Fife could soon be in line for more than £2.3 million to support a raft of new community projects – but it could have been £3m.
Fife Council has this week submitted a raft of bids to the UK Government for a share of the Community Renewal Fund but has been criticised for not applying for the full £3m on offer.
Fourteen community projects out of 17 have been put forward, to be assessed by civil servants in London.
Among them are initiatives to support local businesses, development of skills employment opportunities and community improvement projects.
This first tranche of cash will allow feasibility studies on projects, ahead of further funding at a later date if selected.
Despite Fife not making it into the UK Government’s top 100 priority places, applications which meet the criteria have still been put forward.
Top of the council’s list is the Eden Campus, a St Andrews University-led innovation centre, repurposing a redundant papermill.
Other projects, including a new visitor centre in Crail, a digital hub at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes and a community masterplan for Rosyth, were also put forward.
With news of the funding only made public in March, officers were praised by council co-leader David Alexander for pulling together the applications before the June 18 deadline.
However, the process has also faced fierce criticism from some quarters for “squandering” almost £700,000 of available funding.
Independent councillor Linda Holt also accused the council of not informing councillors of the available funding until days before the deadline.
She said: “It is disappointing that Fife Council was unable to find sufficient projects to apply for the maximum amount of money available, squandering almost £700,000.
“It is even more disappointing that elected members were not consulted about the list of projects, or asked if they had any ideas about suitable projects.
“Although council officers knew about the Community Renewal Fund at the beginning of March, councillors did not receive a briefing until May 18 and that was only in response to a public question from an elected member to the full Fife Council.
“By then it was too late for councillors to suggest projects or have any input as the date for when projects had to be put forward to Fife Council was May 23.”
Responding to the criticism, community investment manager, Sharon Douglas confirmed that community groups had been alerted to the funding opportunity at the end of April via bulletins and on the council’s website.
She added: “Many local councillors are signed up to receive our bulletins.
“We also issued a briefing to councillors in the middle of May to update them on the council’s role in the process of inviting and assessing the bids.
“Councils submit a shortlist of proposals which are then considered by the UK Government who will decide which proposals across the UK will be supported.
“The UK Government identified 100 priority places for the Community Renewal Fund and Fife was not one of these.
“This meant that only proposals that met a quality threshold of a score of over 80% could be submitted.
“We included all those achieving this threshold in our submission which totalled £2,339,729.”