Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Leuchars Station car-park - LibDem councillor welcomes progress on extension

Liberal Democrat Cllr Tim Brett, one of the Tay Bridgehead representatives, has welcomed the update on the provision of additional car parking spaces at Leuchars Railway Station in his ward. Cllr Brett said, ‘I have been contacted over the last few weeks by a number of local residents who have highlighted the ongoing difficulties of parking at the station due to the existing car park being full to overflowing, with frequently two dozen or more cars parked along Station Road. In addition I have been made aware that some people have missed their train because they have not been able to park their car.’
Cllr Brett went on to express his pleasure that some progress had been made in progressing the project but added, ‘The car-park expansion was included at the request of the Liberal Democrat Group as part of the Fife Council budget in February 2014. I understand that the Council has also now applied to Transport Scotland for additional funding from Transport Scotland’s Station Fund and discussions in relation to this are ongoing. I would however like to see faster progress being made as there is clearly an urgent need for the expansion of car parking spaces and to encourage more people to use the train. I have had a number of conversations with senior officers of the Transportation service on this subject and anticipate that we will get details of the timetable for it in the near future. However I hope that a start can be made in the current financial year.’

Friday, 19 September 2014

Madras College Judicial Process - Councillors comment

Cllr Maggie Taylor
Liberal Democrat Cllrs Tim Brett and Maggie Taylor have recently met with senior solicitors of Fife Council to discuss the arrangements for the judicial review which has been lodged against the proposed new Madras College site at Pipelands.
Afterwards, Cllr Brett said, ‘We had a very useful meeting with two of the Council’s senior solicitors and they explained to us the timetable for the review. It should be noted that arrangements have now been made for the review to be held in mid December but it could well be towards the end of March before any decision is made public. Even at that point, there is a possibility of a further appeal should STEPAL decide to go down that route.’
Cllr Taylor added, ‘I know that parents and children who have been waiting anxiously for news of the new school will be very disappointed at this latest delay. Both Cllr Brett and I have been working for many years to try and achieve a new school for the children in the Madras catchment area. This whole process has taken far too long and must be having an adverse effect on the education of our children.’
Cllr Brett explained that it would appear that the grounds for the judicial review are based upon:-
a. the view that the North Haugh would have been a better site for the school. Arguments for this have of course been well aired and;
b. that too much weight was placed upon ‘educational reasons’ rather than planning ones when the decision was taken.
Cllr Brett further observed, ‘It is ironic that the three ex-teachers of Madras should be arguing that too much weight was placed on educational grounds given that they and everyone else acknowledge that the present facilities at both Kilrymont and South Street are sub-standard and, as we know, were severely criticised by HM Inspectors many years ago.’
Cllrs Taylor and Brett concluded by saying, ‘We hope that this process can be completed as quickly as possible so that progress can then be made on this much-needed new facility for children in this part of North East Fife.’

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Economic update on NE Fife towns

Town centres in North East Fife are leading the way out of the recessions, according to the percentage of empty shops over the past 5 years.

Councillor Tim Brett Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group  explained, ‘A recent report shows that the rate of vacant shops since 2009 in Anstruther has fallen from 9.38 to 4.76 while that in St Andrews has been reduced from 4.83 to 4.74. 

‘To put it another way, the number of empty units in Anstruther has fallen from 6 to 3, while in St Andrews the number is still 10.    This may only be a small change but it is extremely encouraging, especially considering that the average for the whole of Fife has increased from 14.97% to 16.15%. 

‘It is to be hoped that these figures can be further improved and also that the rest of Fife will soon catch up.’

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tim's Community Council Update for September 2014


1. Crossing at the Top of Station Brae – The vegetation that is obstructing vision at the top of Station Brae is programmed to be removed on 19 September.

2. Fife Plan – Proposed Local Development Plan – This will be going to the Council’s Executive Committee on 9 September.  If agreed, it will go out for a final period of consultation.

3. Newport War Memorial – I have received quotations for the cleaning and repair of the War Memorial.  The Community Council are asked to apply for funding from the local community planning budget to carry this out.

4. Tay Road Bridge Closures – A review meeting was held involving the Police, emergency services and Council representatives following the incident in May.  It had been suggested that it might be possible for the bridge to remain partially open during such incidents but the unanimous response from all agencies including the Fire Service, Police and Coastguard was that the bridge must be closed during such incidents.  This is to ensure that all agencies can work and communicate effectively to resolve any incident as safely as possible.

5. Madras College – As members may have seen in the press, the detailed planning application for the new school will not be coming to this week’s meeting of the North East Fife Planning Committee.  It is hoped that it will come to either the October or November meeting.  More information has been requested on the potential flooding risks.

6. Fife Carers Centre – are offering free workshops for parent carers with a child with additional support needs of high school age and of anyone caring for someone living with dementia?  I can provide details for anyone who may be interested.

7. Leng Resource Centre – This year’s annual fete will be held on Saturday 20 September starting at 12 noon.

8. Flass Road, Wormit – Further double yellow lines have been put down around the bend on Flass Road next to the primary school.  This will hopefully improve road safety in this area.

9. Director of Health and Social Care – is Mr Sandy Riddell from Moray Council.  He has taken up post on 1 September.

10. Waterstone Crook – Following discussions at the Waterstone Crook Sports Hub meeting, it has been agreed that Newport Primary School will use Waterstone Crook from 1pm to 3pm one afternoon a week.

11. Newport and Wormit in Bloom – received silver awards at the recent Beautiful Fife Awards ceremony on 28th August.  Many congratulations to them and to everyone who has worked so hard to achieve this.

12. A Sign for the Elderly – has been erected on the High Road to warn motorists that  the residents from the Caledonia Housing Complex and from Kinbrae Park may be crossing the road.

13. Graffiti on A92 Road Signs – I have reminded BEAR of the graffiti on the road signs on the A92 approaching the B946 turn off.

14. Eden Estuary September Newsletter - is now available on the community website.

15. Path in Wormit – I understand that the path from Wormit House to Peacehill Farm is blocked.  I have asked if the criminal justice team can clear it.

16. Foodbank – I attended the meeting of the Management Committee on 22 August.  The Foodbank is now fully operational and they would like to thank everyone who continues to donate goods or cash to the project.

17. Waterstone Crook Community Sports Day – 29 children from 5 – 11 attended the sports day on 16 August and had the chance to participate in bowls, gymnastics, karate, squash, tennis and trampolining.

18. Proposed Waiting Restrictions – at Blyth Street and Kilnburn and Castle Brae at Westfield Terrace were agreed for public consultation at the last North East Fife Area Committee.

19. Fife Elderly Forum – I have received a copy of their summer/autumn newsletter.

20. Domestic Waste Collection for Holiday Homes – I have received notification that such properties will no longer receive a household waste collection service as they are regarded as business properties.

21. Fife Housing Partnership – Local Housing Strategy Area Events – New local housing strategy for 2015 – 2020 needs to be in place by April 2015.  A drop in event will take place at the Corn Exchange in Cupar on Tuesday 30 September from 5pm – 6.30pm and from 6.30 – 8pm.

22. Housing Repairs by Appointment – The Council is now able to offer customers appointments for both routine and urgent housing repairs.  I can provide more details for anyone who would like to see this.

23. Next Generation Broadband Update – I have received an update from Steve Revell regarding the above programme.  The target is for 98.4% of all premises in Fife to be able to receive superfast broadband of at least 24 mbps. Further details are available at or by e-mail to 

24. The Byre Theatre – As members will have seen, agreement has now been reached with the University of St Andrews for them to manage and operate the Byre Theatre.

25. Newport Skate Board Collective – I attended the AGM of the above group on 18 August.  Tenders for the project should be received this week.

26. Tree Felling, West Links Road – A Wormit resident drew my attention to the tree felling in the above area.  The area is covered by a current thinning licence.

27. Go Flexi Service – Minor changes to the above services have been introduced from 18 August.  The new booking number is 01382 540624.

28. Empty Homes – I shall be meeting  the Regional Empty Homes Officer later this month to review the number of empty properties in the Wormit and Newport areas.  A number of these are now being charged  200% council tax.

29. ATM Machine Clydesdale Bank – Following contact with the bank I have been advised that arrangements are being made for the ATM machine to be reinstated week commencing 22 September.

30. Commenting on Planning Applications – As from 1 September 2014, the Council will accept comments on household applications for up to 30 days from the validation of the application.  For all other applications the time limit is 40 days.

31. Wormit Boating Club – Skiff Project – I have been advised that the skiff to be called Catalina will be launched on Sunday 21 September.  

32. Steve Grimmond, the Council’s Chief Executive has recently highlighted the way the Council has helped improve things for customers in 2013/14 .  This includes:
1200 young or disadvantaged people into jobs 
1800 adults involved in literary and language learning
Reduced the number of people made homeless by 12% to just over 2000 households.

33. Homelands Trust, Fife – I recently visited the above project on Leven Road in Lundin Links. The Trust have completed the construction of four self-catering holiday cottages which are fully accessible and specifically designed for people with a range of disabilities.  The Trust has also built the Paxton Centre which has flexible accommodation with therapy and meeting rooms.  These facilities will be of interest to anyone who is looking for holiday accommodation for people with a disability.  I can provide more details for anyone who would be interested.

Monday, 8 September 2014

LibDems congratulate Kingdom on house repairs for elderly

A Fife councillor has welcomed the high levels of satisfaction with Kingdom Housing’s Care & Repair service.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Tim Brett congratulated Kingdom Housing on their good work in North East Fife, which, following referral by Fife Council, included the installation of 52 wet floor showers, constructing 3 permanent concrete ramps with associated door widening, building an extension and carrying out a major internal renovation to a property. In addition, the Small Repairs has carried out 189 jobs, to nip disrepair in the bud before it damages the integrity of the property. Home owners over 60, as well as those registered disabled over 50, can apply for work to be carried out, as can some private tenants whose responsibility includes repairs to the property; the assessment visit costs £10.

Cllr Brett said, ‘Because these repairs keep older people safe and living longer in their own homes they perform an extremely valuable service. The percentage of Fifers aged over 60 is 24.8% and set to rise, with householders headed by those aged between 60 and 70 expected to increase by 17% while those headed by an over-75 year old are projected to go up by 88%. Furthermore it is estimated that 27% of households in owner-occupied housing and 24% in private rented accommodation include someone with a disability or long-standing health problem. This means that requirement for such repairs as well as adaptations to homes will only increase. Fife Council recognises the important contribution to providing safe and appropriate housing for the elderly by Kingdom Housing Association.’

Thursday, 4 September 2014

LibDem concern over increase in delayed discharges

Cllr Tim Brett, a member of the Health and Social Care Partnership, has raised concerns about the increasing number of delayed discharges being experienced by NHS Fife.  

Cllr Brett, a previous Chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership, has highlighted the fact that the figures for July 2014 of 96 delayed discharges are at the highest level they have been since January 2011. He noted that 12 patients have been waiting more than 12 weeks and a further 27 are waiting more than 4 weeks and said, ‘I am aware from my previous experience that this is a very worrying figure, particularly as this is in the summer months and we would normally expect to see an increasing number of delayed discharges over the winter period.

I am sure that this number will be causing real concern to NHS Fife as they struggle to keep up with both emergency demands on their services and also deal with waiting lists. I know that this number of patients will also be increasing costs to the NHS of several million pounds and given the fact that the Council’s Social Work Service are also facing very real financial pressures this must be a major worry.’

Cllr Brett continued, ‘When I asked the question at last week’s Health and Social Care Partnership meeting, the Chair, Cllr Andrew Rodger, advised me to look on the ISD website to obtain the figures. I firmly believe that the Partnership should be receiving these figures on a regular basis as a matter of course. The Health and Social Care Partnership has responsibility for overseeing all services in Fife and delayed discharges are a good indicator as to whether the systems in place in both the NHS and the Council are working properly. It is simply not good enough for Cllr Rodger to state that members of the Partnership should look for this information elsewhere as, if this is the case, I do not see the point of having a Health and Social Care Partnership. I am not suggesting that figures are deliberately being withheld from the Partnership but this might be the conclusion that others would reach.’

Cllr Brett gave further details about the business considered by the Partnership. ‘At last week’s meeting we had reports on Re-Shaping Care For Older People, reports on the Winter review 2013-14 and a report on year 2 of the Local Unscheduled Care Action Plan. In none of these reports were there any figures for delayed discharges, even though it is recognised that this is a very real issue faced by Fife and all other Councils and Health Boards in Scotland.’

He concluded, ‘I have now had a chance to look back at the papers for the last 4 meetings of the Partnership and at none of these have figures on delayed discharges been presented. I am calling on Councillor Rodger to ensure that we do get regular information on delayed discharges at the Health and Social Care Partnership in future. I know that this is an issue which is being discussed between the NHS and the Council and is also of major concern to the Scottish government therefore it is a matter that should also be coming to the Health and Social Care Partnership.’

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

LibDems welcome final money for games area

Liberal Democrat councillors in NE Fife have warmly welcomed the allocation of £11,000 which the North East Fife Area Committee recently agreed for the Balmullo MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) from the Area locality budget. Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said, ‘This final allocation of £11,000 should now allow this important development for Balmullo to go ahead. We are very grateful to all of the funders for their support and I would particularly want to highlight the contribution of £20,000 that is being made by the Community Covenant Fund in recognition of the close links that the local community has with service personnel at RAF Leuchars.’

Fellow Bridgehead councillor Maggie Taylor agreed, adding, ‘The addition of a MUGA next to the primary school in Balmullo will not only provide an extra facility for the children at the school to use but will also, once school has finished, be available for the rest of the community to use during the evenings and the rest of the weekends.’

Both Councillors emphasised that there has been strong community support for the project, singling out, in particular, Ronnie Davidson who chaired the Group which oversaw the scheme from the beginning, and concluded, ‘We are now looking forward to having an early start on site and the successful completion of the project.’