An important public statement by the Lochs most famous and longest-serving councillor, Willie Clark, was made at the second public meeting held in Benarty in December about the proposed new visitor centre at Lochore Meadows.
Willie Clark served for 43 years before he retired last June. He remains an active member of the local community where the Meedies have always been close to his heart. The new centre was due to be named after him.
I’m glad to see the large attendance here tonight. It shows the interest in the Meadows. The question was asked why it was given out to another group. It’s tax, that’s the reason, so the council save money. That’s the reason, a financial reason. That’s why the council handed it over, nothing else, finance.
Now look at Lochore Meadows Countryside Park, and what it was to start with. It was the biggest land reclamation scheme in Europe. A great scheme, and progress was made. But it’s stopped, and people have to look at the council. The council failed to consult the public, they go ahead and do things without consulting the public. This is one in question. They’ve no ability to go out and listen to what the public are saying.
Now I don’t know if they can get more money or not. I know councils are under strain, but I’ll tell you, in this area there’s an example. The centre. £1.8m was given to the centre, and Alex Rowley and I went to the council and we got another million pound. And that’s what happened there.
So now we have to decide, what’s to happen here, is it good enough, and if it’s not good enough, what are the next steps that we take? We make representations to the Fife Council and get a decision. And there’s no doubt about this, the officials should have been here tonight. It’s ridiculous. Officials are not elected, they’re servants of the public, the public are not their servants. They should have been here, and I think they should be called to another meeting.
But I think we should move on, I’m not talking about agreeing with what’s been done, go much larger, go and make representations to MP’s, MSP’s and do everything we can and kick up a din, because that park is the Jewel in the Crown, not just in Fife but in Scotland.
This community is full of ideas, and they’re ideas that wouldn’t cost money, they would raise money, and they still refuse to listen to them, and I’ll give you an example. I was on a board once when it started, it was only an advisory board, it had no power, no teeth. I raised it about putting sand down to make a beach, and ye ken the first answer I got? The water will take it all away. I said, well there’s plenty sand in the world, we’ll replace it. That is how slow thinking they are. They don’t appreciate how much potential’s in the park. It’s money, it’s income, it’s jobs, it’s everything. It’s got to the point it’s got to go forward, but let’s go forward united. Let’s make sure we make representations to the council to see if there is extra money. I’m not saying there is, I ken they’re under pressure but there’s always money that can be found, even when they’re under pressure.
So that’s why I think we should make representations, certainly a message should go out from this crowd tonight, and it’s great to see this because it shows an interest within the community, and communities should always be discussed. That doesn’t mean to say they should always get their way, but there’s been no discussion here, and that tonight not having officers here from Fife Council is totally unacceptable.