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VIDEO: Concert hall group takes over former Kirkcaldy cinema

August 31 2016

The group behind an ambitious plan to regenerate an iconic Kirkcaldy venue is celebrating reaching a major milestone. The Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy group has secured ownership of the former ABC cinema in its quest to transform the building into a modern concert hall. The purchase has been made possible thanks to a deal between the group and the building’s previous owners, following assistance from philanthropist John Sim. https://youtu.be/qg3YKIrEtyU The OBE, who is based in Thailand, has previously assisted with other Kirkcaldy-based community campaigns, including Reclaim the Rovers and the purchase of the Old Kirk, and said that he was impressed by the desire of those keen to renovate the former cinema. Mr Sim said: “This is a very ambitious project but occasionally if you dream and work hard you will be amazed by what can be achieved. “I have already seen this with the Old Kirk Trust and the Adam Smith Global Foundation. “The key is to have the right people making it happen. “The Kings Theatre team has worked tirelessly on this and has not been deterred by apathy or rejection. “We owe it to them and to the town to give our support and see just what can be done with a historic part of Kirkcaldy’s Merchants Quarter.” The Kings Theatre Group wants to turn the old picture house, which has lain empty on the High Street since 2000, into what they believe can be a “world class” 2,000-seat concert and corporate events space. Taking control of the building, as opposed to leasing it from its previous owner, will make it easier for the group to apply for external funding to carry out its plans. Since closing as a cinema the building has fallen into disrepair, with the group now keen to ensure that the building is wind and watertight. Grant Foster, CEO of Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy, has appealed to the people of the town to back his group’s bid to transform the site. “In order to address the issues that the town centre has, we have to rid ourselves of poisonous negativity and apathy, work together and all be on the same page. “Challenging times may still lay ahead, but can only be tackled with inclusion, fresh ideas and positivity about what could be achieved to grow and strengthen our town.”


Two decades of dirty Fife streets, claims Glenrothes councillor

August 13 2016

Fife’s streets have been blighted by cleanliness issues for two decades, a Glenrothes councillor has claimed. Ross Vettraino described caretaking standards of the region’s avenues and open spaces as “woeful”, as he and other town councillors were presented with an update by council officers. That is despite official council figures claiming that 97.9% of the region’s roads meet statutory performance indicators. “If you were an uninformed person reading this report then you would think that the standards are fine,” he said. “They are not. “The standards of street cleanliness are woeful. “One of the reasons for that is the significant reduction in resources. “The staff are still being asked to do the same job as before but with fewer resources, but there are also a lot of other reasons.” A survey of 196 sites across the Glenrothes area were surveyed between April 2015 and the end of March 2016. During this time, just two streets were found to be below the required regional standard - Lothian Court and Dunbeath Drive, both of which have since been addressed. However, the survey also showed that 15 requests for litter bins had been made from residents, while 19 fallen trees had to be removed. More alarmingly was the number of discarded needles that needed attending to by local authority staff, with 19 discarded syringes requiring uplift over the 12 month period. However, just 20 complaints were made by Glenrothes area residents in the sample period. But while acknowledging the constraints under which council staff were operating, Mr Vettraino said that the report did not accurately represent the state of the region’s streets. “There is now a 5% sample of sites, when it used to be 2%,” “I don’t know where they are taken from but there are 7,500 streets in Fife. “I hope we can get to grips because this is a problem that has been there for 20 years.”


Police tackling Fife graffiti menace

October 8 2016

A number of youths have been apprehended in relation to spate of graffiti  incidents across Fife. Four teenagers have been traced by officers following a flurry of spray-paint incidents on the region’s streets. The problem has particularly blighted Kirkcaldy town centre, where several streets have been targeted by the vandals. PC Cameron Lee said: “For us it has been a huge issue, so much so that we were getting complaints as we were walking around the town centre, “People were approaching us constantly about it, and it was something we wanted to get sorted. “It was difficult because of the times of night they were doing it and the places they were doing it had no camera coverage.” Buildings, phone exchanges and signs have all been targeted in towns across Fife in recent months, with many of the “tags” — the term used to describe the unique symbols used by each painter — incorporating names such as “Nacho”, “Moira” and “Agnes”. Four teenagers have now been apprehended. PC Lee said many graffiti artists mistakenly think their crime is victimless. “Those that are responsible, don’t see it as much of an issue," he said. “They see it as victimless and harmless, but for those who are involved in the High Street it is not nice for people to see.” Fellow PC Mark McCulloch added: “There is a financial implication as well as obviously it needs to be cleaned up. “Visitors to the town notice graffiti and we want to keep it as visually pleasing as we can.” David Henderson, chair of Kirkcaldy West Community Council, said: “We don’t need this in our town. “It is an ugly mess and it is a big job to get rid of it.”


Concert to get Kirkcaldy’s Festival of Ideas rocking

March 16 2017

Britain’s most inspirational speakers are to be joined by some of the country’s top live musicians for Kirkcaldy’s first-ever Festival of Ideas. The Lang Toun is getting ready to rock as part of the inaugural event that will see politicians, broadcasters and writers take to the Adam Smith Theatre stage in an exchange of ideas aimed at shaping the future. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be joined by politician and Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls, writer and comic Arabella Weir, broadcaster Sally Magnusson, and the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, Brendan Cox, as a speaker at the event. However, organisers the Adam Smith Global Foundation have added a last-minute addition to the bill in the form of a concert to coincide with the event. Grant Foster, who has put together the line-up, said that tickets for Saturday’s gig were already selling fast. “We’ve got Horse McDonald, Billy Bibby, formerly of Catfish and the Bottlemen, and we’ve also secured Luke Friend, who was a finalist on the X Factor in 2013. “It’s a unique pop-up event that is hoping to change people's attitude to the town centre and local economy. “The idea is to work with the Adam Smith Global Foundation to help improve and change the town, using the philosophy of Adam Smith. “We’re hoping to show that music and the arts can play a part in inspiring people and help to rejuvenate the local economy.” This weekend’s event coincides with the foundation’s increased efforts to put internationally-renowned economist Adam Smith at the heart of public consciousness. Born and educated in Kirkcaldy, Adam Smith was a moral philosopher as well as a pioneer of political economy, who laid the foundations of the free market economy we live in today. Organisers claim that this weekend’s event is the perfect opportunity to bring people to Kirkcaldy to exchange ideas, given the tumultuous global political and economic climate. Town councillor Neil Crooks, said: "This is a once in a generational opportunity for Kirkcaldy to support the legacy of Adam Smith and welcome such a prestigious and exciting event to our town. “I hope its impact will be far reaching and support the economic and social wellbeing of our communities.” Tickets for Saturday’s concert are available from the Adam Smith Theatre box office or online at www.onfife.com.


Police warning over bogus workmen after Fife pensioner scammed

December 2 2016

A Fife pensioner was conned out of £120 after a bogus workman claimed to clear the guttering on her home. The 89-year-old woman paid  the man following an unsolicited call to her home in Windygates last Saturday. The following day, a second man attended the address and asked for £80 for doing the same work. On this occasion, no money was handed over and the woman raised the alarm with the police. Officers are now carrying out inquiries in an effort to trace the suspects as quickly as possible. The first male is described as between 17 and 20, around 5ft 4in, with short dark hair, slim build, wearing a dark jumper, dark trousers and he left in a dark coloured car. The second male is described as between 21 and 40, around 5ft 6in, with short fair hair, stocky build, tan coloured jacket and tan trousers. He left in a white or cream van, which had red lettering on it. Sergeant Craig Fyall, of Levenmouth Police Station, said: “This is an awful crime where the suspect has taken advantage of a vulnerable person and ruthlessly exploited her in order to steal money. "Unfortunately, bogus callers can come across as extremely convincing and will use every trick at their disposal. "Our advice is to always ask for identification and never feel obliged to hand over money or personal details to a stranger at your door. "If you need a job done and you’re worried about bogus workmen you can contact trusted trader at www.fifedirect.org.uk/trustedtrader or telephone 01592 583141. "Alternatively, if you wish to report a crime contact police on 101."


“We can only hold our breath” — Glenrothes desperate to land Indian cricket star Sreesanth

February 21 2017

Bringing one of India’s biggest cricket stars to Glenrothes would revolutionise the game in Scotland, it has been claimed. Kenny Crichton, a bowler for Glenrothes Cricket Club, said that everyone at the club was holding their breath as it attempts to sign former test match star Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. Considered one of the world’s top bowlers, the audacious bid to bring Sreesanth to Fife has been delayed as efforts to overturn a playing ban continue in his homeland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb_CkXyDrNU Hopeful that a resolution can be found, Mr Crichton says that bringing one of the world’s top players to Scotland could help to attract more people to the game. “It would be great news for Glenrothes but also great for Scottish cricket if we could bring someone like Sreesanth here. “You’re not going to get any better than having a double World Cup winner playing with you. “I had the luxury of being in India for the last T20 and you can really see the passion for cricket over there. It’s like football in this country. “For our kids hear to have somebody with the experience of Sreesanth to learn from would be fantastic.” A legendary bowler who has represented his country in 27 test matches, Sreesanth recently stated that he is preparing to drop his millionaire lifestyle in India and uproot to the Kingdom. However, to do this the 34-year-old needs to have his ban from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) overturned for an alleged role in a 2013 spot-fixing scandal. Although he was exonerated by a Delhi court and the charges dropped, his playing ban remains in place. “I know there has been some issues that are taking time to resolve,” said Mr Crichton. “The BCCI is going through its own changes so we can only hold our breath and hope it gets sorted soon. “I would be really happy to have him here.”


Budget cuts will make Fife Council services “unrecognisable,” says leader

February 8 2017

Council services in Fife will be “unrecognisable” in several years if funding cuts from central government continue, it has been claimed. David Ross, the leader of Fife Council, said that the public had every right to be concerned about the impact of budget cuts on services as he outlined his administration’s spending plans ahead of next week’s budget. He confirmed that council tax is to rise by 3% across the board, in addition to the increases already imposed on high bands by the Scottish Government. However, despite further savings, Mr Ross still expects the council to be operating with a budget gap of around £41 million by 2019/20. Asked if the public should be concerned, he said: “Absolutely. “We’ve been making savings for many years, but the current year and next year have been significantly worse. “It’s predicted that will go on, and if it does then the council and council services are going to be unrecognisable in a few years time. “We think people value their local services and we will do our best to protect them. “But it will mean cuts and job losses over time.” A new efficiencies programme, Enabling Change, is to be introduced, which Mr Ross claims will save around £35 million over the next three years. Much of this is to be achieved by allowing more staff to work remotely and an increased use of online and phone services for public interaction. However, it is believed that around 279 full-time equivalent jobs could be lost over the next three years. He added that he hoped that many of these could be achieved through early retirement and said that everything would be done to avoid compulsory redundancies. Asked how difficult balancing the books had become, Mr Ross added: “It is very hard. “Part of the problem is because of the efforts we have put in, people don’t necessarily feel the cuts. “There is an element of we’re crying wolf but some services have been cut back, particularly health and social care." Impact of council tax rise Owners of larger homes will also experience a “significant impact” from increases in council tax, Mr Ross warned. He has claimed that the current system of taxation is “broken” and said that it impacts unfairly on older people or those who are asset rich yet cash poor. Mr Ross has confirmed that council tax in the region will rise by 3% from April across all bands, with those in bands E- H also to be affected by revised bandings approved by the Scottish Government. “We’ve been allowed after a ten year freeze to put council tax up by up to 3% and we’re going to do that,” he said. “If we didn’t do it, it would mean us making an extra £4.6 million in cuts. “There is our 3% across the board increase, and on top of that the Scottish Government has increased the E- H banding, which will have a significant impact on people with bigger houses. “We have no control over that, we have to implement it.” With increases from both Fife Council and the Scottish Government combined, homeowners living in band H properties can expect to pay around £600 more per year in tax. Those living in band E, the lowest affected by the Holyrood re-bandings, can expect to pay closer to £150 a year extra from April. For people living in homes in bands A to D, which will only be impacted by Fife Council’s 3% rise, costs will increase by £22 a year for those in the lowest band, rising to an extra £33 per annum for those in band D. While sympathetic to those facing increased charges, Mr Ross blamed the rise on previous Scottish Government decisions. Adding that he would like to see a new taxation system introduced, he continued: “We think the council tax system is broken. “We recognise that it has all sorts of unfair elements in it and we think a new system needs to be devised. "We recognise that not everyone in a big house is necessarily well off, particularly older people whose family have moved on, and they’re now being faced with huge increases in bills. “If for the last ten years we could have raised the council tax by 1% we wouldn’t have had this problem.”


Gordon Brown unveils Raith Rovers honour for war heroes

November 8 2016

Two Fife footballers that gave their lives on the battlefields of the First World War were immortalised by their football club. At a packed Adam Smith Theatre on Monday, Jimmy Todd and Jimmy Scott, both who were killed in 1916, were inducted into the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame. The induction took place under the supervision of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in the presence of the two men’s families. Mr Brown said: “One hundred years on, two footballing heroes are not forgotten. “It is fitting as we approach Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday that the first thought of Raith Rovers supporters this year was to install the two players who died on service in 1916 into the club’s Hall of Fame.” Jimmy Todd died after being hit by a shell on March 12 1916, while Jimmy Scott was one of the 57,000 soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1 that same year. Both men were members of what was known as “McCrae’s Battalion”, the 16th Royal Scots that consisted of the day’s sporting stars. In total, 17 Raith Rovers players volunteered for service, with Todd and Scott among the first seven of the Kirkcaldy club’s stars to sign up. Their remains are buried in France. Following their induction into the club’s Hall of Fame, further plans to celebrate the lives of the pair were announced, with a plaque in honour of the two to be placed at Stark’s Park. The event attracted a sellout crowd to the Kirkcaldy theatre, with star guests including former Arsenal and England legend Paul Merson, fellow Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson, and former Rangers defender John Brown. Other inductees included Coca-Cola cup-winning midfielder Stevie Crawford, title-winning manager Antonio Calderon and former captain Peter Hetherston. jowatson@thecourier.co.uk.


“Huge changes” for Kirkcaldy ahead of waterfront transformation

August 31 2017

A major transformation of Kirkcaldy’s waterfront could be completed by the end of next year, it has been claimed. Councillor Neil Crooks, the convener of the Kirkcaldy area committee, has said that one of the town’s busiest roads will be reduced to a single lane in a bid to create more leisure space and car parking for the town centre. Designed to tie in with a host of exciting projects along the waterfront, Mr Crooks believes the project is the key to unlocking the town’s economic potential. Confirming that contracts for the huge scheme would be advertised within months, he said: “I have always said that we needed to replace some of the car parking that was lost when we built the swimming pool on the busiest car park in the town,” he said. “But we don’t want to waste this space either. “We were originally going to go out to tender in October but we have pushed this back to January as we keep getting ideas that could be factored in.” The prospect of removing the current dual carriageway was first raised in 2008. Councillors have long been determined to transform the town’s waterfront to create better ties between it and the town centre. With the Esplanade seen as the main obstacle to this, traffic surveys have been conducted by the council’s transportation department with the results concluding that a single carriageway in each direction would be able to sustain the volume of traffic. Plans to remodel the road coincide with a number of exciting projects in the town centre, following on from the opening of a revamped promenade and new leisure centre in recent years. A £10 million cinema — a project that could create up to 250 jobs — is earmarked for the site of the former swimming pool and is currently working its way through the planning process. This is expected to attract a host of restaurant chains to the town centre, creating further job opportunities locally. Meanwhile, the hugely ambitious Kings Theatre project to revive the former ABC cinema at the east end of the High Street is still progressing, with those behind it claiming that the finished venue could attract top music acts and theatre shows. “If the old swimming pool comes down and a cinema opens up then that will create a new night time economy,” added Mr Crooks. “Plus, if the new Kings Theatre then becomes a reality then this space at the waterfront becomes really critical. “This waterfront could transform Kirkcaldy. "The next five years could see some huge changes.”


Tay Road Bridge reopens to cars as Storm Dylan batters Scotland

December 31 2017

The Tay Road Bridge has reopened to cars as high winds from Storm Dylan batter Scotland. The crossing, including its pedestrian walkway,  shut to all vehicles at  around 11.30 am as wind speeds increased. The bridge reopened to cars only at 12.15 pm. Earlier the crossing had been closed to high-sided vehicles, though cars were still permitted, albeit at a reduced speed. Elsewhere, the new Queensferry Crossing over the Forth remains open, though its speed limit has been cut to 40mph for all vehicles. SEPA, meanwhile, has issued seven flood warnings in the south west of Scotland, though conditions are expected to ease as the day progresses. Organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations, however, have stated that they anticipate no problems as a result of today's extreme weather.