Lundin Links: Mass turnout at public meetings as residents demand action after fire
More than 160 people packed the Old Manor Hotel this afternoon to leave police, councilors and the liquidator with no doubt they want to see a lot more done to have the charred remains of the old Lundin Links Hotel demolished and the main A915 reopened.
There were candid discussions throughout the two-hour meeting which saw the room packed beyond capacity.
And top table officials were sent back with a specific list of actions and a clear message to send back for follow-up to report on progress within days.
Life in the town has been hugely affected by the fire which not only destroyed the historic monument but also saw the main road through Lundin Links closed – causing real problems for residents, businesses, tourists and commuters .
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The hotel’s proximity to the narrow, winding road, which is the main artery linking Kirkcaldy and Leven to St Andrews and the towns of the East Neuk, has resulted in major road closures and diversions, and transformed the center of Lundin Links into a ghost town.
Businesses spoke of losing a third of their business, while residents called signage sending traffic onto diversions appalling and criticized poor action against drivers ignoring speed limits, looking for rat races and jumping traffic lights.
An adviser pointed out that ambulance rides that would have taken 20-30 minutes were now waiting over an hour due to the major diversions.,
But the biggest frustration centered on the lack of action to raze the charred remains of a 17th-century hotel.
Residents felt ignored. One summed up the situation: “If this had happened in Edinburgh or Glasgow by closing a major traffic artery, it would have been demolished within hours or even days.”
Following the blaze – which saw residents evacuated amid fears the flames could spread – Fife Council issued an unsafe building notice.
Only one agency has the right of appeal for a period of 21 days, and that is the liquidator.
He has no intention of doing so, but, at the same time, he cannot move until he understands the wishes of the secured creditor who happens to be the Scottish Government.
He has given developer Kapital Residential an emergency loan of £850,000 during COVID.
The company set up the hotel and a building in Alloa against it, but the latter has since been divested, leaving the balance to be repaid – around £700,000 – against the charred hotel.
Kapital Residental went into liquidation in July, and it is now up to the liquidator to negotiate with the Scottish government as a secured creditor.
Claire Middlebrooks of the liquidation company said the process was not easy.
She told the meeting that she was in daily contact with the Scottish government, as well as a favorite demolition company, but could give no time frame for workers to be on site and start the work. task of demolishing the hotel.
And until it’s torn down, the road can’t be reopened.
She said: ‘The legislation I operate under means that I have to liaise with the secured creditor – the Scottish Government.
“It has not been easy so far to obtain his cooperation. His position was unclear. She told the meeting that she had taken legal advice on what other actions were open to her to get things done.
She stressed that they were “not far away” but the feeling of bureaucracy holding things up prompted many pointed questions from the room.
There have been calls for Jenny Gilruth MSP for the city – and Minister for Transport – to attend the next meeting, and for it to even be passed on to Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister, in a bid to break the action of strength.
Councilor Jan Wincott, spokesman for the Fife Council for Environment and Climate Change, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said: ‘Clearly everyone wants this building to be destroyed as soon as possible, in the safest way possible and that the road is reopened.
“We are working with all parties to do this as soon as possible.”
A follow-up meeting will be held as soon as possible to review all issues raised and keep residents informed.
They will be looking for action – not just words – at this gathering.