Fife Council agreed this week to on-going annual funding of £120,000 for additional staffing and future planning for Lochore Meadows Country Park as well as a one off £1 million investment for the financial year 2015/16.
Moving the Labour Administration budget outgoing Council leader Alex Rowley said; “Fife Coast and Countryside Trust will take over the management and running of the Country Park from April this year and as part of this will undertake a feasibility study around options for visitor centre facilities. 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.
Mr Rowley also stated that the £120,000 put into the core budget would enable the post of Parks Manager to be reinstated and fund the feasibility study for the future development of the park. He said; “We wanted to restore the core budget as we need to have the correct level of staffing and management in the Park in order to drive it forward. The Country Park is a major asset for the whole area and the resources we have brought forward in the budget will help move this facility forward to realising its full potential for the Cowdenbeath area and for Fife”.
The budget was also supported by Cowdenbeath Area Chair, Willie Clarke who also chairs the Park Advisory Group. He said; “This investment will help secure a good future for the Park and bring in much needed investment. Alex and I have met with the Trust on a number of occasions over the last few months and we believe they will bring a new sense of purpose and focus to driving the development of the Country Park and that the £1million investment will enable them to pull in more funding as the development moves forward”.
During the first year of operations Fife Coast and Countryside Trust have said they will make some minor upgrading of the park centre; improve pedestrian access from the Kelty side and carry out work on Lochore Castle. They will also engage professional support and prepare a fully costed plan for an enhanced Park Visitor Centre.
A report outlining the changes to management and a proposal for a new Management Board made up of representatives from all the communities in the Cowdenbeath area will be brought forward to the Area Committee in the next month.