Council accused of attempting to 'whitewash incompetence'
Published 12 Sep 2012 09:30 9 Comments
FIFE Council has been accused of attempting to "whitewash incompetence" after councillors again passed the buck on taking action against a Crossford tyre firm.
Elaine McLeod (70), the long-suffering neighbour of Forth Tyres, which has been operating without permission for six years, said council officers were "sitting on their hands" after the planning committee last month agreed to only note the findings of a peer review of actions taken by council solicitors against the firm.
The planning committee also passed the matter back to the City of Dunfermline area committee, which meets today (Wednesday).
Forth Tyres has had three planning applications refused, but despite failing to comply with an enforcement notice, was awarded legal costs after a council bid to seek an interim interdict from the sheriff court failed.
Council officers then U-turned, stating that Forth Tyres' breach was "technical in nature, with no real harm or prejudice arising as a result", and raising court action "would not represent best value".
They said there was "no actual nuisance", and that the council "should avoid becoming involved in what is essentially a private dispute between neighbours".
The council also admitted there was no money to raise further legal action and suggested neighbours affected "raise their own court proceedings" instead, despite councillors' calls to stump out on legal fees.
External solicitors Biggart Baillie were then commissioned to carry out a peer review of the actions taken by council solicitors.
However, a disappointed Mrs McLeod said, "The purpose of the peer review was clearly to rubber-stamp the council's disastrous decision to seek an interim interdict, which led to Forth Tyres being awarded costs against the council - rather than being expelled from the site after operating there unlawfully since 2005.
"The peer review was blatantly an attempt to whitewash incompetence by the council."
She also blasted the planning committee's decision not to seek a Queen's Counsel's opinion on the likely outcome of a full interdict, as had been requested by City of Dunfermline councillors.
She said, "The report (on 20th March) stated 'although obtaining a QC's opinion has been suggested, it is not recommended, as it is unclear what purpose it would serve'.
"On the contrary, it is obvious that a QC's opinion would be a definitive, independent assessment of the prospects for success at a full interdict hearing - plus a consideration of other options available to the council."
She is now hoping City of Dunfermline councillors will help end the "outrageous injustice".
She said, "The complacent attitude of Fife Council's unelected officials is a disgrace - if councils do not protect residents against criminals, what are they there for?
"I have consulted the Scottish Government and the case against Forth Tyres is water-tight.
\"Fife Council has an open goal, yet somehow managed to put the ball into its own net last year.
"Now the officials are sitting on their hands in a display of apathy and impotence."
Mrs McLeod's views were backed up by Councillor Mike Rumney, City of Dunfermline area committee chair.
He said, "It's very, very disappointing they went with a peer review. It was not what we requested.
"This whole decision has been predicated on the expected expense in obtaining a QC's recommendation.
"Fife Council are being seen in a very bad light - they authorised the enforcement action and now say there's no real damage done."
Councillor Rumney said the matter had been "very badly handled" and plans to raise his concerns at the meeting.
He added, "We're back to square one.Unless there are any serious breaches of the enforcement order the council are not taking any action.
\"It's all very well to say the council will continue to monitor the activities but there's a whole range of activities going on there, and who's to say who will monitor it and when?\"
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 11 Sep 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Sep 12, 13:37
Sep 13, 10:48
I agree with the Council why use more of taxpayers money when the Tyre Firm are doing no more harm (in fact less) than the previous site users , which was a bus company running at unsocial hours. This has become a personal vendetta by one neighbour . The company is employing local people. There is more noise from the kennels across the way from this lady and I hear no complaints about that. Personal vendetta pure & simple. Let it go.
Recommend? Yes 15 No 6
Sep 13, 13:59
Sep 13, 23:15
I object to more taxpayers money being spent on this, enough has been wasted and what harm are they actually doing? This saga is never out the press. There are more causes worthy of Fife council's money than one womans personal vendetta.
Recommend? Yes 6 No 3
Sep 13, 23:22
yes Bennboy like sorting the roads for one, more holes than a sieve on the roads and they pander to one person. help the majority not just a few and let the Tyre firm get on with employing local folk and bringing business to the area.
Recommend? Yes 4 No 3
Sep 14, 07:48
Primary schools being earmarked for closure, roads in dire need of repair, local community centres being closed due to lack of funds the list goes on. However that doesnt seem important. This is a neighbourly dispute. The council are right to let this go. I for one will be kicking up a fuss if more is spent on this. It is just a waste of tax payers money, the company employ people, and in the current climate the last thing we need is more job loses due to a petty neighbour dispute. The press keep printing this story and its the same everytime. try printing something worth while and not getting involved in personal disputes.
Recommend? Yes 6 No 3
Sep 14, 11:09
A council that is totally out of touch not only with reality but the residents as well..Lets not forget who put them there!...u?....me?...wake up smell the coffee...I certainly know where my vote is going!.....this council needs to be investigated!....I was encouraged to live in Fife and made the choice to invest here...worst decision of my life!
Recommend? Yes 2 No 2
Sep 14, 15:58
Aye remember who put them there eh? Remember who has become bed fellows to keep the majority party out eh?
Lets hope when election night comes round again Eastenders or Constipation street isn't on and we might actually see the voters turning out.........
Here's a thing, they should run council, by election and general elections like the TV phone ins, seems the numpties will happily spent £2-£5 voting on some non-entity to warble some rehashed song rather than voting on the REAL things that matter in life, you know like running the council, country etc.......
Recommend? Yes 7 No 2
Sep 15, 17:35