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Fife Council leader reveals plans to tackle issues with bins, potholes and swimming pool opening hours

Fife Council leader David Ross.
Fife Council leader David Ross.

Labour took the helm of Fife Council last week in a blaze of controversy.

The party sought the support of Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors to form a minority administration, despite only having 20 seats.

It left the SNP, the biggest party with 34 councillors, in opposition and was condemned by them as “a dark day for democracy”.

But Labour’s leadership success comes at a difficult time for the council, with complaints mounting about bin collections, potholes, long waits for home care and cuts to swimming pool opening times.

There are also concerns about the rising cost of living, with more and more people falling into poverty.

But council budgets across Scotland are stretched.

We spoke to Fife Council leader David Ross about what he plans to do about it all.


Bin collections and recycling

One of Mr Ross’s immediate issues is the pressure on bin collections and recycling centres.

Just last week more than 4,000 bins across Dunfermline went unemptied amid staff absences and vehicle breakdowns.

And Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath recycling centres were closed over the weekend due to staff shortages.

It’s an issue the Labour leader is well aware of.

Fife Council’s bin collection team has been hit by absence and vehicle breakdowns.

“We need to get a grip of that,” he said.

Covid-related absences and an ageing fleet of lorries have had a huge impact on services.

“Part of the reason is we can’t get parts for lorries and they’re starting to break down,” said Mr Ross.

“And we can’t employ HGV drivers because there’s a national shortage and some of the big firms are offering huge bonuses to get them to work for them.

“There isn’t necessarily a quick and easy answer, even if we are provided with the money.

“But we’ll work on it over the summer and hopefully see some improvements.”

Fly tipping

Illegal dumping and fly tipping has been a huge issue across Fife for a while.

In March, Fife Council launched a “Don’t Rubbish Fife” campaign in a bid to tackle it.

It includes patrols, CCTV and clear-ups at problem hot spots.

Don't Rubbish Fife – Help Stop Flytipping and Illegal Dumping

Don’t be scammed by fly-by-night unlicenced waste disposal operatives Dumpit and Scarper who offer low cost services to dispose of rubbish, only to fly tip it later. If you’re arranging to get rid of rubbish please use a registered waste carrier. You can easily check SEPA's registered list online www.sepa.org.uk/wastecarriers Dealing with illegal dumping and litter costs Scottish councils over £46 million a year.Other cost-effective ways to get rid of waste safely include donating to a local charity, taking it to a recycling centre (booking is only needed if you’re in a van/pick up or have a trailer or at Ladybank) using an online re-use site or our bulky uplift service. Our recycling, upcycling and re-use pages have more info www.fife.gov.uk/recycling www.fife.gov.uk/dontrubbishfife #DontRubbishFife

Posted by Fife Council on Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Now, Mr Ross plans to scrap the £15 charged by the council for bulky uplifts.

“That’s one of the early things on our agenda and we’re looking for a report for after the summer on that,” he sad.

“It’s to encourage people to deal with things responsibly.

“If people’s budgets are under pressure, they’re not going to spend £15 to get rid of things.

“This will reduce pressure on household budgets and hopefully reduce fly tipping.”

Sports centre opening times

There have been protests in north east Fife over cuts to opening hours at sports centres in Cupar and St Andrews.

People there feel they are being treated unfairly as centres in other parts of Fife are open longer.

The protest at Cupar Sports Centre. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

But Fife Sport and Leisure Trust, which runs the centres, says the reduced hours reflect available staff and customer demand.

However, Mr Ross said the Lib Dems in particular were highly critical of the cuts.

And they will now be looked at, while the role of trusts will be reviewed.

“Sport and leisure services and cultural services have a huge part to play in the regeneration and the health of Fife,” he said.

“Health benefits is one of the most important things.

“Opening hours in north east Fife will be looked at.”

Home care waits and day centre closures

Fifers in need of care at home face a four-month wait for help amid pressures on the service.

And families of disabled adults said they felt abandoned as day services remain closed following a Covid shutdown.

Mr Ross says the council can only deal with it if the Scottish Government provides more money.

Kitty Walker from Lundin Links had to spend a day in bed due to a lack of carers to help her up.

“We’re doing reasonably well on delayed discharges and getting people out of hospital,” he said.

“But at the same time, we have between 300 and 400 people in the community waiting for care packages because there isn’t enough money and there aren’t enough carers.

“We’ve only been dealing with critical cases and that’s wrong.

“It needs to be addressed and it’s high on our agenda.

“Day care has been shut and we need to get them open again.

“We’ve put extra funding into that.”

Potholes and flooding

Roads and flooding are both long-term issues for Fife Council and more money has already been found to address both.

The state of the roads is one of the biggest issues and council workers dealt with more than 51,000 complaints between April 2020 and May 2021.

Report potholes
Lewis Heaney has been documenting potholes in St Monans.

“We put more money in for this coming year and there’s a review of the capital programme at the end of this year,” Mr Ross said.

“Hopefully we’ll see some improvements.

“But we’ve got to find more money to maintain those improvements to make sure it doesn’t go back.

“Flooding protection is also needed. We keep hearing about once in a hundred year events but when they’re happening three years in a row, there’s problem.

“We need to find funding to address the worst of it.”

‘That’s democracy’: Fife Council leader defends minority administration and calls for constructive working

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