I was very proud to see a special session at Federal Conference on Tuesday in which Cllrs Elizabeth Riches and Tim Brett, Deputy Leader and Chair of Health and Social Work respectively were invited to give a presentation on the successes the Liberal Democrats have achieved during the 3 years of their administration on Fife Council.
Elizabeth and Tim outlined a number of initiatives they've undertaken to strengthen the community partnerships across the Kingdom.
Elizabeth talked about the difficulties of coalition, with 2 groups of backbench councillors' agreement to secure but how it's been worth it.
The coalition administration agreed the priorities which they hope will make Fife a top performing council and a great place to live.
Tim outlined the Fife Cares project which organised specific advice and assistance to families with young children and people over 65. As a result there have been less admissions to hospital for both children and older people as a result of accidents. Last week this initiative won a national award.
He then spoke about the Revolution Bus initiative which has made a huge difference to local communities. Vandalism and people throwing things at moving buses led to a loss of business for Stagecoach as people were understandably scared to travel on the buses. Evidence suggested that young people were responsible so the idea of a community bus was developed with young people themselves with the aim of education, interaction and diversion. Young people themselves named the bus and said how they wanted it equipped. In the first 4 months, vandalism across Fife was reduced by 55%.
Safe Drive Stay Alive project is aimed at 17/18 year old schoolkids in Fife - this is to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding. Developed in Fife, this has been extended across Scotland. This has had an effect in reducing accidents involving young people across the area.
There has been huge progress in child protection with access to the register being widened to health and education professionals at any time of day or night. This will now be extended to vulnerable adults.
He spoke about the work undertaken by offenders as part of community service - road clearing, litter picking, garden building - giving skills and encouraging work ethic. Re-offending rates dropped from 73% to 42% for those doing community service - evidence that the Governments in Scotland and England have the right idea about the use of shorter sentences and that the Labour Party is talking out of its rear end as usual. That last bit was me, by the way, Tim Brett is way too pleasant and polite to talk like that.
The Wishing Well Initiative gives residents in residential homes the chance to achieve ambitions or to relive an experience in their earlier lives. They have learned to do such things as flying lessons, sailing and making their own record.
Elizabeth then took over to explain how the administration has turned around Labour's poor record on recycling, making Fife the second best Council in Scotland - an increase from 2% under Labour to 45% now. It's expected that this will increase to 60%. A good example of putting green policies into action.
The Light Fife Green initiative means that there are significant savings in the cost of streetlights by dimming them between midnight and 5am. This has been done while meeting community safety requirements.
Building services used to generate high volumes of waste with little consideration to landfill environment. A Skip the Landfill initiative has meant that recycling rates have shot up from 3% in 2007 to 95% in 2007.
The methane gas from the landfill sites is captured and turned into electricity for buildings as diverse to homes to leisure centres and excess is sold to the National Grid, bringing in £1 million each year.
The Fife Energy Park at Methil is gearing up to create jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Residents' surveys and people panels show satisfaction with Fife Council is high with levels in the high 80s. For the second year running, the Association for Public Service Excellence has shortlisted Fife for the Council of the year.
The Council's ethos is based on people, partnerships and performance.
To me this is a pretty good record given the guddle they inherited from Labour in 2007. Not least of the messes to sort out was the fact that Labour had sold off the land for a much needed third school in Dunfermline's Eastern Expansion to housing developers building family houses. It took years to sort that mess out and it's awful that some families have no other choice than to have their children at separate primary schools for a couple of years.
I know many of our Fife Councillors very well and have been very impressed with the work they have done and was glad to see it recognised by the Conference.