£90m cuts at Fife Council but authority looks to business successes

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Fife Council says it has to make savings of £90m by 2015.

Improving conditions for local economic development and continuing investment in Fife’s future remain priorities for the council, said the local authority, building on the major success Fife has had to date in securing new jobs, growing new and established businesses and inward investment, while aiming to be the easiest place to do business.

Councillor Tony Martin, Chair of the Enterprise, Environment and Transportation Committee commented: “We are looking closely at how we make the huge financial savings that we must deliver. Equally we are continually looking at ways we can tap into external financial resources. We work closely with partner organisations to maximise the Fife economy and this particularly includes the Fife Economic Partnership, Fife Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business.

“Fife is one of the few areas in Scotland that qualifies businesses to apply for regional selective assistance. If there is investment in a project, it can receive government support based on the number of jobs being created or safeguarded. Our strategic aim in Fife is to make the Kingdom the easiest place to do business.”

Targeting resources to key sectors including renewables is already proving beneficial to Fife’s economy. Over 1,500 people already work in the industry and local colleges have invested heavily in their facilities to deliver training in the skills which will be required for offshore wind in particular to meet the demands of the sector.

Biomass energy developments including a £200m combined heat and power system at Tullis Russell in Markinch in partnership with RWE Npower Renewables as well as a £65m generation plant at Diageo’s Cameron Bridge distillery show that Fife companies have the confidence to invest in new technologies to remain competitive in the future.

Councillor Martin added: “Fife has done exceptionally well in creating the right environment for investment to develop the region’s economy with the success of Fife Energy Park also building confidence in the sector. We want to continue to do that, so the challenge for us is to find ways that allows us to attract investment and deliver jobs in more cost effective ways which respect the quality of the local environment - such an important asset to Fife.and its residents.”

The area is enjoying investment success with thousands of new jobs being created thanks to established and emerging Fife based companies including Amazon, Shepherd Offshore, Morpol and Diageo.

Attracting new business to Fife is a key commitment for the council and advice, support and grant funding will continue to be available to new and start-up businesses. However we cannot do it all from our own resources therefore the council will also be signposting new businesses interested in locating in the Kingdom to alternative funding sources as our resources become tighter. The focus will have to be on growing and emerging sectors that will reap the greatest efficiencies and returns for the Fife economy.

Regenerating town centres is another key council commitment and despite difficulties being experienced across the Kingdom strong partnerships and a long-term approach is helping sustain town centres and businesses based there.

Added Councillor Martin: “Creating high quality, attractive town centres that will, in turn, attract private sector investment and increasing numbers of visitors remains a priority albeit a challenging one. We will pro-actively continue to identify and secure alternative sources of funding to help us invest in the future vitality of Fife’s town centres and strong partnership working will be key to this success.

“Our work with partners in the tourism sector will also continue to be vital in attracting new interest in the Kingdom from visitors and businesses.

“We are weathering the storm in these challenging economic times and Fife has shown that it has much to offer residents, businesses and tourists. However, we must keep our focus on the key sectors that will give us the pay back to make sure our Fife economy keeps growing and developing, making us competitive in Scotland and in the rest of the world, to keep Fife a great place to live, work, visit and invest.”

Councillors will make decisions on the council’s budget on February 9, 2012.