Burntisland: Small Improvements Planned for The Lammerlaws

New plan to clear a small area and install a bench with a view.

Transformation of Lammerlaws to improve accessibility and provide information on historical and natural heritage as proposed by The Royal Burgh of Burntisland Community Council.

Last year Hurd Roland drew up plans for the Community Council which then held public consultations at The Beacon and Library and via an online survey.

At the recent Community Council meeting John Bruce provided an update.

Extract –

“Due to some concern within the community with reference to safety we have decided to scale back our plans to have three pathways within the area.

We are now considering just to concentrate improving the main entrance pathway to make it more accessible for wheelchairs taking it a short distance in to allow anyone to be able to look at the view over the Forth, also a possibility in placing a bench in this area with an interpretation board explaining the history of this area especially the old lime kiln and vitriol works which dates back to the 1700s.

We would also consider clearing the pathway which leads down towards the breakwater to enable wheelchair access this would allow people to go down as far as the breakwater it would also be our intention to ensure that no aggressive cut back of shrubbery be carried out as we intend to protect the wildlife environment in this area.

The work on clearing the main entrances could be carried out by hopefully payback team and some volunteers at minimal cost.”

Likely place for bench, a small area of slabs would be added for wheelchair users.

This part of The Lammerlaws is within the SSSI so landowner Fife Council will need permission from SNH.

The pathway into the area is not part of the SSSI and has been widened and the banks improved by local residents. (On the right is the path to the breakwater. Several circular walking routes are possible and also access to Burntisland Station along the dock road past Scott Pallets.)

Burntisland: Unfortunate Delay to Dunearn Core Path

This is where the entrance to a new section of Core Path 568 was due to be created by the end of this year.

Unfortunately it still remains as “Path not yet developed. Use A909 with extreme caution.” Many walkers and cyclists will have tried to find this path as it is on some maps without the “not yet developed” warning.

A recent application for planning permission has been marked as “withdrawn” (by Fife Council) on the Planning Portal, due to issues around “Permitted Development”. This could lead to the loss of an approved grant for the work.

Landowners John Low and his son Roddy have been trying to create this path (and improve the path around nearby Stenhouse Reservoir) for some time. They have successfully applied to the Improving Public Access fund (IPA) which “will not be reopening for new applications following a record number of high quality applications in 2018”.

The application was submitted after detailed discussions with SNH which also wants to see this path created. “Together, path users contribute more than £110 million annually to our rural economy.“ (From SNH website.)

Last year one section of Fife Council implied it would be a case of getting a Certificate of Lawfulness and going through the prior notification process. Now The Lows have been told that what is planned requires a full planning application. Their frustration is compounded by being told that if the planned path wasn’t intended for the public a planning application wouldn’t have been required.

Already delays and complications mean that the farmers have decided against proceeding with the path and wetland boardwalk by the reservoir. They have had indications that the grant offer may be extended, but this is not certain.

The bulk of the path is on a steeply sloping hillside and it’s considered unsafe to carry out this work in winter months, so it looks like another year without an eagerly anticipated Core Path route avoiding a busy main road.

John has been involved in other projects to encourage public access to his land. As long ago as 1993 There was an accessibility and community woodland project on his 120 acre farm. This included planting some “highly scented trees” to be appreciated by people with visual impairments – at a time when “accessible” was barely considered.

Fife Council formally adopted their Core Paths Plan on January 24th 2012 following a Scottish Government Local Inquiry.

Scotland’s Core Path Network is a direct result of Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. This made all local authorities responsible for leading a wide ranging consultation process.

This brought together people and organisations keen to improve path networks (and some unsettled by the new legislation). Many meetings were held all across Scotland, with tables and walls covered by maps, marker pens and post-it notes.

A lot of voluntary effort was invested in rural and urban areas identifying important existing routes and planning potential new ones. Some proposals were challenged – some were accepted as Core Paths, others were refused – often due to privacy concerns.

Ramblers Scotland is calling for an increase in government investment in paths to extend the network, encourage more use of paths and help to make the countryside more accessible and welcoming for all. We would also like to see the Scottish Government provide strategic direction to local authorities and national parks to help establish priorities and expectations for the core path network.

Fife Core Path Improvement Project

Fife Council’s Core Paths Plan Interactive Map

Story about nearby path –

Volunteers ‘Rescue’ Burntisland Path

Some Progress at Community Council

Last night’s meeting faced a packed agenda and a warning from the Chairman Alex MacDonald that it would finish at 9:30 even if all items weren’t reached.

In spite of several presentations informing the CC of issues and activities in the town and various contributions from members of the public, all topics were dealt with before the cutoff time.

The resignation of George McLauchlan as Secretary and Treasurer had created two post vacancies and also made people realise how many other areas of CC activities he was involved in or largely responsible for.

The new Secretary is Yvonne Crombie with Anne Smith as Minutes Secretary. New CC member Fiona Watson is now Treasurer.

After recent retirals and redeployments, Burntisland has lost familiar Police faces. The new Community Officer for the Burntisland area is Danny Hatch. He told the meeting that he was new to the community policing role but had “sought it out” and although he had worked for 10 years in Kirkcaldy, he has “some local knowledge” of Burntisland (including awareness of antisocial behaviour issues).

He confirmed that at the moment he was on his own (a concern raised at previous CC meetings), but that “hopefully I will have a colleague by October” – and also a probationer.

He also suggested he would continue to be based in Burntisland. It is likely that the current Police Station will be completely closed and so the Police will need to find an alternative base.

Danny indicated that he hoped to attend CC meetings quite regularly – something his predecessors didn’t manage.

There was a wide ranging discussion about access to the Burgh Chambers and particularly the suitability of holding CC meetings in the main upstairs space.

Some held the view that the venue was not suitable or welcoming, the layout not good and the chairs uncomfortable. As well as the lack of lift, the outside doors were heavy and hard to open – so a barrier for many people.

But the idea of holding the CC meetings elsewhere was not very popular. It was pointed out that meetings had been held at the Salvation Army (many years ago) and didn’t get more members of the public than now come to the Burgh Chambers. Also it was said some community councils attract no members of the public.

In addition there were fears expressed that not using the Chambers will give Fife Council an excuse to sell off the building.

Several people said that many Burntisland residents want to see the clock tower returned. It was mentioned that Cllr Backhouse (no Fife Councillors were in attendance last night) had told a previous CC meeting that ‘it just needs the Community Council to ask Fife Council’.

It seems the CC is not willing to do this as it would mean giving up Common Good capital assets (and therefore future revenue). After Fife Council appropriated £100,000 of Common Good cash for the cable under the Links (an action that has been referred to the Ombudsman – no decision due until next year) issues around Fife Council’s responsibilities for Common Good buildings and other assets ought to be looked at more urgently.

Access to old buildings like the Burgh Chambers is problematic There are plans to add a lift as part of major refurbishment promoted by the Community Council (currently on hold). There is no absolute right to access, but questions have been raised with Fife Council about whether Community Councils are allowed to hold meetings in buildings with poor accessibility. An answer is expected shortly.

Ian Archibald of the Heritage Centre (housed beneath the Council Chamber) was at the meeting to report on the progress of the restoration of three paintings on display in the Burgh Chambers. (Being taken to the conservers soon.) He pointed out the importance of the building. “I’ve taken people around for 26 years, and they are impressed. It’s a quite unique Burgh Chambers with adjoining courtroom.”

In terms of simple improvements he said it was “easy to replace chairs”. He also outlined another idea for improving access with a lift that could also be used to make the upstairs of the adjacent Carnegie Library accessible and join the two buildings together with a new walkway. They already share a heating system and could become a combined multi-purpose asset.

This would be part of a wider development that could see the 1883 model railway layout move into the space, currently occupied by the neglected museum, when it retires from touring exhibitions in a few years time.

Eventually a consensus was reached around the idea that ‘if we wait until we can get everything, it won’t happen’.

The Community Council has set up a small working group to look at short term possibilities such as a stairlift, new chairs and different layouts for meetings.

Some of the other issues discussed

Black Rocks Rowing Club: presentation by Joel Houck. “On cusp of renaissance. Benefits all ages and people with disabilities.” Offered boatbuilding space in a local farmer’s barn. Now at fundraising stage. Basic kit £2,300

NHS consultation on possible new pharmacy coming soon.

Flooding at Haugh Road. Cllr Gordon Langlands to meet SEPA.

FAB got GOLD Beautiful Fife Award and award (with Heritage Trust) for Kirkton Church.

Pick and Fix – Starley Hall to make boxes (free in return for acknowledgements) to hold pick-up bags.

Cot Burn in Toll Park – bid to Postcode Lottery to part-fund feasibility report unsuccessful. CC previously agreed £1,000 towards this. Next steps unclear.

Playparks – discussion about Fife Council’s strategy (no longer to maintain a lot of parks with equipment). ‘Local’ consultation meeting 2nd October Templehall and online. There will also be local consultations organised by CC. Possibility of a petition discussed.

Plan to improve CC notice board on High Street.

Lammerlaws: extract from report “We are now considering just to concentrate improving the main entrance pathway to make it more accessible for wheelchairs taking it a short distance in to allow anyone to be able to look at the view over the Forth, also a possibility in placing a bench in this area with an interpretation board explaining the history of this area especially the old lime kiln and vitriol works which dates back to the 1700s”

Request for barrier at bottom of Palais Steps to stop children running into road on way to Music Hall. (There used to be one.)

Burgh Buzz (report by Bill Kirkhope) New volunteer advertising coordinator + another person offering help with ‘social media’. Copy deadline 10th Oct so next issue is out before Bonfire Night and Remembrance Day.

Christmas Lights: various fundraisers being organised. No current CC member responsible for this project.

Community Action Plan: only one meeting since January another ‘soon’. Also consultation at Solid Rock and Toll Centre in October.

Paths Group: Updates on Gale Slap route and obstruction on informal path though Docks (by a concrete block), but little progress to report.

Planning Applications: ‘Nothing of interest to CC’.

Links Group: no report

Subsequent discussion about Shows. Comments from public benches about numbers of vehicles and movements this year. Also about difficulty of identifying people responsible for ‘health and safety’.

CC to hold another private meeting on Friday 27th to discuss priorities and who will take responsibility for them.

October 5th (10.30-12) drop-in event at Solid Rock for people to meet CC members and discuss issues, concerns and possibilities around Burntisland.

Date of Next Meeting: 7.00pm 11th October 2019

Updates on Twitter

Reply from CC Vice Chair

New Secretary for Burntisland Community Council

Following the recent resignation of George McLauchlan as Secretary and Treasurer, the new Secretary is expected to be confirmed as Yvonne Crombie at Friday’s CC meeting.

Since the new CC was formed a year ago five members have resigned and two people have joined. There are currently three vacancies, so anyone with a keen interest in Burntisland and a willingness to help with the work of the Community Council should consider offering to join.

The RBBCC’s website gives an outline of some of the projects it is currently involved in, including, Remembrance Day, Christmas Lights, Burgh Chambers redevelopment (not least the return of the clock tower), Community Action Plan (currently going through a review and update process), Community Award, Scots Verse Competition, Lammerlaws (the outline proposals will probably be replaced by simpler initiatives), Paths Group, Links Management issues and Play Parks initiative (started after Fife Council published proposals to ‘rationalise’ the play parks it manages).

Community Council’s are an important part of local democracy – “They must ascertain and express the views of the community to local authorities and other public bodies, and to take action which appears to be in the interests of its community. They can complement the role of the local authority but are not part of local government. They should have a positive working partnership with the local authority – therefore they must be informed on the council’s policies, and keep the council updated on their activities”.

Burntisland’s community council welcomes help with its projects and activities – people don’t have to be members of the CC to be involved.