The link with the community

Rubble and discarded machinery litter the former New Park School site, along with an abandoned storage cabin.
Rubble and discarded machinery litter the former New Park School site, along with an abandoned storage cabin.

Fife Council has been accused of disenfranchising community councils by St Andrews Community Chairman Howard Greenwell.

Speaking after this week’s community council meeting Mr Greenwell said: ““When it comes to trying to influence what is going on in St Andrews in planning and organisation, we are just being totally and utterly ignored and side-lined by Fife Council.

“We are getting to the stage where the community council is becoming a social function for the town.”

Mr Greenwell’s remarks followed a meeting which had heard criticism of Fife Council, particularly its planning function.

Community councillor Penny Uprichard hit out at the exclusion of St Andrews’ councillors from discussions over plans for a visitor centre at the town’s West Sands: “I don’t find it acceptable that the two councillors are excluded from the planning committee’s discussions because of their membership of the Links Trust.

“There is a requirement for councillors to be on the trust,” she said, “I think it should be clear they are there to represent residents - and that should come first.”

Fife Councillor Brian Thomson announced last month that he was precluded from joining in next week’s north-east Fife planning committee debate on the application because of his membership of St Andrews Links Trust, which has lodged objections to the plan. Fellow Councillor Dorothea Morrison has ruled herself out of the discussion for the same reasons.

Fife Council’s Environment, Enterprise and Communities department came under attack throughout the meeting.

Mr Greenwell hit out: “Every problem we meet relates to the operation of the Environment, Enterprise and Communities Department,” he said.

“Some of our gripes are to do with the enforcement and monitoring of existing planning applications, and we would like to invite councillors to our planning meeting to go through these issues and discuss the right way to go about tackling these issues with the council.”

Criticism surrounded enforcement of planning conditions by Fife Council after concerns were raised by Councillor Thomson over the former New Park school site, where seven houses are still to be built.

“The site, is in an untidy state, weed-strewn, and covered in rubble and other debris. A large spoil heap is located on part of the site, along with a disused cabin, and the undeveloped areas diminish the overall appearance of the Hepburn Gardens Conservation Area,” Councillor Thomson commented, but admitted: “Unfortunately, there is not much that the council can do to address the matter.

“A condition is attached requiring a landscaping scheme to be fully implemented within the first planting season following the date of the issuing of the respective consents, however, whilst technically the developer has not complied with the condition, it would be unreasonable to seek the full implementation of a landscaping scheme, only for it to be ripped up in order to develop the remainder of the site at some point in the future.”

He said afterwards that he had written to developer First Scot Ltd seeking clarification on the company’s intentions for the site, an indication of the likely timescale for carrying out such development, and asking them to tidy up the site.