A series of emails have been shared with Shining Waters showing the dialogue between a community repesentative for the Lochore Meadows Panel, Mr Tom Kinnaird and MSP Alex Rowley discussing the ongoing issues at the Meedies.

Email messages in green are emails that have been sent by Mr Kinnaird. Email messages in red are emails that have been sent by MSP Alex Rowley

Jan 6 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Alex Rowley

Hello Alex,

Can you let me know if the £1m originally pledged for the visitor centre, by yourself, is still being held, and by which party?

I have FCCT minutes saying Amanda MacFarlane had the funds released by Fife Council, but they don’t appear on the Trusts accounts.

Does that mean the money is still held by Fife Council? Has it been absorbed into the general balances at FCCT?

If you could make enquiries and let me know how things stand, that would be much appreciated.

Regards

Tom


Jan 8 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr. Kinnaird & Cllr Alex Campbell

Tom

The funding that was agreed in the budget of £1million was held in the council accounts.

I am not aware that this has changed but I have copied in Alex Campbell who as a councillor will be able to get this confirmed with the Director of Finance

Alex

Alex Rowley MSP


Jan 8 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Thanks Alex,

So are you staying out of this, or can we look forward to your input at some point?


Jan 8 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr Kinnaird Kinnaird

Tom
What is it exactly that you are objecting to with this new visitors centre?

Alex

Alex Rowley MSP


Jan 8 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Hello Alex,

If we skip past the facts detailing the deliberate avoidance of public consultation, which added considerable insult to the issue, I’ll lay it out for you.

What myself and many others were expecting was something along the lines of what was proposed in the 2008 Development Masterplan. You might not think it, but a lot of folk in this community read all these things and when it’s something grand, which will be a huge improvement to the area, it’s followed with great interest and awaited with great anticipation.

The various press releases made over the years, your own included, expressed an urgent need to provide something befitting the park’s standing as a national treasure.

“The Country Park is one of Fifes best used visitor attractions with over 650,000 visitors a year going through the park and it is on our doorstep!” January 2013

“I am really keen to make progress and having much greater clarity on the options for taking the park to the next stage of development. We have on our doorstep one of the best outdoor facilities in the country and with a bit of vision and drive we can take the development to the next level. I am keen that local groups are involved in this development and will be discussing with the trust how best to achieve this”. November 2013

“The Park attracts over 580,000 visitors per year making it Fifes top visitor attraction, and it is also ranked 19th in the Scottish top 100 free visitor attractions. The current visitor centre was built over 30 years ago and is in desperate need of either refurbishment or a new centre to replace it and recommendations on this will be developed over the next year with the £1million investment from the Council going towards whatever option is agreed.” February 2014

Going by your figures there Alex, the Meedies does better than Edinburgh Zoo, and that’s with the very limited visitor centre we have at the moment, and virtually no media exposure. It’s a Top 20 attraction.

So, expectations were high, you pledged £1m and placed the park into the hands of the trust who you promised were to match fund the £1m.

We’re told it became apparent quite early on that the trust were not going to manage to match fund £1m, so the target was dropped to £600’000. Then they said they couldn’t match that, but allowance was made once again and the target was dropped to £300’000. But even that was not achievable?

But rather than make representations to other groups who could have helped with funding, someone took the decision to try and provide something using only the original £1m.

To make the fund go further, we’re told it was prudent to merge the three projects ongoing between the three trusts and build two buildings simultaneously, using one site manager, and making further savings on the professional fees.

That sounds reasonable, until we eventually see what the £1.69m project is delivering.

Two very basic, box shaped, very dark, almost black buildings, which look like shipping containers or vandal proof site offices to me. On further investigation, it turns out these are inspired by portakabins. They are indeed modular, pre-fabs, built in a warehouse and transported in to be bolted together. In essence, these are the cheapest, nastiest buildings on the market.

To say the promises and expectations, built up over years of patiently waiting, were smashed, is an understatement. These are an insult to Scottish Engineering, to Scottish Architecture and to everyone who loves the Meedies.

I had hoped, when I read the objections from the Fife Council Urban Design office, that would have been sufficient to halt proceedings, but it seems those objections count for nothing.

I looked into the prices these buildings should be costing. My findings are that both of these buildings should be coming in at around £510’000, and that’s being generous. They are tiny. The facilities they offer are embarrassing. The development masterplan lays out what should be in the new visitor centre to take it forward as a modern visitor attraction. None of it is included. The proposed new building is a reduction in size by 46%. The cost is £2600 per sqm, the pavilion is £3000 per sqm. These are prices for executive living in central London, not a prefabricated steel framed box in Fife.

As things stand, you’ll be aware of the promises made by Mark Hood. The community made their choice to compromise on the sports pavilion and reject the visitor centre design. This was after one meeting with officers who, rather than offering alternative designs conceded only one possibility with no guarantees, to maybe change the outside colour.

The Meedies Panel met before the break with Mark Hood, and David Ross, who said he was minded to proceed, and that our public meetings were not representative of the wider public view. I asked David directly if that meant he would hold further public consultations to gather the wider public opinion. His response was that public opinion is not required. He concluded that the final decision would be taken at the meeting of the Executive Committee on the 24th of January.

in the meantime, we remain hopeful that Fife Council will honour their commitment to the community and scrap the current plans, and begin afresh with full community involvement. That will mean repairing the damage caused by the invasive asbestos survey, carried out prior to planning permission being granted, and using the current visitor centre for 2017 whilst new plans for its replacement or refurbishment are drawn up.

Obviously I’m hoping you will contribute to the community call for a fresh beginning, and not be minded to press on regardless of public opinion.

If you could let me know your thoughts on the matter, it would be greatly appreciated.

Warmest regards

Tom


Jan 8 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr Kinnaird

Am I reading this correct Tom are you criticising me for bringing forward a budget with one million investment for the meedies? By the way the same budget also put back the revenue monies cut by the previous snp administration for the meedies and the same cllrs now jumping up and down demanding more money voted against the revenue and capital investments in the meedies

Jan 8 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Hello Alex,

On the contrary, I’m very happy that you put the £1m in, as is the whole community. What we’re not happy about is the complete failure to find a single additional penny to match it. As far as I’m aware, there has only been one application which failed at the first assessment because it was not offering any improvement on what is already there.

A fresh application could and should have been made, and the original plan you had could have been followed.

Instead they all seem to have just given up and decided to go down this route.

We as a community would like the chance to make fresh representations, to the various funding bodies and see if we can achieve something a bit more ambitious, and worthy of the Meedies, and not least, Willie Clarke’s name.

Willie himself is supporting us in this. Will you add to that support?


Jan 10 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Good morning Alex,

Have you come to a decision on whether or not you will be supporting the local community on this?


Jan 10 2017 - MSP Rowley > Ms Welsh, Mr Kinnaird

Come to a decision Tom, not sure what you mean.

I always aim to be on the side of the community given I live in the community and I am proud to represent the community and I have to say to you over the holiday period anyone I have spoken to and raised the meedies with, their response has been we need facilities in the park and that has to be the priority.

I have meeting with the CEO of Fife Council on Friday and there is one item on the agenda Lochore Meadows Country Park. I will reflect what you have said and what the council position is once I have the information I hope to get on Friday.

But to go back to your question, I don’t have to decide about being on the side of the community I will always do what I think is on the side of the community. In this instance the community is the whole community of Kelty, Benarty and surrounding areas as well as all of Fife where the largest numbers of visitors to the park come from.

They cannot be coming to the park this year and end up with a porta cabin for a toilet and no suitable refreshment facilitates. These are the very basics that must be in place for a visitor centre in the meedies

Alex

Connie can you make sure all this e mail correspondence with Tom is filed for future reference

Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife


Jan 10 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Hello Alex,

I’m glad you agree that the other communities should also be consulted. In order to do that though it would require some degree of actual public consultation, and hopefully the Chief Executive will share his findings when he concludes his investigation into the lack of public consultation during the development of this project.

I have already raised this point with David Ross, however it was his opinion that the public don’t need to be involved. Not exactly what’s written in the Fifeplan as I’m sure you will be aware.

So does this mean you will seek further consultation in the other communities and the wider users in Fife?


Jan 13 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Good morning Alex,

Can I ask you for a statement for Benarty Matters following your meeting with the Chief Executive today?

Thank you.


Jan 13 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr Kinnaird

Tom
You are starting to come across a little bit like a bully demanding people take positions. Whilst you will not bully me I hope you are not behaving in this way with other people as it would not be acceptable

Alex

Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife


Jan 13 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Hello Alex,

Sorry if I came across as abusive in any way. If you can point out the specific words I’ve used which brought you to that conclusion, I would appreciate it.

Obviously I would like your position on the matter of Lochore Meadows, but I would never resort to trying to bully an MSP, or anyone else for that matter.

If you prefer not to respond to constituent requests for information, that is your choice.

Regards


Jan 13 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr Kinnaird

Tom
It is not about not responding and I have responded to you this week making clear I am looking into the matters you have raised.

I appreciate that you may not intend to be behaving in a way that is threatening or seems like bullying but when someone points it out that you are coming across that way to them then perhaps you can consider what they say.

I have said to you that I will respond to the points you have made and I will do so once I have considered the facts, so there is no need to continue to send me emails again and again with the same question

Alex

Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife


17 Jan 2017 - Mr Kinnaird > MSP Rowley

Good evening Alex,

I trust you are well? Have you had time yet to consider your position, since your meeting with the chief executive on Friday?

Regards

Tom


17 Jan 2017 - MSP Rowley > Mr Kinnaird

Tom

As you know, I met with Fife Councils Chief Executive Steve Grimmond to discuss the issues around the proposed new visitor centre at Lochore Meadows Country Park last week and after considering what he had to say I have issued a statement stating there should be no further delays and the council should get on with the task of building a new Visitor Centre.

I am a long-term campaigner and user of the country park and like many people I believe the way the matter has been dealt with particularly the lack of a full consultation with all of the communities in the area has been flawed, and I made this very clear to the Council Chief Executive. However, we are where we are and there is a real danger that if they do not get on with the new building we will be left with no adequate facilities.

The option of going into the summer with no replacement facilities poses some real risks.

Apart from the obvious problems with temporary portacabins for toilets, cafeteria and the reputational damage to the park, there is no guarantee of any extra funding and we could also lose the sports facilities that are part of the proposal. We also could lose the economies of scale as well as incurring further professional fees not to mention annual rising costs. I am aware 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.

I am also satisfied that the proposal on the table will deliver a high specification to meet the requirements for high quality toilet facilities, a modern café and kitchen along with good educational meeting facilities. These are the basic requirements of a good visitor centre and the construction method means that if further funds are available at a later date then the building can be added to.

I have also asked questions about the procurement and design of the building and I am satisfied there has been a robust process in line with Scottish Government cost guidelines and the design and build method is one that has been used for a number of capital projects in Fife and has provided good quality modern facilities.

I sought and was given assurances from Mr Grimmond that he 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.

It is good that there is now a wider interest being taken in the park and we should harness this to develop the potential for a wider tourist offer but I am very clear we must get the new build visitor centre built and open before the start of the new 2017 season.

Alex

Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife

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  1. […] 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 […]

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