Fife Council have been branded ‘heartless‘ and “uncaring” by residents of a Kirkcaldy community over its demand to take down the bra bunting put up in support of a cancer suffering neighbour.
What started as a light-hearted prank by Vicki Lister to support her best friend who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, has in just one week become an internet sensation resulting in more than 1000 bras being strung together from the lampposts throughout the streets of Smeaton.
But, following a single public complaint claiming that the decorations were ‘offensive’, the council’s transportation department has demanded the bunting be removed on health and safety grounds and because a licence to decorate the streets had not been applied for.
Residents however have refused to conform and have accused the local authority of being more concerned with bureaucracy and red tape than the charitable efforts of a local community.
“The phone call to say I had to remove the bras left me shocked and in tears,” explained Vicki.
“People thought I was joking when I told them we had to take the bras down, there were plenty of adults and children crying, with many very angry over the council’s heartless demands.”
The goodwill gesture has galvanised the community like never before with hundreds of women of all ages donating their bras in support.
And since the news of Smeaton’s antics spread across social media, carloads of sightseers have been arriving from across the region to take a look at the community’s unique brand of street decoration.
“I’ve even had people from England send me bras in the post just because they had read about it and wanted to get involved, it’s really caught people’s imagination,” said Vicki.
“The council don’t seem to realise there is also a serious message behind this about breast cancer awareness, the amount of women saying that they are now taking the issue more seriously has been incredible,” she added.
“The community has agreed to stand united and defy all calls to remove the bunting.”
Councillor Kay Carrington, who was tasked with delivering the bad news, said she had sympathy for those behind the campaign and added that she would be investigating whether a compromise could be found.
“I commend what the people of Smeaton have done here not only to support a fellow resident but also to have people talking about what is a serious issue,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate but Fife Council have to act on any complaint made, even a single one as is the case here and because no licence or agreement has been given, council officers are technically right to ask for the bunting to be removed.”
Organisers say their intention was only ever to keep the decorations up until the end of October while a number of fundraising events take place and have called upon Fife Council to reconsider their demands.
And their request has the support of local MSP David Torrance who has today written to Steve Grimmond, chief executive of Fife Council to intervene.
A Fife Council spokesman said the situation was currently “under review”.