VISITORS to North Queensferry have waited a long time to go to the loo and it's just one example of important projects being delayed due to Fife Council passing the buck.

That's the belief of Councillor David Barratt, who said the South and West Fife area was being short-changed in funding and resources, limiting their ability to bring through positive change quickly.

The lack of public toilets has been a major inconvenience since the previous facilities were removed in 2018, which is being addressed finally with new loos in Battery Road car park.

But it's another source of frustration for Cllr Barratt, the convener of the South and West Fife area committee, who said: "The North Queensferry toilets are a strategically-important asset in a key tourism destination that is the gateway to Fife.

"But again it ended up the community manager (Alastair Mutch) had to manage the entire project with very little support from elsewhere.

"It means a lot of things we want to spend money on have to wait as, on his own, he can only really deliver one project at a time."

He said the heavy reliance on Mr Mutch, and lack of support from other council services, had also "hindered" key projects in Inverkeithing and Aberdour.

The SNP councillor explained: "If council officers don't think a project or action sits in their remit, the most common response is, 'It's the community manager's responsibility'.

"One example is the pierhead at North Queensferry. We've had lots of issues there over the years, complaints from residents about traffic issues, parking and anti-social behaviour, so there was a meeting with transportation to look at matters like parking and better signage.

"But rather than a transportation officer writing up a report, they said it was a community matter so it was the community manager's responsibility.

"At the end of the day, you could argue everything is a community matter. Now he's an amazing officer, I wish we could clone him, but it's one guy and he can't do everything."

Cllr Barratt, who represents Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay, will table a motion at the next committee meeting arguing that the centre (of the council) either needs to provide more support or greater resources and powers should be devolved to area level.

He explained: "Fife is divided into seven area committees and each one has a community manager who is essentially responsible for delivering various local projects.

"However, the resources given to each area to help them do that are not equal – Cowdenbeath area gets £1 million more a year than we do – and so South and West Fife doesn't have the same level of staffing.

"The result is quite often we don't have the resources to deliver all the projects we want to do."

And he highlighted that St Andrews received officer assistance to deal with facilities and regulations for motorhomes and campervans, whereas Aberdour did not.

Cllr Barratt said: "It's the differing attitudes from the centre about where responsibility lies.

"You've also got Inverkeithing harbour, which doesn't really serve the community.

"It's Common Good land and used by a very small group of individuals but it's not really open to the public.

"We want to take it into community trust ownership, as we did in North Queensferry, which has been a great success.

"But, despite it being in the Common Good account and other harbours are managed more centrally by the harbours team, we've not been able to do that in Inverkeithing as the community manager has been given the responsibility."

Fife Council's spokesperson for finance, economy and strategic planning, Cllr Altany Craik, explained that one of the council's main priorities was to reduce poverty and inequality for Fifers.

He said: "We target our funding and resources to the people and areas of Fife that have the greatest need and the area committee is one of the key parts of meeting that need.

"The Labour administration pledged to put decision making into the hands of local councillors and we will be bringing forward proposals that put budgets and staff at the heart of this.

"We will be looking at what can be done better locally and what needs to stay Fife-wide.

"Councillor Barratt is well aware of this and will, I am sure, want to make a success of the changes that are being worked on.

"The challenges around staffing and resources are not new and are the result of continual cuts to local authority budgets from Holyrood."