Last night I was contacted by residents who were distressed and outraged by the reported removal of the model village at Pittenweem Recycling Centre.
I was sceptical, as rumours have been circulating for months and when I spoke to the staff at the site some weeks ago, it turned out that they were afraid that it might be removed, or no longer maintained, once the man who created and looked after it retired. I wrote to the waste manager for recycling sites at Fife Council to express my concern. I saw an email from the Chief Operating Officer posted on Facebook in which he wrote:
The background to this is the person that has done this over the years will be retiring in a few weeks so it’s unlikely that someone will pick this up as its been a bit of a labour of love. It’s not our intention to rip it out but can’t gurantee it will be maintained as we can’t instruct staff to do so.
So when I visited the Recycling Centre this morning and saw the village had gone, leaving only a few shrubs and barren soil, I was horrified.
The arguments for retaining the model village are overwhelming: it’s recycling in glorious action. The village had become a focal point for children – and adults – who visited the tip. Every year it grew, latterly encompassing a model railway. It also exemplified how much the staff and the wider community valued and appreciated the recycling centre – which, unsurprisingly perhaps, stood out for its clean and neat appearance and the helpfulness of its staff.
I’ve just spoken to the same Chief Operating Officer as quoted above. He told me there has been no instruction by Fife Council (or Resource Efficient Solutions LLP, the arms length organisation owned by Fife Council which runs recycling sites) to remove the model village. In fact, he had given an explicit instruction at last Wednesday’s managers’ meeting that the model village was not to be removed. While he couldn’t require staff to look after it, he would be happy for its creator to come on site a couple of hours a week to maintain it after he retires on 24 June. The Chief Operating Officer doubted this message had reached Pittenweem Recycling Centre by the time the village was taken down.
Apparently the village’s creator asked his supervisor last week if he could remove some of the plants from the village as they were his own plants and he would shortly be retiring. His supervisor agreed, and at the same time the village’s creator then removed all the buildings and infrastructure in the display.
The Chief Operating Officer was clear to me that the model village was a thing of beauty which he wanted to see retained, not least because many people have contacted him about it.
I don’t know how exactly this misunderstanding occurred, and I am trying to contact the village’s creator.
What I am sure about is that senior managers at Fife Council/Resource Efficient Solutions did not want the village removed, and they would be open to finding a solution with its creator, and the wider community, whereby it could be restored and retained.