Fife Council’s Co-Leaders explain how Fife will benefit from the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal.
Our job is to improve the quality of life for people who live in, work in or visit Fife. We want Fife’s economic performance to be exceptional, not just average. Despite all the changes and uncertainty in the world at present, we are forward-looking and ambitious for Fife.
Our participation in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is long-term, focused on creating opportunities for Fife’s people and communities to thrive and to play a full and active part in the region’s economy. We share – with regional partners – the commitment to create a region without poverty, and improved well-being for all.
Through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal regional partners will secure more than £1.3 billion of investment for the city region over the next 15 years. We believe that this can create clear opportunities for genuine inclusive economic growth and investment in Fife. The Deal focuses on growing the regional economy through collaboration and by being outward-looking, building on the region’s existing strengths in key sectors and industries. Our focus is firmly on fairer economic growth, where everyone benefits from good employment opportunities and regional investments.
The approval of the business case for Fife’s ten-year/£48.4m Industrial Innovation Investment Programme by the regional Joint Committee will deliver much-needed new industrial buildings in key locations in Mid and South Fife. This is a major economic boost through the construction activity, and the businesses that will be able to expand into the new units and private sector investment.
We believe it will also make it easier for the region’s universities and Fife’s businesses to work together to drive up competitiveness and productivity in local businesses and crucially deliver higher paid, skilled permanent jobs.
Common questions that we get asked about the City Region Deal are:
How does the regional collaboration improve outcomes for all partner local authorities?
We want to ensure that we make a positive difference to those living in our most deprived communities by creating access to skills and jobs. The Fife Industrial Innovation Investment Programme will invest in key business locations across Fife.
The Integrated Regional Skills and Employability Programme will provide access to new opportunities at all stages of education and training, linking into Fife schools, colleges and training providers. We are working with the region’s universities to agree how we will work with them. We know that by supporting the growth of innovative businesses, the City Region Deal collaboration will help improve the region’s economy for everyone.
Some communities in Fife – particularly mid Fife – are still recovering from the demise of mining and other traditional industries throughout the UK and beyond, so these are a priority for us.
We know that although employment levels are good – they are higher in Fife than across Scotland – the distribution of jobs, particularly highly skilled jobs, is not equal, and some communities in Fife have fragile economies where some people worry about finding work.
We believe that the City Region Deal represents a significant step forward in regenerating the areas with the most potential for economic development, helping to reverse the unemployment and social exclusion caused by the collapse of the industrial and manufacturing economy. Alongside the Industrial Innovation Investment Programme, the regional focus on developing skills and making sure there are routes to securing fairly-paid employment for everyone.
We believe that Fife is a resilient region, but we also recognise that the economy needs to diversify further.
How will the deal work?
This Deal promises a new approach to economic development, strategic planning and transport, planning, backed by a fresh approach to city regional governance to empower the region.
The Governments and regional partners are embarking on a new relationship and vision. The first phase is underpinned by the activities set out in the Deal, and we will continue to work together to transfer further powers, policy and resources to strengthen the city region.
This Deal is breaking down barriers by promoting collaboration between local authorities, universities, the private sector and other public services. Through working with partners we can better realise the economic potential of the city region by unlocking economic assets, harnessing local strengths and responding to local issues.
The new governance framework empowers Fife, and the other local authorities, to create a different, more tailored, approach that enables us to better meet the needs of our communities and businesses together. Crucially this approach retains the link between regional strategy and local accountability, back through the partner councils to their local communities.
For example, often those who are disadvantaged in the job market face a range of barriers to employment, and progressing when in work. By working together – aligning stakeholders and services – we can create real change to benefit everyone, including the most vulnerable in society.
How do we make sure that there is a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth?
The Fife Industrial Innovation programme will be delivered in three phases. Over the next three years new industrial premises will be developed across four sites in Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Lochgelly and Dunfermline.
Seven hectares of new serviced employment land in Dunfermline and Dalgety Bay will be made available for immediate investment by new or existing businesses. During this phase, we will work up the plan for the next three years. Over the ten-year programme, we expect to deliver:
· Important investment in progressive industrial modernisation that will encourage more businesses to locate and grow within Fife.
· The creation of 1,000 new skilled permanent jobs, and 600 short-term construction jobs.
· A diverse range of companies with a growth outlook.
· A further £30m of further investment by the private sector.
We are proud that Fife was recently crowned the ‘Most Enterprising Place in Britain’ by the UK Government, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the Enterprising Britain Awards, Fife is already rightfully recognised for economic successes within mid-Fife and in developing our young workforce. This is because we’re already closely linking education and learning with employers to get more young people into education, training and employment and empower our future business leaders.
What about North East Fife?
We are also part of the Tay Cities Deal – a programme backed by the UK and Scottish Governments, along with Angus, Dundee City, and Perth & Kinross councils – designed to reduce the economic inequality gap and boost productivity. Late last year, we agreed Heads of Terms to confirm what will be included in that Deal. Under the Deal proposals, around £30m will be invested in the University of St Andrews’ Eden Campus in Guardbridge that is estimated to create around 500 new jobs as the former paper mill is redeveloped into a global research and innovation hub.
Cllrs David Alexander and David Ross, Co-leaders, Fife Council