St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Officials 'gagged' over golf complex
Councillor wants inquiry into claims of pressure
James Rougvie, The Scotsman, 10 July 1999
A Councillor at the heart of the battle to stop a
controversial golf development on the outskirts of St Andrews has claimed
officials at Fife Council were pressurised to stay silent about the way the
application was processed.
Councillor Peter Douglas, the chairman of the
councils east development committee, said that he had received calls at
home from employees who wished to remain anonymous because they feared for
their jobs, complaining that they had been told to get in line over the
Mr Douglas has now demanded an independent inquiry and is
urging that evidence should be presented by sworn submission to get at the
The £50 million golf courses, hotel and conference
complex, planned the St Andrews Bay Development Company, was approved earlier
this week by a majority of Labour councillors who made it clear they were
anxious not to lose the 275 jobs and millions of pounds of investment into the
Over a number of months, councillors from north east Fife
complained bitterly that the Fife Council administration and officials
circumvented a number of statutory policies in order to push through the
The council has vigorously rejected the accusations, and
Councillor Bill Brand, the strategic development committee convener, said
yesterday it was obvious to anyone that planning policy had formed the basis of
the decision taken, and to allege that objections had been ignored was
There had been a number of objections from key national
conservation groups, among them Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland,
the Scottish Civic Trust and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland,
concerned about the intrusion of the 208-bedroom hotel and of the effect the
influx of traffic from the development would have on St Andrews.
Mr Douglas yesterday revealed he had taken a number of
calls from employees of Fife Council, whom he described as decent and
honest people, who he said were concerned.
He said: I have never before been telephoned by Fife
employees, seeking anonymity because they fear losing their jobs, complaining
of the pressure being put on them to come in line or stay silent. He said
their claims should be subjected to proper scrutiny at an independent
These people called me in confidence and anonymously
because they feared they would lose their jobs if they spoke out publicly. They
were told to deliver, or else.
Frances Melville, a Liberal Democrat councillor, confirmed
that she too had received a number of similar phone calls. The Liberal Democrat
group leader on the council, Andrew Arbuckle, described Mr Douglas as a man of
integrity, adding that his statements should be treated very seriously.
Last night, Douglas Sinclair, Fife Councils chief
executive, described Mr Douglass remarks as extremely serious
allegations and said he objected to the attack being made on the
integrity of the councils employees without any evidence to support
Mr Sinclair said he was seriously concerned that Mr Douglas
had not raised these issues with him personally. He would be seeking an early
meeting with the councillor in an effort to get an explanation for his actions.
Issues raised during turbulent planning
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Kingask dispute escalates with claims of pressure on
Gordon Berry, The Courier, 10 July 1999
The bitter row raging over Fife Councils decision to
approve a £50 million golf and hotel development at Kingask, near
St Andrews, entered a new phase last night with claims that pressure was
applied to officials over how reports on the application should be written.
The Issue was raised by the chairman of the East Fife area
development committee - Church of Scotland minister Peter Douglas - who said It
had been alleged to him by council employees that they had to trim their
reports, come in line or stay silent.
Mr Douglas, whose comments last night provoked an angry
response from the councils chief executive, has now asked whether the
correct way forward would be an inquiry Independent of Fife with
Mr Douglas was backed by fellow-member Frances Melville,
who told The Courier she had been distressed by receiving similar calls but had
not felt able to make her concern public.
The chairman of the Liberal Democrat group on the council,
Andrew Arbuckle, said he was deeply concerned. He said Mr Douglas was of the
utmost integrity and any statement he made should be treated very
One of the east area members who lent his support to the
Kingask scheme, Anthony Garrett, said any such evidence It should be
The statements have been made as claim and counterclaim
have been made about how planning policies were interpreted by council
officials as they came to approve the Kingask plan.
The decision flew in the face of advice from almost the
complete range of relevant conservation bodies, including Scottish Natural
Heritage and the Governments own Historic Scotland.
Last night Mr Douglas said he had been reluctant to raise
the matter but added that the good name of us all in Fife is being
trashed and that is in no ones interest.
He said the most serious aspect of the Kingask issue
was the constant mutterings about the behaviour of Fife Council officials.
I have never before been telephoned by Fife
employees, seeking anonymity because they fear losing their Jobs, and
complaining of the pressure being put on them to trim their reports, come in
line, or stay silent, he said.
Is not the way out of this kind of allegation to have
an inquiry independent of Fife where evidence can be made by sworn submission
so that no ones Job is jeopardised? Lets subject this to the proper
Mr Douglas said he had received calls from several
decent and honest employees concerned they had been forced to trim
Last night the councils chief executive, Douglas
Sinclair, said he was seriously concerned that the issues had not been raised
with him before Mr Douglas approached the Press.
He said that if any councillor has major concerns they
should raise them with him. If any employee has a concern that they are
being asked to act in a way which maybe illegal, improper, or unethical, I can
assure them there would be an opportunity for private and confidential
discussions with me about their concerns, which our Dignity at Work policy
By approaching the Press in this way Coundulor
Douglas may well have made it harder for any employees who have concerns to
approach me on this matter. These are extremely serious allegations and I
object to the attack being made on the authority without any evidence to
support Councillor Douglass claims, said Mr Sinclair.
Mr Sinclair added that be would be seeking an early meeting
with Mr Douglas.
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We stuck to planning rules on Kingask - chairman
The Courier, 10 July 1999
A Fife councillor has reacted angrily to suggestions that
the authority failed to follow proper planning procedures in its consideration
of major golf and leisure related applications for St Andrews.
The chairman of the authoritys strategic development
committee, Councillor Bill Brand, was responding to claims from objectors and
from North East Fife MSP lain Smith that structure and local plan policies had
been ignored when the Kingask project was approved this week.
The statement that planning policies did not support the
Kingask application were even made by a Historic Scotland inspector
asked by Fife Council to comment on the situation.
Mr Brand, while accepting that there had been a vast
number of plus and minus points, said that great care had been taken by
the council to make sure proper planning procedures had been followed.
I cannot believe that such allegations continue to be
made when it should be blatantly obvious to anyone who has taken the time to
read the head of plannings report to committee that planning policy forms
the basis for all the conclusions reached, he said. In fact
weve gone further than that and agreed new guidelines to be applied when
future golfing development applications are considered by the
He said some individuals were continuing to demonstrate
complete misunderstanding of the planning system by asking for the
application to be called in. That opportunity, he said, was now past and the
fact no action had been taken by the Scottish Secretary or First Minister
indicated the council had acted properly.
To say we have ignored objections is ludicrous.
Consultation has gone on for months. We held departure hearings to ensure
everyone who wanted a say on the issue could be heard and the East Area
development committees views were included in the final report to the
strategic development committee.
The East Area vote on the issue was very close and it
is a fact that a number of councillors in the East Area supported
Kingask. I object to any allegations that the council has run roughshod
over its own policies and agreed the application without proper
There had been a full debate at the strategic development
committee, tight controls in the form of 33 strict planning conditions were in
force and it was believed the section 75 agreement, far from being
unenforceable, would be an effective safeguard against rising traffic in St
Andrews. He believed that, once built, Kingask would be a boon for the
town and Fife.more Planning Phase
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