In the wake of multiple criticisms of Fife Coastal & Countryside Trust’s proposed £1.2 million visitor centre at Fife’s most popular free visitor attraction, the Trust has pulled out of running the Lochore Meadows Country Park just months before its management pilot comes up for renewal.

This adds to fears about the future of the Meedies. Local community campaigners have already expressed concern that the existing visitor centre, which the FCCT closed down in October, has been abandoned to vandals and winter weather so it may never re-open.

The Fife Coastal & Countryside Trust (FCCT) told staff just before Christmas that it would no longer be managing the Lochore Meadows Country Park, but it has declined to confirm its stance to either the press or members of the local community. Its only comment has been to say that the issue concerned a council building. Pressed about whether the FCCT has walked away from the visitor centre or the park as a whole, a spokesperson for the FCCT said “We have no further comments to make, the matter is being dealt with through discussions between our CEO and Fife Council” 1.

The FCCT, which took over the running of the park and visitor centre as a pilot project in July 2014, closed the existing centre on 23rd October, ahead of demolition scheduled for 15th November 2. Demolition did not take place because of community protest at the plans for the new centre which was aired at two well-attended public meetings in Benarty in November and December.

At both meetings the FCCT was heavily criticised. It carried out no public consultation, it failed to secure match funding and the final plans were for a “carbuncle” which did not meet park-users’ needs. The Lochore Meadows Advisory Group convened by FCCT to facilitate engagement between the trust, council and communities around the Meedies, was not consulted about the final plans, and did not meet for ten months between January and December 2016.

Chris Broome, who became the FCCT’s chief executive on 31 October 2016, apologised for the lack of Advisory Group meetings, pointing to personnel changes as a reason. Mr Broome is the fourth person in a year to take the helm at the FCCT.

Tom Kinnaird, a member of the Lochore Meadows Panel, said:

“We were very disappointed that no one at FCCT or Fife Council responded when we made our concerns about the visitor centre public 3. Parts have already been dismantled and damaged in preparation for demolition, and the building has effectively been abandoned and left to rot. Already parents whose children use the adjacent playground have expressed safety worries.

“Now we learn on the grapevine that the FCCT has pulled out of the Meedies completely. A string of management failures seems to have been crowned with a management walk-out.

“Fife Council owns the FCCT so the buck stops with Fife Council. Instead of continuing to keep the communities around the Meedies in the dark, Fife Council should be working with them to sort this mess out.

“The leader of Fife Council told us a report on the situation was being prepared for presentation to the Executive Committee on January 24 4. In the meantime no one seems to be taking responsibility and the existing centre, which has had tens of thousands spent on upgrades in the last couple of years 5, is being allowed to go to rack and ruin.”

FCCT’s Lochore Meadows management pilot was due to run until 31 March 2016.

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10 Comments

  1. Linda Holt

    January 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    I see this report of Cllr Hood’s reaction to the news (he didn’t give it to Shining Waters as he has a policy of not responding to requests from this news site):

    ” The chairman of Cowdenbeath Area Committee, Councillor Mark Hood, confirmed today he had heard that this was the case and he said that basically the Trust’s trial period of running the park was originally to end in the summer, but a decision had been taken by their board not to seek to continue to run the park and they were to cease involvement at the end of March.

    He said: “It is something which will have to be sorted out sooner rather than later for the park is such an important facility for this area and Fife in general.”

    This is staggering. Fife Council owns Lochore Meadows Country Park and Fife Council owns the Fife Coastal & Countryside Trust. Yet the Fife councillor who is the chair of the area committee responsible for the Park doesn’t seem to have had a clue about what has been happening or been able to exert any kind of influence, let alone leadership, to make sure the Park receives proper management. No wonder the community has been left in the dark.

    No wonder people in Benarty and Lochgelly are openly talking about exploring the options for a community take-over or buy-out. They couldn’t make a worse job of things at the Meedies than Fife Council.

    Reply

  2. Linda Holt

    January 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I see Jim Stark has closed comments on the article about this on the Central Fife Times website. Amazing. I’ve never seen comments closed before. Is this because someone wants to stop the flood of criticism which would doubtless come Fife Council and Councillor Hood’s way? So much for a free press.

    Reply

  3. Jamie Mclaren

    January 5, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    This is a joke only not taking over as itd not profitable

    Reply

  4. Alexander wyness

    January 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Hi my name is Alexander wyness manager at Lomond Hills Fishery fife I asked to take over fishing side of things for lochore meadows I got no reply .
    What’s happening with the fishing this season does anyone know

    Reply

  5. John

    January 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Alex don’t know what’s happening with fishing with FFCT handing reigns back to council in April I’d suspect the locals and fishing club would like to see something more positive and defining to the future for fishing at lochore, maybe you should phone outdoor education centre at lochore get contact number for fishing ,if you are going to help see that as good to safe guard fishing long term future at lochore the cost to stock have been issue hope you have good ideas.

    Want all principle clubs and users to get together and work together helping each other and discuss building a better meadows ,organise meeting to arrange I’m sure much more principle clubs are wanting new visitors centre built soon council should get finger out and get on with it terrible.

    Also they have not once stopped and considered the people who work at lochore gauging by talking to some they are sick off all this they want building done as the community group are the people responsible for delays and will cost more money being wasted for all this, and will all be remembered and never forgotten.

    Rather than listening to all the crap and political point scoring the people who really use the facility’s not free as some keep spouting. We Put much into using facilities more than some need to realise.

    Reply

    • Mary Vale

      January 14, 2017 at 9:13 am

      John, the only person going on about political point-scoring seems to be you.

      Regarding the fishing – the FCCT had stopped stocking up with fish long before this situation came about. As far as I know, members of Benarty community campaigned to have it restocked. Currently there is no-one dealing with this.

      The staff from Lochore Centre wouldn’t be in the building just now anyway, as the current building would have been demolished and any new build not scheduled to be completed until May. I am assured they are still in employment and currently working elsewhere in the FC. Why are you trying to play this card when you know it isn’t true?

      You seem to have practically no idea how much the FC have short-changed the Benarty community and the surrounding communities, and those who come from further afield. The new build has been compared to a cow-shed or a prison block, it is almost 50% smaller than the current build, and really not fit for purpose. The public are only asking for a decent building. Which they deserve, the Meedies serves a wide area, and a decent building is a must.

      This silly argument that is being used that the Meedies isn’t used by the locals is nonsense. It has always been well-used by all the local communities, we are proud of our Meedies, and it is so beautiful, of course we use it.

      There have been plenty articles about the cost of the building, it is mega-expensive for what is basically a pre-fab. Legitimate questions are being asked about the ridiculous cost of this new build. Comparisons have been made with bigger, better buildings in other areas, and the build being proposed is extortionate in comparison. I have seen comments where an investigation is being called for. Would you agree that if there are irregularities or a building is priced beyond its worth, that this should be looked at?

      As for the people who are trying to get a better deal on behalf of their community, is this not what democracy is about. Would you rather a bad deal just goes ahead because the authorities says it should? Why can’t the authorities sit down with the public, the people and come to an easy solution that suits all. A better building than the one on offer, fit for purpose and one that isn’t an over-priced prison block.

      The people deserve so much better than what they are being offered.

      Give folk some due and offer a bit more support rather than consistently attacking people, accusing them of playing politics and putting them down. Are you being political by constantly banging on about politics? Why are you so keen to put the people down?

      Have some vision – the people of Benarty do!

      Reply

  6. John

    January 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Mary,

    It’s all about opinion

    Yes. People campaigned to get waters re-stocked but totally different from group who think they represent area and beyond well they don’t that’s simple area committee funded the re stock last year and will be restocked this year so get your facts correct.

    The building is more than suitable which can be extended also people need to relelise 1 million pounds is on the table no a bean more that’s what you get not over inflated building costs as you think ,

    Working and comparisons to square meter costs are not out the box but see comparisons are made to other buildings that’s just crap as building. Was bigger so cost are gonna be lower also material costs go up so that argument is rubbish.

    See also people asking for play areas within new building climbing wall are they thick it’s a visitors centre not a jungle jims most all these places are shut example Halbeath play area to dear there’s a park outside for kids. Which should be better than is , The argument then who’s gonna pay £4 / 5 to use get real if it’s raining no one visits meedies apart from the outdoor sports.

    We we all like super duper building that’s what you get for your doh

    Staff would be back in there new building by June if not for the delays so don’t give my they will go here there not me or your or any others should have right to play with there jobs so you dinny play that card they will just get kicked about until this mess is sorted I know what the staff want speaking to them pissed off with all the crap.

    Hell mend if meedies ends up with nothing due all the delays and council who’s gonna take the blame no be community action group !!! hell they will be like tumble weed.

    There as much will to get building done as stop it in fact the people are getting hack off with it all.

    You will never convince me we need bigger building more toilets ,I’m in it 4 days week it’s deed most days when it was open why do think it shut 5pm no a demand for it so your argument for bigger is crap.

    The local area deserve good facilities but local activists are doing there best to stop this end off.

    Reply

    • Mary Vale

      January 17, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      John, your arguments don’t make any sense. Some of what you say is just straightforward misinformation. The Meedies is well-used, the facilities actually need to be open for longer.

      Again, have some vision as do the people of Benarty and surrounding areas. Your arguments are being put forward just to try and shut folk up, and get them to toe the line. Give it a rest please.

      Open your mind, exercise your intellect, see it you can attain some vision and positivity!

      You’re so negative regarding the community and the aspirations folk have for the lovely Meedies, its very depressing and tedious trying to even bother answering you.

      Try and be positive pal, you never know maybe a more attractive, fit-for-purpose centre can be achieved rather than the pathetically small, over-expensive pre-fab that some job-worthy thinks that’s all us folk deserve.

      Tut, tut John… raise your expectations!

      (Btw, you’re no the only one who knows the staff).

      Reply

  7. John

    January 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Mary
    Just glad Fife council executive were minded as the positive people in our community .

    You can run away now smear other community’s oh Fife council will have another letter for freedom information scrutiny commission that you continue to abuse only 40 sent via lochs of shining water remember the taxpayers £200 a pop the monies you waste people need to know this go get a real job .

    Now have good day

    Mary tut tut. Have vision away and bother other communities bye bye ….

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      January 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      It’s true, punctuation is very important.

      Reply

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