There were heated scenes in Falkland yesterday when a historic wall inside the town’s conservation area was part demolished.
Police officers were called in to oversee the controversial works at the Pleasance after concerned residents claimed the contractors, Lomond Group, were acting illegally.
Police attention shortly switched when cross words were traded between local SNP councillor David MacDiarmid, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to save the wall and associated buildings, and the director of the Lomond Group, Alan Seath.
The Lomond Group told the councillor and other locals at the site that, after removing a top section, they discovered flaws in the structural integrity of the stone.
They then decided that the wall had to come down in the interests of safety, until the boundary was deemed to be structurally sound.
Despite this, the wall’s fate appeared to be saved at the 11th hour when Dave Smeaton, Fife Council’s lead officer for roads management, instructed a temporary stop to the demolition.
The joy from locals and the councillor at hearing this news was short lived when contractors decided the wall was too much of a safety hazard.
This sparked anger from those at the scene including a local university professor, Stuart Hazeldine, who sat on the spade of a JCB in an attempt to hamper the works.
Police promptly instructed him to move.
However others heckled contractors as engines rumbled into action.’Making it safe’Lomond Group chief executive Phillip Richards, who unexpectedly arrived in the town after hearing of the disruption, said, “Our primary concern is making that wall safe so nobody gets hurt.
“We were served a statutory health and safety notice which we are legally bound to, and we had to act on it.
“We’ve had two independent structure engineers who said the wall isn’t safe in its entirety; all we are doing is making it safe,” he said.
There has been a public campaign to save the wall and associated outbuildings, believed to date back 300 years, and earlier this week around 50 demonstrators stood outside the site to oppose any demolition.
At this time Fife Council head of transport services Dr Bob McLellan agreed, among other points, that a community working group would be set up to put forward suggestions on the matter.
At the site on Wednesday, Dr McLellan said the authority had not gone back on anything they had agreed.
“Health and safety is paramount and that (the wall) is more unsafe than I envisaged it to be.
“We will take it down to a level that is safe, but our intention is to rebuild the wall sympathetic to the area. It’s a case of making safe and building back up as required,” said Dr McLellan.
He said a second reassessment will be carried out which will determine how quickly the stretch of wall is rebuilt.’Totally disgusted’But Howe of Fife and Tay Coast councillor David MacDiarmid said he was “totally disgusted” by the actions of Lomond Homes.
“The fact (is) they are riding rough-shod over the community of Falkland after Fife Council instructed them not to do certain things; they deemed it their right to go ahead and do it.
“The police are here on site and I wish they could do more against this act of thuggery, but they can’t,” he said.
Also expressing his disappointment was Falkland community council vice-chairman John Smith.
“The developer is on site and is instructing his men, against everybody else, to come in and demolish with a machine which could have a dramatic effect on the integrity of a very historic wall, and everybody is furious about the whole thing,” said Mr Smith.
An assessment will now be carried out on the rest of the wall, which includes the gable ends to derelict farm buildings.
A date for this has not been set.
However it is expected to be carried out in the next week.
If they are also deemed to be a health and safety risk it is understood they will be demolished.