A LOCAL Labour councillor reacted with anger after being told the new £7.8 million health centre for Kincardine was not a "priority" for the Scottish Government.

Graeme Downie, who represents the West Fife and Coastal Villages, hit out after the knock-back and fears the much-needed facility won't open until 15 years after it was promised.

Health secretary Michael Matheson blamed sky-high inflation, less cash than expected from Westminster and rising construction costs as he confirmed that Kincardine and Lochgelly will have to wait for funding until at least 2026.

In a joint statement, Cllr Downie and Cllr Linda Erskine, whose ward includes Lochgelly, said: “We are furious but not surprised that the SNP / Green Scottish Government does not consider new health centres in Kincardine and Lochgelly to be a priority.

“Both new health centres were promised well over a decade ago, with both current buildings entirely unfit for purpose.

"Not only does that make it harder to deliver effective health care but also to recruit people to work in a poor workplace environment.

"Yet all we hear from the SNP is excuse after excuse after excuse, while failing to take any responsibility.”

Last month Cllr Downie's emergency motion at Fife Council was approved, calling on council leader David Ross to write to the Scottish Government asking for the funds for the health centres to be delivered as soon as possible.

The current facility in Kincardine;s Kilbagie Street was branded "not fit for purpose" in 2016 and Cllr Downie said that further delays in providing a new one will “make it harder for NHS Fife to provide effective health care”.

The motion followed the revelation in the Scottish Parliament that the money to build them wouldn't be available until the "second half" of the decade.

In the reply to Cllr Ross, Mr Matheson wrote: "While the construction of new health centres in Kincardine and Lochgelly were not identified in the Infrastructure Investment Plan (2021-26) as a priority, they were two of a number of projects which the Scottish Government was hoping to take forward at the earliest possible opportunity, if budget flexibility emerged.

"The Scottish Government recognises that there is a need to invest in health facilities in Kincardine and Lochgelly.

"However, the impact of higher than expected inflation means there is no ability to expand the health infrastructure programme at this point.

"Instead, health infrastructure spending will be focused on the priority projects set out in the Infrastructure Investment Plan and funding for new health centres in Kincardine and Lochgelly is unlikely to be available until 2026 at the earliest."

Cllr Downie and Cllr Erskine's statement added: “The SNP talk about reducing the health gap and empowering local communities but as with so many other things, they are utterly failing to implement policies to help Fifers.

“The people of Kincardine and Lochgelly are being forgotten by the SNP but they will not be forgotten by the Labour Party.

"We will continue to be on their side and fight with them to deliver these new health centres that their communities need.”