A boisterous public meeting organised by Benarty Community Forum to discuss issues surrounding proposed plans to replace a visitor centre at Lochore Meadows was deemed a success after councillors including Cowdenbeath Area Committee chair Mark Hood agreed to a raft of measures to appease dissatisfied residents.
Residents demanded to know who was responsible for the lack of consultation on the design of the new build and for the lack of meetings of the Lochore Meadows Advisory Group,as well as a range of other issues.
Promises given by Cllr Hood to the packed meeting include an internal investigation into the governance processes, an investigation into the consultation processes, a halt to the demolition of the existing building, the reformation of the Lochore Meadows Advisory Group with cross-party representation rather than the current Labour hegemony, and a 3-week consultation exercise with residents to review current plans.
MSP Annabelle Ewing called for the current planning application and process to be halted amidst loud cheers of support from residents. Councillor Peter Lockhart also expressed his support for halting the process but claimed he did not have the power to do so.
Councillor Mark Hood insisted the planning application should continue to be processed but did concede that unless amended plans drawn up through the 3-week consultation process, led by Benarty Community Forum, are agreed by those attending a public meeting, the current application would have to be scrapped. He acknowledged that it cannot proceed without local support and unless the community is on board.
A spokesperson for community action group ‘They’re our Meedies not their Meadows’ stated:
“Big thanks have to go to Lorna Bett and The Benarty Community Forum for setting this meeting up for us all. The turnout was good and everyone got a chance to put their points across. It was agreed that an emergency consultation process will now be carried out, with another full public meeting to take place in exactly three weeks time. If we the public don’t feel that three weeks is enough time to come up with something better, the entire plan will be scrapped and it’s back to square one. This time we’ll make sure redeveloping the visitor centre is done properly from start to finish.”
The Benarty Community Forum will be working with the trust, Fife Council and other community groups and residents to revise the designs.
Lorna Bett, treasurer of Benarty Community Forum says:
“I am very hopeful we can reach some sort of agreement. We won’t be able to please everyone but we will try to get the best we possibly can.”
Benarty Community Forum will be chairing the consultation process over the next couple of weeks with a final public meeting to be held on 5th December 2016 at 7pm at the Lochore Miners’ Institute.