Task Force support after library closure is latest blow to Glenwood

Glenwood Shopping Precint.
Glenwood Shopping Precint.

The issue of how to regenerate one of the most deprived areas of Glenrothes is once again the main topic of conversation for the local authority and the public alike.

It follows Fife Council’s decision earlier this month to press on with the closure of 16 libraries - four of which: Glenwood, Thornton, Pitteuchar and Markinch, are in this town.

Nowhere has it been felt more than in Glenwood with many regarding it as an essential service not a luxury.

The library closure is the latest blow for residents in the west of the town and follows the loss of the local primary school at Tanshall in 2014 - also the victim of cuts and leaves many residents feeling disproportionately and unfairly targeted.

Acknowledging the anger felt by many, David Ross leader of Fife Council has told the Gazette this week that the Glenwood area, including Macedonia and Tanshall, being one of the less affluent areas of Glenrothes “deserves our attention”.

“We have been looking at possible approaches to the regeneration of the area for some time now, and with the decision to close the branch library and the possibility of support through the Fife Task Force,[the emergency body set up to support the region following the collapse of Tullis Russell papermill in April] this is the appropriate moment to make a formal public commitment to develop a community regeneration initiative for the area,” said Mr Ross.

Comforting words for many no doubt, but it must be remembered that similar promises regarding Glenwood precinct and its many problems have been made in the not to distant past by politicians, especially in the lead up to elections.

And many will remain sceptical however, especially in light of the council’s ‘zero approach’ policy on dilapidated buildings, in which it was agreed Glenwood should be included, which later ended in embarrassment for the local authority following a council report submitted to the Glenrothes area committee which categorically declared the issue of improving Glenwood “not to be a priority”.

£30,000 Task Force money has already been earmarked for a feasibility study, but it remains to be seen what funding from Fife Council or elsewhere will be committed.

Mr Ross has admitted the plan is still at an early stage, and that major changes won’t come about overnight.

“But this is an important commitment on the road to bringing about change for the better,” he added.

“I don’t want to prejudge what form the regeneration will take, but we have experience of successful initiatives elsewhere in Fife that have involved environmental improvements, tackling dilapidated buildings, housing development and community capacity building.

“We will be looking for external funding to support this approach, but there is already a commitment in the Council’s capital plan for such initiatives and we will look to see if we can do more through our next budget.”

Mr Ross admitted the complexities of how to regenerate Glenwood Centre, which is in poor condition and in private ownership, make it a considerable challenge for Fife Council.

Glenwood Centre still has the chance to succeed but after years of disappointments the public will want real improvements, not more hollow promises.