A local plan to tackle Kirkcaldy parking problems

Kirkcaldy High Street
Kirkcaldy High Street

BID company gets backing to create local blueprint

Pressure is growing to get local control over parking in Kirkcaldy’s town centre - to sort out the long-standing problems once and for all.

Fife Council has agreed to work with Kirkcaldy4All and Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions to form a local plan.

And that could lead to a new approach in 2015.

The issue was on the agenda at a recent meeting between councillors, senior officers and the BID company which commissioned an independent report on the parking which was highly critical of how the local authority has implemented its policies over the years.

Kirkcaldy4All, which exists to promote and support the town centre, insists parking generates the biggest feedback from its members, and is a major issue for all retailers and businesses.

It believes local control over car parks could hold the key to the High Street’s future vitality, and it wants to work with the Council to bring new ideas to the table, despite officers’ having ‘‘some concerns’’ over the report’s content.

But the BID team is also keen to see a clear timetable set out.

Bill Harvey, BID manager, said: ‘‘The meeting was open, frank and established the need for change.’’

Also attending was Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the area committee, who is also at the helm of the Ambitions group which will play its part in working on a new plan. He accepted the Council has parking issues across the region and any changes locally would impact on its budgets - but believes it’s time to find solutions.

‘‘Parking has consistently been the number one issue raised by retailers in our town centre.

‘‘I was pleased that officers recognised the opinions expressed, and that it would be worthwhile looking at some of the solutions being proposed, including pay by mobile phone, and the need for more flexibility on charging start and finish times.’’

He added: ‘‘We all want to make the town centre more attractive to visitors through local parking solutions.’’

The issue was also pulled into sharp focus this week with the release of more figures which showed just how much Kirkcaldy pays to park compared with other Fife towns.

Of 30 car parks which charge, 14 are in Kirkcaldy compared to just nine in Dunfermline, four in 
St Andrews and just one in Cupar.

Angus Carmichael, service manager, said: “The number of car parks does not necessarily equate to the number of spaces available in each and we aim to ensure there is adequate parking provision, both on and off-street, in our towns and built up areas.

“While some towns may not have many or any chargeable car parking facilities provided by the council, they still have private companies whose car parking provision incurs a cost to the motorist. As well as this, we have on-street parking which is enforced by our officers.”

Warden plan moving ahead

Plans to allow traffic wardens to patrol the pedestrianised zone are moving ahead.

They currently have no remit to operate in the heart of the town centre until a new Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on enforcement is agreed.

Ian B Smith, traffic management, confirmed the rule change was in hand.

He said: “It is anticipated that the statutory notification will be advertised in March. A report is expected to be considered by Kirkcaldy Area Committee in April.”