Councillors plan state of art, inclusive playpark at Lochore Meadows despite criticism

Fife Council has restated its commitment to a new state-of-the-art playpark at Lochore Meadows amid complaints it was "blowing funding in one go".

Friday, 20th August 2021, 6:00 am

Sarah Roxburgh, community manager for the Cowdenbeath area, pushed back against a suggestion by a local community figure that the council was not spending cash well at "the Meedies", as it is known to locals.

Tom Kinnaird, chair of Benarty Community Council, said in a question to the Cowdenbeath area committee that the council was "blowing the lot in one go" by setting £500,000 aside for the inclusive facility, which will incorporate play equipment for children of all abilities.

Firing back, Ms Roxburgh said: "The play park is going to include an inclusive play area to improve the offer as a destination venue.

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Lochore Meadows

"This has to be a priority, but developing such a project is complex and will require significant funds to deliver.

"£500,000 has been allocated which will hopefully attract external match funding, and the final design will be shared for consultation to allow for community and customer feedback."

Fife Council has committed millions to improving the Meedies in recent years.

Investments have included the Willie Clark Visitor Centre, which opened in 2018.

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Mr Kinnaird suggested in his question that the funding might be better broken up to support camping, fishing or cafe improvements, and match funding found to bolster each project.

However, the council officer said that would not have "the same impact" as investing in a single grand idea - and as the cash for the playpark was a capital project while other suggestions would be pooled from day-to-day revenue spending.

Cowdenbeath area convener, Councillor Linda Erskine, also denied a claim by Mr Kinnaird that £250,000 of council cash was being used to fund an extension to the Lochore Meadows golf clubhouse.

"Both myself and Sarah have been working with the groups that use the clubhouse and they do have plans for the area," she said.

"The thing stopping any progress has been the shutdown from Covid.

"That will all pick up and I can assure you there are plenty of opportunities and plans for the clubhouse - a full extension is not one of them."

Other councillors were critical of the community council chair's view of the playpark project.

Other inclusive playparks have included equipment such as roundabouts that are level with the ground, enabling wheelchair users to ride them unassisted, and inclusive swings that support children with limited mobility.

Labour Cowdenbeath councillor Alex Campbell said: "For Tom to say we're 'blowing the lot' on a playpark...we're trying to get match funding, increased funding, for bairns to come along to. This is our jewel in the crown."

SNP Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty member Rosemary Liewald added: "The response Sarah has put together is exactly as it should be.

"What we're doing here is greater than the Cowdenbeath area. Let's bring folk in. We know we're on the right track to do it."

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