Lochgelly Community Council’s first meeting of 2017 on Thursday evening (11 January) provided a clear example of how political pressure is brought to bear on the community council and its members. Community council office-bearers connived with a local councillor in an attempt to produce a decision to support a highly-politicised and controversial project.

Lasting barely an hour, 30 minutes of which were taken up by councillor reports from Cllrs Hood and Erskine, the meeting only gave very brief consideration to Lochore Meadows visitor centre, despite the enormous interest the issue has been arousing locally for weeks both in the local press and online.

Cllr Hood raised the matter when he asked for “clarity” over the stance of Lochgelly Community Council on the proposed visitor centre. Cllr Hood has been at the forefront of a campaign to get Fife Council’s proposal built despite sustained opposition from local communities and a clear vote against at a public meeting he attended in Benarty.

Community councillor and Shining Waters board member George Kinnell was promptly badgered by three community councillors when he tried to state the position of Lochgelly Community Council as agreed at its December meeting.

The three community councillors who repeatedly tried to stop Mr Kinnell from finishing his sentence by putting words into his mouth were Stevie Murray (secretary), Brian Schulz (chair) and Jean MacDonald.

The recording shows them attempting to get Mr Kinnell to dismiss the previous decision taken by the community council not to support the new centre as currently proposed.

All three are known Labour activists who strongly support the new visitor centre proposed by the Labour administration at Fife Council.

None of these community councillors declared any relevant interests which would have seen them excluded from the discussion. According to Fife Council rules for community councils as well as Lochgelly Community Council’s own rules, all three should have declared their affiliation to the Fife Labour party. Furthermore messrs Murray and Schulz are both Fife Council employees, which constitutes a further potential conflict of interest as the new Visitor Centre is a Fife Council project.

The recording below contains sub-titles. Apart from the community councillors pictured, none of the other community councillors present spoke, or was asked to speak. No vote was taken and no final or clear statement offered by the Chair of what was decided.

Note: To view the subtitles click on the CC button on the player below.

Excerpt: Transcription from LCC Meeting held on 11th January 2017

Cllr Hood: I’d just go back, there was a meeting of the advisory board for Lochore Meadows on the 16th, which I don’t know if you want to give them an update on that because that was after the last meeting of the community council.

Kinnell: Well the only thing I could add to that would be likes, mind I got a mandate off you all to say we weren’t going to [Murray talks over: we were going to support the campaign for the new facility] a new facility aye but not the one being proposed.

Cllr Hood: I was just wanting clarity, what was the position on the new facility?

Kinnell: The decision of the community council and the community for benarty was that…. [Schulz interrupts the response]

Schulz: We’re no Benarty, we’re no Benarty what was our position?

[Several interruptions from Schulz, McDonald, Murray all talk at the same time making the audio ineligible stopping Kinnell from responding]

Kinnell: [inaudible due to interruptions] not the plans that were there….

McDonald: No we never, we just said that [inaudible mumbling from several CCs] a public meeting and that

Cllr Hood: Just so that I’m clear cause obviously there has been a lot of information circulating in the press in the last wee while. What I’ll do as well there’s a lot of misinformation in the public domain and I think we need to start addressing a lot of that. I’ve got a briefing that’s come through the day, what’s frustrating is that a lot of the information is coming from sources that we’ve spoken to a number of times and given explanations and provided that information to but recently [inaudible] misinformation and not sharing the other information so there’s clear issues that I would want to make sure that all you guys are aware of, and I’ll circulate that document that was a briefing that’s been produced by officers so it’s not any councillor detailing the answers to a lot of questions. One of the ones which has been, misleading was with regards to the pre-demolition of the building, that wasn’t pre-demolition it was work getting done for every building that is getting demolished, the council has got a legal responsibility to do an invasive asbestos survey, an invasive asbestos survey does cause damage to the fabric of the building because we have to take bits and pieces of but we’ve got a legal responsibility to do that so we done that and it was no part of the demolition of the building, but I firmly believe that at a provisional meeting of Lochore Meadows that there hasn’t been any work done on that building with regards to the demolition {inaudible] issue with regards to that building so there could be no demolition all paid up because the people [inaudible – didn’t let them?!?] do it [inaudible] that’s it clear [inaudible] what I’ll do make sure the rest of that information goes in so that everybody has got all the facts and start to form their own opinion [inaudible].

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One Comment

  1. […] to the Labour Party rounded on community councillor and Shining Waters volunteer George Kinnell, in an attempt to produce a decision to support the highly-politicised plans for Lochore […]

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