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Dunfermline fireworks shelved for 2019 after BID’s shock demise

Dunfermline fireworks taken at the Abbey Palace.
Dunfermline fireworks taken at the Abbey Palace.

Dunfermline’s fireworks display has been shelved following the demise of the organising group.

Pittencrieff Park plays host to more than 40,000 visitors annually for the display, organised by the Business Improvement District (BID).

Councillors on the region’s policy and co-ordination committee were told on Thursday the bonfire night extravaganza will be axed unless someone else takes over its organisation.

£100,000 of funding was approved to underwrite events this year, saving the Outwith Festival and the town’s Christmas lights switch on, as well as while safety initiatives such as the Pub Watch scheme, taxi marshals and the Dunfermline Safe Zone.

The fireworks display was not included.

A plan to future proof town centre development was backed by councillors as they agreed to underwrite up to £100,000 for the current financial year, which will support the continued delivery of town centre initiatives while also buying time to develop an alternative model to replace the BID.

Gillian Taylor, Dunfermline’s community manager, said she hopes the transitional funding will pave the way for a longer-term solution to be identified.

“There is genuine commitment and support to work together to develop a new business-council-community model and for Dunfermline to be a national pathfinder,” he said.

“The Scottish Government are keen to support this and have asked for the new model to be brought back to them once developed when there may be Scottish Government seedcorn funding available for a pathfinder.”

Councillors also heard it may be possible to convert Dunfermline Delivers BID into a community interest company, a non-charitable limited company which exists to benefit a community rather than make a profit.

However, when asked specifically about the fireworks – a notable absence from a list of initiatives which will continue – Ms Taylor said: “Unfortunately, even with some transitional funding, we would be unable to provide the fireworks this year, unless a community group was prepared to come forward and lead on that.”

The new approach has been hastily developed in an attempt to avoid a serious “backward slide” in the town’s fortunes after the loss of Dunfermline Delivers, councillors were told.

Under the BID, businesses were paying a levy in addition to normal business rates, which went towards various town centre events and schemes.

Despite almost two thirds of businesses voting to retain the BID in June, the ballot was unsuccessful because the cumulative value of businesses voting against – bigger national chains less supportive of the BID model – was higher.

Council co-leader David Ross said it had been a “big shock to everybody” when the ballot was unsuccessful and hit out at the larger national or multi-national chains.

“I have to say I’m very disappointed with the commitment that some of these firms have shown to town centres that they have made good money out of,” he said.

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