“Campaign of hate”: Madras squabbles rage on

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One of the two Madras College buildings in St Andrews. Credit: James Allen

Further disagreements have emerged over the proposed Pipeland Road site for the new Madras College.

Bryan Poole, Fife Council’s executive spokesperson for education, expressed fears at a Council meeting that the St Andrews Preservation Trust will support a judicial review of the Pipeland site.

The site, now approved by both Fife Council and the Scottish government, has been controversial locally owing to its green belt location. The Preservation Trust has previously stated that it is against the proposal.

If a legal challenge to the plans goes ahead, it could leave the pupils of Madras in their already crumbling facilities for several more years.

Mr Poole said he had this information “on good authority”. However, the chairman of the Trust, Graham Wynd, told The Courier that the body had “not considered supporting a judicial review and no proposal to this effect has been tabled.”

Mr Poole has also hinted at hypocrisy within the Trust. The St Andrews Town Commission on Housing, which is closely linked to the Trust, has laid out proposals for the development of new low-cost housing on the current Madras site on Kilrymont Road. This would be dependent on the Madras facilities quickly being moved to a new site, which a judicial review would delay.

“The Preservation Trust can’t have it both ways,” said Mr Poole.

Public arguments have also arisen recently between the University and Fife Council, with the University questioning the Council’s reasons for not choosing the University-owned site at the North Haugh.

Fife Council has said that it rejected the site because of drainage problems and affordability issues. In recent public statements, however, it has claimed the rejection was due to the University’s demand that the Council provide an access road worth £3.5 million if it was to sell the land.

The Courier reported a University spokesperson as saying: “For the record, these claims were absolutely false. No such condition was ever proposed, mentioned or even implied by this University as part of the simple pond site offer, and we believed Fife Council officers and senior leadership were well aware of this.

“We are extremely relieved that there may now be an end in sight to the Madras saga, but concerned that on a matter of public importance, elected representatives made highly misleading public statements about the terms of our offer.”

Animosity has also stemmed from recent comments by pro-Pipeland campaigners on social media.

Penny Uprichard, a member of the St Andrews Community Council who objects to the proposed Pipeland site, recently said that she was “frankly horrified” by what she called a “campaign of hate” through aggressive Facebook posts. She said she now intends to seek legal action on the grounds of defamation.

Ms Uprichard was reported in the St Andrews Citizen as saying: “The idea that there is a huge conspiracy by [the] St Andrews Preservation Trust and St Andrews Community Council is ludicrous.”

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