FIFE Council have cut the rope on a £1.5 million regional climbing centre after failing to find the money to fix Lochgelly Town Hall.

That's the view of Thom Humphrey who has spent the last 10 years on the Rockgelly project to bring the empty St Andrews Church back to life.

He said the council now want to move all the services they can't offer in the town hall into the venue on Lochgelly's Bank Street, but it would deny them the space they need for the facilities they would rely on for income.

Thom said: "In Lochgelly, the town hall is falling down and all the crucial services based there need a new home, so it has been suggested that St Andrew’s Church could be that home.

"While this sounds good in theory and we would love to be part of a big community hub, it would mean sacrificing the bouldering area of Rockgelly to make room and we would only have the roped-climbing tower available.

Central Fife Times: It doesn't look like the Rockgelly project will go ahead at St Andrew's Church in Lochgelly. It doesn't look like the Rockgelly project will go ahead at St Andrew's Church in Lochgelly. (Image: Newsquest)

"As bouldering is far more accessible to new climbers, far more popular than roped-climbing and is a crucial part of our plans, this is simply too big a sacrifice and would leave us with an unsustainable business model, reliant on volunteers and donations to stay open."

In October he had told the Times they were short of a final piece of funding, around £40,000, but was confident it could be found and the centre would open in 2024, and eventually attract 15,000 people a year.

Those hopes are now in tatters after councillors at the Cowdenbeath area committee were told on Tuesday that the project "no longer seems tenable".

It leaves a climbing tower that's substantially complete but may not ever be used.

Thom said: "The town hall is in disrepair. It's a public asset but to me they've just decided it would cost too much, the church is a quick fix so let's use that and Rockgelly can share.

"Don't get me wrong, organisations that use the town hall, like Lo'gelly Lunches, are fantastic but we would only get half the building and that wouldn't work for us.

"If it was a temporary move while the town hall was repaired, that would be worth discussing."

READ MORE: Skatepark blighted by anti-social behaviour and flooding

The plans date back to 2014 with the council and Rockgelly putting funds into the project.

He said it all started to go wrong when Covid hit: "The builders were on site for less than 24 hours before the first lockdown was announced and everything stopped."

When work could resume, their share of the costs had shot up from £360,000 to £500,000.

Thom said they were in a cycle of applying to funders for more money only to find that, by the time a decision had been made, the amount they needed had gone up again.

He added: "To make matters worse, in order to provide security for a loan to fill the funding gap, we had to take on the lease of the church sooner than we wanted, resulting in bills of thousands of pounds to utility companies and creating an even bigger gap between the funds we’d been awarded and the costs to complete the project and open to the public."

Unable to wait any longer, the council approached Rockgelly last summer about a "partnership".

Thom said: "However they said we could only have the tower.

"We said right from the beginning that's not going to work, it's not financially sustainable if we don't have the income from the bouldering, the cafe and the soft play, which is all the stuff inside the church.

"It's extremely frustrating. I don't know what happens next, it's up to the council but it looks like we may have to wind Rockgelly up."