FIFE Council are being "forced to spend" the £5 million of Levelling Up money on projects that are not needed in Dunfermline.

That's the view of SNP councillor Naz Anis-Miah who said that the choices were severely limited by strict UK Government rules about using the cash.

The surprise windfall was announced in the Spring budget but the £5m is for cultural projects only.

At the council leader's question time, Dunfermline South councillor Anis-Miah told Cllr David Ross: "Another serious constraint is that the council officers are under pressure to spend that money within 18 months.

Dunfermline Press: Dunfermline South SNP councillor Naz Anis-Miah. Dunfermline South SNP councillor Naz Anis-Miah. (Image: Fife Council)

"How concerned are you that we're not really getting to choose projects that are actually the real priorities that matter to the local community, or even projects previously submitted for Levelling Up funding?

"Instead we're effectively being forced to spend it on priorities that the Westminster government is dictating to us."

READ MORE: 'Why didn't we get any of the £5m Levelling Up cash for Dunfermline?'

Cllr Ross said: "I would dispute that the projects we're choosing are not priorities.

"While I would absolutely agree with you that we're not getting as much of a choice as we would like, there was discussion about those four projects with the area committee and we're managing to put the money where it's needed and meeting some of the priorities of the local area."

Dunfermline Press: Fife Council leader, Labour councillor David Ross. Fife Council leader, Labour councillor David Ross. (Image: Fife Council)

The £5m is being spent on new cultural spaces in St Margaret's House, Fire Station Creative and Tower House, and a performance plaza at Dunfermline Learning Campus.

At the cabinet committee meeting that approved the proposals, council officers confirmed they hadn't applied for the money.

Cllr Ross had described the whole process as "a shambles" but had added "we're certainly not going to turn down five million quid".

At last week's council meeting he faced another question from Cllr Gavin Ellis.

The Dunfermline North Tory councillor asked: "Can the leader give an answer on what the issues were with the Levelling Up funding timescales that ruled out other groups' projects?

Dunfermline Press: Dunfermline North Conservative councillor Gavin Ellis. Dunfermline North Conservative councillor Gavin Ellis. (Image: Fife Council)

"While the money is welcome and will make some difference will the council continue to work with the area committee to make sure the basics in our city, such as pavements and road repairs, are stepped up to make it welcoming not only to tourists but also our own residents?"

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Cllr Ross replied: "We all know the Levelling Up fund, the timescales and what we have to do in terms of applications has been far from satisfactory.

"We've got this extra £5m funding, almost out of the blue, which again we're happy with but that doesn't negate our criticisms of the Levelling Up fund and the process that's involved.

"We're trying to develop a portfolio of shovel-ready projects so that if money does come through from this source or other sources with the same short timescales we're in a position to put in for it."

He went on: "In terms of general provision we're doing our best to provide and maintain services such as repairing roads and pavements and will continue to do that despite the difficult financial situation we face."