Improving Access at Burntisland Station Receives Massive Support

Monday: a return visit by Transport Scotland officials to meet local politicians and campaigners

The renewed campaign to get step-free access for platform 2 has had significant success already.

A group led by the Burntisland Community Development Trust has succeeded in uniting politicians across Fife – from all parties – in calling on Transport Scotland to put forward the station to the Department of Transport in London.

The DfT is running the latest round (Control Period 6, covering the next five years) of its Access for All Programme.

In the past it seems that the railway industry (Network Rail and ScotRail) have worked closely with Transport Scotland to produce a list to send to London without much involvement from local communities.

The process is far from straightforward. The NetworkRail site says “Nominations should be sent direct to AccessforAllNominations@dft.gov.uk using the nomination form listed at the bottom of this page.” In Scotland nominations go to ScotRail then Transport Scotland which draws up a list.

Some people think that this list goes to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity (Michael Matheson MSP) for approval, others think he is merely informed of TS’s decision.

Although some aspects of the railways in Scotland are devolved, decisions about which stations to actually fund Access improvements for are not.

In theory anyone can nominate a station by just filling in the nomination form. This is a 24 column spreadsheet. It turns out that applicants from outside the rail industry don’t have to fill all the boxes!

The DfT sent a letter to all MPs encouraging them to nominate stations. It is far from clear how much influence this will have, but local MP Lesley Laird has filled in a form nominating Burntisland.

Constituency MSP David Torrance has sent letters in support. He was previously involved in the last big campaign to improve access here. More recently he has been probing the DfT for information, using a Freedom of Information request.

Local Fife councillors have all been involved in the BCDT working group and have written letters of support, as have all 7 List MSPs.

Fife Council is formally backing Burntisland and has listed four other stations that need improved access. The next station along the Fife Circle, Kinghorn, is included as it also has one platform with only stepped access.

Burntisland Community Council has provided strong support concluding with “In our collective view, disabled access to the northbound platform is both urgently required and long overdue.”

DfT guidelines concentrate on disability access, but “access for all” is required for people with young children, buggies, bicycles and luggage – especially in a town with a significant number of visitors.

Questions have been asked at Holyrood, many stories have appeared in the local press, the latest reporting the views of Mark Ruskell.

A lot of work has been done by many people to put forward a strong case for money for necessary improvements at Burntisland Station. Campaigners and politicians are realistic that this particular fund may not be the most appropriate source of upgrading money.

It seems likely that money from several sources will be required. It is still not known how much money is actually needed. Transport Scotland talks about £2-3 MILLION – for two lifts and a new bridge but hasn’t actually costed this for installation at Burntisland Station. TS is also reluctant to fund a proper feasibility study which could, apparently, cost £200,000!

The least TS should be prepared to do is update the assessment done a few years ago which concluded it might be possible to re-open the underpass and connect to platform 2 using a single lift and no bridge.

A new ramp up to West Leven Street is also possible, but uncosted.

It is believed that several politicians are now prepared to work together towards a successful outcome. This campaign will not become dormant for the next 5 years.

GREAT Opportunities for Burntisland in 2020

A new source of funding is now available for events celebrating “Coasts and Waters”. There must plenty of ideas for projects that could happen here which would fit all the categories!

Maybe an addition to the events of Civic Week? Many possibilities around wildlife, heritage and adventure. Perhaps something involving food and drink…

The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 (YCW2020) Events Programme Open Fund has been designed to create new, high profile opportunities to celebrate our coasts and waters whilst adding value to the existing calendar of events. The funded events programme will create new opportunities for responsible participation, celebration and promotion of the key themes.

The four programme strands that we invite events to respond to and celebrate are:

  1. Our Natural Environment and Wildlife
  2. Our Historic Environment and Cultural Heritage
  3. Activities and Adventure
  4. Food and Drink

https://www.fifetourismpartnership.org/news/year-of-coasts-and-waters-2020-funding

Events Programme Open Fund – Guidance Notes and Criteria

Burntisland Christmas Fair (IN The High Street) Dec 7th – Help Wanted

Last year

“Once again the High Street will be buzzing with lots of local craft stalls, entertainment, face painting, street food, mulled wine and late night opening shops along with a children’s advent trail and huge community raffle.

The town’s new Christmas lights will be on setting the Christmas scene for what promises to be a family friendly festive atmosphere of community cheer. Come and join in the fun 5pm-7pm on Friday 7th December.

This event is being organised by a very small group of Burntislanders so if you can spare a couple of hours to help on the night, the Burntisland Community Development Trust would love to hear from you, email us at bcdt2016@gmail.com.

See you on the 7th!”

Old Free Church Site: Developments

Since the last story on this proposal there have been 10 objections (including one from the Kirk Session – below) so that a decision about Listed Building Consent must be made by the Planning Committee, not council officers.

Now there is a Planning Application which was submitted at the same time as LBC application. Initially the submission was incomplete and invalidated. The related LBC submission was complete and was validated – which is why it was made public, causing some confusion including suggestions that a Planning Application had already been approved.

Further confusion was evident at last week’s Community Council when the Listed Building application was discussed again. At last month’s meeting the application was noted after very little discussion and no realisation that this would be a controversial proposal.

Last week the merits of privatising this space and enclosing it with a high, solid, fence were discussed. CC members were split between ‘it’s part of Burntisland’s heritage and should remain public’ and ‘it’s hardly ever used and attracts anti-social behaviour’.

A member of the public who lives nearby said that ASB was “overstated”. Some Community Councillors added that any problems should be dealt with by the Police and other agencies, not the planning process.

None of the CC members seemed to be aware that there is now a live planning application in addition to the listed building one.

Both applications will be assessed together.

Fife Council Estates have agreed to sell the land to the applicant subject to planning permission. It is assumed that the land has not been put on the open market.

We’ve agreed with the Council (Estates Department, contact Chris Moody) to purchase the old Free Church site, subject to relevant permissions being approved for change of use & improvements. The change of use is from amenity land to garden & the improvements include erection of a fence & gates, & demolition of a small section of C listed wall for off street parking access. No other alterations are proposed. Additionally permission to drop the kerb to allow for off street parking is sought.

Objections need to be sent by Thursday 29th November 2018. It is likely that this will be going to the Planning Committee in January.

Perhaps there is a need to take a proper look at the whole area near the historic Parish Church, especially now that local residents have persuaded Fife Council to introduce a parking permit scheme.

This would be an opportunity to add a new interpretation panel about the Parish Church, the King James Bible and the events that resulted in the Free Church being established on this site.

Any improvement scheme might also take in Scholars’ Brae which has seen better days. This 1894 map shows three seats.

THREE New Places to Stay In Burntisland

In Victorian times Burntisland was a popular holiday destination. Many families, particularly from Edinburgh, stayed the whole summer. They arrived by ferry from Granton or by train over the Forth Bridge.

Many more came for the day – and still do.

Now day trippers are more likely to come by car, though many come by rail (some even hire whole trains!)

About thirty years ago there was even a small ferry service, perhaps this will be revived.

Now short breaks are a common activity. Burntisland already has two established hotels – the Sands and the Kingswood – and various Airbnb offerings.

Breaks are no longer just for summer. Burntisland has recently added three more places for visitors to consider staying.

(Previously known as Bank House Hotel)

https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/burntisland-house.en-gb.html

http://www.beachhouseburntisland.co.uk

On Twitter

One day this site will have a ‘where to stay’ page.

Burntisland Beach Seal: RIP

On Saturday beach walkers discovered a dead seal.

Today it has been suggested that the seal died trying to give birth.

Some people believe the body is that of Sammy (pictured), well known for competing (and begging) for fish in the harbour.