Claims that delegated powers given to Fife Council officers are to be used to sign off a controversial deal with St Andrews University at Lochore Meadows have failed to be refuted by the Convener of Cowdenbeath Area Committee.

A public statement issued by the Convenor of Cowdenbeath Area Committee Councillor Linda Erskine has ignored the key issue of whether Fife councillors will have the final say whether St Andrews University receives a 40-year lease giving its rowing club use of the water and space for a private boathouse compound.

The response was made after North East Fife councillor Linda Holt claimed that officers were set to agree and sign a 40-year lease with St Andrews University at Lochore Meadows under delegated powers.

Responding to the earlier allegations made by Cllr Holt, the convenor of Cowdenbeath Area Committee Cllr Linda Erskine said:

“It’s important to note that the university rowing club is already a member of the Lochore community sports hub. They’ve been using the loch for 18 months

“There’s no suggestion of the university having exclusive use of the loch. They practice in a certain area early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and a mid-week afternoon, which brings more footfall to the country park.

“I’d encourage people to take a walk through the Meedies at the weekend and watch the boats; it’s a lovely sight and something I’ve heard local people saying they’ve enjoyed over the past 18 months.

“A 40-year ground lease has been proposed for a boat house but nothing has been decided yet.

“There’s an ongoing process and negotiations over the terms of any lease are on hold at the moment until we hear the findings of a public consultation exercise.”

Local councillors and community councillors had been informed, she said, and the area committee would want to be involved in plans as they developed.

An email has now been shared on social media that was sent to Cllr Holt from a senior officer from Fife Council’s Property Service responding to Cllr Holt’s questions;

“A 40 year ground lease has been proposed. The precise details are under negotiation and commercially confidential at present. Once heads of terms have been agreed, authority will be sought under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation which may take around a month. Instructions will then be issued for the lease to be prepared. Once the terms of the lease have been agreed, missives will be concluded and the lease itself executed by both parties. This is likely to take several months.

It is proposed to authorise the transaction under delegated authority. Local members will be consulted as a matter of courtesy, though this is not required under the Scheme of Delegation as the subjects are not being let at less than market value. Once it has been concluded, the transaction will be reported to the Area Committee.”

The email confirms that Fife Council had fully intended to use delegated powers to decide on the boathouse proposal.

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