A decision to extend the £1 parking initiative in Kirkcaldy town centre has been warmly welcomed by commercial groups in the town.
Councillors at a meeting of the town’s area committee this week unanimously agreed to extend the £1 for two hours parking scheme for a further three months, allowing it to continue until the end of June.
The move will allow for further analysis into how the subsidised parking initiative has benefited the town centre’s retailers, as well as taking for any changes in personnel arising from the forthcoming local election in May.
Susan Keenlyside, Fife Council’s lead professional for Sustainable Transport, told councillors the £1 scheme had proved popular with the public and provided a positive impact on trade since it was first introduced in August, 2015.
In her report to councillors she added: “The initiative is popular and has helped to sustain the overall number of vehicles parking in the town centre.
‘‘Local businesses consider it has had a positive impact on trade.”
Cllr David Ross echoed the reports findings saying it provided “enough evidence” to support an extension.
However Cllr Susan Leslie called for a consideration to be made regarding Sunday parking rates.
“This is a very busy day for trade, and retail parks on the outskirts of town provide free parking.
‘‘A consideration for people wanting to shop in the town on a Sunday would provide a significant benefit for retailers,” she said.
As economic uncertainty continues, the town centre has suffered a fall of around 15 per cent in pedestrian footfall between 2015 and 2016, with bus passenger numbers having reduced by four per cent in the same period.
Bill Harvey, manger of the town centre improvement group, Kirkcaldy4All, welcomed the decision and called on the public to support the scheme.
He said: “It’s now up to members of the public to really get behind us and back this, because it may be that after June financially it’s not viable and then we go back to the same parking rates as everybody else in Fife.
“It’s been an outstanding success and a fantastic benefit for the town centre.
“Beforehand, in the Esplanade car park for example, there had been a year on year decrease, there was less revenue generated and less people using it.
“The latest report showed there had been a 20 per cent increase on people using that car park.
‘‘It would be disappointing to lose this if people don’t carry on supporting it.”
However, the parking initiative does come at a cost to Fife Council .
It has had to absorb a 10 per cent reduction in car parking revenue between April 2016 and March 2017, reported to amount to £65,150.
To continue the initiative a further three months it was agreed that the Fife authority will underwrite a further £17,250 in car parking revenue.