Bill Taylor MBE, who has died at the age of 78, was a constant source of support to those around him and a man who worked tirelessly for Fife.
Bill – at the heart of the development of the region’s economy for more than four decades – commanded the respect of colleagues and politicians thanks to his dedication and integrity.
Fife MSP Alex Rowley also paid tribute to his role as one of the driving forces behind the redevelopment of Rosyth as a port.
‘He cared about Fife’
The former Fife Council leader said: “He was single-mindedly focused on Fife.
“Over the years you come across council officials who are in it for the money. But not Bill.
“Bill was in it for Fife. I’ve never known anyone with an eye for details like him.
“When Hyundai wanted to open a plant in Fife, I remember him briefing us on everything about the customs and culture, how to shake hands and about the history of South Korea.
“That’s why he was always the driving force behind economic change and behind the fight to save Rosyth: he just knew so much and he cared about Fife.”
Having qualified in geography from Edinburgh University, Bill had a spell as an economic planner in Dundee and Tayside.
A move to Fife followed and he initially worked under Maurice Taylor who was regional planning officer of Fife County.
In 1979, he became head of economic development and planning.
When the regional administration later became Fife Council, Bill retained his responsibilities for economic development in the new role of corporate manager.
But the job titles did not tell the full story of his influence.
Until his retirement in 2001, Bill was instrumental in the redevelopment of Fife.
As the area’s post-war 20,000 mining jobs declined in number, only open cast mining was left by the turn of the century.
At the same time the biggest employer, Rosyth Dockyard and Naval Base, fell from 15,000 to 2,000 – requiring job creation in the thousands.
Under Bill’s watch his department took the lead in land reclamation, such as the prize-winning Lochore Meadows project.
And he championed the attraction of new jobs in electronics, IT and in financial services, which replaced many of the jobs lost in traditional industries.
He was awarded the MBE for the services he gave Fife and Scotland.
Bill remained active in many areas of Fife life well past retirement and in 2013 was recognized with a special presentation – made by Provost Jim Leishman – for services to the region.
He was also a member of the board of Fife College for many years helping it grow to become one of the biggest colleges in the country.
He served as a valued member of the Fife Historic Buildings Trust and also on the Fife Coastal and Countryside Trust, which has been prominent in improving the environment of the country.
‘Bill will be sorely missed’
Following his death, FHBT said: “He had a lifelong focus on improving the lives and prospects of all who live in Fife, by enhancing and sharing all aspects of its historic and natural environment.
“Bill will be sorely missed by his fellow trustees at Fife Historic Buildings Trust, and by the staff team.
“Over 17 years, he has made a huge contribution to our work, supporting the delivery of historic building restoration projects in Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Burntisland, Dunfermline, Dysart, Ladybank, Anstruther, Lochgelly, Cupar, Leven and Inverkeithing.
“Those who met him will share our appreciation of him as a kind and committed trustee, incisive in his questioning, and generous with his knowledge and time.
“We shall miss him greatly, and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Bill “a constant source of wise advice”.
He said: “No one I met during all the time I was an MP knew more about the Fife economy than Bill Taylor.
“And no one was more willing to give of his time voluntarily to help others in the pursuit of the best outcomes for Fife.”
‘Fife owes Bill and family a huge debt of gratitude’
The ex-Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath added that he marvelled at his local knowledge which was always put to good use.
He said: “Not only at work…but in retirement as well, right up until this year.
“He was a constant source of wise advice over 40 years, during which many councillors, MPs, and others as well as me relied in his good judgment.
“Fife owes Bill and his family a huge debt of gratitude.”
Bill was also a keen golfer and love to walk, especially around the heaths at Ladyburn and the links at St Andrews.
He is survived by his wife Margaret, his son Gordon, his daughter Sarah and their families.
His funeral took place at Dairsie cemetery.