Fears ‘short-sighted’ decisions could be made over Levenmouth rail link

Fife Council has been accused of not engaging the community as rail campaigners warned ‘short sighted’ decisions might be made over the restoration of the Levenmouth rail link.

Levenmouth Rail Campaign has blasted the council over the ‘blueprint group’, which is supposed to make sure the area makes the most of the rail link.

The Scottish Government and Fife Council have each invested £5 million in the new blueprint project. However, almost seven months after Transport Secretary Michael Matheson made the announcement that the rail line would be reopening, Fife Council has still to appoint a project manager for the group.

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Campaigners fear that, as progress continues to be made on the design stage of the rail line, which includes where the stations will be located and how people will access them, the community will not have input into these decisions.

They fear short sighted decisions might be made.

They also criticised a lack of communication from Fife Council and Transport Scotland on progress.

“One thing that has been clear from the campaign is that the public bodies involved, despite their protestations to the contrary, place little value on the engagement of the communities they serve,” said LMRC chairman Eugene Clarke.

“We have already made it clear that a one-off two hour ‘engagement’ exercise as happened previously is not acceptable to the Levenmouth public. We will be most affected by the railway and our voices that should be listened to.

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“And in the meantime we need action on the blueprint group immediately.”

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation & environment at Fife Council, said it was an “exciting opportunity for the region” but warned that it was a “very complex picture” and that the local authority wanted to get things right.

“We’ve already established a Levenmouth Reconnected leadership group and a working group which involves agencies like Transport Scotland, SEPA, Network Rail, Scotrail and the council,” he said.

“A stakeholder group will be established in due course as the conversation gathers momentum – and this will, of course, involve the Levenmouth Rail Campaign group.

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“We’re contributing to the option appraisal work for the rail line and possible station locations that’s being led by Network Rail and Transport Scotland. Local residents and community groups will be consulted on these options soon – hopefully in March.

“Things are actively progressing but it’s still early stages for this major development work. We’re regularly briefing LMRC and will continue to do so.

“And, while we haven’t identified a suitable candidate for the Levenmouth Reconnected programme manager we hope to appoint someone soon who will be dedicated to leading this project and community engagement work.”

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