St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Hotel refusal sparks council attack
The Courier, 18 February 1999
A leading member of the administration of Fife Council was
bitterly criticised last night over remarks - described by an Independent
councillor as almost criminal - she has made in the wake of last
weeks refusal of the controversial £50 million Kingask hotel
and conference development.
Transportation spokeswoman Helen Eadie, who was not at the
meeting where the issue was discussed, has asked whether the Liberal Democrat
group had taken a decision to refuse the application before the meeting
She has also strongly criticised committee chairman Peter
Douglas over remarks he made about the performance of head of transportation
Alan Bryan at the meeting and over a claim that the spin of the
ball had been given to the developers in committee papers.
She has raised the point about the vote, stating that it
came from an observer who attended the meeting, despite the fact
the committee spent almost three hours in debate and that clear divisions were
shown in the Liberal Democrat group.
There was a narrow seven-five vote for rejection and during
the discussion, it appeared feeling was swaying in favour of the developers at
Last night the suggestion that any decision had taken place
before the meeting started was dismissed out of hand by committee chairman
Peter Douglas, who is also the local member for the Kingask site.
There was a similar response from councillors who supported
the application, including Independent member Jimmy Braid, who said Councillor
Eadies comments were shocking, irresponsible, damnable, and indeed
The hands that always go up together are the Labour
ones and I have absolutely no doubt, even though I very strongly backed the
Kingask plans and lost, that this was a genuine vote and a genuine
We actually, discuss things in East Fife, whereas in
Glenrothes the officials could write the minutes before the meetings even take
Another councillor who voted for approval of the plans,
Cupar member Allan Dow, said the suggestion made in Mrs Eadies letter was
Even though he supported the scheme, he said, there had
been a very poor showing from Mr Bryan over the transportation issue, which had
turned out to be crucial in the vote.
Another supporter of the plans, Liberal Democrat Central
member Roly Jack, said that any suggestion of a block vote in East Fife was
absolute rubbish and a complete lie. Councillor Jack said that as
he listened to the discussion he had thought the vote would have been even
closer, maybe even a tie.
Another supporter of the scheme, councillor Donald Lothian,
said it might be the case that other political parties operated in this way,
but to say this of Liberal Democrats in East Fife was to misunderstand their
free thinking and independence of mind.
The points had been raised in a letter to Mr Douglas in
which Councillor Eadie said that if developers had the slightest suspicion that
a group decision had been taken they would rush to legal redress in the
She also paid tribute to both Mr Bryan and area planning
manager Jim Birrell, stating that Mr Douglas must be aware of the
demotivating effect your public criticism has on both officials.
She said officials were not in position to defend
themselves, and that to criticise them was to stoop to the lowest level in
Councillor Eadie went on to demand that the chairman should
make a public apology to both officials, who deserved no less.
Last night Mr Douglas gave a detailed response to any
suggestion of the committee having made up its mind as a group prior to last
weeks crucial Kingask discussion.
He said this had been plainly obvious when it was
considered that of the five councillors who voted for the development, four
were Liberal Democrats while seven Liberal Democrats had voted against the
£50 million plans.
Mr Douglas said, In the old days of the North East
Fife District Council planning committee, we never made decisions as a
political group and that tradition has continued. This has been shown by the
final voting figures on Kingask which show a clear split.
Mr Douglas said that as chairman he had, in fact, been
somewhat careful because he knew the application was
He explained that the chairman would normally call on the
local member to speak first once the planning manager had read his report. But
on this occasion, as Mr Douglas himself was the local member for the Gleneden
and Crail ward which includes Kingask, he said he deliberately kept out
of the debate until other members had had their say.
Reiterating the conclusions reached by councillors at the
meeting, he said a majority of the committee had remained unhappy about
transport matters in and around St Andrews and this is why the vote had gone
the way it did.
As local member he had agreed with these worries and voted
against the plans accordingly.
Mr Douglas added, For Councillor Eadie to suggest
otherwise might itself be a disincentive for other investors in the area if
they reckon that a senior councillor is apparently prepared to spread
allegations which are not the truth. We are not prepared to be bullied by
anyone." more Planning Phase
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