Bankie Park Voices Spoken Loudly & Clearly

Bankie Park possibly changing its’ layout to accommodate a new care home for the elderly is a “hot button” topic for many people in the area, and opinions are being spoken loudly, clearly, and unfavorably.

Proposals by Fife Council and Fife Health and Social Care to replace the current Ladywalk House with a new-build facility in the park are being met with strong opposition if now downright anger. The current facility would be demolished and the new Ladywalk House built in an area of the park which is currently a wildflower area, and an area popular with dog-walkers to let their animals have a bit of run.  The demolished area would be cleaned up and returned to usable parkland, so to Fife Council, this is a like-for-like exchange of land space.

MP Stephen Gethins met with over 40 residents in Bankie Park on Friday, July 6, to learn their reactions to the proposals, and is now questioning the plans after learning more about people’s dissatisfaction.  In a statement in The Courier, July 12, he said, “….I agree that it would be a very serious error if Anstruther was to lose any of its remaining green space….I think it would be sensible to reconsider the siting of this proposed home.”

Three days later on Monday, July 9, a Community Council meeting was held which was standing-room only. Some 70 people attended the meeting, also attended by Councillors John Docherty, Linda Holt, and Bill Porteous.  David Heaney of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, Vivienne McBride, Change Manager/East Division,  and Councillor David Graham, were also in attendance.

Mr. Heaney gave a presentation which explained the criteria used in deciding Bankie Park might be a suitable site; what other locations were looked at and discarded as possibilities; why the current Ladywalk House needs to be replaced, not refurbished;  and what the next steps/process would be in moving the whole project forward. He also answered questions raised by attendees, and later said that the points and criticisms raised were noted and would be considered.

Meeting attendees were vocal in their discouragement of Bankie Park being used, among the reasons:  it’s an area vital to the local community; it’s a highly-used area by people of all ages; it’s undergone various upgrades recently which would all be discarded; it provides a safe passage for kids who walk to school; the configuration of the park would change, which would affect the way the park and its’ space is used; and much more.  These, and other comments and criticisms flew hard and fast as the evening went on, and as Cllr. Linda Holt said in her short presentation, she was surprised at just how passionate people are about Bankie Park, something she hadn’t previously realised ran so deep.

There will be another meeting, most likely late August/September, at which more information will be provided in response to the questions raised.