Part of the rationale behind the SURF award is to recognize and encourage community engagement between communities, local representative groups and the local authority. Lochgelly won the award recently in part because of its excellence in engaging the community.
A shining example is the work of Lochgelly Going Forward, a community group whose volunteers carried out intensive local engagement to create a Lochgelly Community Action Plan. This work (amongst other valuable contributions from many community groups) formed a significant part of the award and judging process.
For some bizarre reason, the closed loop cycle track and the proposed Lochore Meadows visitor centre were included in the SURF award publicity, despite neither project being located in Lochgelly.
As for community engagement, there was little. The cycle track application nonetheless attracted only objections from local residents, all of which were subsequently ignored (with one resident vilified on social media by Councillor Mark Hood for daring to object).
The Meedies visitor centre continues to be heavily criticised for the lack of consultation, vision and ambition. Lochgelly has been completely ignored in the minimal engagement which Fife Council has undertaken.
Yet despite the objections to the cycle track and the large public opposition to the visitor centre, some of our local councillors continue to steamroller through both plans. This makes a mockery of the SURF Award process which requires that “the intended beneficiaries of any regeneration effort must be meaningfully involved in the process”.
On social media, Cllr Hood takes sole credit for the SURF Award announcing that “my work is done” whilst rounding on unhappy residents with a digital lynch mob. He even gives a ‘like’ to a comment left by one of his commentators telling an English lady to “f*** off”!
If his work was to create local division within our communities, harass citizens, and create embarrassment for the Labour Party, his work is certainly done.
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