Yesterday we published a series of emails between MSP Alex Rowley and community campaigner Tom Kinnaird from Benarty Matters and the Lochore Meadows Panel in which the MSP accuses Mr Kinnaird of bullying before finally responding with his position on the ongoing issues at the Meedies. This prompted a response to Mr Rowley from the Lochore Meadows Panel which is published in full below.
Good afternoon Alex,
Thank you for the update. We are disappointed that you feel we should just accept what’s currently on offer. The system being used here seems to be that it’s better to beg forgiveness than seek permission.
We’ve seen some excellent pre-planning exhibitions lately with regards to the proposals at the Westfield site and the Kirkland Farm housing proposals. Fife Council have a plan for community consultation set out in the Fifeplan. Why do you consider that the authors of the planning consultation rule book, should not be held to the same standards they hold other developers to? It’s a disgraceful state of affairs, a “do as I say, not as I do” policy and politicians usually condemn any lack of transparency.
Trying to get to the bottom of what has gone on here has been a monumental task requiring extraordinary measures which makes it appear there is a lot to hide, and in the opinion of the panel there are some fundamental flaws with the way this project has been managed, right from the very start.
To condone the dismissal of scrutiny and simply proceed at this point as if these issues are minor, only fuels speculation that there is a desire to sweep these issues under the carpet and cover up past mistakes.
Declaring that “mistakes have been made but we must learn the lessons and move on”, is a phrase used far too many times. Mistakes continue to be made, lessons don’t seem to be learned, so rather than moving on, we need to call time on this tired approach and hold those responsible to account. Ordinary members of the public are held to account for their actions every day. Why is it not possible for politicians and senior level executives to face the same consequences for their failures?
You mention that we face the possibility of going into the 2017 season with inadequate facilities and portakabins for toilets. There has just been £80’000 spent on the visitor centre toilets, so they are more than adequate. The proposed new building is a portakabin, which is what we and the majority of community members who attended the public meetings, would prefer to avoid.
We do still have the option to reinstate the current building whilst community engagement takes place to come up with a superior plan.
You state that the Chief Executive and his senior officials would now meet with local groups in all communities around the park and more widely across Fife to answer any ongoing concerns and questions. When is this process to begin, and which communities will he and his team be meeting with?
Could you clarify for us the number of other projects this process has been used for in order to produce quality modern buildings?
You also mention the loss of funding for the sports facility. Sport Scotland have made a recent statement, which does not say the funding will be lost. Councillor Hood provided a detailed timeline of events which would see the pavilion completed and the funding used. Property Services have also said that the separation of the projects was possible and re-tendering is not required so this is not a consideration.
You also mention losing economy of scale. Highland Council are building a far superior facility at a price in line with the Royal Institute of Chartered surveyors price guide at £1400 per square metre. Raymond Johnston of Fife Council Property Services told the panel that his standard price for building a new school was £2600 per square metre. The golf/football pavilion is coming in at £3000 per square metre. Can you point to the economy of scale?
Finally, you mention that “grant applications were made to other organisations including the Scottish Government and they were not successful, so it seems to me it is no more than wishful thinking that we can secure millions more for this project”.
We have double checked with Councillor Campbell as you suggested, and he replied that the original £1m you allocated and the additional £300’000 is there for the new visitor centre. To achieve a more ambitious and exciting building, the master-plan suggests a figure of between £1.5m and £2m. Allowing for the minimal inflation during the flat economic growth period since the crash of 2008 when the master-plan was produced, we might be looking for £1.7m to £2.2m. That would require an additional £400’000 to £900’000 to be added to what is already there. We believe this amount may well be available to draw from capital reserves, but if not, fresh applications can be made to funding bodies. The previous single application made was refused due to the proposal being for something less than is already there. As far as we are aware, there were no other applications; just one single failure and no further attempts to bring in additional funding. This is undoubtedly why so many questions were asked around why the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust were allowed to continue managing Lochore Meadows, when they were clearly not in a position to make the necessary improvements.
Given then that the goal is not extra millions as you suggest but in the hundreds of thousands, would you agree that this goal is achievable and that Fife Council should allow time for fresh representations to be made, as Willie Clarke suggests?
Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your reply.
Lochore Meadows Panel