NEWS that one of the busiest town centre car parks in Fife could be closed in the run up to Christmas has been met with shock and anger.
Tolbooth Street in Kirkcaldy will be shut to shoppers just weeks before the festive countdown begins to allow work to begin building the town’s new £15m swimming pool and leisure centre.
The decision to block it has been condemned as ‘‘sheer madness’’ - and retailers fear the timing could hit their crucial Christmas trading period.
The pool is already a year behind schedule after becoming embroiled in legal access issues and won’t open until well into 2013.
The latest concerns were raised by Kirkcaldy councillor Neil Crooks after he received information the car park would shut in late October or early November to allow workmen to move on to the site.
Councillor Crooks, who represents Kirkcaldy North, said: “I was astonished to be told that they intend closing the car park then given public opposition to building on this site, and concerns for the future retail trade on the High Street..
“I have found the intransigence of the Council on this matter something to be concerned about and to plan to close it just before the busiest shopping period is nothing short of shameful.
“All of our protests have fallen on deaf ears at Fife Council to date.
‘‘As a local resident and keen swimmer I will not give up on this as I know in my bones that the site is wrong for the future of leisure project.
‘‘We have had a pool in that area for years and in my view has never worked effectively.
‘‘Repeating a mistake of the past does not make sense.”
Grant Ward, head of leisure with Fife Council, said: “Work on the new state-of-the-art sports centre and swimming pool will commence in a matter of months now that legal agreements have been reached on access rights relating to the site at Tolbooth Street.
“The tender process is now formally underway and should take approximately six months to complete.
‘‘We would expect to be on site in the autumn and look forward to moving the project forward as quickly as we can.
‘‘ We will keep retailers and the public fully informed of progress and this will include highlighting the alternative car parks available located within minutes walking distance of the High Street.”