Councillors Agree to Use Common Good Money for Links’ Cable

Burntisland makes the front page!

A few questions were asked at today’s Kirkcaldy Area Committee about ‘how we got here’, but the report (P 59-60) recommending “that the Committee agree to the allocation of £100,000 towards the cost of these works from Burntisland Common Good including the use of revenue balances” was approved.

The report stated that “Burntisland Links is common good land. In its Review of Common Good Arrangements (Executive Committee 23rd March 2014), the Council established that the common good funds should, in the first instance, be used as far as possible to maintain and repair common good assets.”

Also – “Target completion date for the work is 25th May 2019, in time for the arrival of the Showmen.”

The Community Council sent a detailed email to Michael Enston, Executive Director Communities, objecting to the funding proposal and questioning its legality.

Extract – “The view of the Community Council, for the reasons given below, is that in terms of the management of Common Good Funds the proposal has no merit and should not proceed.

An essential requirement of the relevant legislation is that the local authority must have regard to the interests of the local community when administering Common Good Funds.”

Committee Chair Neil Crooks said that the issue of replacing the cable had been around for 3 years but that he had been “advised recently” that no cable renewal would mean no shows this year and so there was “not enough time to allow consultation”.

No-one mentioned that the current works were put out to tender nearly a year ago.

Alan Paterson, Service Manager, Property Services said it was expected that the new cable would last for 25 years. He also indicated that one reason that the existing wiring only worked for about 15 years before it needed to be patched up is because the type of cable was designed for continuous use which allowed it to heat up slightly. The cable is only in use twelve weeks per year.

Today’s meeting also heard that the Showmen have a separate cable system for powering the rides. It was not explained why they own this one but not the one used for their caravans.

The Showmen pay rent for the shows and caravans to Fife Council. It seems that FC only pays £500 to the Burntisland Common Good Fund. This is the same as for “Sub-Station Site The Links”.

Neil Crooks said there were “a lot of questions” and there is a “need to shine a light on” Common Good issues generally. He also said that he wasn’t sure that the things in the CC’s email were “all accurate” but that it “raises valid points”.

Kirkcaldy Area councillors will discuss Common Good when they meet in May.

Burntisland Common Good Fund Annual Report 2017-18


Map of Common Good land in Fife

Previous B.B story about this

Wednesday update: Courier story –

Show will go on as sparks fly in Burntisland funfair power struggle

Cllr Gordon Langlands’ view

Thursday update

Plus editorial –

Fife Free press comment

Burntisland Links: Work has started – the row has just begun

If councillors and officers decide to dip into the Common Good Fund, they can reasonably expect to be questioned and challenged.

If they do it in a town like Burntisland, where there is a strong sense of civic pride and a very active, well organised community council, they will immediately come under forensic examination.

The issue of who should pay for power upgrades to the Links is clearly contentious.

Burntisland Community Council’s stance is clear. It should have been consulted on any use of the Common Good Fund. It says it was not.

If so, the council must explain why.

It also wants to know why the income generated locally via the annual shows is distributed Fife-wide rather than going back into the ultra local fund.

Tuesdays area committee ought to have been able to answer that with clarity.

Instead, it took the ‘confusion’ in-house for a members’ meeting.

If councillors want more guidance it is entirely appropriate for them to seek it in-house, but that should not be at the expense of public debate and examination on an issue of huge interest and importance.

What was wrong with the committee discussing this in full, in open, and in depth?

It does feel as though the committee is perhaps on the back foot after the showmen’s threat to abandon – their word – the shows if the electricity supply wasn’t sorted.

Idle threat or not, that defiant stance didn’t help matters.

They too ought to have sat down and been part of any discussion.

And the issue of funding the repairs, ‘who authorised the work, who was consulted, and what alternatives were explored it – key questions the community council is right to raise – should have been resolved much earlier, and not a few weeks before the summer season begins.

The work has started. The row has just begun.

Burntisland Links Electrics Improvements Underway

The long awaited and much needed replacement to the underground power line has begun.

This is mostly used by the Shows but an extension to the bandstand has been planned – useful for Live on the Links

The electricity supply was renewed 17 years ago –

Concern was expressed from the public benches about the proliferation of large iron manhole covers on the Links. These form part of the new electricity supply system being installed to serve the summer fairground. The Community Council, as a matter of urgency, will ask Fife Council for more information

The current works were put out to tender nearly a year ago.

There is likely to be a fuss over ‘who pays’. Fife Council thinks a large chunk is coming from the Common Good Fund – “Funding has been identified through a combined budget of the use of £100k revenue from Burntisland Common Good Fund and £60k from ATE Service“.

The Community Council thinks it hasn’t been adequately consulted.

This will be discussed at the Community Council on Friday. Fife Council’s Kirkcaldy Area Committee is expected to decide at its meeting on the 23rd.

Story update

No “Access for All” Money for Burntisland Station

Step free access is for bikes, buggies, visitors with luggage, locals with messages, people with mobility issues including wheelchair users

Last year’s bid by the Burntisland Station campaign group (a sub-group of the Burntisland Community Development Trust – AGM tonight) has been unsuccessful. This will not be a surprise to the campaigners, some have been campaigning for more than eight years.

The Access for All Programme provides an obstacle free, accessible route to and between platforms.

This is a UK fund organised by the DfT and Network Rail every five years.

The latest list of stations has been announced today.

£300 million is being spent across the UK over the next 5 years on 73 stations. In Scotland 6 stations will be improved – Anniesland, Croy, Dumfries, Johnstone, Port Glasgow, and Uddingston.

The process in Scotland is semi-devolved with ScotRail and Network Rail drawing up their preferred list of stations which is then agreed by Transport Scotland and forwarded to the Scottish Transport Minister for confirmation and sending to London.

Transport Scotland has to follow DfT guidelines, which include station “footfall” – the number of passengers – and whether there is a hospital nearby. Some stations have had significant improvements as part of electrification e.g. West Calder. (Passenger numbers – Burntisland 2017/18 Increase 0.231 million, West Calder 2017/18 Decrease 0.129 million).

In the past, railway organisations have said that Burntisland will have access to Platform 2 improved ‘when the line is electrified’.

There was the added implication that this would be ‘soon’. There is still no realistic prospect of it happening.

It was clear that Transport Scotland wasn’t going to recommend Burntisland, so the local group decided (in accordance with published rules) to send their own bid directly to the DfT.

There is little likelihood of Burntisland getting Access for All funding in five years time unless the rules are significantly changed. It is also clear that local people and politicians will not sit back and wait for another five years to pass.

A recent meeting called by MP Lesley Laird brought together various campaigners and politicians (with apologies from others). A range of ideas and possibilities was discussed. A fear was expressed that the station could be further run-down and closed. This seems unlikely, there is generally a trend to open stations rather than close them.

The idea of moving the station was discussed as a way of improving access ‘perhaps more cheaply’ than the figure of £2.7-3 million that Network Rail likes to conjure up. Station relocation was aired twenty years ago and, obviously, not developed.

The big block to progress is Network Rail. It maintains a ‘too difficult/expensive’ mantra. The only ‘solution’ it seems willing to offer is two lifts and a new bridge, which would be expensive and might well be more than the guesstimate of £3m because of the difficult access for cranes. NR also say the East Coast Main Line to Aberdeen would have to be shut to allow the work to be done, which would mean extra costs.

Some people think the ‘simple’, ‘low cost’ answer is to reopen the underpass. This was apparently closed because ‘it attracted anti-social behaviour’. It has been said that reusing it is impossible as it ‘wouldn’t be DDA compliant’ (this act has been replaced). Apparently the underpass is too narrow, in places, for two wheelchairs to pass and the ramp up to platform level is steeper than the 1 in 20 (with resting places) of modern standards.

One theorical solution is a lift from Platform 2 down to the level underpass. Unfortunately the exit is not particularly attractive or convenient.

Another option which doesn’t seem to have seriously explored or costed is a set of ramps from the platform to West Leven Street (there used to be steps). There seems to plenty of room. It might mean demolition of the waiting room (which could be replaced), but it’s currently only open for very limited hours.

In addition a shorter ramp might be possible from the existing metal ramp to Platform 1 up to South Hill Street which would create a reasonably convenient step free route between platforms.

The good news from today is – “In addition to these significant upgrades, we intend to use £20 million of the funding to re-launch the Mid-Tier Access for All programme. This will be focused on stations where accessibility improvements can be delivered with between £250,000 and £1 million of government support.

We will be seeking nominations for this funding in due course.

Currently There is a fund (first introduced last year) to pay for feasibility studies. Local Rail Development Fund.

At the Lesley Laird meeting there were 5 Community Councillors, perhaps this is the best body to investigate the possibilities and apply for funding and maybe make some real progress in the next couple of years.

More photos

A Department of Transport spokesperson said the stations had been selected following nominations from the rail industry.

“We assessed them against annual footfall, weighted by the incidence of disability in the area, and also took account of local factors such as nearby hospitals and the availability of third party funding,” the spokesperson added.

“Due consideration was also given to the preferences of the train operating companies and, finally, a number were chosen to ensure a fair geographical spread across the country.”