CREATIVES and community-focused organisations will play a key role in preventing Dunfermline’s High Street from becoming one of many “ghost towns”.

That’s the view of Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who believes that the cultural sector and inspired minds should be frontrunners to take over empty retail spaces in high streets.

Speaking in Holyrood recently, the Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP called on the minister for public finance, Tom Arthur, to ensure that creative organisations were supported in order to reverse high street decline.

Following the exchange, Mr Ruskell cited Dunfermline’s Fire Station Creative, on Carnegie Drive, as a “perfect example” of what can be achieved by the creative sector.

He said: “I was pleased to hear the minister’s enthusiasm for supporting creative industries and I look forward to that being backed up by action.

“Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline is a perfect example of how the creative sector can help reinvigorate our town centres.

“Radical changes in the way people shop and socialise over the last few years has meant that new ideas are needed to prevent our high streets from becoming ghost towns.

“By helping cultural organisations and social enterprises into empty retail units, we can secure a future for the high street while keeping our town centres vibrant and exciting.”

Ian Moir, director at Fire Station Creative (FSC), believes that the only way communities could “win back the High Street” from “big corporations and online retail” companies is by creating a sense of community that can’t be matched.

He explained: “I recently met with local retailers The Little Shop of Heroes and Sew Yarn Crafty, who, like FSC, understand that community engagement is the key to their success.

“For customers to return to a business, they must feel involved in it. Small businesses can foster a sense of community by organising cultural events and workshops.

“This is one area where big corporations and online retail can’t compete. As I see it, this is the only way communities can win back the High Street.”

Fire Station Creative opened in 2015 after the Fire and Rescue Service vacated the premises five years earlier.

It opened thanks to the help of Fife Council, and Mr Moir believes that the venue and others, such as the Alhambra Theatre, are examples of how independent venues can be successful.

He stated: “Virtually all of the (Fife) council’s £12 million arts budget is assigned to Fife Cultural Trust every year but there are many other organisations who boost the local economy by their own steam.

“Regeneration is achievable if key independent venues such as the Alhambra and FSC are protected, and new community-focused business concepts are developed in partnership with the local authority.

“This process doesn’t need to be expensive. After all, the conversion of the old fire station into an arts facility only cost £190,000.

“That’s peanuts when you consider the impact it has made.”