Where We’re At: Fife Edition

November 9, 2023   By Mike Enston, Executive Director, Communities Directorate, Fife Council

Mike Enston, Executive Director of Fife Council’s Communities Directorate tells us about the challenge of growing inequalities in Fife, the council’s ambitions to redistribute power to the community, their reasons for joining New Local, and why you can’t visit Fife without enjoying some award-winning fish and chips.

We have a lot to be proud of.

Fife lies on the east coast of Scotland, between Edinburgh and Dundee and has a population of some 375,000. Within 1,325 square kilometres, we have one city, Dunfermline, and three main towns – St Andrews, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes – and hundreds of smaller villages with proud mining, fishing, and agricultural heritage. Wild and urban landscapes are fringed with award winning beaches and a 117-mile coastal path.

Fife is historically ‘the home of golf’, and the burial places of kings, queens, and saints. But we are a forward looking, diverse community with a proud spirit and positive attitude.

We are concerned by the widening gap between those who have and those who don’t.

Like many areas across Scotland and the UK, we faced significant social and financial challenges before the Covid pandemic – and, despite our best efforts – inequalities are growing. While some areas are holding their own or showing signs of improvement, others are falling below national trends. These growing inequalities are undermining long term community health, wealth, and wellbeing.

We want our towns and villages to be shaped by lived experience, not tradition.

We believe long term positive change is possible if we redesign our public services – creating more integrated and personal interventions and support – with people and communities not for them. We are looking at new ways to engage individuals and communities in the run of our business more than through bursts of consultation. 

We’re keen to learn from (and share) best practice.

We want to test new ways to redistribute power and encourage a deep level of community input and influence over public service design and delivery. We joined New Local to learn from like-minded public sector colleagues, and to share our own experiences – could Fife’s long-standing approach to decentralisation, partnership and local collaboration offer useful insight for others?

A very warm welcome awaits everyone who comes our way!

Come to Fife and you’ll enjoy over 500 square miles of natural beauty, creativity and fun: from our rolling countryside, five blue flag beaches and renowned coastal paths to Scotland’s oldest university, Britain’s first tennis court and one of the nation’s earliest whisky distilleries. Or travel back in time by walking Fife’s Pilgrim’s Way and stand by the resting place of King Robert the Bruce in our newly crowned City of Dunfermline!

We’ve more contemporary opportunities on offer too: you can fulfil your need for speed at Knockhill motor racing circuit and the Fife cycle park or down gear for a stroll around one of our country parks or local arts and craft festivals. And, for sustenance along the way, you can tuck into a Michelin meal or a MasterChef fine dining experience, forage at a farmer’s market or enjoy some award-winning fish and chips – there’s something for everyone.

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