Fife Council has been accused of acting as if it really does have public money to burn by spending more than £8,500 on Friday night’s spectacular fireworks display in Glenrothes.
Linda Ballingall, founder and chairwoman of the Glenrothes and Area Heritage Centre, branded the donation a slap in the face to other community groups who, she claimed, had been offered scraps in comparison.
She has now called for more transparency regarding the fair distribution of public funds.
Members of the local authority’s Glenrothes area committee approved the donation for the annual community fireworks at Gilvenbank Park, which was attended by more than 5,000 people.
At a meeting on Wednesday, they said they were particularly pleased to provide support this year given it was the town’s 70th anniversary.
But an outraged Ms Ballingall questioned the generosity.
“In this age of austerity, foodbanks etc, I know other community-led bodies, having been awarded scraps in comparison, feel disgusted at this amount of money being awarded from the public purse to literally burn,” she said.
“My career was spent in creating events promoting Glenrothes within the tourism sector.
“They were week-long events that boosted the economy, not plundered it.”
Ms Ballingall said in the past year alone she had submitted five funding applications for a total of £20,000 to help further the heritage centre’s work but had been awarded just £5,000.
“I put the lack of financial support down to the fact that we are constantly being told we are in financially austere times but I was wrong as there is clearly money to burn,” she said.
“If our politicians want the respect and voting loyalty of the people they represent then some transparency has to be put in place with regards the fair distribution of public funds.”
SNP councillor Fiona Grant, who chairs Glenrothes area committee, said: “There are not many occasions where local people of all generations can get together.
“But planning and funding the fireworks display is a major undertaking and to make future events sustainable we will be working with community groups and partners to develop a forward plan.
“I encourage everyone going along to donate generously for next year’s event.”
Meanwhile, Fife Council has issued a reminder that sky lanterns should not be released in the region.
Their use was banned by councillors last year following concerns raised by local farmers and pet owners.
SNP councillor Ross Vettraino, convener of the environment, protective services and community safety committee, said: “Sky lanterns are light objects which contain a lighted candle and which are carried on the breeze by the hot air that the candle produces.
“They are out of control immediately they are released and can come down anywhere.
“They present a huge risk, not only to livestock and farm buildings, but to household pets and all domestic and commercial property.”
Mr Vettraino said the council had prohibited all intentional balloon and lantern releases on council-owned land and property and at events endorsed or supported by the council, including those on land not owned by the authority.
It has also prohibited lantern and mass balloon releases within the terms and conditions of lease/hire and licence agreements.
“It is my earnest hope that everyone will refrain from using sky lanterns on bonfire night and will enjoy and participate in the occasion by visiting one of the many properly organised bonfires and fireworks displays throughout Fife,” he said.