Published Date: Jan 24th, 2024
Councillors on the Levenmouth Area Committee gathered this morning for their January meeting.
Here's a round-up of the main items discussed as part of the agenda.
Purchase of Kirkland Yard units to be pursued for future benefits
Plans to take over Network Rail’s accommodation units at Leven’s Kirkland Yard and bring about benefits for numerous community projects are being pursued.
The site currently houses Network Rail’s own staff and numerous sub-contractors involved in the construction of the Levenmouth Rail Link, which is due to be fully operational later this year.
Councillors have now turned their attention to what happens beyond that date and have agreed to set aside up to £80,000 from the Community Recovery Fund towards the purchase of the modular units and compound area.
Fife Heritage Railway (FHR), which owns the land on which the units are located, wants to use the site to expand its offer as a tourist attraction, and would be the managing organisation for the facility.
FHR has ambitious plans in place to become a top tourist destination that will look after the future of its locomotives, rolling stock and other artefacts which are of local and regional historic value, while the project’s expansion would also bring about various other social and economic benefits.
In addition though, the reuse of the Network Rail units could also benefit the Leven Programme, which is looking to develop its River Park project.
The site could be a physical gateway for the community and visitors to engage with the park, its cultural and natural heritage, while it could also house the likes of a café, meeting spaces, information, training, toilets, and other facilities.
Councillor Colin Davidson, Levenmouth Area Committee convener, said: “While it’s still early days, it’s clear the gains for a range of projects in the Levenmouth area could be significant.
“The Kirkland Yard site has huge potential and we’re keen to make sure these units are kept in productive use long after Network Rail is finished its work on reinstating the rail link.”
The total purchase cost for the accommodation units is £80,000, even though the original investment into the site by Network Rail is understood to be over £500,000.
A separate application for funding has been made via the Levenmouth Reconnected Programme, which may reduce the ask on the Community Recovery Fund if successful, but councillors on the Levenmouth Area Committee agreed to the £80,000 contribution to allow the proposal to progress in the meantime.
Funding secured to continue successful focus on anti-social behaviour
A successful partnership approach to tackling anti-social behaviour in Levenmouth is set to continue for the foreseeable future after funding was approved by local councillors.
Members of the Levenmouth Area Committee agreed to contribute £48,165 from the area budget to cover the cost of additional police resource in Levenmouth from April 2024 to March 2025 – building on the work done locally in recent years.
For over a decade, the issue of anti-social behaviour, most notably focused on the illegal use of motorcycles and quad bikes, has been considered a priority concern, both amongst elected members and local communities.
And while there have been improvements, all community safety partners recognise there are still concerns and issues that need to be addressed moving forward.
This new funding agreement will allow Police Scotland to provide a more consistent and coordinated approach through the creation of a team of two officers with a focus on anti-social behaviour work and other defined priorities.
Inspector Matt Spencer, from Police Scotland, said: “Feedback by local groups, members of the community and elected members has indicated that local people do recognise the sustained and significant drop in nuisance behaviour in their area over the last few years.
“Significant funding and infrastructure is coming to Levenmouth, and it is recognised that this brings with it increased security and safety risks.
“By ensuring a full-time and dedicated resource is in place year-round, the local community can be confident that local police and partners are taking steps to mitigate concerns.”
The ongoing partnership approach has paid dividends, with a 90% year-on-year reduction in motorbike related calls between 2019 and 2023.
Given the impressive results of recent years, Councillor Colin Davidson, Levenmouth Area Committee convener, confirmed that similar levels of funding should be made available in the 2025/26 and 2026/27 financial years – with the move agreed in principle and subject to annual review.
“Levenmouth has been leading the way on this issue and it’s clear that the approach led by Police Scotland here has been really effective,” he said.
“This additional resource is aimed at breaking the cyclical nature of these anti-social behaviour incidents, and also means ongoing and robust enforcement action can be taken when appropriate.”
The approach in Levenmouth has also attracted interest from other police forces elsewhere keen to replicate its success, with representatives from the West Midlands among the latest to visit Levenmouth recently to see the local arrangements first-hand.
Housing and economic progress reports welcomed
Councillors also considered reports covering housing and the economy during their latest meeting, with plenty of positive discussion around both.
The Local Area Economic Profiles report provided members with an annual overview of the performance of the local economy and labour market in Levenmouth as well as other areas. The report highlighted ongoing economic challenges, but also reflected on a range of other headlines and opportunities specific to the Levenmouth area.
Meanwhile, members were also kept up-to-date with progress against the Levenmouth Area Housing Plan, which covers the period 2023 to 2026. Councillors heard that the report continues to be positive and recognises the good work that local staff, elected members and tenants have carried out to help deliver better housing services across the Levenmouth area. The report noted areas of good practice as well as identifying areas of improvement.
Both reports can be viewed as part of the committee papers here: Levenmouth Area Committee (24th January 2024) | Fife Council