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‘Ambitious and radical’ £180m economic boost for Fife towns

An £180m economic plan to boost Fife towns has been described by as 'ambitious and radical'.
An £180m economic plan to boost Fife towns has been described by as 'ambitious and radical'.

An “ambitious and radical” £180 million action plan has been drawn up to boost economic activity across Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth.

The draft Mid-Fife Economic Action Plan, to be discussed by councillors later this month, outlines recommendations including investing in business parks, improving town centres and boosting employment skills.

However, consultants Context said in the report that it was not yet known how the plan would be delivered.

“The scale of resources required is significant – and well and above and beyond the current level of resources allocated to mid-Fife,” said the report.

“The cost of delivering the plan is estimated at £160 to £180m which is a direct response to the scale of the challenges identified – and the need to recognise that ‘more of the same’ will not make the required step-change in mid-Fife.

“It is essential to note that the plan cannot be delivered within the current envelope of available resources.”

Councillors have been asked to provide feedback on the document, which highlights stark economic realities facing communities in mid-Fife.

The area has suffered from the demise of the coal industry and manufacturing, with men in full time work earning 12% less than the Scottish average wage and women earning 15% less.

Fewer women across mid-Fife are in employment compared to Scotland as a whole.

“There is a need to understand barriers to women into work, and then to implement actions to remove these barriers, including childcare and healthcare responsibility issues,” said the plan.

The report said mid-Fife benefitted from a good location, with “reasonable” commuting times to Edinburgh and a lower cost of living than the capital.

And the Levenmouth rail link project was said to provide a “massive opportunity”.

“Evidence from the Borders railway and the Alloa to Stirling which in year 10 had doubled initial estimates, is positive about the benefits to local economies.”

£100 million carbon zero and business innovation park plan for Kirkcaldy unveiled

Gordon Mole, Fife Council’s interim chief officer for business and employability, said in a report prepared for the committee: “This area has some of the poorest outcomes in Scotland in relation to jobs, health and deprivation.

“Consultants were appointed to develop a Mid-Fife Economic Action Plan that was based on an independent appraisal of the area’s economic profile and business base and an assessment of current and future business needs.

“The consultative draft action plan recognises that there are different issues within the component areas of mid-Fife and therefore proposes both mid-Fife area-wide actions and locally relevant and specific actions for each of the four areas.”

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