With the ongoing ‘austerity’ measures enforced on local authorities we have seen reduction in public services and quality of service as the local authorities try to juggle services to fit into tight budget limitations.
The austerity measures have also had an impact on many local charity groups as funding monies have been reduced and more groups have been competing to access reduced funding packages. We have already witnessed the closure of TIBAL, the Royal Oak Community Club have expressed their own concerns over funding availability, and the most active local group today expressed their concerns that they may have to cease their operations.
That group is the Lochgelly Community Development Forum, who have been operating in Lochgelly for over 10 years, managed by a group of volunteers, and are responsible for community initiatives, such as the Lochgelly Gala, community newsletters, and were instrumental in developing and securing the Christmas Lights for Lochgelly.
The LCDF are also very pro-active on local planning issues, from highlighting current developments and campaigning for a more open and transparent planning process which better invovles the local community. Such planning issues including campaigning for a Supermarket at the Weathermac site, fighting for lights to be placed at the Junction down at the Loch to improve road safety, and highlighting safety concerns over the proposed raised table crossing to be placed next to the roundabout at the Lochgelly Centre.
The LCDF have been raising planning issues in the local area, as well as creating and managing a range of groups and activities in the local area to support local growth and provide local opportunities to promote better social inclusion and contribute to the positive development of Lochgelly.
Recently the LCDF were made aware that their current funding from Fife Council will no longer be available due to changes to the system operated by Fife Council. While other funding sources can be found and secured for the Lochgelly area, this was not the only source of bad news for the Development Forum.
With the local office closing and relocation to the Library, the LCDF have been told they can no longer use the premises for their day to day operations unless they can quickly raise the funds to keep the building on, but with a funding shortage, also, the length of time it takes to prepare and process a funding application, and a loss of their regular funding, the odds are stacked against the group.
How will this affect Lochgelly?
Some people will not be aware of the Lochgelly Community Development Forum, and others will be aware of the group, but unaware of how much time, effort, and impact the group has had on the Lochgelly area, while others will fully realise what impacts the group has had locally.
First of all, the Lochgelly Gala will be lost to the local area. Without the work of the LCDF, we would still be without a gala, and if the group was too cease, we could collectively say goodbye to the Lochgelly Gala for it is doubtful that any local group would dedicate so much time and effort to keep the Gala running.
Secondly, both ‘Loch of Shining Waters’ and the ‘LCDF’ work towards keeping people informed on local issues, such as planning applications, new developments, etc. The difference is we highlight issues online, while the LCDF highlight issues through traditional media, mainly in the form of community newsletters and speaking to people on the street.
While we are happy to highlight issues online, we fully realise not everyone has internet access in the local area, and not everyone visits our site, whereas the benefits of the LCDF using traditional media, ensured that a community newsletter with the latest issues were being delivered to everyone’s door, locally, which is a more valuable resource to the local community to stay informed of local issues, as the information is delivered more widespread.
Thirdly, the Lochgelly Christmas Lights, although a joint initiative, would not have been realised without the key role the LCDF played in securing the lights, and we personally doubt the Christmas lights will be available again this year if the LCDF closes.
Fourthly, the LCDF are heavily involved with many local groups and have developed numerous projects, such as the Lochgelly Womens Social Club, donating finances and equipment to the Remembrance Day ceremonies, the Gelly Trust, and much, much more. The LCDF also provided premises and volunteered time and support to the Benarty and Lochgelly Credit Union.
Some people will say Lochgelly has got nothing, but many groups and individuals in the local area, try to do their bit to make Lochgelly that little bit better, and the LCDF, from what we have witnessed of their work, do the most to try and create community provisions and activities for the local area, and we firmly believe, that the closure of the LCDF will have a bigger impact on the local area through the further loss of community activities, leaving Lochgelly with even less than what is available now.
What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, not very much, unless there is any philanthropic rich local businesses or individuals that would care enough to donate funds to allow the LCDF to pay rent for premises in the short term, which would give the LCDF time to secure funding to pay for the premises.
Additionally, people can contact their local councillors and ask them to highlight the plight of the LCDF and show their public support to keep the group going for the positive development of Lochgelly.
We will keep a close eye on the situation and report any developments with the LCDF.