THERE should be local parking plans for the key towns across Fife.
That’s the view of one leading councillor as the debate gains momentum following the publication of a report which laid bare the problems affecting Kirkcaldy town centre.
Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy area committee, believes Fife Council’s ‘‘one size fits all’’ approach has had its day - and policy has to be devolved to help our High Streets.
Car parking was the single biggest issue raised at the 2012 town centre summit attended by over 150 businesses, and it will almost certainly be put back on the agenda as they return to the Town House next week to hear the progress made, two years on.
Cllr Crooks welcomed the BID’s forensic analysis of the problems, and its direct criticisms of the Council and promised the town centre company’s concerns and questions would be answered.
He said: “ The report raises significant issues and obviously transportation will be asked to deal with specifics.
‘‘However, that does not detract from the general feeling that Kirkcaldy4All is looking for more from the Council in relation to parking.”
Cllr Crooks accepted the current policy on car parking was open to criticism.
“ There is no consistency of charging across Fife,’’ he said.
Over the years, a series of Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) have produced inconsistent parking restrictions which, in some places, can end at 6.00 p.m. and at others its 8.00 p.m.
‘‘I have lived here all my life and even I still have to check the nearest sign when I park to make sure I return to my car on time!’’
That is one example of the frustrations endured by businesses trying to operate in the Kingdom’s biggest town centre - and one that a local plan could address as a priority. A local solution for a local problem.
It’s an agenda item on the table for a Labour budget group to wrestle with and come forward with proposals which would completely change the way the local authority handles car parking - or even hand it over to organisations such as the BID to play a lead role.
Added Cllr Crooks: ‘‘Kirkcaldy town centre has more Council parking than any other Fife town centre and I am currently arguing that each of the seven areas should control their own parking solutions. I don’t think one size fits all.’’
While that debate continues - along with the task of changing mindsets within the corridors of power - the area committee chairman pledged that the BID company would get the constructive dialogue it asked for.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Three projects identified by transportation ARE underway.
One floor of the multi-storey Esplanade car park has been refurbished - a project put forward by Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions.
The aim was to show how the drab tower block could look like with bigger parking bays, better lighting and a brighter look, and it is hoped more visitors will use it on a regular basis.
The crumbling Postings steps are finally getting an overhaul, starting in January, and the west end will get a new look as the delayed Phase III of the Public realm programme finally kicks in.
Transportation has also suggested bulldozing the Thistle Street multi-storey and using the money saved from paying rates on it to improve the Esplanade facility.
It is under consideration but with significant demolition costs involved, it is unlikely to come down in the near future.
Added Cllr Crooks: ‘‘I understand people’s frustration, which I share, but changing the local parking regime is the final piece now the infrastructure issues have been addressed.”
The second town centre summit takes place on Tuesday.
The Town House is the venue for the event - two years after the inital gathering led to the creation of Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions.
Invitations have gone out to a wide range of local businesses, and a large number are expected to attend to get an update on the work done, and the plans for 2015 and beyond.