Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Our local economy

I write a regular article for the Dunfermline Press website. Click on this link to read my latest about the West Fife economy.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Court of Lions

What Bill Fletcher, Paul Gudgin and their cast of many dedicated supporters have achieved with Dunfermline's Alhambra over the last year is truly amazing. When Paul (the former Festival Fringe Director in Edinburgh) and Bill (a local businessman) showed me round the old bingo hall in Canmore Street the roof was leaking, the decor was shoddy and the even the clock on the wall was going backwards.

Yet the architecture combined with the shear volume of the one hundred year old theatre shouted its potential. We are well endowed with stunning architecture in Dunfermine but what we have often lacked is the talent, passion and leadership to make those assets sing. Paul and Bill have all these attributes and more. I was sold on them as much as the stunning building.

Since then eighteen thousand people have flooded through the doors and we have seen some real quality acts including KT Tunstall, Ocean Colour Scene, Biffy Clyro (my twelve year old says they are big) and even Roy Chubby Brown (not quite my taste!). In 2009 they already have Jimmy Carr, The Enemy and a week long production of Les Miserables.

The last time I spoke from the Alhambra stage was at the Nazareth gig before 1400 rockers! Before a more sedate audience of 800 people last night I compared Paul and Bill to the lions at the original Alhambra in Spain which has a Court of Lions I urged the audience to join the Court of Lions and become a Friend of the Alhambra as only with their support will the theatre continue to thrive. You can join by logging onto the website.

Friday, 19 December 2008


The Navy's two 65 tonne super aircraft carriers, which are to be commissioned at Rosyth Dockyard, will not only physically dominate the skyline of West Fife in the middle of the next decade but also dominate our politics. Just months after the contracts were signed they've already been delayed yet the Trade Unions and MOD say this helps Rosyth by stretching the work - I have my doubts. I had robust discussion with a trade union official about our respective positions yesterday. I hope he's right but fear the delays are driven by the MOD's need to put off the bill. My meeting with Robin Presswood and Mark Hastings from Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise considered what will happen after the carriers with both the dockyard and the skilled workforce. After knocking on doors in Limekilns with Councillor Gerry McMullan I joined the Royal Naval Reserves at HMS Scotia for the Christmas Divisions - starting and ending the day with the Navy.