FIFE Council planning committee chair John Beare (pictured) has challenged Lochgelly councillor Mark Hood, to put away his ‘petty political games’ and work for the people of the town.

This comes after Councillor Hood criticised the local authority’s administration for doing little to follow up the good work achieved by the Lochgelly Charrette initiative in March.

The Charrette saw a week spent discussing the possible future of the town and how it could develop under the guidance of urban planning guru Andres Duany.

The councillor has been left disappointed by ‘the lack of continued support for the community since the end of the design and consultation phase of the initiative’. Mr Hood said, “The Charrette was an intensive period of design and engagement with the community which resulted in a number of initiatives being identified to take forward. The people of Lochgelly got behind the Charrette, turning out in their hundreds to support the process and by doing so ensuring that it was a success.

“However since the Charrette, support from senior officers at Fife Council along with senior councillors in the SNP led administration, has all but disappeared. I am not surprised that people in Lochgelly feel that they have been duped, once again being let down as promises of help are broken.” The councillor continued, “I’m clear the Lochgelly Charrette left the town with what was effectively a large to-do list, the sense I got from the town’s people was they were up for the change, however, without the will at both Fife Council and the Scottish Government the to-do list is fast becoming a distant wish-list.” The councillor claimed that the failure to appoint someone responsible for co-ordinating the work of the Charrette was a ‘slap in the face’ to the people of the community and added, “The main recommendation made by Mr Duany during the Charrette was to ensure that one individual would give 100 per cent of his time to co-ordinating the Charrette Initiative going forward. He made this point to over 400 people in Lochgelly Town Hall, and in the audience were senior officers and councillors from Fife Council, as well as senior officers from the Scottish Government and none of them said that this was not a good idea.

“However, six months on no one has been appointed and the project has been allowed to flounder, lacking in leadership, direction and resources.” The councillor concluded, “A large amount of tax payers’ money was spent by the Scottish Government and Fife Council on running the Lochgelly Charette. If they had no intention in following through on the recommendations it’s clear that this money will have been wasted as well as having wasted the time of the people that came along and supported the event.” But Councillor Beare responded, “I am deeply saddened but not at all surprised by the negative tone adopted by Councillor Hood. The people of Lochgelly deserve better.

“He claims that the council and the administration have ‘broken promises’, but singularly fails to credibly identify a single ‘promise’ that has been ‘broken’.

“He claims that ‘support’ has disappeared, when he is fully aware of the actions being taken by the council and the regular meetings between the council and Government to progress the Charrette outcomes. The local implementation group meetings, he has himself attended!

“He further claims there was a main ‘recommendation’, when he is fully aware that there were a suite of suggestions the second of which he actually moved and voted against on 31st March at the Area Committee, less than a fortnight after the Charette concluded. A decision which will now cost the council and people of Fife many thousands of pounds.

“Money which could have been better used in Lochgelly, for example to pursue the Charette outcomes. It could be said that by his own actions he has put the Charrette outcomes in doubt, while blaming others. Frankly, shocking.” Councillor Beare concluded, “I am ambitious for the people and communities of Fife. The Lochgelly Charette outcomes are an enormous challenge and opportunity for Lochgelly and Fife.

“I intend to do all I can to drive forward the Charrette outcomes. If we all pull together in the same direction, the future shape of the town will result in a seismic change for the better for the community of Lochgelly.

“If, however, Councillor Hood continues with the negative, petty, self serving, party politically driven attacks, he can only negate the good work already in progress. The people of Lochgelly deserve better.

“In many respects a Charette may not have been necessary if his party had not allowed the town to stagnate over many many years.

“If Councillor Hood really was concerned about the progress of the Charrette outcomes he could simply have asked to meet with me to discuss his ‘concerns’. Rather he ran to the media like a school bully who ran to the head teacher to blame everyone else, after he had been found out.

“Andres Duany made it quite clear at the Charrette, that this was a long term project and the benefits would be seen by our children and grandchildren.

“We in the administration are looking forward to the publication of the SSCI Series Report in the coming weeks. The purpose of the series was to develop new approaches to increasing public engagement in the planning process, we at the council, elected members and officers were delighted to have been selected by the SNP government to be able to play our part in this pilot project.

“Lochgelly had a fantastic opportunity to utilise the services of one of the planet’s leading Urban Designers. He and his team have left us with a huge challenge.

“I am up for following through on the outcomes, I can only hope that Councillor Hood can find it in his heart to put aside petty party politics and join us in driving the Charrette outcomes forward, rather than carp from the sidelines.” Local SNP Councillor Ian Chisholm, commenting on Councillor Hood’s attack on the Scottish Government’s Charrette process said, “I’m more sad than angry at Mark Hood’s negativity and alarmist outburst about the Charrette process when we should all be pulling together for the sake of the town. “There has been hundreds of hours of officers’ time devoted to moving the Charrette plans forward. I attended a meeting last Wednesday, of Development Officers and the CEO of our local Housing Association in helping to formulate a business plan for the town... Councillor Hood was not there and one wonders how much he is really committed to the town. “Mark Hood knows perfectly well that much of the regeneration was to come from developer contributions from the 1700 new homes outlined in the Local Plan. With the economy flat lining clearly these houses will not be forthcoming tomorrow. It is par for the course that the Labour member does not even recognise the mess the economy is in, far less take responsibility for his Westminster Party’s culpability in the crash.” Mr Hood added, “No one expected that every proposal brought forward by Mr Duany would be implemented within six months but what people did expect was some visible changes beginning to be put in place.

“This has not happened, not due to the lack off effort of council officers on the ground in Lochgelly, but because of senior officers in Fife House and SNP councillors having lost interest now that the limelight of Mr Duany’s visit has gone. “The Fife Council rhetoric of Councillors Beare and Chisholm is wearing thin. Their talk is cheap. What the people of Lochgelly want to see is some of Mr Duany’s proposals being put in place on the ground here in the town.”