TWO local politicians are hoping that 'common sense' prevails and the voices of Benarty are heard as the future of community events are threatened.

Annabelle Ewing and Neale Hanvey have both expressed their concern that Fife Council's proposals for a new play park at Lochore Meadows endangers events such as Rockore, Benarty Gala and the annual pipe band competition.

Rockore will take place this year on August 19 but its organisers, Benarty Events Group (BEG), are pleading with the council to have a rethink over using the playing field where the festival is staged for the new play park.

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing has expressed the hope that a way forward can be found that will involve an alternative location for the new play park leaving the traditional events space available for continued use for important community events.

“I quite understand the fear that exists around the intended location for a new play park planned at the Meedies," she said.

"There is no doubt that the site initially proposed would endanger the prospect of future events being held on the field, including such annual staples as Rockore, the Benarty Gala and the Pipe Band competition.

“This is a concern that I have been raising for quite some time, having been in dialogue with Fife Council on the matter for many months and have raised it directly with the council’s chief executive.

“I do think that the council is listening to the voice of the community on this matter, and I am extremely hopeful that a solution will be found which still provides a new play park but also ensures that the Benarty Events Group can continue to hold these important events which attract so many locals and visitors.

“It is the funds raised from these key events that ensure the Benarty Events Group can continue to provide much needed support to the local community, particularly to young people, throughout the year.

“I look forward to common sense prevailing when the final decision is taken by local councillors at the next meeting of the Cowdenbeath Area Committee.”

The area committee meets next Wednesday, February 1.

Neale Hanvey, ALBA MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, commented that the work of BEG in organising events such as Rockore is a feat the council should be "celebrating, not jeopardising".

He said: "I welcome Fife Council’s decision to finally engage with the Benarty community on development proposals for Lochore Meadows. Whilst local folk are in no doubt that a new play park and other improvements are much needed, many were alarmed by the site chosen for the amenity by council officers.

“I have worked closely with constituents to support them throughout this time, raising their deep concerns about the potential loss of the events space directly with Fife Council Chief Executive, Steve Grimond. My office has also participated in all discussion workshops help to capture the views of those across the local area.

“At my last meeting with Fife Council Community Manager, Sarah Roxburgh, I was assured that community opinions on the siting of the play park site would be heard and acted upon.

“The Benarty community groups that have created and grown such high-profile and successful fundraising events like Rockore are an outstanding example of the strength and spirit of a community we should be celebrating, not jeopardising. Aside from bringing increased footfall to local businesses, Rockore supports a wide range of non-profit events and groups, from the weekly Companion Club to the Benarty Pipe Band Gala.

“In an area where deprivation is a continuing challenge, these clubs and community supports are essential. So, I call on Fife Council to give a cast iron guarantee that any threat to this vital fundraising community space is off the table and free from any future risk.

“Whilst The Meedies is undoubtedly popular with visitors from far and wide, it must be remembered that the park’s reclamation was primarily intended for the local community following the loss of the local mining industry.

“The final decision on the development will be made at the Cowdenbeath Area Committee meeting, and I look forward to Fife councillors honouring the commitment to listen and act in the best interests of the people of Benarty.”

Sarah Roxburgh, the council’s community manager for the Cowdenbeath area, had previously told the Times: “The new playpark proposal recognises the need for a large events space as we know how important it is for these events to continue.

“Rockore is delivered by a small number of people who are committed to making it a fantastic annual event. Logistically we appreciate the work that goes into it and we wouldn’t want to jeopardise it running in future at the expense of delivering these proposals.”

She added: “We want to reassure everyone who uses the park, both customers and event organisers, that their concerns will be considered in planning the next steps. I’d echo the Benarty Events Group’s request for people to have their say.”