fife is in homes in the community, then that’s what we should do.”