Round up of news from South and West Fife Area Committee

The members of South and West Fife Area Committee met this morning to hear and discuss a wide range of topics.

  • First on the agenda was a report on the Radiation Monitoring and removal taking place in Dalgety Bay. Members were pleased to hear that all licencing from SEPA is now in place. Work to decontaminate the beach began on 17 May and is expected to be completed by September 2022. SEPA will continue to work with the MOD. They said there is a robust system of work in place and that they are happy that these high standards are being met.
  • Members discussed a report from the Safer Communities Team covering the time from April 2020 to March this year. It highlighted a number of issues including the increase in fly-tipping and littering. The Council has had to concentrate efforts on removal of the rubbish. Consequently they have only been able to fully investigate and prosecute incidences where there are witnesses or where there are obvious links to offender. This has led to less fixed penalties being issued over this year.
  • Communities have provided a massive help with general litter picking. The team have supported these initiatives with the tools and supplies necessary. In some cases groups have been given the tools so that they can continue their efforts. The team have arranged for pick-up of the rubbish collected.
  • Councillor Alice McGarry, Convener, said “We’d like to say a massive thank you to all the local officers, community groups and volunteers that got involved with the clean ups. They did a fantastic job. It’s great to know that people will take a pride in where they live and are willing to give up their time to keep our communities and the local areas looking beautiful.”
  • Policing activities report for South and West Fife revealed an increase in the number of serious crimes being committed. This is a trend not just across Fife. Online extortion accounts for a large number of these offences. The Police repeated their advice about destroying documents, and even delivery boxes, that might enable fraudsters to gather useful information. Shop lifting and housebreaking figures were down across South West Fife. This was helped by the lockdown and less people going away from their homes.
  • Vandalism increased but so did detection. This was helped by freeing up capacity from other duties that were not able to be carried out during lockdown. Getting back to nearer normality, the Police are keen to re-engage with communities. They have been using Walk and Talk meetings to stay in contact with Community Councils.
  • Twitter has been heavily used to circulate information, but they realise that this misses many elderly and vulnerable people. They are looking at other proactive ways, for instance church newsletters, to contact these people. On behalf of all the councillors, Councillor Alice McGarry, Convener, said “Thank you to Police Scotland and all the officers for their support during these troubling times. Thanks for the extra effort they have given to address the issues highlighted.”The police clarified the use of 101 and 999 calls saying, if a crime is in progress and the suspect is still present, people should call the 999 number. 101 is for none-emergency contact with the Police.
  • Members also heard from the Fire Service. Their report showed that the number of Accidental Dwelling Fires had fallen and of those that did happen 59% were in the kitchen. 71% of these were constrained within the item that first ignited. An increase in DIY activities through lockdown accounted for some of the fires although apparently this local trend is better than the national picture. There were no fatal fire casualties over this year. Deliberate fires also fell, these were mainly outdoor sheds or vegetation.While there was a reduction in road traffic accidents in South and West Fife, probably because there were less cars on the road, one person did unfortunately lose their life.Their usual home visits to provide advice have had to be severely reduced during lockdown. Only essential visits to specific high risk individuals went ahead.
  • School visits and the Road Safety campaign could not take place this year due to restrictions. Instead, officers have been in contact with schools and pointed them to the many online resources, that they have on their own site, to educate children.
  • Councillor Alice McGarry, Convener, said “Thank you to the Fire Service for you continued support and encouraging statistics. It’s unfortunate that you can’t get into the schools to talk to the children at the moment. The work that you do with children and the advice they take on board when it’s face to face can have a huge impact on them.”
  • The Housing update gave the Councillors details of a number of current and future council properties being built. Spencerfield in Inverkeithing is the most advanced. 74 properties are being developed for the Council. 5 of these are being handed over in June; 6 are due in August; 17 more by the end of the year; and the rest will be 2022. Hilton Road in Rosyth will offer 45 properties – this will be a mix of accommodation yet to be agreed. The Roods in Inverkeithing will eventually bring in another 25 mixed properties. In 2020 the majority of allocations went to homeless and those on the transfer list.The team are currently concentrating on reducing rent arrears. They are working with tenants who are struggling, to maximise the ways they can overcome this debt.
  • The Area Manager presented the members with a list of potential sites that may be considered as an alternative home pitch for Rosyth Football Club. These were purely options and there has been no discussion with either landowners or the club. Many of the sites have flooding issues that would have to be overcome before they were viable options. Others where currently being used by other clubs or may be unsuitable in other ways. Some of these issues may be overcome once the new school is built. As a community campus it will offer both synthetic and grass pitches.
  • Finally the Welfare Reform and Anti-Poverty group which is a partnership that includes Officers from across many Fife Council Services; DWP, Cosy Kingdom; foodbanks and food pantries and Fife Voluntary Action.The group came together at the beginning of the first lockdown when it became evident that that many families and individuals in our communities where going to struggle. Many support networks broke down as people had to shield. The support varied from food provision to support those most vulnerable; a befriending project providing twice weekly phone calls; welfare advice including advice on applying for Settlement Status. People were given help with boiler repairs, heating, fuel top ups, and food vouchers.
  • Funding allowed the team to act quickly to address emergencies quickly and have a 3-5 day turnaround for none emergency help. The team are now looking at how to wean people off this critical support and develop a more sustainable way of maintaining links.
  • On behalf of all the councillors, Councillor Alice McGarry, Convener, said “All the team have been exceptional. Everyone stepped up to the mark and pulled out all the stops to help others. I know many officers gave up their evenings and weekends, for that we are extremely grateful. It’s only by working in partnership, especially with the 3rd sector, that we were able to give the support that we did. Well done to all involved.”

Full reports will be available on the  South and West Fife  Committee page: https://www.fife.gov.uk/kb/docs/articles/about-your-council2/politicians-and-committees/committees/area-committees/south-and-west-fife-area-committee