NEWS that the improvement works for Kirkcaldy High Street’s west end have been put on hold have been greeted with dismay.
Shopkeepers in the area told the Press they were very disappointed, but not surprised at the revelation that work will not begin until extra funds are found to meet the £1 million plus plans.
An application for government funding failed, while additional expenses were incurred on the first two phases of the High Street work, leaving no money for the west end refurbishment.
Expressing his disappointment that phase 3 had not gone ahead as initially planned, Councillor Crooks said: “The West End of High Street has new life with B&M and the American Diner adding value to the shopping experience. With publican George Mackay being granted a public entertainment licence to re-open the old Mama Mia/Nicol’s premises which seems to have been closed and boarded up for more years than we care to remember, the night time economy and dining-out options are getting a boost.
“The streetscape is in need of investment and Phase 3 of the planned High Street improvements will provide that opportunity. Funding is always an issue for local government and as the belt tightens on all budgets, programmes can take longer to deliver than I would personally want.
“It is important we get good feedback on options for this and I would encourage local retailers in particular to make sure their views are recorded on this project.”
Councillor Crooks added that Cuppa Coffee House in the High Street had offered an area of its premises as space to carry out consultation with the local community.
“This would be a great place to have it as it is within the area being consulted about, and I will be pressing for this to go ahead in the meantime, while additional funding is sought,” he added.
Traders were united in expressing their disappointment that improvement work had been postponed again.
Elizabeth Roscoe (69), of Roscoe’s Unicut hairdressers, said: “The pavements have been a mess for about 20 years since we changed from being part of Milton Road to become the High Street,” she said.
“They have been dug up then dug up again and they are in a real state. This area has been neglected for too long and we are missing out again.”
Ruth Smail (68), from The Chocolate Box newsagent, said: “It seems a bit unfair that we have been pushed to the back of the queue again when this area is in real need of improvement – particularly the pavements.
“Why should we have to scale things down when other areas get it all?”
Raymond Shanley (50), at the Raith Barber Shop, said: “It is really dangerous out there and we have had elderly people falling on the uneven surface – it’s a health hazard.
“I don’t want it like the east end where they have taken away lots of parking, because we want to keep the traffic flow.”
Colin Chapman at Lloyds the Chemists, said: “Anything that improves the street would be welcome and it’s disappointing that we haven’t seen any benefit yet. I think a quick resurface of the pavements would be welcomed.”
Evelyn Brady at Raith Fruit and Flowers, added: “We are always neglected along here, but we pay our rates like everyone else. It makes me angry that we get the tatters – we’re definitely the poor relations.”
Tony Martin at the Penny Farthing, said: “The west end needs tidied up and the pavements are disgraceful. It needs something to make it more pedestrian friendly.”
Mark Dewar, service manager for roads design and construction with Fife Council said: “We have had feedback from local councillors and we are hoping to go out and do wider consultation with the traders and get an agreed scheme which can be put on the shelf until funding becomes available. However we are unable to say when that will be.”