St Monans heritage centre loses out on ‘perfect’ base

George Brown from the community council. Pic by George McLuskie.
George Brown from the community council. Pic by George McLuskie.

Securing a future for the local heritage centre is of vital importance to the St Monans community which is disappointed to have missed out on a ‘perfect’ council property.

The centre’s current location in a property on West Shore in the village is under threat and the community is in search of a long-term solution.

George Brown, community council secretary explained: “We have a heritage centre that is owned by a private individual.

“They have had it for 15 years, originally on a five year loaning lease which dropped to one year lease and we are worried they want to sell it.

“We do feel that we have no security there and when two properties owned by Fife Council came on the market, one of them would have been more or less ideal for our purposes.”

Although not the best bidder, Fife Council reassured the community council that it was the preferred bidder.

“Six months later I was informed our bid was unsuccessful,” said George. “We all know that Fife Council is strapped for cash but when it said we were the preferred bidder, we thought it would do the decent thing and support the community.

“We really do feel that the council has not played straight with us at all.”

That view was dismissed by the local authority

Michael O’Gorman, service manager, said: “The property was marketed for sale or lease in June 2015. A number of bids were received including one from the community council.

“After the preferred bidder was selected, the decision was passed to Scottish Government Ministers for approval. This process led to a short delay before all bidders were advised of the outcome of their offers simultaneously.

“We’re sorry that the community council is disappointed but can confirm that full consideration was given to the merits of its bid.”

Now local MP, Roderick Campbell, is to take up the issue.

He has written to the council asking for information on how it fulfilled its obligations in line with the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 and the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003.

In particular Mr Campbell refers to the Land Disposal regulation which asks lcoal authorities to demonstrate responsiveness to the needs of communities.

The heritage centre also has local backing.

Roderick Kyle, a St Monans resident said: “There are several volunteer members of the community who make and sell works to raise funds .

“They also need a base to operate. Station Road fitted the bill and could have been shared. There are no other properties available.

“Our existence depends very much upon tourism and the Coastal Path.”