Kirkcaldy MP calls for review of parking across Fife

Cars backed up in the pedestrianised zone of Kirkcaldy High Street
Cars backed up in the pedestrianised zone of Kirkcaldy High Street

Roger Mullin MP has called for a complete review of parking across Fife, branding the current situation “amateurish”.

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was speaking after Fife Council finally took ownership of parking in Kirkcaldy’s town centre following the installation of signage for the town’s Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).

Roger Mullin

Roger Mullin

He called the need for an overhaul of parking in the region “a matter of some urgency”.

“Fundamentally Fife Council has no parking strategy,” he said. “It has an economic strategy that covers the entire region, but it makes no mention of transportation, which is a major issue that affects shoppers, traders and of course parking for leisure events.

“To me it seems that at the moment it’s just incredibly piecemeal and amateurish.”

Mr Mullin claims that the needs and wishes of Fife’s drivers have not been given serious consideration.

“There has never been any effort by Fife Council to sit down and take a good look at how people go shopping nowadays, what it tells them and then make an attempt to accommodate their movements.

“What I think is needed here is some serious engagement with drivers all over Fife.”

Lesley Laird, depute leader of Fife Council, said she was “disappointed” with Mr Mullin’s comment.

“Fife Council and the Fife Economy Partnership are currently undertaking a review of Fife’s economic strategy and would welcome contributions from Mr Mullin,” she said.

“In terms of shopping patterns and movement we discussed this recently when Mr Mullin hosted a very constructive meeting with Fife Council and Professor Leigh Sparks, Head of the Graduate School at the University of Stirling, who leads the internationally respected Institute for Retail Studies and is Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

“Given that very positive meeting I am disappointed that he has not raised his concerns with me.

“At this meeting it was recognised that things have changed in terms of town centres and shopping patterns and that these are complex areas to address – not just here in Fife.

“Everyone is grappling with the issue of town centre regeneration post the recession.

“A very positive outcome of the meeting we had with Professor Sparks was his offer to undertake a joint piece of work with Fife Council to look at this area, which we were delighted to accept.

“This work is already being scoped and is expected to get underway shortly.

“Given Mr Mullin’s support in setting up this relationship, we would of course be delighted if he wished to continue to be involved.

“Many of Fife’s parking arrangements are historic and often reflect local arrangements appropriate to that particular area. Over time shopping patterns have changed and the role of our town centres continues to evolve.”

She added: “With 32 town centres across Fife it is important to understand the different needs and economic drivers of each as one size does not fit all.”

Councillor Pat Callaghan, Fife Council’s spokesman for Environment and Transportation, said the council was continuing to look at parking needs across the Kingdom.

He said: “A very good example of that approach is the current parking pilot underway in Kirkcaldy.

“This pilot scheme was implemented in recognition of the implications of Tesco leaving the town centre.

“Other parking options were considered and by working with Kirkcaldy 4 All and the local area committee this pilot scheme has been supported over the last few months, and has just recently been extended.

“We work with communities across Fife to look at their parking needs – but whatever measures are ultimately put in place they need to be appropriate, reflective of local circumstances and financially sustainable.”

Cllr Callaghan added that he would be happy to meet with Mr Mullin and discuss his concerns regarding parking.

Measures to tackle the traffic chaos on Kirkcaldy High Street finally started last Friday when parking attendants moved in.

The granting of a new Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) allowed them to patrol the pedestrianised zone which has been blighted with problems for years.

Fife Council took over responsibility for parking from Police Scotland, and new signs have been installed, telling disabled and commercial vehicle drivers where when they can – and cannot – park.

The new system does not change the current access times for blue badge holders and commercial vehicles.

Bill Harvey, manager at Kirkcaldy 4 All, the town’s BID, said he was pleased to see the TRO in place and has received no complaints from traders.

“To be honest I’ve not really seen any real effect as such yet,” he said.

“I’m pleased cars that are abandoned on either side of the High Street can now be dealt with efficiently.

“It’ll make it easier for locals who are entitled to park there and for visitors.

“I spoke to some of the traders this week about it. None of them had any complaints or issues with cars, so I think that can be viewed as a positive.”

Tony McRae, lead officer for parking and public transport infrastructure management, said that just over 20 tickets had been issued over the first weekend.

“Initially the parking attendants have been mainly concentrating on the times that no vehicles should be in the zone – between noon and 5pm all days, except Tuesday and Sunday.

“A total of 22 parking charge notices were issued over Friday and Saturday. The vast majority were issued to vehicles parked in the High Street when parking and loading is banned.

“It is hoped that by taking this enforcement action this will deter others and keep the area free and safe for pedestrians.”