The impact of having a Fife town “effectively closed down” for hours on Saturday for an Orange Order march involving DUP chief Arlene Foster, has been criticised.
Paul White, the deputy director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Scotland, warned vital bus connections, including many serving both the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Queen Margaret in Dunfermline, would be affected by the Cowdenbeath event.
Diversions would see Auchtertool, Crossgates, Hill of Beath, Cowdenbeath and Lumphinnans receive no bus services, while only parts of Lochgelly would be served, he warned.
This meant an area of low car ownership and with a population of around 24,000 people would be affected.
In a letter to the council and Fife MSPs, he said it was hugely disappointing Fife Council could allow this level of disruption.
“While it is too late to halt this weekend’s march, I would suggest it is a matter of some urgency for the council to meet with local bus operators, along with CPT to discuss how such future events are handled to minimise the impact on operators and passengers,” he added.
Fife Council responded saying it had a standard process for dealing with notifications for processions and parades from any group or organisation.
Police Scotland is managing the parade route and traffic. Many roads around town will be closed as well as the slip road from the A92 at Cowdenbeath which will be shut from 1pm to 4pm.
— Fife Police (@FifePolice) June 27, 2018
The local authority said it imposes standard conditions for all parades and it was the organiser’s responsibility to conduct a risk assessment and ensure the safety and conduct of all participants.
As long as organisers are adhering to the conditions set out, the council pointed out it has no right to say who is or isn’t allowed to hold an event.
Co leader, Labour councillor David Ross, said given the representation from the bus operators he was prepared to sit down and have discussions with them to look at what can be done in future.
More than 100 police officers are being drafted in to man the event with around 4,000 marchers are expected to take part in the annual Battle of the Boyne anniversary celebration.
Cowdenbeath is hosting the event for the County Grand Lodge of the East of Scotland.
Lodges from across the central belt are planning to attend and the DUP leader is expected to say there is “no place for sectarianism” and will stress the need to build a shared society.