In November Cllr Hood made a public promise that if following a 3-week consultation and a further public meeting, the Benarty community remained unhappy with the amended design for the new Meedies Visitors’ Centre, it would not go ahead. In a public meeting on Monday, the community roundly rejected the amended plans as not ambitious enough and not fit for purpose.
We are very disappointed that we have heard nothing from Cllr Hood since Monday despite writing to him so we are now asking for an urgent meeting with the leader of Fife Council.
The community fears that the Council may try to push this project through regardless, even though there has been no input from communities into the design process and the vast majority in Benarty want the chance to develop something better.
Communities have been excluded from this project from the start, but there is now a chance for Cllr Ross to put them at the heart of it – if he will meet them.
Dear Cllr Ross,
We were very sorry that you were unable to attend Monday’s public meeting in Benarty about the new visitors’ centre at the Meedies. We are now respectfully requesting a meeting with you as a matter of urgency.
Like the first meeting in November, Monday night again demonstrated the local community’s passionate engagement in getting the best for the Meedies. There was extensive discussion, with both representatives from the Lochore Meadows Country Park and the Fife Countryside and Coastal Trust as well Cllrs Mark Hood and Alex Campbell arguing strongly for the existing proposal. Nevertheless those present on Monday, who numbered over 200, emphatically rejected the proposed amendment to the design and voted by a decisive majority to reject the existing plans for a new visitors’ centre.
Cllr Hood promised at November’s public meeting that if the community were not happy with the suggested changes following a three-week consultation period, the centre would not go ahead. Cllr Hood accepted the vote at Monday’s meeting but he was unclear about what the next steps would be as these “depended on Fife Council”. We are disappointed not to have heard anything from Cllr Hood since Monday and we have written him an open letter, which we copied to you, asking that he let us know the procedure and timescales for formally stopping further progress on the project at Fife Council.
There is understandable concern within the community that the project may be continuing, especially as it emerged at Monday’s meeting that asbestos removal had already taken place at the old Visitor’s Centre as a preliminary to demolition despite Cllr Hood’s assurances in November that demolition work would not be started. We also note the announcement on the Lochore Meadows and FCCT web sites that
We would like to remind all customers that the café facility at Lochore Meadows Country Park will close at 4.30pm next Sunday (23rd October) ahead of the demolition of the existing building on 15th November … We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to inviting you to the new facility in May 2017.
This project has been marred from the start by a failure to communicate with local communities and ensure they are on board. It is therefore all the more disappointing that we are having so much difficulty getting a response from Cllr Hood.
In response to many questions about the Meedies issue, a response in your name appeared in the facebook conversation on The Council today, saying “We’re taking time to consider feedback and what the options are before taking anything forward. The council’s investing £1.8m in this project and we all want better facilities in Lochore Meadows for the Community and visitors from further afield.” Please will you take feedback from us in a meeting with you at your earliest convenience both to confirm that the current design for the visitors’ centre will be dropped and to discuss the way forward.
We look forward to working with Fife Council and the FCCT on how a more acceptable solution to the currently inadequate facilities will be developed and financed in partnership with the local community.
On behalf of Benarty Community Forum & Lochore Meadows Panel