Assets in Newburgh’s Common Good Fund are to be liquidated to pay for a survey of the town’s belfry and tower at the former Town Halls.
Members of Fife Council’s north east area committee agreed the move this week after hearing that an initial survey had revealed serious woodworm damage to the structure requiring structural repairs.
But the full extent of the work needed will only be revealed after a detailed condition survey.
The Common Good Fund, which owns the tower, has less than £1000 in investments and revenue funds, and in fact will run a deficit this year when insurance is paid.
Councillors were told that if they chose not to liquidate investments there were only two other options open to them – to sell the building or demolition.
Most of Newburgh’s Common Good Fund assets were disposed of by the former Burgh Council ahead of 1975’s local government reorganisation, leaving the fund with only a limited income since. The Town Hall was disposed of by Fife Council in 2005.
Agreement to the move to use Common Good Fund assets was unanimous, but councillors questioned how repairs would be paid for.
Cllr Elizabeth Riches commented: “We produce money by selling the investments to do a condition survey, but who then picks up the repair bill?
“The only method would be for the council to agree funding,” she added.
Committee chairman Frances Melville added her voice, asking: “If the inspection uses up all the money – and more – what happens then?”
Cllr Dorothea Morrison commented: “Most communities appreciate the things the Common Good Fund does for the good of the community – wards are well-served by the funds.
“But what do they do in Newburgh when they don’t have this fallback?”
Cllr Andy Heer was also concerned about the situation, warning that: “This a story we could see right across Fife.”