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A new Madras College will almost certainly be built on land at Pipeland Farm, on the southern edge of St Andrews, after confirmation that a legal challenge against Fife Council's decision to grant planning permission for the new school has failed.

A judicial review was raised by the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited - a company formed to attempt to stop the desperately needed new school being built - and, following a two-day hearing held in the Court of Session in December, Lord Doherty published his judgement on Friday.

 

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 Cllr Thomson looking at a plan of the proposed new Madras College at the Pipeland site.

 

Speaking after the publication of the judgement, St Andrews Labour councillor, Brian Thomson, said: "This is fantastic news for the children and young people of St Andrews and the surrounding area, as well as the staff at Madras College.  As a parent of school age children, and a local councillor, I am delighted that it looks like - at long last - works can commence soon on a desperately needed new Madras College.
 
As the recent HM Inspector's report showed, the pupils and staff at Madras College are performing extremely well, in difficult conditions.  I was at a parents evening last night at the Kilrymont Road building, and it once again highlighted to me the unacceptable physical conditions that pupils and staff are having to put with.  The buildings were not in a great condition when I was a pupil at Madras College, and their condition has deteriorated significantly in the 24 year period since then, whilst the split-site situation continues to cause difficulties for the operation of the school.
 
The reason that I got involved in politics was my involvement - as a parent - in the campaign for a new-build Madras College.  Back in 2011, the Council was very close to progressing what was a hugely unpopular proposal to refurbish the Kilrymont Road building, and it is a result of the huge efforts of many parents, guardians and other members of the community that, firstly, the Kilrymont proposal was rejected and, secondly, we are now so close to getting a new-build school fit for the 21st century.

As a result of the inspirational leadership of rector David McClure, and the hard work of all staff and pupils, Madras College is performing extremely well, and I hope that they will soon have the new school that they and the wider community deserve."

New Madras College set to go ahead

A new Madras College will almost certainly be built on land at Pipeland Farm, on the southern edge of St Andrews, after confirmation that a legal challenge against Fife Council's decision...

Depute Leader of Fife Council, Cllr Lesley Laird, and fellow Scottish Labour councillor, Brian Thomson, along with other local politicians, met with Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, in Leuchars on Monday, to discuss the problems being faced by local businesses during the transition of the military base from an RAF to an Army base.  Following the meeting, Cllr Laird and the Minister visited a number of local businesses.

After the meeting, Cllr Thomson said:

"It was good to see cross-party support for the businesses.  Also, Fife Council and Business Gateway are working with local businesses and the local community to promote a buy local campaign - with a leaflet being distributed throughout the local area - as well as seeking to ensure that businesses receive any reliefs they are entitled t from no  domestic business rates.

However, the reality of the situation is that local businesses are suffering an unsustainable loss in revenue, and some sort of direct intervention - which is outwith the power of the Council - is required as soon as possible.

As someone who's family is from Leuchars, I'm well aware of the importance of the local businesses to the village.  Many of the businesses are long established and there has been, for example, pubs and a butcher operating from the same premises since the 19th century.

I believe that we have a fairly unique position in Leuchars, in that there is a defined fallow period during the transition from an RAF to an Army base and, as such, I am of the view that the MOD has a responsibility to assist.  I will therefore be writing to the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, regarding the matter, although I am aware that colleagues have done so already and not received a response.

I will also be writing to our local MP, Sir Menzies Campbell, who - with his Lib Dem party part of a coalition government with the Tories - I would expect should be able to exert some sort of pressure on the Secretary of State for Defence."

Cllr Laird said:

"While it was helpful to have all party support at the meeting, the reality is we need the MOD to recognise the unique set of circumstances that businesses in Leuchars are facing.

The issue is that it has simply not been a seamless transition, as the sheer volume of personnel and footfall is not there, and will not be there in real numbers until around September.  I have not received a response to my previous letters to Michael Fallon, and I will be writing to him again.  I would echo Cllr Thomson's view, and encourage the Lib Dems, as a coalition partner, to exercise stronger pressure, and make the case for Leuchars' business community."

 

The_Aero_Cafe.jpg Cllr Thomson outside the Aero Café in Leuchars.

 

 

Call for MOD to Assist Businesses in Leuchars

Depute Leader of Fife Council, Cllr Lesley Laird, and fellow Scottish Labour councillor, Brian Thomson, along with other local politicians, met with Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing,...

Having highlighted the deteriorating condition of Bogward Road and the Canongate in St Andrews, and pushed for the resurfacing works to be carried out for a considerable period of time, I'm delighted that Council officers have now confirmed that the entire length of Bogward Road, and part of Canongate - from John Knox Road to Learmonth Place junctions - are to be resurfaced.

As it's only the top surface of the roads that have failed, rather than a complete structural failure, a proprietary surface treatment will be used, which will be relatively quick to carry out.

A timescale for the work has not yet been confirmed, but I've been advised that, ideally, the work would be undertaken at some point between June and September.

 

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Long-Awaited Road Resurfacing Work Set to be Carried Out

Having highlighted the deteriorating condition of Bogward Road and the Canongate in St Andrews, and pushed for the resurfacing works to be carried out for a considerable period of time,...

New research from the Trades Union Congress has found that more than a third -34.4% - of employees in North East Fife earn less than the living wage, which is the highest percentage in the whole of Scotland.  The figure for females is even worse, with 40.6% of female employees earning less than the living wage. 

The living wage is calculated at £7.85 an hour, or £9.15 an hour in London, and is the amount that the Living Wage Foundation has determined is necessary to meet the basic cost of living in the UK.  It compares with a minimum wage of £6.50 an hour (£5.13 for workers aged 18 to 20).

It is often assumed that North East Fife is an affluent area, but these figures show that a low wage economy is operating in North East Fife.  It is clear that there is a massive gulf between the most affluent in North East Fife and those who are are stuck on low incomes, and it is a damning indictment on the policies being pursued by the Lib Dem-Tory coalition.  It is terrible that so many people living in North East Fife are living in poverty, or dependent on in-work benefits.

The minimum wage is no longer sufficient to cover living costs, and a living wage can lift families out of poverty and reduce their reliance on public spending or private debt.  Furthermore, employers have found that, when combined with a commitment to engage and develop their staff, it can make good business sense too.  In wider terms, there can be further benefits, such as helping to combat inequality and cutting household debt."

The Labour Party is committed to increase the national minimum wage to £8 an hour by the end of the next Parliament in 2020, and giving a tax rebate to those companies that sign up to becoming living wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament.

The raising of the minimum wage to £8 an hour, and providing an incentive to companies to pay a living wage - as proposed by Labour - would make a huge difference to many people in North East Fife.  It is essential that we move away from a low wage economy in North East Fife, and build an economy that works for working people.

 

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Shocking Living Wage Figures for North East Fife

New research from the Trades Union Congress has found that more than a third -34.4% - of employees in North East Fife earn less than the living wage, which is the highest...

I'm pleased that some improvements to the Hepburn Gardens/Buchanan Gardens junction in St Andrews are to be implemented.

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I have previously raised safety concerns regarding this junction with Council officers, and I raised it again after a constituent contacted me recently regarding concerns that some drivers are not giving way.

The feedback that I've received from officers is that the mini roundabout meets current requirements in terms of visibility – albeit towards the lower end of the specification – however, given the concerns expressed, the roundabout give way markings on the eastbound approach from Hepburn Gardens, and eastbound approach from Buchanan Gardens, are to be upgraded to include standard junction give way markings, along with standard give way signs. This will hopefully help to reinforce the information given to drivers to give way at the junction.

The work is to be carried out in the new financial year, and I hope that it will be completed by the summer. In addition, the upgrading of the carriageway surface at the junction is being considered for funding from the 2015/16 budget.

Thumbs up for Junction Improvements

I'm pleased that some improvements to the Hepburn Gardens/Buchanan Gardens junction in St Andrews are to be implemented.   I have previously raised safety concerns regarding this junction with Council...

Brian's campaign was launched today with street stalls in Leven, Cupar and St Andrews.

Speaking after the launch, Brian said: "I was delighted with the response to today campaign launch, and it was great to speak to so many people and find out about the issues that really matter to them.  I'm really looking forward to the campaign ahead, and getting to many more towns and villages across North East Fife." 

 

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Campaign Launch

Brian's campaign was launched today with street stalls in Leven, Cupar and St Andrews. Speaking after the launch, Brian said: "I was delighted with the response to today campaign launch,...

I'm very concerned over a reported SNP cut in funding for universities. The indicative budget for the sector appears to indicate that the combined impact of the suspension of the Global Excellence Initiative, and the cancelling of further planned increases in teaching and research funding, would leave Scottish universities with £21.5 million less than they had hoped for.

SNP Cut to World Class Research Funding

I'm very concerned over a reported SNP cut in funding for universities. The indicative budget for the sector appears to indicate that the combined impact of the suspension of the... Read more


Come along to the Balaka for a great social evening with delicious food, fantastic raffle prizes and an inspiring after-dinner talk from Jenny Marra MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport.

Brian Thomson would be delighted to meet new and current North East Fife Labour Party members. Tickets £15.

 

Curry night fundraising event - 23 February

Come along to the Balaka for a great social evening with delicious food, fantastic raffle prizes and an inspiring after-dinner talk from Jenny Marra MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health,... Read more

I am pleased to see that the construction of 29 new affordable homes for rent in St Andrews is progressing well. The homes will be the first affordable housing completed in St Andrews since 2007.

Supporting new affordable housing

I am pleased to see that the construction of 29 new affordable homes for rent in St Andrews is progressing well. The homes will be the first affordable housing completed... Read more

Some good news for North East Fife - Fife Council's Executive Committee has agreed to authorise officers to conclude negotiations, and enter into agreements, to deliver affordable housing developments at Tarvit Drive in Cupar (see photo), and Commercial Terrace in Ladybank.

The level of housing need in Cupar and Ladybank is very high and - whilst the deals to deliver the new housing have not yet been concluded - I am delighted to see that negotiations to deliver much needed affordable housing, on two substantial sites, are at an advanced stage.

The development of the new homes would make a significant contribution towards reducing the high level of unmet housing need in Cupar and Ladybank, and it is also a further indication that Fife Council's Labour administration is making excellent progress on its commitment to develop 2,700 new affordable homes across Fife by 2017.

The site at Tarvit Avenue would see the development of around 49 Council homes for rent on agricultural land and, subject to the granting of planning and other statutory consents, a potential site start is projected in mid-2015, with an estimated completion in spring 2016.

The Commercial Crescent site would see the development of around 45 Council homes for rent, on land that currently comprises of a former railway siding and a former curling pond. Subject to the granting of planning permission and other statutory consents, it is anticipated that a site start could potentially take place in spring/early summer 2015, with an estimated completion in late 2016.

Tarvit Drive, Cupar.

New Affordable Housing for Cupar and Ladybank?

Some good news for North East Fife - Fife Council's Executive Committee has agreed to authorise officers to conclude negotiations, and enter into agreements, to deliver affordable housing developments at...

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