Our manifesto for all aspiring councillors

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Fifers go to the polls this week to decide who runs Fife Council. This week the Fife Free Press publishd its own election manifesto

Kirkcaldy is one of Fife’s most important towns, but there remains a strong, nagging feeling that we’ve been short-changed for too long.

That perception - fair or otherwise, as we try not to cast an envious glance westward along the A92 - will only change if we see councillors making a strong case for supporting the Lang Toun and bringing new ideas, new thinking and clear vision to the table.

The Area Committee has become a good focal point for everything that matters to this area - now let us set a new task. Simply this - do more.

If you want to win a seat at that table, paint a compelling picture of how you see the town developing over the coming five years and back it up with energy, imagination and commitment.

2. Listen.

Far too many vital, much-neeeded projects of late have run into serious opposition - it’s time councillors asked themselves why that should be?

You can draw a parallel from the swimming pool in Tolbooth Street to the new school in Toll Park, Burntisland - big projects surrounded by, and embroiled in, on-going debates.

A £15m investment in sport should have this town buzzing - it’s a huge sum of money and, long-term, it will give us a pool fit for purpose, albeit in a landlocked area (future expansion, anyone?) - but instead, the town remains unconvinced by the choice of location. Only last week, the organisers of the Farmers’ Market cited the closure of Tolbooth street as a reason for dwindling numbers.

So, listen to the people whose votes gave you the chance to shape the town for the next five years.

3. Town centre:

We need a clear strategy for our town centre - one that brings fresh ideas and fires our imagination.

That vision has to look at how we create a town centre for the 21st century.

How do we breathe new life into long-forgotten empty buildings now no longer fit for purpose as far as retailers are concerned? Why on earth can Kirkcaldy not sustain a cinema?

And when will we finally grasp the issue of parking - from Blue Badge access to introducing a ‘pay on exit’ system has to be resolved once and for all so we can all focus on the real issue of creating a town centre that buzzes with vitality.

And what is our plan for the smaller High Streets in towns such as Burntisland and Kinghorn, places of equal importance to their communities?

4. Sporting chance:

We’ve mentioned the new pool, but what will you do to keep sport alive outwith the landlocked Tolbooth Street site?

The level of sports facilities across Kirkcaldy district are a disgrace - ask any coach from any sport and they will shake their head in despair.

We have to do more - much more - to support those who give so much to keeping our sports clubs alive, and in doing so give young people an opportunity to fulfil their potential.

The councillors who can improve that picture will have voters for life.

5. The case for business:

Kirkcaldy needs jobs - and to get them we need business to invest locally.

Councillors and officers are doing a lot here - but we need to ask them to do more.

The Fife economy could be transformed by the renewable energy market - but who is nurturing Kirkcaldy’s share? One for our councillors to take on board.

We have a college ready to deliver training that is second to none, but we need the politicians to make sure they are right behind them every step of the way.

Fife Chamber’s priorities for 2012 - detailed in our business section The Agenda - should also be endorsed wholeheartedly.

Across Fife there are great examples of small companies and individuals finding niche markets for their skills and products - even in the depths of a painful recession it’s far from all doom and gloom. Support them!

6. Ask questions - and challenge:

Who runs Fife Council - officers or councillors? Now there’s a big issue that needs to be fully grasped by whoever forms the new administration.

Be guided by the experts, of course, but challenge their findings and recommendations. Test them with one simple question - does this project bring clear benefits to our town? If it doesn’t ...