A public meeting is being held at the Lochore Miners’ Institute to discuss the future of the proposed Visitor Centre at Lochore Meadows.

The current plans which have been put forward by Fife Council and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust came under fire after residents from the Benarty area raised concerns over the lack of public consultation and likened the design of the building to a prison block.

A previous meeting held at the Miners’ Institute saw Cowdenbeath Area Committee chair Mark Hood gave several promises to residents including an internal investigation within the council with regards to inforation that was provided inappropraitely to the community, a formal investigation by the Chief Executive with regards to the consultation process, a clear commitment that if residents were unhappy about the proposals they would be suspended.

The short-term action group that was put together to liaison with residents and Fife Council has been put under considerable pressure from elected officials and a minority of residents to discontinue their work.

There has been heated discussion on facebook, where the majority of residents have been unhappy about both the process and final design of the proposal. Nevertheless individuals who questioned the current proposals and alleged failings of Fife Council, Councillors and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, have found themeselves subject to harassment, abuse and emotional blackmail by a minority of facebook users.

One resident spoke out:

“People have opinions on how their taxes are spent and Fife Council should answer the questions without causing so much animosity within the community! These are elected officials and are answerable to the public and they have been caught out numerous times as far as I see shirking their responsibilities in informing the public of any proposed builds!”

The short-term action group has distributed as much information as they can into the public domain through the Facebook group ‘Benarty Matters’.

Member Tom Kinnaird recently posted:

“Following a meeting with the local group chosen to represent the Benarty Community, and the Officers from Fife Council, we were told that the public consultation requirements had been met and the building work is now ready to proceed. No alternative buildings are available.”

The group believe three options are now available to local communities:

  • Option 1 – Say yes to these two buildings and proceed.
  • Option 2 – Say no to the visitor centre, but yes to the combined Golf and Football facility.
  • Option 3 – Scrap the entire project and start again.

Mr Kinnaird further adds:

“Option 2 & 3 would still need to go before Fife Council Executive Committee for decision, and there are still no guarantees that Fife Council will not ignore our wishes and forge ahead with their plans, but that would be a bold move.”

If option 3 is selected by residents, Mr Kinnaird says:

“We as a community would then play a full and active role in the designs of both buildings, with a full public consultation process at each step in the development. Local Community Groups can then engage with Fife Council and other funding agencies to raise more funds, achieving a much better quality of design. The group are keen to stress that if this option is chosen, we will work for the Golf Club and Benarty Astros to deliver the same improvements in their building.”

Mr Kinnaird’s post suggests there will be a public vote on the three options and asks that people share this information with those not on facebook.

The next public meeting will be held at the Lochore Miners Institute, starting at 7pm on Monday 5th December. The group has invited the following to attend:

Cllr David Ross – Leader of Fife Council
Cllr Mark Hood
Cllr Lesley Laird – Fife council & FCCT
Grant Ward – Fife Council Head of Leisure & Cultural Services
Ian Laing – FCCT
Chris Broome – CEO of FCCT
Andy McLellan – Fife Council Sports Partnership Manager
Stephen Nardone – Benarty Community Council

The latest developments can be found at Benarty Matters: https://www.facebook.com/groups/benartymatters

For those that cannot or do not access Facebook, minutes from previous meetings have been made available by the group members which we have further distributed on our public archive for Lochgelly Community Council at: https://lochgellycommunitycouncil.org.uk/projects-committees/lochore-meadows/

Audio recording of the previous meeting captured by Benarty Matters available at:

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