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posted 16 Apr 2015, 18:16 by Ian Holmes-Lewis   [ updated 10 Sep 2017, 12:06 ]
If it ain't broke, don't fix it - 

Kelty and Saline to Join?

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has put forward proposals that would reduce the number of councillors the county has by six, and would also change the boundaries of certain wards. One of the proposed changes takes the Saline and Steelend community council area out of the West Fife & Coastal villages ward, and places it in a ward with Kelty and Ballingry. This would split Saline and Steelend from our close village neighbour, Oakley, located only a couple of miles south of Saline.

proposed new boundaries

Saline and Steelend have for decades shared a Fife Councillor with Oakley, and this situation has always been not only simple logic but convenient and eminently sensible, as Saline and Steelend folk rely on many of the facilities provided by our larger neighbour. These include the Health Clinic – I should think that very nearly all the people in Saline and Steelend are patients of the Oakley practice - and the various rehabilitation classes, the sports and exercise facilities, the Post Office, the Police Station and the Co-op shop; as well as a number of other shops and fast food outlets. Having the same councillors responsible for the two villages helps to expedite the solution of problems that arise, particularly those concerning traffic matters and planning applications.

Moreover, removing Saline and Steelend from Ward 1 would effectively remove our eligibility to belong to the West Fife & Coastal Villages Forum. This is a committee of representatives of the West Fife & Coastal villages’ community councils where common issues such as bus services, or planning applications for opencast mining and large wind turbines can be debated, and from where joint representations to Fife Council can be made. There is also a Government-instigated organisation called the West Fife Villages Project Group; and, again, our eligibility to contribute to this group would cease if we were wrenched out of the present grouping. For years, Saline & Steelend residents have fully supported both the above groups as we have a close association and common interests with the other communities in Ward 1.

There are numerous other social and communal links between Saline and the other West Fife village communities. These include a common emergency defibrillator service that is centred in Saline; and the West Fife Villages Art & Photographic Exhibition which has been hosted by Saline for the last ten years.

Having been involved with local community groups for more than 30 years, I find that I routinely visit Oakley and some other West Fife villages two or three times a week. However, over that 30-year period I have only had occasion to visit Kelty twice. I am sure that Kelty and Ballingry are lovely places and that the people there are very nice - but I cannot see any reason or benefit in us leaving our present Ward and joining a Ward with other communities where there is little or no social interaction, or common interest. Saline is a full eight miles from Kelty and about twelve miles from Ballingry by road – and there are no public transport links from there to here whatsoever; nor have there ever been, for the perfectly logical reason that these communities have no functional connections whatsoever.

When one looks at the compact West Fife villages area, the Saline & Steelend Community Council boundary is at most four miles from the edges of the present Ward 1 area. As an example, the opencast mining operation at Comrie, lying as it does close to Saline, has no relevance for the people in Kelty; whereas its operation is of immediate concern for most of the communities in Ward 1. Conversely, large–scale (or indeed any scale) developments in Kelty or Ballingry would have virtually no effect on the lives of Saline or Steelend residents.

The Boundary Commission state that they have considered factors such as local ties within a community which might be broken by changing the boundaries, together with special geographical considerations. In light of the above – and these are by no means the only relevant factors – I find this assertion frankly incredible. The proposal is, bluntly, geographical and (especially) social nonsense – and what else, pray, are local administrative boundaries supposed to be about, if not geographical and social common sense? I would suggest that the Commission needs to redraw its proposals concerning the West Fife & Coastal villages.

The proposals are currently being considered by Fife Council. When this completes, the Commission say that they will begin another consultation, this time seeking the views of members of the public about the planned changes.

I would ask the four Councillors who currently represent the interests of the residents of Ward 1 to consider these boundary proposals, and to make the strongest representations possible against them to the Boundary Commission.

In conclusion - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Specifically, if it’s functioning strongly and coherently, for the benefit of all, as the West Fife and Coastal Villages structure is, then leave it alone.

John Crane