Local councillors have denied the claim from Cllr Linda Holt that Fife Council is set to agree and sign a 40 year lease with St Andrews University at Lochore Meadows under delegated powers.

Local councillors have been refuting claims made by a North East Fife councillor, Linda Holt, that Fife Council officers have the power and intention to sign a lease with St Andrews University under delegated powers with no oversight from elected members.

The University is currently in discussion with Fife Council to build a boathouse for exclusive use by the University Rowing Club and is seeking a 40-year lease with use of the loch.

The terms of the lease have been withheld due to “commercial sensitivity”. Other information requested by members of the public and Loch of Shining Waters through Freedom of Information has also been refused for release.

Cllr Holt recently slammed Fife Council for “a done deal” after pursuing the matter at Fife House and discovering that any decision to create and sign the terms of the lease will be left in the hands of Fife Council officers using delegated powers.

Cllr Lea McLelland for Lochgelly, Cardenden & Benarty addressed the claims on the Benarty Matters facebook page:

“All the Cllr’s (sic) who represent Ward 8 have refuted this statement. This was mention (sic) at Benarty Community Council’s last meeting and all elected Members who were precent (sic) advised this was not true.”

One user raised a concern that the comments made by Cllr Holt are “deceitful and does nothing but cause animosity between members of the public and elected members”, to which Cllr McLelland responded “that may be the intent” by Cllr Holt.

When challenged directly to provide evidence that the signing of the lease will not be pursued under delegated powers by Fife Council officers, Cllr McLelland wrote:

“No but no one has any evidence of what is in the post.”

Cllr McLelland also commented on behalf of Cllrs Rosemary Liewald, Linda Erskine and Mary Bain Lockhart:

“Rosemary said at the community council meeting this would never happen and the elected Cllr’s (sic) would see that it didn’t happen when It (sic) was brought up. This was Backed (sic) up by Linda and Mary who were also there and confirmed by me when I left the other meeting I was in.”

When the Benarty Matters administrator Tom Kinnaird pointed out to a user that Cllr Holt may be telling the truth, Cllr Mary Bain Lockhart joined the conversation:

“If she is, Tom, then the rest of us are liars. Have you considered that possibility?”

Cllr Lockhart further adds:

“Many of those who attended the “consultation” event…which was more of a presentation, came away believing that the granting of planning permission and a lease to St Andrews University Boat Club was a good idea, given that they are already racing there, and that with the boat house they would be offering opportunities to local young people to learn rowing as a sport and train to competition level.

My views are highly political, and this time I will not be expressing them publicly until a full consultation has taken place. At that point, whether or not I agree with the outcome, I will be doing my best to support and represent what I believe are the views of the people we represent as councillors. As I did, in writing, over the Visitor Centre. This time, it will be important too”

At the time of publishing, there has been no public response from Cllrs Linda Erskine and Rosemary Liewald.

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