Three judges visited the area for a brief tour, and these were; David Stewart representing the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Chessa Llellywn-White from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Pamella Maxwell, a community volunteer and representative for the SURF Awards.
The judges arrived by train and were welcomed to the area by Mossmorran flaring and the newly-built Little Raith Wind Farm, certainly an eye opener if it was their first time visiting the area.The judges were then brought to the Ore Valley Business Centre for a small presentation by Fife Council, from Joe McGuiness and Hazel Cross, who both represent the regeneration efforts conducted by Fife Council, with Hazel promoting the short term and mid term plans and achievements of the Lochgelly Charrettes.
After the Fife Council presentation, the judges heard from the Lochgelly Community Development Forum, who highlighted the work they have been doing for over a decade. Members, Eileen McKenna and Helen Ross, gave a short but comprehensive overview of the work they have done covering the Womens Group, the Gala & Christmas Lights, Benarty Credit Union, support groups and their involvement in the regeneration process.
After the presentations, the judges were given an opportunity to speak with the various individuals in the room, from local councillors, Linda Erskine and Ian Chisholm, to Fife Council and Ore Valley reps, and representatives from local community groups, as well as getting a chance to see a range of information boards that highlighted some of the physical changes in the town, such as the removal of Broadways, the old cinema and hotel, and other long gone shops and buildings.The judges were then taken on a walking tour of Lochgelly and shown the new range of shop premises built by Ore Valley, then they dropped into Mrs Ds Pudding Club which was part of the Vacant Unit Enterprise, followed up by a visit to Computer & Components who had participated in the Shop Local campaign and had received grants to upgrade their premises, both inside and outside.
Judges were then whisked to the former library site, to show the work in progress and hear of future development plans, both for the Fabtek site, and potential for St Andrews Church. Judges were also shown the regeneration work conducted on the Hall Street flats.
The judges continued to the Lochgelly Centre and were given a brief tour, before getting a more in-depth tour of the Library facilities by Ann Belton, as well as a brief history of the Library and Jennie Lee.Our group was also given an opportunity to highlight the work we do online for public transparency and community engagement. It was unfortunate that our site is still under heavy construction for several sections on the site, but we managed to show a balanced perspective of both local issues and positives in the local area.
After the presentation, Judges were given the opportunity for a light snack and ask any further questions, before returning back to Glasgow.
During the awards process, the judges are only allowed a two hour visit, so everything was brief and moved quickly. The nomination for the award was submitted by Fife Council, and they presented a very informative application. Not only did the application highlight the positive work ongoing in Lochgelly, it also highlighted the negative issues and recognised that there was work still to be done in terms of visual, planning and social regeneration.
This theme was apparent throughout the entire visit. Looking back at the old pictures of Lochgelly (which we will try and obtain for publishing), Lochgelly has come a long way, but all groups recognised and made it known that despite all the efforts of Fife Council, Community Groups, local businesses, and local individuals, that more still needs to be done to improve the area, and reaffirmed their commitments to doing what they can to achieve those improvements, through their own work and continuing work through Social Partnerships.
It was a very balanced approach and we are sure the judges took all of it on board. The awards will be announced in December and it will be a great achievement for the Lochgelly area if it is won, as it will recognise the solo and joint efforts conducted by Fife Council, Community Groups, Businesses and Individuals to regenerate the local area.