During the March meeting of the Environment, Protective Services and Community Safety Committee the Zero Waste Fife Resource Strategy and Action Plan was scrutinised and approved. In approving the plan, Cllr. Barratt proposed that all services across the council should conduct an assessment of the possible impact of eliminating single use plastics from the organisation. The committee agreed unanimously, and each service will now report back to the committee with a view to reducing or eliminating single use plastics. The assessment is a significant undertaking could see single use plastics removed from council offices, schools and other areas of the council.
Since the opening of the Ward 6 bridge (sometimes referred to as the Queensferry Crossing) snagging has been an ongoing process as with any large-scale civil engineering project. We are pleased to see the initial congestion experienced in the weeks following opening have subsided and traffic is generally flowing much better. Among the issues we have had put to us is the strength, positioning and orientation of the lighting at either end of the bridge. Of particular concern have been reports that the lighting causes a strobing effect and is having an impact on some people’s health. We have written to Transport Scotland and have been assured the lighting conforms to necessary standards but that they will be reviewed.
The Area Roads Programme for 2018/19 was agreed at Area Committee on 4th April following consultation with local elected members. The purpose of the programme is to identify priority projects for the coming financial year. Feedback from communities over the past year was key to informing where resources have been directed. Among the priority projects include resurfacing of Inverkeithing Road in Aberdour; Boreland Road, Heriot Street and King Street in Inverkeithing; and Regents Way, Dalgety Bay. Also included in the programme for the coming year is a new puffin crossing on Harbour Drive, Dalgety Bay. These projects are in addition to the routine road repairs carried out on potholes. You can report road faults directly to us or online via ‘report a road fault’ on the Fife Council home page.
The Dunfermline and West Fife Area is served by 5 secondary schools and has seen substantial growth in housing, particularly in the Dunfermline Eastern Expansion. Across the 4 non-denominational secondary school catchments, over 8,000 new homes have been built since 2000 and a further 10,000 are allocated. A failure to build new schools or manage catchment areas in previous years has brought the issue to a head in recent months with schools in Dunfermline reaching capacity. In order to resolve this in the short term, catchment changes have been proposed which aim to make best use of the available capacity across the area, including making use of Inverkeithing’s current available capacity. Inverkeithing has a capacity of 1,634 with the school roll currently sitting at 1,159. Proposed school catchment changes include re-zoning Rosyth primaries to Inverkeithing and all Dunfermline primaries going to Dunfermline secondaries. The changes would result in Inverkeithing High School reaching capacity by 2022. Added to the challenge is the ageing condition of the existing school estate and the need for new and replacement schools. With Inverkeithing High School rated poor for both condition and suitability, and given the projected capacity issue, replacement of Inverkeithing High School is the council’s top school building priority. At a cost of over £50million for a new 1,800 capacity high school, the challenge is not insignificant. We recently met with Inverkeithing Head Teacher, Mr. Adair, along with Education and Children’s Services Convener Cllr. Fay Sinclair to discuss the challenges being faced and Cllr. Barratt has recently joined the Education Committee. Replacing Inverkeithing High School was a key election pledge and it continues to be among our top priorities. Consultation on the proposed catchment changes opened on 17th April and will close on 29th May. A public meeting will be held at Inverkeithing High School on the 23rd May from 18:00-19:30.
In our Autumn newsletter we noted the increasing importance of tourism to the economy of South and West Fife and committed to working with key stake holders to build on growth in the sector. As part of this commitment, Cllr. Barratt has been developing two projects hoping to boost coastal tourism, particularly in coastal villages. The first project hopes to see the development of a Fife Sea Kayak Trail, promoting the Fife coast as a tourism and recreation destination. The project would require minimal investment, with sea kayakers needing minimal supporting infrastructure. The second, more ambitious, project would see a river taxi connecting villages along the coast, initially connecting Kincardine, Culross, Limekilns, Rosyth, North Queensferry, Aberdour and Inchcolm. Cllr. Barratt will be putting forward a motion to the Area Committee in May to propose the development of a strategy, identifying key partners, required infrastructural upgrades and funding routes to develop the initiative.
As noted in our Winter newsletter, Ward Councillors met recently to discuss the development of a play park strategy. The intention is to develop a coherent approach to ensure play park provision meets the needs of communities while making best use of available resources. The suggested approach is to give preference to ‘destination play parks’ and a phased removal of isolated and ageing swings, slides and roundabouts as they become dangerous without further maintenance. As part of the strategy, the South and West Fife Area will have £500k to put towards investment in existing sites. The strategy will form a 10-year plan of and will inform planning decisions as well as investment decisions. There are 53 existing play park sites across the South and West Fife Area including 5 in Inverkeithing, 2 in North Queensferry, 1 in Hillend, 12 in Dalgety Bay and 3 in Aberdour.
Following the poor rail service experienced by many over autumn and winter and after writing to the ScotRail Managing Director, Alex Hynes, Cllr. Barratt met with Mr. Hynes along with Council Co-Leaders and Council Officers. The meeting was open and honest and covered rail fares, train capacity, rolling stock condition, station skipping, parking provision and various other important points. There was recognition that the service has not met expectations and that the format of performance reporting does not reflect commuter experience. There is now a commitment to improve on this and steps are being taken to avoid the level of disruption we have seen including a commitment to stop station skipping in all but essential cases, increasing service capacity by 40% with more 6 carriage services, increased investment with a 60% increase in railhead treatment (rail cleaning) in advance of the autumn, investment in woodland maintenance adjacent to tracks and investment in parking provision. We will be working with council officer and ScotRail to identify and progress projects to improve parking provision for commuters without impacting local residents, particularly those in Inverkeithing. Cllr. Barratt also raised the need to extend late night services, particularly around the Edinburgh Fringe to better allow Fife to benefit from the economic activity surrounding the festival.