THE clock is ticking with the organisation charged with improving Dunfermline given £100,000 and six months to come up with a new funding model.

Dunfermline Delivers has gone but its replacement has the same goals and people involved in the events and initiatives to keep the town thriving – although there won’t be any fireworks.

Neil Mackie, the Kingsgate Centre manager who was vice-chair of the old group, and a board member of the new body, said: “We’ve set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) and called it Delivering Dunfermline.

“It had to be similar but we couldn’t use the same name, and it’s now established with an executive board with myself, Lloyd Pitcairn, Steve Fell, of Malcolm Jack and Mathieson, and Stewart McKinnon, of M&S Accountancy, so we have a strong business core.

“Lisa Edwards (former Dunfermline Delivers manager) is a director too.

“The great strength of a CIC is it breaks away from a purely business bias; we can engage further with the community as a whole and talk about improvements to benefit everyone.”

Dunfermline Delivers, the Business Improvement District (BID) company, was wound up officially on September 20 after losing its renewal ballot.

Councillors were warned that, if nothing replaced it, the town faced “significant risks” and would suffer.

Among the dire predictions were a rise in crime and anti-social behaviour, a drop in footfall, more empty shops and less events.

Fife Council approved up to £100,000 of “transitional funding” in August to keep town centre initiatives and events going until the end of the financial year.

It’s given the new group six months’ breathing space to come up with a new model and identify a new funding stream, which they’re trying to speak to the Scottish Government about.

Mr Mackie said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Fife Council for stepping in with the transitional funding – that equates to about six months of core operating costs which allows us to get to the end of the financial year.

“We couldn’t have got this far without them and it was really humbling. We know money is tight but Lloyd and Lisa were at the council meeting where the councillors were unanimous in awarding the funding, which shows they recognise the value of what Lisa and her team were doing.

"But the real hard work is where we go from there. It’s under way, we’re meeting with the Scottish Government, we’ve met Douglas Chapman MP and Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP as we must look at the long-term future.”

Mr Chapman said: “It was incredibly disappointing when Dunfermline Delivers lost their ballot back in June but I am encouraged by the ideas they have come up with to continue to represent and develop our town centre.

“The case of Dunfermline Delivers demonstrates that the BID system is under threat from multi-national companies – whom the idea wasn’t set up for in the first place.

“These big corporations are having their ballots sent to a boardroom in London, where the local groundwork isn’t seen and where the bottom line is their only concern.

“BIDs or something similar in their place need to serve those who need them the most – small businesses. We have seen a number of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) thrive in Dunfermline directly through the work of Dunfermline Delivers and that must continue.

“I will be working with the Scottish Government to suggest alternatives to the BID model that will benefit not only Dunfermline, but high streets across Scotland.”

Dunfermline SNP MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said: “Delivering Dunfermline are absolutely right that the BID structure isn’t fit for purpose.

“I’ve had dealings with small businesses throughout the area and there’s a high level of support for what the BID company has been doing. It shouldn’t be the case that a few multi-national companies can scupper years of work by a team dedicated to improving the town centre.

“I’ve been engaging with the Scottish Government about the BID process and have asked them to look to the future to see what can be done to find an alternative, fit-for-purpose, mechanism for delivering projects in the town centre.

“I’ll be continuing to work with all relevant stakeholders going forward to seek a solution that works for Dunfermline.”

The former Dunfermline Delivers team, Lisa Edwards, Chris Foote and Carly Trotter, have been retained and Mr Mackie insisted that, for now, it was “business as usual”.

He continued: “We’re up and running and we have to work on the priorities for the next six months.

“The first essential was the Purple Flag activities. It’s so important as if you cancel that there are no taxi marshals or bus marshals, and the implications could be taxis don’t come into town and you get trouble.

“The Christmas lights are a key seasonal event too.”

Mr Pitcairn, ex-chair of Dunfermline Delivers, added: “The Outwith Festival is planned a year in advance so they’re already working on that. It was just fantastic this year and brought so many people into the town.

“The one difficulty is for Chris to obtain external funding, and he received a lot this year; there has to be a reassurance that the body producing the festival has bona fide longevity.

“Again, that comes down to getting the right model and funding in place.”

Whereas the BID boundary circled the town centre, the new model will cover a much larger area, essentially all of Dunfermline as well as Kingseat, Townhill, Halbeath, Wellwood and Crossford.

Mr Mackie said: “We’ve broken away from the shackles of the BID boundary as Dunfermline offers so much more, including leisure and tourism, so this model is based on a greater Dunfermline, covering wards 2, 3 and 4 (Dunfermline North, Dunfermline Central and Dunfermline South).”

However, while their core activities are set to continue, that won’t include the fireworks.

Dunfermline’s annual pyrotechnics display in Pittencrieff Park was hailed as one of the biggest free events of its kind in Scotland but Mr Mackie said the economic benefits for the town were negligible, with most people opting to go straight home afterwards.

He admitted: “The fireworks was an awkward one. The funding for it and the Christmas lights effectively comes from the City of Dunfermline area committee.

“It costs much more for the fireworks, and the expenditure to blast gunpowder into the sky for 20 minutes was deemed inappropriate.

“The Christmas lights event will still go ahead but we felt the fireworks, at this time, was unsustainable.

“That’s not to say it won’t come back but we’re talking to Chris about other ideas, such as an enchanted forest, or like the Riverside lights in Perth.”

He continued: “It was great to have it in the town but we had to be professional and take a serious look at all our activities.

“Every initiative in Dunfermline now, every event and business improvement idea, must be project-planned and sustainable, the funding has to stack up and, if possible, turn a profit.”

Mr Pitcairn added: “My six-year-old grandson blames me for cancelling the fireworks but we have to look at all the costs and overheads.

“For every £1 that came into Dunfermline Delivers in funding, we delivered a financial return to the community of around £3.70, which is not bad and what we’re trying to achieve going forward.”